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Thread: Focusingscreen.com Df screen experience

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    Focusingscreen.com Df screen experience

    Like many of you I've not been thrilled with the stock screen of my Df and D800. The D800 isn't such an issue since I use AF lenses most of the time but with my Df I'm primarily using manual focus lenses.

    I happened to check Nikon Rumors and saw that focusing screen.com is making several screens for the D800 and Df. These are cut down Canon screens and having owned a Canon I was pleased with the screen I had in my 1D series cameras. They aren't particularly expensive so I thought I'd give one a try for the Df. I like a micro prism center so I ordered the A screen. I selected my screen on their website and made payment through paypal. I was notified by focusing screen.com that payment had been received and it would take about a week to make it. When the screen was completed in about seven days I received another email giving an EMS tracking number. The screen arrived in about four days at my home in the US and was packaged very well. It was wrapped in a plastic package and sealed. Inside there was a box inside a padded bubble envelope. Inside the box was an instruction sheet, heat sealed plastic bag with tweezers, screen in the Canon box, finger cots and tool to open the screen frame in the Df.

    Instructions were actually on their website and not as clear as they could have been. Removal of the old screen wasn't difficult after figuring things out how it worked but I did accidentally scratch the old screen in the process. Installation was easy but my screen combination required shimming the screen for proper focus. Nikon had used two thin metal shims for the original screen but the two were too thick for the new screen causing a serious back focus. There were two very thin plastic shims provided with the new screen and after a lengthy process of trying different combinations I finally arrived at using the two provided with the new screen.

    Actually I tested and replaced shims in different combinations for a couple of hours. At this point I think I'm very close to perfect but not 100% certain it it couldn't be improved on with a slightly thinner shim. I'm thinking about using one of the thicker Nikon shims with a single layer of magic mending tape on it. A few more days of use and I can evaluate how accurate calibrations / shimming is.

    Now to how I feel about using the screen in daily use. I shoot documentary and commercial work and work under a variety of low light conditions. Focusing in dim room light and under low modeling lights has proven a bit more difficult than expected. The screen isn't as bright as the original screen but things do snap in and out of focus faster. I use several fast lenses including a 50mm f1.2 and 85mm 1.4. These focus like a dream but even at that I find I double check my focus accuracy with the focus confirmation green dot in the camera. Out doors focus is relative easy but inside it take concentration. Slow lenses like my 20mm f3.5 are tough even outside. My 28 f2.8 and 35 f2 are fairly easy as are longer lenses like my 105 2.5 but again there is some light loss with this screen and it requires good eyes and concentration on the screen.

    Shooting and testing with my 85 at 1.4 and my 50 at 1.2 I find I can still miss focus. When focusing you I can rotate the focusing ring ever so slightly before the screen / micro prism fractures the image. This leaves some room for focus error and this I why I use the green dot focus confirmation when things are critical. Outside this isn't so much of a problem as it is inside.

    I don't know if focusing is any less accurate than it was with my old Nikon F. I think why we perceive that it is or that it's more critical is because we look at our images at 100%. In the sold days we looked through a 4x or 6x loupe and that was the test. Now we see them at 100 inches on screen and see all the flaws. I'm finding that images that aren't tack sharp at 100% are fine for most applications. the focus error isn't nearly as great as we perceive it on screen.

    I will say that I'm generally happy with the screen. Anyone have any experience with a split image screen?
    Last edited by DDudenbostel; 26th March 2014 at 07:55.

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    Re: Focusingscreen.com Df screen experience

    I admire your tenacity and sense of perseverance - you're a braver person than me. I once replaced the screen in a D5100 with a Katzeye split image/microprism screen, which worked just fine, but I thank heavens I didn't have to get into the tricky business of shimming. Too risky for my blood!
    It is strange though that with the DF, a camera Nikon chose to promote heavily as having a 'traditional' ethos, fully usable with pre AI lenses, no option for replacement screens is available from the manufacturer, as was the case for it's film SLRs. I can't believe it didn't occur to them so can only assume they didn't see a demand. It would have been nice though if a camera so clearly aimed at serious manual focus photographers would be capable of this facility without the owner having to resort to third party options and then having to jump through technical hoops to make it work properly. I wish you luck in your ongoing mission.

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    Re: Focusingscreen.com Df screen experience

    I failed to mention the screen has no effect on AF and exposure. The AF points are as visible as with the stock screen also and AF accuracy are the same as with the original screen.

    I may look into an eyepiece magnifier. I think with a little more magnification focusing would be greatly improved.


    As to being brave to shim the screen, it's not difficult but is time consuming. If you don't like the results it's very simple to return to the original screen and shims.

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    Re: Focusingscreen.com Df screen experience

    I confess to some surprise that there haven't been more contributors on this thread. I'd have thought many DF adopters might be looking to use legacy manual focus lenses, and that focusing screens would naturally pique their interest. As someone who shoots AI-s lenses on the D600 I would appreciate a better system than the green dot which has always felt like something I have to settle for if I want to use my MF lenses, rather than a pleasurable aid to focusing manually, which is how I used to feel about split image and microprism screens. Are DF owners happy with the green dot? Is there no desire for a more enjoyable MF experience? I'd be interested to read opinions from DF owners on this, as well as anyone who, like the O.P., has taken the third party route.

