Site Sponsors
Results 1 to 14 of 14

Thread: Maxwell Precision Optics focus screens

  1. #1
    Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Toronto, Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    105
    Post Thanks / Like

    Question Maxwell Precision Optics focus screens

    I was wondering if anyone has had any experiences with Maxwell Precision Optics focus screens, in general, and specifically on the Phase 645DF+?

    I'm looking to improve my manual focus accuracy, and am hoping this might help.

    I shoot a lot of headshots with an 80mm or 150mm lens and P40+ back, usually wide open at f2.8 or f3.5 (respectively), where the DoF is not much more than 1 inch. So, if I'm off even just a little bit, the shot is usually garbage.

    I would be looking at either a plain matte screen (because I'm often focusing off-centre), or a split-image/microprism screen for added versatility...both with "Hi-Lux" treatment.

    AF does work, but I find it a real hindrance to have to re-compose each frame (I always shoot my headshots with the camera on a tripod), and lack on precision focus-points (a la dSLR) makes it a bit of a stab in the dark.

    I also have the flip-up magnifier, but find it is of little use.

    Thanks!

    J R
    J R

  2. #2
    Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Posts
    28
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Maxwell Precision Optics focus screens

    Email the guy and ask him to give you a phone call. He spent a half hour on the phone explaining all the different things to me. He is absolutely awesome and willing to work with you on many different issues. He can also help you select the best screen for your application.
    Likes 3 Member(s) liked this post

  3. #3
    Super Duper
    Senior Member
    Godfrey's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Near San Jose, California
    Posts
    7,929
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Maxwell Precision Optics focus screens

    Bill Maxwell is great, although a bit garrulous. I've used his screens in several Rolleiflexes and love 'em. Want to get one for my Hasselblad too, some day soon.

    G
    Godfrey - GDGPhoto Flickr Stream
    Likes 1 Member(s) liked this post

  4. #4
    Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Toronto, Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    105
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Maxwell Precision Optics focus screens

    Thanks for the info. I actually have talked with Bill before (for at least 30 min! lol), but I was really hoping to get some user experiences...particularly from those who have used them with MFDBs.
    J R

  5. #5
    Senior Member EH21's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    San Francisco, CA
    Posts
    394
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Maxwell Precision Optics focus screens

    The biggest thing to know is that the screens with split rangefinders are not as easy to focus with off the center, while his brilliant matte screens are easier to focus with in any area. I think for some cameras (definitely on the Rollei's) he can order the matte screen fresnel blanks in the correct focal length for the optical system, whereas the split prism rangefinder blanks are universal fit. So long story short, if you want to manual focus and you want to do it off center, you should go for his brilliant matte screen.
    I think they are very good, and will probably offer them along side the Rollei/DHW screens as an option for customers. That said, I just tried a hand ground borosilicate screen by Steve Huff and found it simply amazing on focusability when there was enough light. Lot's of vignetting and very dim, but completely put the other screens away when it came to focusing on brightly lit subjects.

  6. #6
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Posts
    255
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Maxwell Precision Optics focus screens

    Regarding 645AF/DF, he told me that I would need to recalibrate my camera to fit his special screen, and that after that it would no longer be compatible with a regular screen.
    He also told me that due to the design of the original Mamiya screen, it is not possible to get accurate focus with the original screen.
    However, I am getting accurate focus with the original screen on all parts of the frame.
    He was not very eager to black out the negative sensor area like Mamiya does, although he agreed to carve lines.
    That and the very high price tag, I decided I can keep the original screen.

