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Internetpilot Feb 20, 2007 4:20 PM

I promised in another thread to come back and post my experiences with the split focus screen from the eBay seller, VirtualVillage.

Everyone has their own budget for their photo hobby, career, etc. So the split focus screen from eBay seller, VirtualVillage, caught my eye because of its relatively inexpensive price, as well as a few good mentions ona few forums. I have an E-500 two-lens kit, and haven't bought any additional lenses, primarily because I was waiting to see how this focus assist screen would work out.
In two words, it's "rather nice".


It took 15 days to get to my door after making my PayPal payment, but it would probably have been here a couple of days sooner if not for the Presidents Day holiday (USA). I purchased it from eBay Australia rather than eBay USA, because I saved quite a bit of money that way. I ended up with a total of $31.99 including shipping. Had I gone through eBay USA, I would've paid almost $40. Hey, every little bit counts, right? That's 1/2 the price of a used Zuiko 50mm f1.8! Just FYI, VirtualVillage has eBay stores on all of the various eBay sites (Spain, Italy, UK, Australia, USA, France, Germany, etc.). It might benefit you price-wise to shop around their stores to save some money like I did. I'm not sure if it's a conversion rate thing or what, but I did get a better deal by going to a "foreign" eBay site. I have no complaints about the shopping or buying process at all. The screen arrived in a bubble-cushioned envelope. The screen itself was wrapped in anti-static plastic, placed in a SD card case, wrapped in several layers of bubble wrap, and then placed in the bubble cushioned envelope.

If you buy one of these expecting installation instructions, get ready for disappointment -- there weren't any. But that's okay because I found the following two sites via Google showing how to install a focus screen in an E-500:

The first link above is to what appears to be a Chinese website (I don't think it's Japanese as I don't see any Katakana/Hiragana characters). This site has the best pictures, in my opinion/experience, but unless you can read Chinese, you're out of luck for written instructions from there.

The second link above is to the Katz Eye instructions. Yes, they're the competition, so it's probably not appropriate for you to buy a cheaper focus screen elsewhere and then use their instructions, but (to be honest) I didn't find their written instructions or pictures to be any more helpful than the Chinese website.

For me the installation was obvious just by looking at the installed OEM focus screen. All I did was pry out the tab on the retaining frame with a wooden toothpick, resulting in the retaining frame, focus screen, and spacer dropping down on to the mirror. I then used two toothpicks as chopsticks to carefully remove all the pieces. I used the same chopstick method for reassembly.

Note: Since there is no guide tab on the new split focus screen (as there is on the OEM one), it's very easy to install the new split focus screen upside down and improperly rotated. You also have to figure out how to center it yourself, or else your focus lock "dots" will not be centered or lined up properly. That doesn't really cause any problems that I'm aware of, but it was annoying to me. True confession -- I had to rotate and flip the screen once, so I actually installed the screen three times. I lucked out on figuring out how to center it after the second install. It's nicely centered now.

Well, I think it works about as well as can be expected of any aftermarket split focus screen, especially one that you install yourself. I definitely think that even a slightly off installation could result in poor manual focus results. I suspect that it really does need to be centered and installed correctly (the right orientation) in order for it to work the best.

I tested some shots with my kit lens (17.5-45mm) using both manual and autofocus, and my manual focussing was dead-on about 80% of the time. The accuracy increased the more I tested it, so it does take a little getting used to. I'm sure I will eventually get 99% perfect results with a little practice. The other issue that some may need to worry about is that the combination of eyeglasses, the small E-500 viewfinder, and the split focus screen can definitely increase the difficulty of properly using this focus screen. If you just move your eye position slightly, the split display changes significantly. You need to find that "sweet spot" and keep your eye/face there, and try not to move the camera or your eye around to much (like looking for that display in the right side of the view finder!). I'm also sure that my cheap kit lens is probably not the best lens for testing a manual focus screen. I'll report back when I pick up an old Zuiko 35mm or 50mm and can try the real deal. My tests using the 40-150mm kit lens were much better, that time I had practiced quite a bit with the 17.5-45mm, I wasn't doing any kind of macro testing, and the 40-150mm lens is a lot faster lens.

I do not regret getting it. At most, I would've been out $32, so it's not a bad risk. I guess I could've damaged my camera or the OEM screen during the installation process, so that could've put me out a lot more than $32, but I'm pretty handy and have quite the tinkering experience, so it was minimal risk for me.

Now I'm off to get a cheap Zuiko 50mm 1.8, and then depending on that experience, I'll likely get more used, manual lenses in the future.

I hope this helps some of you considering the same route. Please feel free to ask any specific questions.

benvendetta Feb 24, 2007 4:45 PM

I am interested in getting one of these as I have recently bought an OM Zuiko 200mm f4 telephoto to use on my E500. I seem to be able to focus this lens resonably well but not as well as when it is fitted to my Olympus OM2, which has a split image focus screen as standard. The question that I have is does it affect the usage of the normaldigital Zuikos? The screen would be about £23 for me from a site in Hong Kong.

