Question on focussing screen

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by SoulSurround, Oct 10, 2005.

  1. SoulSurround

    SoulSurround Member

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    L.S.,
    Before I get brand names swung at me (beattie, maxwell, etc.), please read the following first. I use an older Rolleiflex SL66 camera and the focussing screen it has tends to go dark towards the corners and is not easy (but not impossible) to focus in dim light situations.

    I mainly shoot portraits with a 80mm & 150mm lenses. The lighting situation varies from daylight (which is not a problem) to available light inside the house, which is more difficult in the focussing respect. Especially when I will use my flashes - that don't have a modelling light - in the evening I have trouble focussing with the normal house lights on.

    I would like you opinion on the following questions: 1) Which type of screen would suit my type of photography best? Currently I am thinking 'microprism' because there are not many lines in a dimly lit eye which I can use to focus on with a wedge. But maybe a clear screen without any focussing aid is also an option???

    2) Should I get gridlines? As I do portraiture I don't think gridlines are that necessary (maybe for 'the rule of thirds' but that's about it)... or am I wrong here. I have the feeling that they will destract more than contribute to the final image.

    Finally, if you wish :smile:, you may suggest a brand. I am also interested in people having experence with the Rollei "High-D- Screen"; how does it compare to the beatties and maxwells?

    Thanks a lot in advance!
    Jeroen
     
  2. David H. Bebbington

    David H. Bebbington Inactive

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    Don't know the SL66, have Mamiya RB67 and have used many other MF SLRs. Focusing in room lighting is not going to be easy with any screen, a microprism screen has the virtue that it will focus positively on a surface without lines in it (you just focus until the microprisms disappear) but I don't think it will give any benefit in dim light, only a screen with a center split-image rangefinder will help, and then only if the subject has a line in it. A focusing hood/finder which excludes extraneous light would be a good idea. You might actually find with your Rollei (which is probably 40 years old) that the mirror silvering has gone a little dark, which will make the finder image dim[mer] with any screen. I have a Beattie screen in my outdoors LF camera, I think they're great, expensive but well worth the money.

    If you know anyone who has a modern SLR with an ordinary screen and a waist-level finder, have a look through this under room lighting conditions. If the screen image looks brighter than your camera, I would suspect the mirror silvering.

    As regards grid lines, I like gridded screens but they're really for architecture, copying and other applications where you really must get the camera squared up with the subject. Limited use for portraiture!
     
  3. gbroadbridge

    gbroadbridge Member

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    I've found a tape measure invaluable in similar situations :smile:

    Graham
     
  4. SoulSurround

    SoulSurround Member

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    LOL, I'll bear that in mind. Actually, I usually turn all available lights on as a workaround... usually that doesn't really make the model more comfortable; I wonder how that will go when I take out the measure :smile:. But it's indeed another option.

    The camera is indeed from the 1960s, I will have a look at the mirror this evening when I get home (will post the answer here).
     
  5. SoulSurround

    SoulSurround Member

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    Hi David, that's part of the problem; I don't know anyone with a similar MF camera. It's frustrating that you can't compare a few screens (Maxwells, Beatties & Rolleis) in a store; especially considering the price. That's why I posted the question here. If there's anyone with an SL66 out there, please share your focussing-screen experiences with me!
     
  6. SoulSurround

    SoulSurround Member

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    I just had a look, but it doesn't look like the mirror is silvering. It pretty much looks like a good mirror!
     
  7. SoulSurround

    SoulSurround Member

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    Does anyone have experience in focussing a "Maxwell Brilliant Matte" in low light situations? As composition wise a screen without any focussing aids is most usefull for portraiture, but if I can't focus it is useless again :smile:.
     
  8. Allen

    Allen Member

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    I have a sl66 and I don't have a problem under low light. I do have the 45 degree prism on it, I don't know if that helps under low light as I don't have a pop up viewer. I have the type 560040 screen which is just a common screen. Rollei still makes a ultra bright screen
    and the site sl66.com recommends Bright Screen but I have never tried them.

    Allen
     
  9. Peter De Smidt

    Peter De Smidt Member

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    I have a Rollei TLR made in 1952. It was very difficult to focus the camera indoors with the original screen. About 10 years ago, I replaced it with a Beattie screen. This made a huge improvement. On my 4x5 I have a Maxwell screen. It's very, very good. If I were you'd I'd get a plain matte screen with built in fresnel. It's what I have in my Rollei.
     
  10. SoulSurround

    SoulSurround Member

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    Thanks Allen! I wrote the guys at brightscreen.com, but their solution was a bit over my budget (total of $ 331.96 US dollars, including shipping). Instead, for now, I ordered the Rollei bright screen with micro prism (Type # 97074, as it states: suitable for low light situations) in Germany.
     
  11. SoulSurround

    SoulSurround Member

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    Thanks Peter (very Dutch name you have by the way) as you can read above I ordered an original Rollei glass the other day... but on the 6th of November I have an appointment with a Dutch Maxwell 'dealer' and I will definetely go and compare the screen above with the plain matte!
     
  12. SoulSurround

    SoulSurround Member

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    Unfortunately, I forgot to compare the screens on the 6th of November (I was buying a circular polarizer from that person too). The 'reason' that I forgot is that I am very happy with the (97074) Rollei screen that I ordered. It is much brighter (also in the corners) than the one that came with the camera in the 1960s (64913).

    However, if I see the Dutch Maxwell dealer in the future, I will ask him to show me the Maxwell glass too.

    Jeroen
     
  13. JHannon

    JHannon Member

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    I have a Sl66 and bought a used Beattie Intenscreen at KEH.com. It cost under $100 (has no grid lines and has a micro split prism). My problem is that my eyesight is really bad close up (I have the waist-level finder).

    The screen really did improve the brightness and I hoped that the split prism would help focusing but I still have problems. It is my 50yr old eyesight. :smile:

    One of these screens may work for you, they are definitely brighter.

    I hope this helps,

    --John
     
  14. JHannon

    JHannon Member

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    As an update.. I just bought the 45deg prism for the SL66. What a difference!
    Nice and bright screen and easy to focus. The split micro prism in the screen really helps. I could never get the focus right with the waist level finder.

    I don't miss the grid lines for what I do, Portraits..