  7. #7
    Workshop Member
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    NYC
    Posts
    3,275
    Post Thanks / Like
    Images
    7

    Re: Maxwell Precision Optics focus screens

    Re: recomposing you're aware of the rear-button option for AF such that you only recompose at the beginning of a series of shots?
    Doug Peterson , Digital Transitions | Email
    Dealer for: Phase One, Mamiya Leaf, Arca-Swiss, Cambo, Eizo, Profoto
    Office: 877.367.8537. Cell: 740.707.2183

  8. #8
    Super Duper
    Senior Member
    Godfrey's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Near San Jose, California
    Posts
    7,929
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Maxwell Precision Optics focus screens

    Quote Originally Posted by EH21 View Post
    The biggest thing to know is that the screens with split rangefinders are not as easy to focus with off the center, while his brilliant matte screens are easier to focus with in any area. I think for some cameras (definitely on the Rollei's) he can order the matte screen fresnel blanks in the correct focal length for the optical system, whereas the split prism rangefinder blanks are universal fit. So long story short, if you want to manual focus and you want to do it off center, you should go for his brilliant matte screen.
    I think they are very good, and will probably offer them along side the Rollei/DHW screens as an option for customers. That said, I just tried a hand ground borosilicate screen by Steve Huff and found it simply amazing on focusability when there was enough light. Lot's of vignetting and very dim, but completely put the other screens away when it came to focusing on brightly lit subjects.
    I've always used his brilliant matte screens.

  9. #9
    Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Toronto, Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    105
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Maxwell Precision Optics focus screens

    Doug, could you explain how the rear-button AF option would help here?

    The reason I have to focus (and therefore recompose) for each shot is because of the very narrow DoF. If my subject moves backwards or forward, even an inch or two, my focus will be off.

    Shlomi, yes, he told me the same thing...which seems a little hard to believe, and detracts from his credibility, quite frankly. He talked a lot about warped screens.

    I really wish I could try one of each out before forking over the money.

    EH21, has Rollei managed address this issue with factory parts and design?
    J R

  10. #10
    Senior Member EH21's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    San Francisco, CA
    Posts
    394
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Maxwell Precision Optics focus screens

    Quote Originally Posted by JRBERNSTEIN View Post
    EH21, has Rollei managed address this issue with factory parts and design?
    I'm not sure of your question exactly? Is that about warped screens? I like Bill Maxwell a lot, but I sometimes get the feeling his has this taped loop that he plays to everyone... just pushes a button and this spiel about warped screens causing focus errors goes on, while he takes a coffee or something. It hardly matters what brand of camera the person has, but this competitor of his in NY somewhere has sold such terrible warped screens a low cost by skipping the vacuum annealing step. It's hardly necessary to give his competitors a knock as his screens are very good and the guy knows his optics and his work. I just tell him I've heard it ten times and try to move on. I mean at one time years back this might have been true for one of these camera systems but I don't see it now anyways.

    I don't think very many camera manufacturers make their own screens, and there aren't really that many developments in focus screen technology since the minolta patent that resulted in the Accute matte screens that oddly fit into Hasselblad lore.

    With regard to DHW-fototechnik, I only know that they source their screens and currently not from Maxwell, however they consider the possibility to add some of his if I decide to order some for my shop. I think the screens DHW has now are as good as Maxwells, perhaps a touch better but Maxwell offers options such as crop lines and other features that are an advantage, plus the brilliant matte screens for TLR's. Bill will also make unusual things such as split prism with a diagonal instead of vertical or horizontal.

    Probably more important than anything is for people to practice focusing with their cameras and learn to see what in focus looks like, and of course to make sure their camera and screen are properly calibrated. I work on making sure I can see the screen too, with the right diopters and which viewfinder suits me best.

    Edit - Now I understand J.R.'s question better - adding a bit about viewfinders....

    The great thing about the Rolleiflex Hy6 system is that you have four choices for viewfinders and an assortment of focusing screens that are easily changed. I can swap out finders in seconds, even put them down sideways, and also quickly change focusing screens for the project. Sometimes you want the gridded screen for composition, sometimes the matte, etc. I use the lupe (chimney) style finder for critical focusing work and the 45 degree prism for most everything with people.
    Last edited by EH21; 24th September 2013 at 09:02.

  11. #11
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Posts
    255
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Maxwell Precision Optics focus screens

    Quote Originally Posted by JRBERNSTEIN View Post

    Shlomi, yes, he told me the same thing...which seems a little hard to believe, and detracts from his credibility, quite frankly. He talked a lot about warped screens.

