'Bresson' brand focusing screens

Started Nov 3, 2012 | Discussions thread
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Wojciech Sawicki
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'Bresson' brand focusing screens
Nov 3, 2012

There seems to be an abundance of custom focusing screens for popular DSLRs available on Ebay, at highly attractive prices.

Being a fan of old, manual focus lenses I figured I'd give it a shot, and ordered a screen for my D7000, with microraster and a 45 degree splitscreen rangefinder. Sounds awesome, right?

The kit arrives in a box that suggests there's a wide range of screen types available for just about all major camera makes and models out there (I've yet to see these screens available anywhere, though).

There's a nice little zip-up pouch, two pairs of pincers (precise metal ones and soft plastic ones with silicone tips), a pair of latex "condoms" for your fingers, and microfiber cloth. A lovely kit overall, containing everything you need to do the swap.

But here's where the good ends and the bad begins.

- The first thing you notice after installation is that it's much, much darker than the original. Darker than similar screens we used to have in old manual bodies, for sure.

- The second, far worse problem is that the screen's thickness doesn't match that of the original one. This puts it at a different distance from the lens than the original and leads to severe backfocus. You will need shims, which are not provided. You might get lucky rearranging the factory shims if your camera has them.

- The third problem, and worst BY A MILE, is the way this thing renders out-of-focus areas. With the original screen, we get a decent (although understated) approximation of the resulting blur. But with this... Well, there is SOME blur going on, but you can still see the underlying image, perfectly sharp, underneath. Even if you defocus an F1.8 prime, focus it at, let's say, 45cm and then point it at a distant landscape - you will still be able to see individual trees, people, details - just behind a haze.

Visually, it looks like having a crappy "soft" filter on. Or a fogged up lens. I may photoshop an example later.

I've tried to like this thing, but I can't get used to it. The horrible rendition of OOF areas is a massive distraction, the splitscreen and the microraster are a tad too large and coarse, and the whole thing looks and feels nothing like a real, proper screen of this type in an MF body.i was hoping to get some of that nostalgic feel reminiscent of my old MF bodies, but there is none of it. Apart from having dust in the viewfinder.

I've got a Canon AE-1 here for comparison and it's a delight. So is the Zenit Automat. But this?.. I just can't work with this. Not worth the effort, and even at $10, it's still not worth the money.

Any advantage the microraster and splitscreen give for manual focusing is countered by the overall darkness and then further hampered by lack of proper blurring of OOF areas. Everything looks just about the same - dark, murky, and hazed.

Don't bother, save a dozen bucks. You can spend it on things you'll be much happier with. Like pizza.

Nikon D7000
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