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  1. #1
    New Member AntonSchoultz's Avatar
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    Question Focusing Aids - split prism focus screen

    Hi All,

    My passion is wildlife photography, mostly shot in the Kruger National Park. I've shot with Canon 1000D + Sigma 170-500mm and have had some great shots. One thing I have found is that getting sharp focus, particularly as long zooms, is difficult. Switching to manual focus is good and well, but my eyesight is not 20/20 I found that there are third party focus screens which can be fitted to DSLRs and was wondering if any of you have had experience with these and what you thought of them.

    Here's an example of what I'm referring to http://www.katzeyeoptics.com/item--C...prod_550D.html

    I've recently upgraded to Canon 650D + Canon 100-400L IS.

    Thanks
    Anton
    Anton Schoultz

    Canon 650D, Canon 18-55 1:3.5/5.6, Canon 75-300 1:4/5.6, Canon 100-400 L IS, Kenco 1.4x

  2. #2
    Administrator SimonDP's Avatar
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    Default Re: Focusing Aids - split prism focus screen

    Using a central focus point with no expansion, you should achive way better results than any MF option, even proper split screen's. The 650D is quite good in AF, also the 100-400L, way better than your previous body/lens, and especially the lens. Sharp focus can also fade due to accurate lock-on (the 170-500 not good here over longer distances in lower light conditions), camera shake etc, all amplified by the long focal length. But assuming you know all that, I would suggest using the AF on the body and lens combo you now have, its pretty good on not too fast moving subjects, where the body might lag a little.
    Simon Du Plessis

    www.actionimage.co.za simondp@actionimage.co.za

    (I'll keep on shooting, and one of these days I'll get it right!)
    Contact me for training in Beginners, Macro, Wildlife or Sport & Action photography
    Please e-mail or PM me should you wish to have my comments on a specific image, or to comment/ask questions on my crits)

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Focusing Aids - split prism focus screen

    Ditto Simon, Just avoid using the 1,4 converter with the 100-400 -it pushes the F stop over 5.6 - been there done that. You can try tapping the pins etc but results are average at best.
    Love not Money

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Focusing Aids - split prism focus screen

    I have experience with the KatzEye's on Pentax cameras (K100D and K10D). They do what they're supposed to do. Two points to be aware of:
    1. They might require shimming (read calibration), else the result will be worse than what you get now.
    2. They affect metering, specifically spot and to a lesser extent center weight and matrix.


    Another brand is JinFinance (they're a lot cheaper) and there are a few more; and a number of Pentax users swear by the Canon EE screen (not a split prism).

    I will stay out of the discussion of AF versus MF
    I love my Takumars and other M42 lenses
    Pentax K10D + Vivitar 55/2.8 macro + Super Takumar 55/1.8 + SMC Takumar 85/1.8 + SMC Takumar 135/3.5 + SMC Takumar 200/4 + Super Takumar 300/4
    WimS

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Focusing Aids - split prism focus screen

    Ditto Simon.

    Over past month Warren Williams and self have spent some time fine tuning our Olympus OMD-EM5 and his Olympus OMD-M1 to get the best out of an 75-300 lens and a while later, a 50-200 f2.8. Add to this testing a 300 f4 Nikkor + 2 X converter (1200mm equivalent) on the OMD-EM5.

    Again, I can confirm:

    - The longer the lens, the more important good 'long lens technique' and tripod use. (Focus properly, optimal f-stop, shutterspeed at least (1/(focal length x crop factor)), keep still - better, on a sturdy tripod with an even better head)

    - Where you put the focus spot, there the lens will focus. (It is like shooting a rifle - the shot will fall where the rifle was pointing when you pulled the trigger - every time! You aimed where?)

    - The longer the lens, the less the DOF. The closer you get, the less the DOF. (Optical laws are very strict, and they do not like to be buggered around with.)

    - Learn to set and use the focus button on the back of the camera.

    HTH
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    Leo Theron
    ... see my pictures HERE

  6. #6
    Frequent Member Peter Connan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Focusing Aids - split prism focus screen

    While I used to really enjoy split-image focusing screens in the days of film, they have at least one serious disadvantage: you cannot move them around.

    With some practice,you can get very good results without. Just look in the macro gallery, where probably more than 90% of the images are focused manually.

  7. #7
    New Member AntonSchoultz's Avatar
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    Default Re: Focusing Aids - split prism focus screen

    Hi Guys,
    Firstly, thank you all for taking time to reply with your insights.
    From these comments and my past experience I think I will give the focus screens a miss.
    As I shoot from a vehicle, a tripod is not really practical. So we switch off the engine, handbrake, sit still and then rest the lens on the window or against the window frame. With the 650d being quite a bit faster than the 1000d I can make sure shutter time is short enough ( < 1/ 400x1.6) and hopefully will still be able to use a smaller aperture than on the 1000d, which will help the DOF. I only use the 1.4 converter when all else fails... I can afford to crop rather than use the converter.
    Will put this to the test when I get my first real trail of the new kit in the Kruger early in May.
    Thanks again.
    Anton
    Anton Schoultz

    Canon 650D, Canon 18-55 1:3.5/5.6, Canon 75-300 1:4/5.6, Canon 100-400 L IS, Kenco 1.4x

  8. #8

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    Default Re: Focusing Aids - split prism focus screen

    take a good bean bag to rest on it works well in the car and also works in the bird hides etc.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Focusing Aids - split prism focus screen

    Talking about the 100 400 lens, do you switch off the IS when using a bean bag? I seem to get better results this way.

  10. #10
    Frequent Member Peter Connan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Focusing Aids - split prism focus screen

    Anton, resting the camera directly on the car may increase the vibration caused by the mirror slap.

    Definately use a bean bag, mindow rest or even a piece of pool noodle, split lengthways and slipped over the window...

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