Katz Eye focusing screen

Discussion in 'Digital SLR' started by Jeremy Nixon, Jun 11, 2006.

  1. Jeremy Nixon

    Jeremy Nixon Guest

    Several weeks ago, Katz Eye announced availability of focusing screens for
    the D2X. I placed my order immediately, and they said it would take 2-3
    weeks. It arrived today, exactly three weeks later.

    I haven't used a proper focusing screen in quite a while, so naturally, the
    first question was whether my expectations were clouded by nostalgia for the
    "good old days". They weren't. The thing is wonderful! I can focus with
    precision very quickly. It's like having a whole new viewfinder.

    Aside from the focusing aids (split prism with microprism collar), there is
    the matter of the rendition of the image on the ground glass. The regular
    "extra bright" screens the DSLRs ship with sucks for this; it looks like
    you're getting a lot more depth of field than you really are, and things
    don't snap into focus because of it.

    I got the Katz Eye screen *without* their extra brightness treatment, as I
    wanted the best possible "snap" and depth of field preview. What a huge
    difference! Stuff that's out of focus actually looks out of focus, and
    as you turn the focus ring it snaps right in. Even without any of the
    focusing aids it would be many times easier to focus just with the coarser
    ground glass in this thing. Accurate depth of field preview!

    I didn't think omitting the brightness treatment would be an issue since I
    almost always use fast lenses, and I was right. The brightness difference
    with f/2.8 or faster lenses is negligible. I do have one slow lens, a 300mm
    f/4.5, and with that, it starts to show; I can tell it's a bit darker, and
    it's slightly bothersome, but it's still far easier to focus with that.
    But if you were wondering whether to get the brightness treatment -- if
    you're into the super-slow super-zooms that are all the rage these days,
    definitely get it. The performance at f/4.5 is borderline, and using DOF
    preview to see f/5.6 shows that it pretty much falls down at that point.
    It's still usable, it just gets a little dark to be comfortable for constant
    use.

    I tried it in some situations where autofocus is problematic. Target smaller
    than the AF sensor? No problem. Target behind reflections in glass? No
    problem! Absurdly low light? NO PROBLEM! Target smaller than the AF sensor
    behind reflections in glass in absurdly low light? BRING IT ON!

    If you have a DSLR, there's just one thing to say: order one of these things
    RIGHT THE HELL NOW! What are you waiting for? If you don't have one, you're
    experiencing photography with a blindfold on! I keep picking up my camera
    and looking through it just because it's so very nice. And I can whirl
    around in my chair and focus on something almost instantly! And just scoff
    at the blinking green "AF no workie" arrows.

    http://www.katzeyeoptics.com <-- run, don't walk
     
    Jeremy Nixon, Jun 11, 2006
    #1
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  2. Jeremy Nixon

    G.T. Guest

    Wow, I wonder if they'd be interested in hiring you as their director of
    marketing/communications/publicity.

    I've been thinking about their focusing screens for awhile and that's
    one helluva testimonial. Are there any drawbacks? The installation
    isn't too tough, is it?

    Greg
     
    G.T., Jun 11, 2006
    #2
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  3. Jeremy Nixon

    Jeremy Nixon Guest

    Heh. I guess I am pretty happy with it. :)
    That'll depend on your camera. The focusing screen in the D2X is made
    to be user-changeable, so it's simple to swap out. A "tweezer" tool
    came with the camera, and Katz Eye thoughtfully provided one with their
    screen as well, in case you've misplaced yours. The tool isn't strictly
    necessary but makes it so you don't have to touch anything with your
    greasy fingers.

    If your camera doesn't have changeable screens, I understand that more
    work is necessary.

    I don't see any drawbacks at all. I can't imagine why I'd want to put
    the original screen back in. Except that, since I got the non-brightened
    version, if I had to regularly use lenses slower than f/4, it might start
    to get annoying -- but then I'd have gotten the brighter one.
     
