How to focus with a Nikon type E focussing screen

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by Roundabout, Nov 15, 2013.

  1. Roundabout

    Roundabout Member

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    I have a 'new' Nikon FM2n. It came with what I've just discovered is the type E focussing screen. Which was a bit of a shock, as I've only been used to the normal 'split screen' variety.

    Any suggestions on how to focuss with this kind of screen? Are there any ways to confirm focus, other than guessing which bit looks the sharpest on the screen? The cross lines don't appear to do anything, other than help you keep the horizen level and so on.

    Thanks
     
  2. ruby.monkey

    ruby.monkey Member

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    Concentrate on your point of interest and turn the lens until it's at its sharpest. That's it.
     
  3. Ken Nadvornick

    Ken Nadvornick Subscriber

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    The type 'E' screen is a popular one. I have one each for my two Nikon F2 bodies. It's a more open screen in the sense that there is no distracting focusing "aid" right in the center of the field of view, obscuring the composition. And for asymmetric-seeing people like me who couldn't hold a level building or horizon if our life depended on it, it's gridded lines are a life-saver.

    Just learn to focus by looking carefully at what appears in focus, just like looking at any other ground glass camera. It's really not a question of guessing, but rather one of careful inspection. There is no missing trick to this, although there are magnifying eyepiece attachments on some Nikon models to help out a bit. These, however, are usually reserved for critical macro-level focusing, not general photography.

    Many Nikon users will tell you that a Nikon equipped with the plain, unadorned, non-metered prism together with a plain, unadorned screen consisting of nothing more than the ground glass itself is the purest form of 35mm framing and focusing there is. Heck, even my 8x10 ground glass has faint lines.

    And enjoy that FM2n. It's a marvelous Nikon. I keep meaning to pick one up for myself.

    Ken
     
  4. darkosaric

    darkosaric Subscriber

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    I don't like those plain focusing screens without split screen as well. If after some time you don't get used to it - buy another focus screen that you like better.
     
  5. Roundabout

    Roundabout Member

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    Thanks all. Yep, I've been playing with this camera all day (when I should be working). It's a beauty.

    I'll shoot a few rolls with it and see how it goes. It seems harder to judge focus with wide angle. It's easy with a 50mm, but I got the 28mm 2.8 AIS and it's not as easy.

    I'm toying with the idea of getting a K2 (I think the original split screen). Has anyone had any experience with the B2 (Matte/Fresnel with focusing spot) version of the screen?
     
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  6. Vilk

    Vilk Member

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    :blink: you mean there's some other way? :confused:

    :laugh:
     
  7. pen s

    pen s Member

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    Before rushing off to buy a split wedge screen make sure you can see the screen.
    How is your eyesight? Do you use glasses? If so, for what correction, close, far, astigmatism?

    I say this because the eyepiece of SLR's is set for a certain focus point. Usually 1 meter or -1 diopter. This allows a large number of younger people to use the camera without glasses even if they are slightly nearsighted. I'm not sure what Nikon chose for the FM, but -1 was common for several makes.

    In the 1970's I sold cameras, mostly SLR's, and the most common cause of fuzzy pictures was missed focus. When a customer came back with this problem I would check if he could see the screen clearly. I would try a few diopter correction eyepieces, sometimes the improvement was dramatic. They just had not realized that they couldn't *quite* see the screen clearly and thus missed focus on some shots, especially when using the lens wide open.

    You may have no problem with this but it is good to checkout first. Unfortunatly correction diopters have all but vanished since most all modern DSLR's have adjustable diopter built in for the eyepiece.

    As an aside, I also am a big fan of plain matte with grid lines focusing screens. I have Olympus's version, the 1-10 in all my OM bodies.

    About focusing wide angle lenses.
    With a 28mm or wider just about anything over 10~12 feet you can scale focus, especially in good light with smaller apertures. With my 24mm lens outside in good light and over 10 feet I generally treat it as a fixed focus lens and leave it at infinity.
     
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  8. AgX

    AgX Member

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    They are not intended to do anything else than give control on positioning vert./horiz. structures of the subject and to control the scale or the relation of scales of subject details. They can be useful for panoramic composition for cropping too.
     
  9. Chris Lange

    Chris Lange Member

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    Maybe I'm mistaken but my F3/T has a red dot E screen in it and there is definitely a pronounced microprism circle in the center of the screen that works just as quickly as a split image...am I right in understanding that your screen is only gridded, with no focusing aid in the center?
     
  10. AgX

    AgX Member

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  11. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

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    You really need a magnifier for that screen. I'm assuming it is the gridded, plain groundglass without split image or microprism aids.
     
