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Old Sep 22, 2007, 9:28 AM   #1
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I spoke with some fellow old timers about features on old vs new cameras. We agreed the viewfinders are not aslarge orbrightas in the past and we wondered why the microprism and split image focussing screens have all given way to matte glass. We understand AF is the rage but many people still focus manually or "touch up " the focusprovided by the AF. Is this just an issue of the cost of the focus aid?
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Old Sep 22, 2007, 9:37 AM   #2
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The brightness of the viewfinder is probably part of it (that and the majority of new camera owners probably use Autofocus versus manual focus in most conditions anymore). About the only time I use MF is if I'm shooting in conditions that are too dark for Autofocus (i.e., night photos). But, some owners do still use MF and a split prism type screen would be desirable for that purpose.

As for brightness, I've seen comments from others that installed third party split prism type focus screens that it threw off their metering because their light transmission characteristics.

It's also my understanding that the camera manufacturers recalibrate metering if they install a different screen in models that have multiple factory focus screens available as an option.


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Old Oct 11, 2007, 11:47 PM   #3
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I replaced the split image focusing screen on all my Nikon film cams with the same type of matte screen on my 10D, so for me the move to Dslr was easy...as for MF over AF, old MF lenses have a wide-ratio, long rotation focusing barrel, whereas AF lenses have close-ratio focusing barrels for faster/more efficient use of AF motors. This makes it harder to MF with them as the barrel rotation is so short....I love using my MF Nikkors on my 10D and look forward to using them on the 40D.

Here's a shot with a 300/4.5 Nikkor on the 10D


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Old Oct 12, 2007, 7:42 AM   #4
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ADSchiller wrote:
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I spoke with some fellow old timers about features on old vs new cameras. We agreed the viewfinders are not aslarge orbrightas in the past and we wondered why the microprism and split image focussing screens have all given way to matte glass. We understand AF is the rage but many people still focus manually or "touch up " the focusprovided by the AF. Is this just an issue of the cost of the focus aid?
Actually this issue is a little bit more convoluted like JimC has described:

Most cropped dSLRs after the 10D have gone to a smaller mirror in the "film" chamber so of course less light are being reflected up to the viewfinder. What he manufacturers did to compensate for this decreasing light is to improve their laser cut on the matte-glass.

Now if you do change to the microprism (or split-screen), which I could and did on occasion on my 1DMrkII, the viewfinder is no longer as bright. To compenstate for this light fall-off one also needs to change the custom function for the metering, which are located in the prism after the viewing screen. This adjustment is not all... with the center microprism and/or split screens you are also giving up the evaluative and spot metering functions of the camera which are no longer accurate!
-> I guess you can't have your cake and eat it too... :idea:
In the film day the metering function on some cameras are done below the mirror box (where the AF sensors are now) and they measured it off the film so are not affected by the viewing screens brightness or composition...
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Old Oct 14, 2007, 9:48 AM   #5
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Thanks for the comments especially NHL for explaining the mechanics of sensor location in digital vs film cameras. I still usea 300D Canon. With a 50mm 1.4, it doesn't seem nearly as bright as my old Nikon FM was. As my old eyes get even older,I would gladly upgrade to a model with "only" 10-12 megapixels if I could get a bright, easy to focus viewfinder.Maybethe 50D?
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Old Oct 15, 2007, 9:24 AM   #6
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ADSchiller wrote:
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As my old eyes get even older,I would gladly upgrade to a model with "only" 10-12 megapixels if I could get a bright, easy to focus viewfinder.Maybethe 50D?
The current 5D is a full-frame(with the larger mirror box) so this camera should get you back to the same brightness as the "film" viewfinder... You also get more dynamic range as a bonus
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Old Oct 15, 2007, 10:53 AM   #7
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I can confirm that the 5D looks exactly like my EOS 50E through the viewfinder.

Lots better than my old 20D.

Reports say however that the 40D is MUCH better than the 20D/30D - almost as good as the 5D. You can see from the pictures and size comparison that the 40D has a much bigger volume devoted to the prism assembly.
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Old Oct 15, 2007, 3:03 PM   #8
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FYI - http://www.katzeyeoptics.com/item--K...prod_K10D.html
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