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Old Dec 20, 2006, 8:31 PM   #1
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My old film SLR that I used for many years had a viewfinder with the typical focusing grid and splitter prism. It was easy to use and I liked it. Now I've got a new K100 here with no grid or splitter, just a faint matte pattern of "ground glass" in the viewfinder.

Can somebody explain this to me?

I've heard comments from people who like the ground glass. One said it was better for getting exposure right. Another said as a focusing aid it was more accurate than a splitter. The K100 user manual says I am supposed to use the ground glass as a focusing aid. And. . . I have no idea what any of them are talking about. I don't know how it works.

I've looked and looked at the ground glass and I don't see it responding in any way to focus, or exposure, or anything else. I don't even know what I'm supposed to be looking for.

I found a company (Katz Eye) that sells a replacement focusing screen with the traditional grid and splitter for the K100. I can buy one for $95. . . But I thought, before I spend the money and attempt installing this thing, maybe I should ask this question. Maybe if I understood how the ground glass is supposed to work, I'd be happy with it.
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Old Dec 20, 2006, 10:12 PM   #2
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if you can't see any difference at any focal distance with the matte screen, then i'd suggest a trip to the local eye doctor and also definately suggest a diopter adj. on the camera.. actually, this response is moot, as you probably can not read it.

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Old Dec 20, 2006, 10:50 PM   #3
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If you are expecting something like the split screen aid that the old film cameras had, the viewfinder on the K100 doesn't work like that. However, I can often see it (don't know how to explain it) sort-of snap into focus. It took practice (found taking macro pictures of flowers really helped) to get it. And for days when my poor old eyes don't work that well, I can always listen for the beep first, then fine-tune from there if needed. I was seriously considering the katz eye until I got the K10 and now its gone on the back burner (and I also remember running into situations where I couldn't see one side properly and so couldn't focus at all!).
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Old Dec 20, 2006, 10:55 PM   #4
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With your ground glass screen an unfocused image will be fuzzy and the in-focus image will be sharp. Look at the non-center areas of your old film SLR viewfinder. This is ground glass also. You should see the transitions between fuzzy and sharp as you rotate the lens focus ring.

Evenifyour viewfinder diopter setting is out of whack, you should see 'some' transition on your K100.

What lens are you using? I have some Sigmas in addition to Pentax AF lenses. While the Pentax focusing ring always engages when rotated, the Sigmas have AF/Manual settings. When set to AF, manual adjustment of the focus ring has no effect. Perhaps you're running into a situation like this?

What do you see when the camera auto-focuses (clear/fuzzy)? Does the in-focus indicator illuminate?

There are also two source on eBay for Pentax-compatible split prism screens - Virtual Village (new @ $30.00) and a gentleman who mills them down from scrap cameras - search this board, you'll find discussions.

Good luck.


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Old Dec 21, 2006, 1:50 PM   #5
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Are you referring to "Pentax" mounted lens? TheAF/M selection is done on the body of the DSLR and not the lens itself... the focus motor is in the camera body.

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Old Dec 21, 2006, 2:46 PM   #6
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Yes, Jack, but some lenses you have to set on "manual" mode, and do the same on the body.

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Old Dec 21, 2006, 10:24 PM   #7
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snoopy2 wrote:

Are you referring to "Pentax" mounted lens?...
No, I was referring to the Sigmas. If the Pentax body is set to MF but the lens (which as Kjell points out has it's own control as well) is still on AF, the focusing ring will have no effect. Theylack the quick-clutch designof the Pentax 18-55mm & 50-200mm lenses.

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Old Dec 22, 2006, 12:07 PM   #8
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It sounds like tonybelding is unhappy that his new camera doesn't have a split prism viewfinder to aid in manual focusing. I agree, I really miss this feature and would love to have it on my DSLR. The ground glass does show focus but not nearly as usefully as a viewfinder with a focusing aid in the middle like a split prism.

I would assume that his old film camera was, like my K1000, a mostly or all manual camera. My understanding is that the split prism is right where the metering is usually done, and having the prism can potentially confuse them somewhat. See the FAQs on the KatzEye website for some more information. A mostly/fully manual camera will not have these concerns as it's not auto-metering.

Yes, the Pentax DSLRs will beep and light a dot when it thinks I'm in focus... but that's hardly 100% reliable and I really miss the prism viewfinder on the old 35mm, especially when going between the two cameras (I still use the 35mm one sometimes, mostly for Zenitar fisheye photos.)

Tony, the viewfinder will not show exposure at all - you may get a dimmer viewfinder if you're using an older lens with a manual aperture ring, but that's it.

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Old Dec 29, 2006, 3:39 PM   #9
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For those using a KatzEye: is it worth it? Do you feel like you are manual focusing much better with it?

Trouble with AF lenses?

I own K100D and they seem to have it:

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Old Dec 29, 2006, 6:23 PM   #10
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digitaladdict --

I bought a Katzeye for my DS. the standard with the split prism and microprism collar. If I had it to do over again, I'd buy one, but without the focusing aids. The screen itself has a finer ground glass quality than the OEM DS screen, and is brighter and easier to focus, but I think that the focusing aids are too big for the screen. I stilll have the KE in the DS, but rarely use the split screen, sometimes use the microprism area, and mostly use the other areas of the screen to focus manually. I found the split prism to be really useful only when there was a clear vertical line in the prism area. If I had my druthers, I'd like a KE with nothing but a small microprism area in the center (they don't make em). . . But YMMV.

That being said, the DL has a brighter screen than the DS, as do each of the K series bodies (probably as bright as the std KE). I'm very satisfied with the brightness and "fineness" of the standard K10 screen, so I'm staying with it unless I decide to get one of the Pentax accessory screens for some other reason than MF capability (they're cheaper, and I'm thinking, just as good).

Ms Katz makes an excellent product, and has been very responsive to email questions both techical and practical -- a very good company to deal with.

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