    Jeremy Nixon, Jun 11, 2006
    #3
  4. Jeremy Nixon

    Randy Howard Guest

    Jeremy Nixon wrote
    Strange how the website of a company in the photography industry
    has so little visual content on their website.
    They claim installation on a D70 is fairly easy, and will make
    the tendency to underexpose go away. I've certainly seen that
    in a lot of situations the D70 will underexpose at 0.0
    compensation and matrix metering and I typically dial in a bit
    of overexposure.

    What happens to the AF sensor positioning normally available,
    does it still work, or do you use the center only?
    I would imagine so, yes. :)
     
    Randy Howard, Jun 11, 2006
    #4
  5. Jeremy Nixon

    G.T. Guest

    Yeah, it appears to be a little more work with the Rebel XT.
    I may get the brightened one since I have an effective f/5.6 with my
    1.4x converter on my 70-200 f/4.

    So the only real drawbacks on the Rebel XT is darkness at smaller
    apertures, losing the autofocus points, and slight overexposure in
    partial metering mode.

    Rock on, they take Paypal! As much as I hate Paypal it's by far the
    preferred payment method for my vinyl LP buyers so I have a bit of a
    slush fund built up in my Paypal account. The 68 records I've sold so
    far this year have allowed me to buy my Kenko 1.4x teleconverter along
    with the Benro carbon-fiber tripod items I've mentioned and I still have
    enough to buy a focusing screen. And I still have 200 more sought after
    records along with 100 $3 to $5 records to sell. I'll probably let the
    Paypal account grow until I can get a 30D, or at least a 24-105mm f/4 L
    IS lens.

    Greg
     
    G.T., Jun 11, 2006
    #5
  6. Jeremy Nixon

    Jeremy Nixon Guest

    It works normally. The screen doesn't interfere with autofocus operation
    at all.
     
    Jeremy Nixon, Jun 11, 2006
    #6
  7. Officially the Rebel XT (350D) focusing screen is not replaceable. It
    is nevertheless trivial to do so.
     
    Måns Rullgård, Jun 11, 2006
    #7
  8. Jeremy Nixon

    Randy Howard Guest

    Jeremy Nixon wrote
    Can you tell through the viewfinder which focus area is
    selected, or do you have to use the LCD on top to know what it
    is when this is installed?
     
    Randy Howard, Jun 11, 2006
    #8
  9. Jeremy Nixon

    Jeremy Nixon Guest

    It all works normally. The focus area indicators are probably camera-
    specific; on mine, they are not on the focusing screen itself, so they
    remain visible. The lights that indicate which one is selected also
    function normally. I don't know if all this is true for all cameras,
    though.
     
    Jeremy Nixon, Jun 11, 2006
    #9
  10. My only concern with using this screen would be how well the AF would work
    when using a 2x TC with my 70-200mm VR on theD2x? I see the Katz-Eye site
    mentions that spot metering will be problematic with slower lenses, but I
    see no mention of AF issues. I'm wondering if the "brightness" enhancement
    will address or eliminate these concerns? You wouldn't happen to have a
    TC-20E II that you can try this combination on? I would like to get
    comments from actual users of this combination before buying the new screen.
    Thanks.







    Rita
     
    Rita Ä Berkowitz, Jun 11, 2006
    #10
  11. The focusing screen doesn't affect AF at all. Metering might be
    affected a little, but should be within the exposure compensation
    range.
     
    Måns Rullgård, Jun 11, 2006
    #11
  12. Jeremy Nixon

    babalooixnay Guest

    I use the "brighter screen" on a D50. The main issue with the brighter
    screen seems to be throwing the internal meter off 1/3 stop or so. On
    my body the meter was off 1/3 of a stop originally (within Nikon's
    stated tolerances for that camera) so the use of the bright screen
    actually counterbalanced the 1/3 stop I had dialed in before switching
    screens and I am back to "0" compensation. Autofocus seems to be
    completely unaffected. FWIW it's the best money I've spent.
    Installation on a "non-changable" body was quick and simple with about
    5 minutes prep of the workspace, mostly for cleanliness.
     
    babalooixnay, Jun 11, 2006
    #12
  13. Jeremy Nixon

    G.T. Guest

    "The Katz Eye™ focusing screen for the D70/D70s has NO effect on
    existing viewfinder information. All viewfinder markings, including
    focusing points and on-demand gridlines will still function normally."

