GEAR: Katz Eye Optics focusing screen for the 20D/30D

Shay StephensShay Stephens Artist in ResidenceNew YorkRegistered Users Posts: 3,165 Major grins
edited February 14, 2012 in Book and Gear Reviews
Katz Eye Optics Focusing Screen for the 20D/30D

Review by Shay Stephens.

I ordered the Canon 20D split-prism focus screen with 8x10 crop marks from:Katz Eye Optics, and it just showed up today.

I downloaded the installation instructions here: PDF File.

And then sat down and started reading and understanding them.

When I felt I was ready, I dove in. The tools I used were a small jewelers screwdriver, but this could be anything sufficiently long and thin to unlatch the retainer spring. I used a pair of tweezers too, and the blower bulb helped keep things dust free.

The focus screen is in a small plastic case inside the pink bubble wrap. And I am storing my old focus screen there now.

The operation of replacing the screen is very simple, and you need not force anything. The screen, once the retainer spring is removed, just drops right out and drops right back in again. The trickiest part is getting the retainer spring out. The instructions show you where it is located, but I had to use an inspection mirror to know what I was really looking for. Once I saw the clip, it was a piece of cake to pull it out according to the instructions:

There is a little metal shim that is supposed to stay in place, but mine fell out (the brass looking part above the old focus screen).
The instructions deal with putting it back in and I found no difficulty in doing so. Again this basically just drops in with no force applied.

Once that was back in I went to install the screen itself. Same deal here, just drop in in the right spot. No force. But I put it in upside down. The correct direction is for the raised prism part to be facing the eyepiece and the smooth side to face the mirror. Once in place I then put the retainer spring back on. Make sure it is seated in the original position. If you don't snap it back in place fully, the screen will be slightly out of focus. So make sure it is fully seated as to the instructions.

On a difficulty scale of 1 to 10, I give it a 3 so long as you read and understand the instructions before beginning. You are dealing with small-ish and fragile parts, so you need to be gentle and have a semi-steady hand. There is also another guide out which I did not use, but it might help someone by bringing a second view to the procedure, PDF here.

And now, the results...WOW. Not only does it make it easier to manual focus, or in my case, make it possible at all (I could never manual focus accurately before). But what surprised me more was that even my auto-focus is better, not because the auto-focus actually works any better, but now I can see when it is not quite spot on. It is much easier to see when the image is not critically sharp now. So I expect my consistency in achieving focus will go way up. For me, this gem of a tool is going to help take the guess work out of my focusing.

I don't use the camera metering, so can't really speak to any changes the screen may or may not make in that regard.

Now I also had the 8x10 crop marks installed. And they don't appear to be critically accurate. If you scale an 8x10 to 16x20, the crop marks on the screen would be closer to 16x21, not terrible, but I am going to have to mentally allow a tad bit of room on the inside so details won't be cut out when the image is cropped to 8x10, but the nice thing is that I now have a definite reference to go by. Again, taking the guesswork out of the composition. If anything could be improved in the focus screen it would be the accuracy of the crop marks, I would rather have it too conservative a crop rather than to liberal and risk loosing image details. I don't know about the accuracy of the other types they offer, I only got the 8x10. But I am still glad I have them there. When I order a second screen, I will again get the 8x10 marks installed.

The cameras focus points still light up and are visible just like normal, that is controlled separately from the focus screen.

I don't find the new screen details distracting, and when I was first testing it, I forgot I had the 8x10 crop marks and had to go back and try again to specifically notice and use them. The split prism area extends past the center focus point, so you can get a clear area if you need one. The micro-prism ring area scintillates when out of focus, and I find it a wonderful combo with the split prism. I am very happy with this screen. Alongside my light meter, and my pocket wizards, this was one of the best purchases I have made for the camera.
Creator of Dgrin's "Last Photographer Standing" contest
"Failure is feedback. And feedback is the breakfast of champions." - fortune cookie


  • rpavichrpavich Big grins Registered Users Posts: 30 Big grins
    edited February 14, 2012
    This is really good to hear...I just bought the KatzEye for my T2i...I can't wait to get it.
  • Art ScottArt Scott Have PASSPORT will TRAVEL WICHITA, KS USARegistered Users Posts: 8,959 Major grins
    edited February 14, 2012
    For those interested in the KATZ EYE Focusing screens a link -

    Thought it might be helpful to some at least.
    "Genuine Fractals was, is and will always be the best solution for enlarging digital photos." ....Vincent Versace ... ... COPYRIGHT YOUR WORK ONLINE ... ... My Website

Sign In or Register to comment.