Focus screens - Which type for MF lenses?

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by kawasakiguy37, May 5, 2010.

  1. kawasakiguy37
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    kawasakiguy37 New Member

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    Im currently in the process of purchasing my first DSLR, and hopefully waiting for canon or Nikon to come out with something new. In the meantime, however, I am collecting some old MF lenses. I am also looking into getting a new focus screen for the DSLR I eventually purchase (it seems there are companies that offer these to assist with MF, in many different designs) or I want to modify an existing screen from an older SLR type camera.

    So far I have ran into two types:

    The "cross" type, where a circle is split into 2 or 4 portions either diagonally or horizontally

    and

    The 'prism' type, in which there are a variety of little micro triangle prisms that dissapear as the subject comes into focus.

    There also hybrids that use both of these technologies.

    Because I have entered photography after the days of MF, which of these was considered 'superior' back in the day? Is a hybrid my best bet or should I go with one or the other? I prefer older MF lenses because they are of high quality ( I can get relatively fast lenses for cheap) to price ratio. I will also be using these for video, and I think the screen would really help.

    Finally, will this affect AF at all (if I do decide to get AF lenses down the line)?
  2. icassell
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    icassell New Member

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    As a holdover from the 35mm film days, I grew to love the "hybrid" style. Both parts are useful. In this era, you should look at KatzEye™ Optics - Custom Focusing Screens. I think Rachel Katz claims they have little effect on AF (read the site).

    I'm saving my pennies for one as they are also useful for macro shooting.

    Be careful with those old MF lenses. Make sure the mount is compatible with your dSLR body. For example, the old Canon FD mount does not fit the dSLR bodies.
  3. kawasakiguy37
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    kawasakiguy37 New Member

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    Yea, I think I am only going to go with Nikkor lenses. If I get a nikon they shoudl work fine (unless pre AI, in which case they can be converted) and if I get a canon and I can still get ring adapters (they are already all manual so this shouldnt affect performance at all).

    Are there any other brand lenses that are compatible with both modern and Nikon and Canon systems? I was thinking maybe the M42 screw mount?

    edit: When you say both parts are useful, are there situations to which each has its advantages? Are there any disadvantages to using hybrids? (if not, I may as well get a hybrid!). I trust my eyes more than AF anyways, the development cycle has been going for much longer ;)
  4. icassell
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    icassell New Member

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    I can't think of any disadvantage to the hybrids. Unfortunately, it can be VERY difficult to manually focus acurately with the current breed of dSLR screens. That's why many have opted to put screens such as the katzeye on and why many use Live-view with magnification.
  5. c.cloudwalker
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    c.cloudwalker New Member

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    The type you get should only depend on what you are comfortable with. But I agree with icassell that the hybrid style should offer no disadvantage. Unless they are way more expensive.

    Have you tried to manual focus a DSLR? I have no problem with it and I didn't change the screen. You may find the same is true for you.
  6. kawasakiguy37
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    kawasakiguy37 New Member

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    Ive tried it, and while it works ok, its pretty hard to get perfect. When im using the school newspapers 300mm 2.8 the DOF is so razor thin (the camera I borrow has no liveview) that it makes it quite difficult. I mean, sure, it works, but it will be much, much easier with a better screen I think.

    Plus those old lenses have very nice action, compared to the new plastic crap made for AF.
  7. KmH
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    KmH Helping photographers learn to fish

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    Yep, the lens rings don't have as much travel anymore making it more difficult to make fine adjustments.

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