Manual Focusing with a Split Personality.
Okay…I’ll admit it. I’m not one for a lot of automated camera functionality. I like lots of features and tricks, but I don’t often like auto-exposure, auto-aperture, “Program” mode, or even auto-focus. Sure there are times when all those things are useful, but in general, I find they get in the way. I spend at least as much time correcting or adjusting the camera’s “auto” function than I would just setting it in the first place. So maybe I’m a purist. Or maybe I’m just practical. Or nuts. You decide.
So, I recently bought a Katz Eye Optics split-image focus screen for my Fuji S5 Pro DSLR (based on the Nikon D200/D300 body, but with Fuji’s own sensor). Installation was easy and I managed to not break anything at the same time!
While this is not a review of the Katz Eyes focus screen, I have to say that it was worth every penny (of which there were many…about 14400 US pennies in fact)! I’m now shooting with near 100% in-focus accuracy! There may be other brands that are as good as or better and are cheaper or more expensive, but I can’t comment on any of those.
So far, I’ve only run into one problem, and I’ve just been able to solve that problem. The problem and solution are as follows:
When looking through the viewfinder of the Fuji S5 you can see (and select) the 11 AF points, one of which must always be selected. This image is a composite image taken from the D200 manual showing all AF points selected over top the Katz Eye focus screen.
Did you notice that in the centre position the AF area nearly covers up the entire location where the split image prism is? Yeah, me too! With this highlighted area over top of the split-image prism, it makes it almost impossible to focus…not good. So my stop-gap solution was to simply move the selected AF point off to the side. Not great, but it worked. The problem was that it was a) distracting and b) made the digital in-focus-indicator useless.
Well, after a bit of searching through the camera’s menus, looking for a way to turn off the AF indicator (with no luck), I came across an option that lets you set a “Wide” AF area. This reduces the number of AF areas from 11 to 7 and changes the look of your AF selector to this:
Did you notice how the split-image prism is no longer covered up by the centre AF zone? Me too!
Not only do I no longer have a distracting AF zone off to the side of the frame, I also regain the functionality of the digital in-focus-indicator!
So here’s how on the D200 (taken from the Nikon D200 manual):
- Open Custom Setting Menu
- Highlight Autofocus
- Display options
- Highlight a3 Focus Area Frame
- Display options
- Highlight Wide Frame (7 Areas)
- Make selection.
And here’s how on the Fuji S5 Pro:
- Press Setup button
- Open Tab 1
- Select AF
- Select Focus Area Frame
- Select “WIDE (7 AREAS)
J R Bernstein
Remember your ABC’s – Always Be Capturing!