Katz Eye focusing screens Review:

Garbz

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So after http://www.thephotoforum.com/forum/showthread.php?t=98706 this thread I realised actually it may be worth just trying them out, and so I did, and so here it is, and I must say it works well.

Does everything it says on the box. It's not super bright like the Nikon FE2 (probably blame the pentaprism not the screen), but the screen is a bit brighter than the Nikon FE but then so was my D200's standard screen.

A few interesting points to note:
- The katzeye screen really does work well preventing blackout of one hemisphere. It's not just marketing crap at f/6.3 with the DOF preview button I can still focus.
- It works well in the dark, but ofcourse only as well as you can expect. That is to say I haven't turned into a cat that can see in the dark, but I can manually focus a bit darker than my digital camera can before it starts hunting, especially if the AF assist light doesn't reach the subject.
- Reviewers talked a bit about extra "snap" in the ground glass which I passed off as a placebo of spending $100US, but while I wouldn't say "snap" I do agree it is easier to focus even when looking at the ground glass not the prism.
- AF still works but that's a given since it doesn't go through the screen.
- AE appears to be accurate and unaffected which was my main concern. I don't use any exposure compensation.
- Installation was painless took me 5 minutes using a small screwdriver and a pair of tweezers, no damage, but then I am used to working with tiny surface mount electronics. The ham-fisted may want to send their camera in for this.

One thing that was very interesting is that with the Nikon FE the prism itself was unaffected by focus. Meaning the subject would simply be split apart yet clearly remain in focus regardless of the position of the lens, (the ground glass of course rendered things out of focus). The Katzeye prism actually goes out of focus along with the ground glass which was a bit of a shock. I am not sure I like that feature yet. Mum loves it though compared to the Nikon FE. I guess it's just different.

All in all what I am trying to say is it is highly recommended.

/EDIT: Unfortunately I can't answer the question in the original thread. The optibrite treatment sounded like BS to me so I opted for an untreated screen.
 

Josh66

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Thanks for the review. I started the other thread...still haven't bought it. Still interested though. (The money is needed elsewhere right now)

If you can still focus at f/6.3, I'm not sure that I would need the optibrite treatment. It does sound like it would be a pain in the ass having to adjust for it...

The most important thing for me is focusing accuracy. I just can't manual focus accurately with my 350D. With the 100mm Macro AF tends to hunt a lot and it pisses me off when I can't get it right manually.
 

Helen B

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As I've mentioned before, the Katz Eye screen is simply a Nikon K3 screen that has been cut down. If you feel confident in your ability to cut a piece of plastic then you may want to risk the operation yourself. On the D40 the screen is off-centre, so there is unseen material that can be damaged during handling without there being any visible effect - if you are careful you shouldn't damage the screen at all. You can get new K3 screens for USD 30 - a third of the price of the Katz Eye.

Best,
Helen
 

sabbath999

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As I've mentioned before, the Katz Eye screen is simply a Nikon K3 screen that has been cut down. If you feel confident in your ability to cut a piece of plastic then you may want to risk the operation yourself. On the D40 the screen is off-centre, so there is unseen material that can be damaged during handling without there being any visible effect - if you are careful you shouldn't damage the screen at all. You can get new K3 screens for USD 30 - a third of the price of the Katz Eye.

Best,
Helen

Hrmmm... I don't know a thing about cutting glass, it it tricky?

As always, Helen, thanks for the imput... it is nice to see somebody who really knows her stuff who is willing to share.
 

sabbath999

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All in all what I am trying to say is it is highly recommended.

Thanks for the info! I am seriously considering doing this to my lil ole D40 since you can mount ALMOST any Nikon lens to the thing (even pre-AI stuff... just not those weird fisheyes that go into the camera body or the Pronea only lenses... though only God above knows why anybody would WANT to mount one of those horrible things on a perfectly good D40).

I can see where this would be fantastic for Macro work.
 

johnmh

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What was nice about having KatzEye do the installation is that they calibrate the manual focus as well and shim the screen to get accurate focus. Worth the installation cost to me.

I had this done on a D70 - which was backfocusing on manual focus - so maybe it wasn't all my eyes.

I find it FAR easier to focus manually now. This was worth the cost to me but then the D70 viewfinder is worse than most.
 

Helen B

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I adjusted my D40x using the two cams that hold the two mirrors. I think the D70 is the same. Look in the mirror box with the mirror up. You should see two stops with small hex sockets. Those are cams that can be turned with a 2 mm (from memory, I need to check) Allen key.

You adjust the main viewfinder mirror cam first, then adjust the autofocus mirror cam - th AF mirror is hinged behind the main mirror. It's all fairly obvious when you have a look at it, and you can find which way to turn the cams by trial and error. It is a bit fiddly.

I didn't need to change the shim when I put the K3 screen in.

Best,
Helen
 
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Garbz

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As I've mentioned before, the Katz Eye screen is simply a Nikon K3 screen that has been cut down.

Is this the same for every screen she sells? Or are the Nikon and Canon ones different? Personally I've never had any luck with cutting something fragile, but if you have the tools for it than what you said sounds like a great and cheap alternative.

What was nice about having KatzEye do the installation is that they calibrate the manual focus as well and shim the screen to get accurate focus.

Depends on the camera. Download the manuals off Katzeye's website and have a look in advance if this is needed. The D200 one clearly says do not remove any shims as the new screen and old ones are the same thickness. And it is true the focus in my case is spot on.
 

sabbath999

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I am kind of a wuss when it comes to this stuff, I think I am just going to have a pro do the install.

I gotta get one though.

I am thinking about getting it on my D40 and trying it there to see if I like it before I do one on my D300.

Thanks for the thoughts, Garbz.
 

icassell

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I'm still considering getting one of these for my Canon 30D (God, I hate getting old). Katzeye says it is not recommended for use in spot metering mode (which was one of the advantages the 30D had over the 20D). Has anyone noticed a problem in spot mode with the screen?
 
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Garbz

Garbz

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Not sure if this is different on the 30D but Center weighted averaging and spot metering give me the same readout when shooting a grey card.
 

Rhubarb

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Thanks for posting Garbz. I have been thinking about these for a while.

So a lot easier to manually focus? Or just a bit?
 
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Garbz

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I have a Nikon FE with a classic split prism and use a lot of the manual focus lenses from that camera on my D200. I would say it's not as easy to focus but it is definitely easier.

We're going from judging using a very small dark viewfinder on a tiny ground glass plate and an AF assist indicator which rarely works unless the lighting is perfect (on the D200), to a crystal prism which gives you zero doubt about which part of the picture is in focus. Before I got this screen, at parties when using old prime lenses I had a hit ratio of about 30-50% when the guests won't freeze for a minute to be 100% certain you're in focus. This has easily doubled and then some now 80-90% of my manually focused photos are in focus.

As a side note if the camera backfocuses when I'm trying to take a photo, the split prism shows this straight away in the viewfinder. No need to zoom in on the LCD to find out.
 

Rhubarb

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Thanks again Garbz. Good to hear a personal insight from a bloke who knows a thing or two.
 

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