Monday, January 27, 2014

Photogear review: Nikon focusing screen H2

Dear Reader,
Today I'll talk about another focusing screen, last time I told you about the eBay big eye focusing screen here, it worked well but not well enough so that I can really recommend a purchase, especially for the split screen area. I said at that time that I would give Nikon H2 focusing screen a go and I did...
Went on eBay, wait a huge amount of time to have a h2 pop up at a relative good price and snatched one sample.
The Nikon focusing screens type H are equipped with microprism over the entire surface of the screen. There are 4 grades, 1 to 4 that correspond to different focal length of lens used. Longer lens light rays are not hitting the focusing screen the same way as wide angle so that's why there are different grades. I took a H2 because it was the one that is said to work well with the 50mm f1.2 that I own.
Amending an old Nikon focusing screen for cropped sensor body is not so difficult, old ones come in 3 parts, the focusing screen, a condenser (to direct light), a frame to hold all that. I took the focusing out, wrapped it with masking tape, cut it with a metal saw to approx the right dimensions (just took the existing one out and measured it with a caliper). Then started the long process to grinding it to the right dimensions using a file and some sand paper.  Once the dimensions were fine, I took off the masking tape and Voilà, it was done. By the way, for people looking into doing it, I did not make the side tab that protudes from one of the side, I just did a rectangle shape.
After putting everything back in my DSLR, I tried it and I figured out that the focusing was off... Wayyy off.. After a few puzzled seconds, I figured out I mounted it upside down... The focusing surface is towards the top. So took it out again and replace it correctly that time. Test it and it works quite well. The focus is easier to acquire than the big eye focusing screen and It is way easier to pinpoint focusing with it. It's not perfect though as my main manual lens is a nikkor 50 1.2 which can be a bit soft sometimes at its widest setting, so it can be challenging to nail focus. But the fact that the microprism cover the whole screen is a good help, I can focus just anywhere on the frame. I still need to make sure to move my AF point at the right location for metering but I can leave it in the middle and just do a center weighted metering and be done with it.
In a few words, a very good focusing screen.
Thanks for reading.