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    Re: Focusingscreen.com Df screen experience

    I definitely have an interest in this thread, but years of trying 3rd party screens has left me a bit cold. Often times they achieve their enhanced results with some sort of tradeoff and then I'm left wondering was it really worth it. There are of course pros and cons and it can all be very subjective. Still very useful information and I agree, a well developed focusing screen for the DF that enhances the manual focus lens use on that camera without any perceived drawbacks, is a very desirable product.

    Dave (D&A)

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    Re: Focusingscreen.com Df screen experience

    Yes, it seems like such a logical and obvious step for Nikon to take that I wonder if there's some technological hurdle to changing focusing screens in DSLRs that simply wasn't there in film SLRs. I've heard that AF might be affected by screens that are less clear and bright, but it seems that Katzeye have found a workable solution in their Opti-Brite treatment, and if they can do it, then I'm sure Nikon could.
    Maybe they feel there might be too little demand to make it profitable.

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    Re: Focusingscreen.com Df screen experience

    The trade off is the screen isn't as bright as the stock nikon screen but still ok. Also as good as the screen is there's still error possible.

    I've ordered a Nikon eyepiece magnifier (1.2x I think) and will report back. I think this will help.

    I used Canon 1d series cameras and swapped screens in them. I always felt the were plenty bright but there's obvious loss of brightness with this screen in my Df.

    Not having another body to compare side by side I'd say the AF hasn't been effected but I rarely use AF lenses on it. The green dot is just as accurate as before. I can say I don't see any difference in metering accuracy.
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    Re: Focusingscreen.com Df screen experience

    Here's an update on the DK17M magnifier I purchased. I believe the magnification is 1.2x which is a enough to make a difference in focusing accuracy. With the magnifier I can much more easily see when the micro prisms fracture and start to fracture. With a little practice I found I can hit focus close to 100%. I still think using the green dot as confirmation is a good practice if there's any question as to accuracy when focus is critical.

    One consideration is if you wear glasses. I don't and I have no problem seeing the entire frame and data at the bottom but if you wear glasses it might be a bit more difficult.
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    Re: Focusingscreen.com Df screen experience

    I have found that at least with faster lenses, the focusing screen supplied in my D3300 is quite sharp and accurate. I have high power and with my current glasses and full diopter correction, I see slightly off the perfect focus. When I get perfect focus visually, I am a bit off, that is when I use the range finder visible in the view finder and that is dead accurate with both the 50mm F1.8 AF (pre D) and the 105mm F2.8 AIS.

    In any case I would love to have the micro prism screen, but as the screen is darker, it will present problems with the current slow zooms.

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    Re: Focusingscreen.com Df screen experience

    I have studied alternative screens several times since the D800 was released (same screen as the Df) and have concluded that any improvement in focusing accuracy isn t worth the loss in screen brightness. With an optical SLR …I am first looking for a bright finder that I can easily see what I am getting . This is something thats often mentioned by the MF users …its the big bright view first .

    I know from use of the D800 with the Leica R lenses that I can focus much more accurately manually than using the focus confirmation ..tested this many times . Focus confirmation can be really helpful in getting close quickly ..but precise focus requires visual confirmation . Easy to prove ….set up a test with a box of cereal and look at the text . I can hit a single letter in a word manually .

    Don t get me wrong I spent years using a alternative screen in my Leica R bodies (full matte) to support telephotos (180+) …..and I would jump on a replacement screen if it wash t so difficult to change out the screens . But the loss of brightness is an issue .

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    Re: Focusingscreen.com Df screen experience

    It's certainly darker but I'm really liking the microprism. The only lens I find darker than I'd like is my 20mm f3.5 (52mm filter version). Outside it's ok but inside it can be a problem. For my use and eyes I think it's a reasonable compromise.

    I agree Nikon needs to get going on producing a couple different of screens for the D800 and Df. Focusingscreens. Com proved it's possible while preserving metering accuracy. All nikon needs to do is use the stock Df screen and add the microprism and or split image center. It should be no big issue. Once you understand the mechanics of removing and replacing a screen the process is as simple as any other camera.

    Maybe we need to organize a write Nikon campaign here and on the other forums we read. If the get enough requests perhaps the will respond. All they need is to see they can make money on it.
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    Re: Focusingscreen.com Df screen experience

    1. Does anyone know if the Df, D800 and D600 screens are interchangeable?

    2. Has anyone used one of the cheaper plastic screens sold on ebay?

    Example: 180 Horizontal Split Image Focus Focusing Screen for Nikon DSLR D600 D610 D800 | eBay

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    Re: Focusingscreen.com Df screen experience

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve P. View Post
    I admire your tenacity and sense of perseverance -
    +1 and

    Quote Originally Posted by glenerrolrd View Post
    I have studied alternative screens several times since the D800 was released (same screen as the Df) and have concluded that any improvement in focusing accuracy isn t worth the loss in screen brightness. With an optical SLR …I am first looking for a bright finder that I can easily see what I am getting .
    +1 -- I just use the factory Df screen and it seems to work fine for me as I like bright too -- when it (or I) fail, I use the confirm dot.
    Jack
    home: www.getdpi.com

    "Perfection is not attainable. But if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence."

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    Re: Focusingscreen.com Df screen experience

    Slightly off topic: I have a Pentax 645D and a bunch of manual focus lenses. A forum member sold me a used Pentax split image screen, intended for the old 645 film camera. It is fabulous! Why Pentax does not offer this screen anymore is a crime. I suspect they may not want to encourage people buying up old manual focus lenses, which become easy to use with the split image finder installed.
    Dave in NJ

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