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  1. #1

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    How to focus with a Nikon type E focussing screen

    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. #2

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

  3. #3
    Ken Nadvornick's Avatar
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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
    "They are the proof that something was there and no longer is. Like a stain. And the stillness of them is boggling. You can turn away but when you come back they’ll still be there looking at you."

    — Diane Arbus, March 15, 1971, in response to a request for a brief statement about photographs

  4. #4
    darkosaric's Avatar
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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. #5

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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?
    Last edited by Roundabout; 11-15-2013 at 03:38 AM. Click to view previous post history.

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Nadvornick View Post
    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.
    you mean there's some other way?


  7. #7

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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.
    Last edited by pen s; 11-15-2013 at 08:28 AM. Click to view previous post history.

  8. #8
    AgX
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roundabout View Post
    The cross lines don't appear to do anything, other than help you keep the horizen level and so on.
    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. #9
    Chris Lange's Avatar
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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?
    See my work at my website CHRISTOPHER LANGE PHOTOGRAPHY

    or my snaps at my blog MINIMUM DENSITY
    --
    If you don't have it, then you don't have it.

  10. #10
    AgX
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