  12. dynachrome

    dynachrome Member

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    When I use a grid type screen I use the grid lines as a sharpness reference. For macro work and for using zoom lenses or other slow lenses I find it much easier to focus with a grid type screen than with any combination of microprism and split image. If I know I will want to change focusing screens "in the field" I will use a camera like a Canon F=1 or Nikon F2 which will allow the screens to be changed easily and without any special tools. I might carry two bodies with different screens. Before I had different systems I has Nikon E (for the FE) screens transplanted into two Konica SLR bodies, FT-1 and T2. It really helped with macro shooting. I also like to use grid screens in medium format cameras where the lenses are typically slower. If I am shooting at higher magnification, like 2-5X then I will use a plain matte screen.
     
  13. Roundabout

    Roundabout Member

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    Thanks for all the comments.

    Yes, it is just plain glass, there does not appear to be any split image or other focussing aids.

    My vision is pretty good (well, a bit long-sighted). I just find the split image very quick for focussing in urban photography. There is always a straight line to use as a guide - even with a wide angle lens. But I'll experiment with this and see how it goes.

    I'd still be interested to know anyone's experiences with the Type B screen. It looks interesting.
     
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  14. AgX

    AgX Member

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    Well, it is not plain glass. It is grounded.
    There actually are plain glass screens for using the aerial image (though typically with a reference mark for locating the focal plane).
     
  15. Roundabout

    Roundabout Member

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    Sure. The point being, for me, that there are no focussing aids.
     
  16. Roundabout

    Roundabout Member

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    Interstingly here it says that
    https://support.nikonusa.com/app/an...2LzEvdGltZS8xMzg0NTY0Njg3L3NpZC93T1NROHNGbA==

    Does that mean that I won't need exposure compensation if I stick K3 screen in my FM2n?

    Edit: http://www.mir.com.my/rb/photography/hardwares/classics/nikonfmseries/fm3a/manual/htmls/screens.htm Seems to suggest this also.
    Or have I misunderstood?
     
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  17. LJSLATER

    LJSLATER Member

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    Nobody can agree on whether one needs exposure compensation or not.

    My FM2n came with a K2 screen, and I replaced it with an E3 (I prefer not using a split-prism). I measured a 1/3 stop difference between the two screens, the E3 being brighter. Test for yourself.

    Oh, and I agree that focusing with slower wide angles can indeed be challenging. The Nikon F2 series has the best viewfinders for that application, in my opinion.
     
  18. dynachrome

    dynachrome Member

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    The E screen in this series was for the FE. The E2 screen was made for the FE2. The E3 screen was made for the FM3A. If you use a screen in a camera it was not originally made for you will have to provide some exposure compensation. The Nikon F2 went out of production in 1980 and did not have, as far as I know, an E type screen as bright as that of the FM3A (E3). A benefit of using the F2 is that it shows very little distortion in the finder. The actual distortion a lens has will show up looking the same on any body but an F2, for example, shows less finder distortion than a Nikkormat FT3.
     
  19. Xmas

    Xmas Member

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    the direct answer to the op is you have to

    have good vision
    iterate

    ie. you need to just over shoot the point of sharpest focus and then back off to maximum clarity

    this is not necessary with a split image and a orthogonal edge

    it is difficult with ground glass with subjects without micro contrast

    the centre spot needs to be rough ground...
     
  20. Roundabout

    Roundabout Member

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    Well, I shot a roll and it came out fine – even the closeups. (I think these Nikon lenses are sharper than my Zuiko ones.)

    I think I'll still try an dpick up a split focus screen though. It's hard focusing in dimmer light with the E screen.
     
  21. LJSLATER

    LJSLATER Member

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    True, the E screen for the F/F2 series is not as bright as the E3; however, I find the viewfinder of my F2S to be bigger and MUCH clearer than that of my FM2n, so even though the former is not as bright, it's still easier to focus.
     
  22. kitanikon

    kitanikon Member

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    The 1st thing I did after buying my Nikon Fs was to remove the split image screen and replace them with the coarse fresnel B screen with the fine flat matte 12mm center circle....the E without the grid...and I did have one F fitted with an E as well....and for 40 years enjoyed focusing ANYwhere on the screen, quickly and intuitively, just like the current Nikon AF screen of today...the split image, or microprism found in other cameras such as the Nikkormat FS I had, was just too much of an ATTRACTION...the center-spot focusing aid a potential distraction from the rest of the image...I credit those many years' experience with giving me a pretty good ratio of keepers with the finer focusing screens found on dSLRs of today.
     
  23. Roundabout

    Roundabout Member

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    Well, I just received the FM3A split screen and installed it (easier than I thought).

    If there is any difference in the metering, then it's pretty small as far as I can tell (but that was just from pointing at the same spot on the wall, before and after swapping the screens). Is there anything that I should be looking out for?