    With my Rebel XT I lose those viewfinder markings.

    Greg
     
    G.T., Jun 11, 2006
    #13
  14. Jeremy Nixon

    Rudy Benner Guest

    I use the "brighter screen" on a D50. The main issue with the brighter
    screen seems to be throwing the internal meter off 1/3 stop or so. On
    my body the meter was off 1/3 of a stop originally (within Nikon's
    stated tolerances for that camera) so the use of the bright screen
    actually counterbalanced the 1/3 stop I had dialed in before switching
    screens and I am back to "0" compensation. Autofocus seems to be
    completely unaffected. FWIW it's the best money I've spent.
    Installation on a "non-changable" body was quick and simple with about
    5 minutes prep of the workspace, mostly for cleanliness.

    I emailed them, asking for more detail on the instructions. They provided a
    link to a pdf file detailing the instruction. They asked that I not
    distribute the link or the file.

    I have decided the installation is well within my capabilities.

    Nikon D-50
     
    Rudy Benner, Jun 11, 2006
    #14
  15. Thanks! That's good news.







    Rita
     
    Rita Ä Berkowitz, Jun 11, 2006
    #15
  16. Thanks for the detailed answer. I'll be ordering the brighter screen as
    well. From what I remember there should be a setting in the menu that
    allows you to set metering compensation independently so that the external
    exposure setting will be at "0". The only bad thing right now is the 4-6
    week lead-time.

    Out of curiosity, how well would this screen work when using extension tubes
    (Kenko) or bellows for macro work? The Katz-Eye site claims "The "Plus"
    version has a unique prism design which delays the prism 'blackout'
    phenomenon until well after f11."

    Oh well, I guess it's time to get the ball rolling. Thanks again.







    Rita
     
    Rita Ä Berkowitz, Jun 11, 2006
    #16
  17. Jeremy Nixon

    Jeremy Nixon Guest

    I have the lens, but no teleconverter, sorry. However, the screen does not
    affect the autofocus system *at all*, so it should work exactly the same as
    without the screen.

    Since the effective aperture of that combination will be f/5.6, if you use
    it often, you might want to consider getting the brightness treatment. It's
    a bit dark at f/5.6 without it. If you don't use it that often it probably
    won't be an issue.
     
    Jeremy Nixon, Jun 11, 2006
    #17
  18. Jeremy Nixon

    Rudy Benner Guest

    I could not find any mention of the independent metering compensation, other
    than using the button right next to the shutter release and the dial.

    I have a set of extension tubes coming but unfortunately the Katz Eye will
    not be here for more than a month.

    I also have a right angle viewer coming. I used to like using a twin reflex
    camera, old habits ....
     
    Rudy Benner, Jun 11, 2006
    #18
  19. On the D2x it is b7 in the menu and is called "Fine Tune Optimal Exposure".
    I haven't looked, but I think it's the same for the D200.
    I love macro so much that I wouldn't want to have a big black circle in the
    middle of the viewfinder. I want to be 100% sure this won't ruin my macro
    efforts.
    I was thinking about one of those as well, but I'm not sure that I would get
    a lot of use from it.







    Rita
     
    Rita Ä Berkowitz, Jun 11, 2006
    #19
  20. Thanks! I do use my 2x TC a bit, but not as often as I would like to. I
    guess for as much as I use it, as you say, "it won't be an issue" so I'll
    just order the screen tomorrow and take my chances.






    Rita
     
    Rita Ä Berkowitz, Jun 11, 2006
    #20
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