Internetpilot Feb 24, 2007 6:13 PM

I did notice it affecting the exposure a bit, primarily when using my 17.5-45mm kit lens. Since my E-500 is relatively new, I'm still at a phase where I take a lot of "test shots" or even just dinking around with it while waiting for something to compile on my computer, etc. Anyway, I take a lot of pictures of the nik-naks in my home office (haha), and I noticed that with the VV split focus screen in place, they shots with my 17.5-45mm kit lens and the onboard flash were a bit darker than usual. It didn't seem to affect my 40-150mm kit lens much (if at all), but that's a much faster lens than the 17.5-45mm.

I just recently switched back to the OEM focus screen, and the exposure problems are gone. Not that they were exactly "problems", because it could be worked around, but there wasan affect from using this aftermarket focus screen. I switched back to the OEM one because I decided not to go after the OM lenses at this time. I'll likely pick upone or two of mid-priced digital zuikos instead. My wife will not be happy when she finds out how much they are, but I think I at least need something faster to replace the 17.5-45mm. I actually like the 40-150mm kit lens, so the 50-200mm is less enticing to me.

Rriley Feb 25, 2007 10:43 AM

heres a google translation of the above DIY link
(it might seem a little coarse :) )

OLYMPUS E-500 focusing screen installation Teaching
.E-500 demolition of the focusing screen quite easily removed with CANON APS law similar to the size of the digital camera. Following is the brother demolition E-500 focusing screen for reference .......

~~~~~ ~ ~ ~ Preparations

1. Please send your brother prepared statement focusing screen with the installation of the machine and silk fringe first

2. I should be grateful if you would wash your hands clean, dust flying Yang taboo operating environment, so please fans and the windows closed. Please do what is necessary to collate House

3. Cleared a clean desktop, ready to blowing the ball and shot with a red lamp can start a cleaning tool

~~~~~ ~ ~ ~ 1,10 to start

image 1

"E-500 plans 1.In the first place upside down as the plane, focusing screen at the bottom. You will see a translucent piece of plastic, that is, "focusing screen"

image 2

"Next is to use NIE Zi Ver.2 care plan through the hole in the front springs, After pushing Wanglimian good clip about the springs can be loosened
(Note that go up in smoke should be careful to do this step should not be anxious if NIE Zi focusing screen it is not going to a wake-care ~)

image 3

"This is the enlarged map-3 plans, please watch carefully took place. another caught the wrong names (holding the camera to follow than what you can see.)

image 4

"If you worry that this will be a wake-4> plans to be focusing screen, then the first cut of about 3M stealth plastic 18mmX14mm In focusing on security and peace Screen Belt

image 5

"Spring will come up with a plan to care < 5 >

image 6

"Diversified springs out after plans to see which one of the legs of the focusing screen right there. NIE Zi caught up with it after the split-image / Micro Mitsubishi changed the opinions success go up in smoke.

~As for the equipment to push back against the law as long as a chorus, like split / Micro Mitsubishi is following North Korea, Fortunately, there Fangai E-500 focusing screen so you will not face the wrong equipment, focusing red spots or be modified, In addition to the original functions are normal, as will a number of separatist / Micro Mitsubishi function

~ Hand row can now enjoy the pleasure of good 1,10 ~ ~

~~~~~~~~~ School ~~~

Jiang thanked the students for the Chungli camera occasionally E-500

2006/04/26 This final revision in 2006/04/26


Internetpilot Feb 25, 2007 10:43 PM

Rriley wrote:

2. I should be grateful if you would wash your hands clean, dust flying Yang taboo operating environment, so please fans and the windows closed. Please do what is necessary to collate House

I had a lot of problems with the dust flying Yang taboo, which caused me a few extra minutes of mirror and focus screen cleaning time.

That Yang taboo can cause you some serious digital camera issues! ;)

Rriley Feb 25, 2007 11:20 PM

somewhere in the future the bain of Yang taboo will be banished
but for the moment we must accept this terrible affliction


Scouse Feb 26, 2007 2:42 PM

1 Attachment(s)
Interesting post 'pilot', thanks. I plan on fitting the Katzeye split sceen on my OM2 mainly becauseI have a few older (non auto) OM Zuiko lensesand the 600MM really needs it. But I'm not totally happy witht the results from the Oly 40-150 that came with my E500 somtimesthe pics turn out a little 'soft'.

Thanks to your post I don't feel any qualms about doing it myself, I used to change screens on the OM1 and OM2 quite often. The 600mm gave me fits because half the screen would black out. I will be using tweezers though rather than the 'toothpick method'.
Heaven help me if I jaba toothpickinto the eye of the dragon...!!!!
I will stay aware of following the....... I should be grateful if you would wash your hands clean, dust flying Yang taboo operating environment. instructions. Getting ying on your yang is a lot like getting matter mixed with anti-matter....Definately not good!

Heres another example of 'Chingrish' taken from a kids park on one of my China trips.

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