PART I: Initial impression of Katz Eye focusing screen d200

Started Mar 30, 2006 | Discussions thread
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SpotMeter Regular Member • Posts: 155
PART I: Initial impression of Katz Eye focusing screen d200

I did it. I had a long conversation with Rachel Katz before sendng my D200 to her to have her (them?) install the split screen/microprism collar focus screen. Rachel was fantastic to talk to, has a wealth of technical information and is pleasantly not a hard-sell type person rather a hard-facts type - much appreciated.

So I knew I was headed to St. John in the Caribbean with the family for R&R and knew I was traveling light photographically - shooting film for a change of pace. I packed up my d200 and sent it off to Katz Eye optics for the process before my flight.

Before stating my initial experiences with the new screen which was waiting for me on my return (8 days turnaround including shipping times there and back) let me say how pleasureable it was to handle my tiny (yet about the same weight as my d200) FM2n. Fast, direct - compose, focus, set exposure, click - a joy to use. I've been shooting split prism viewfinders for more than 25 years and I know them well. Plus I knew that one set of batteries would last the whole trip, or rather the whole year or more And of course the viewfinder, though not nealy as Imax as an F3HP is huge and bright and manual focusing with the two lenses I brought (24 f/2 and 75-150 f/3.5E) was fast, easy and enjoyable. I have tried manual focusing with my former d70 (ouch) and the D200 ( quite a bit better) but still was never had that direct confident experience that I have when using my manual focus body and split prism screen. So suffice to say after a week shooting the kids, the fauna, the flora, the weather, the rocks, the surf with this little gem of a manual focus camera, I was fully prepared to be a harsh critic of whatever it was that my UPS man brought back from Katz Eye Optics in Massachusets.

So I open my box, pop my 55 micro AIS on the revamped D200, and peek through the viewfinder and Yessssssssss! There they are - my split prism and microprism collar, just like my FM2n. Using those two tools makes focusing manually such a breeze - I can ignore the little green focus indicator light. Now, I must admit, that I had less trouble focusing on close objects with the old screen where shallower DOF helps in confirming focus, nonetheless the improvement to me is nothing less than remarkable and one can only wonder why nikon gave the D200 the ability to mate happily with AI lenses but did not give it the manual focusing ability that the split prism provides. Focusing on objects toward the infinity end of the scale is now a breeze.

Now a favorite trick of mine when I shoot WA is to keep near objects close to edges and let the background sweep away in WA majesty. When auto focusing, we are talking about the outer most AF points. At close range, and larger aps using the split prism to focus on that near object then tilting the camera could likely lead to misfocus once the scene is recomposed. Using the new screen - there is a whole new clarity and in their words "snap" to objects coming into focus on the matte screen outside of the central focus aids. Even in fairly dim light I can rely on what I see on the matte portion fairly well. I opted for their brightness treatment, although some say that without it you get more of that so called "snap" when focusing. Without the un-brightened version, I have to say I am completely satisfied with what I'm seeing through the viewfinder.

On the phone, Rachel was telling me about the improved DOF indication that her screens provide, and again, I don't have a non-modified D200 to contrast with, I do notice that, especially with macro and to some extent telephoto compositions that I can more clearly see the DOF limits through the viewfinder. Could be suggestion or could be fact, but I believe I see a sharper definition of DOF.

CONTINUE TO MY NEXT POST FOR PART II

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