    I really wish I could try one of each out before forking over the money.
    Again getting his screen is only the beginning - you must then perform the famous calibration according to his detailed instructions, that only a pure hearted technician will be able to follow - and will cost you at least $100. Then you will have a camera that works only with his screen. How much brighter can his screen be? It is my opinion that for 645DF there is no point in the whole process, because you will get something very similar to the original. I think for larger cameras his screen might be more relevant.

    If anyone here used a Maxwell screen on a 645DF/AF and can report the experience, that would be most helpful. If they could also refer to the warping and recalibration, I would be very interested to hear.

    It has been my experience that a technical procedure that doesn't make sense to me even after looking into it, is best avoided.

    I change a body once a year to avoid unexpected mechanical troubles, and they're pretty cheap.
    I'm certainly not prepared to do the recalibration every time I change a body.
    A body which was recalibrated to Maxwell then must be recalibrated again to Mamiya if you want to sell it to anyone else.

  12. #12
    Senior Member EH21's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    San Francisco, CA
    Posts
    394
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Maxwell Precision Optics focus screens

    Quote Originally Posted by shlomi View Post
    Again getting his screen is only the beginning - you must then perform the famous calibration according to his detailed instructions, that only a pure hearted technician will be able to follow - and will cost you at least $100. Then you will have a camera that works only with his screen. How much brighter can his screen be? It is my opinion that for 645DF there is no point in the whole process, because you will get something very similar to the original. I think for larger cameras his screen might be more relevant.

    If anyone here used a Maxwell screen on a 645DF/AF and can report the experience, that would be most helpful. If they could also refer to the warping and recalibration, I would be very interested to hear.

    It has been my experience that a technical procedure that doesn't make sense to me even after looking into it, is best avoided.

    I change a body once a year to avoid unexpected mechanical troubles, and they're pretty cheap.
    I'm certainly not prepared to do the recalibration every time I change a body.
    A body which was recalibrated to Maxwell then must be recalibrated again to Mamiya if you want to sell it to anyone else.
    Woah! You change your body every year? Wow! Is that a Mamiya 645 thing? How many frames do you shoot?

    I've never had to recalibrate my focus when changing any of my screens on the 6008AF and Hy6 bodies. Wasn't needed with my Maxwell screen and believe me I am meticulous. When I get new bodies, I check and calibrate focus if needed on all four corners and center since I manually focus most of the time.

  13. #13
    Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Toronto, Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    105
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Maxwell Precision Optics focus screens

    Given how apparently popular his screens are, I'm surprised that no one with a Phase/Mamiya 645 with one installed has spoken up.

    The whole "calibration" thing also seems unnecessary. My AF is spot on. And when using the focus-assist light to manually focus, I can see it's good...it's just that the in-focus vs. out-of-focus difference on the stock screen is so minimal, I find it very difficult to use (particularly in low-light close-up situations).

    I do remember changing out a stock Nikon screen for a KatzEyes screen a few years ago, and it made a world of difference...
    J R

  14. #14
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Posts
    255
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Maxwell Precision Optics focus screens

    Quote Originally Posted by EH21 View Post
    Woah! You change your body every year? Wow! Is that a Mamiya 645 thing? How many frames do you shoot?

    I've never had to recalibrate my focus when changing any of my screens on the 6008AF and Hy6 bodies. Wasn't needed with my Maxwell screen and believe me I am meticulous. When I get new bodies, I check and calibrate focus if needed on all four corners and center since I manually focus most of the time.
    I shoot a lot of frames and the body change (buy-sell) doesn't cost me very much. I've never had a Mamiya body fail yet, but if I used the same body for three years, I think it would be at least 50% to fail on something. I think the new 645DF+ might have higher MTBF, but I'm still using the AFD III - which is what makes the changes cheap.

    Regarding calibration, this is just quoting what Maxwell told me - I didn't understand it very well, and didn't want to do it.

Tags for this Thread

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •