March 04, 2015, 11:40:58 PM

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Topics - georgecpappas

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In general, I have been very pleased with my Canon 5DIII.  However, the one weakness that I have finally addressed is the use of a manual focusing screen.  I wanted to let folks here know in case this was an issue for them.


I have several Zeiss Lenses and use Canon tilt-shift lenses that are all manual focus.  While the focus confirmation "works" and allows me to achieve accurate focus (especially with the micro adjustment), I find the manual focusing process distracting with focus points and the focus indicator being the prime means of verifying focus when I am concentrating on the image.  I longed for a good "old fashioned" microprism where I can simply look at the subject and focus the lens until it looks sharp and the microprisms are clear.  This is less of an issue with my tilt-shift lenses as I almost always use live-view with the camera on a tripod.  This is real issue with my Zeiss lenses that I focus  hand-held, especially the 85mm.

I found a source for focusing screens from a review story linked to the Zeiss website; the provider can be found at <dead link removed by mod>.  I believe the gentleman who runs this is based in Taiwan.  He custom cuts Canon 1-series focusing screens to fit the 5DIII and includes installation tools and shims to achieve proper focus.  In addition, he provides very clear instructions how to install the screen - it is fairly simple, if a somewhat nervous, exercise.

I have been using his microprism screen in my 5DIII for a month and am very satisfied with its performance.  I did not need to use any shims as the thickness of the screen is exactly the same as the standard screen in my 5DIII.  I have easily verified this by focusing the camera on a tripod and examining the image with magnified live view.

By turning the display of AF illumination points off in the viewfinder (custom settings anyone?), I now have a simple way to configure the camera for excellent manual focus at flick of a switch.  It has changed the way I use my manual lenses and greatly enhanced my experience with the 5DII, which was already sky-high.

If you have the same manual focus issue that I do, this could be helpful for you.

A side note: after going through this, I have arrived at the conclusion that the only reason Canon did not provide interchangeable screens on the 5DIII is to maintain enough "separation" between it and the 1DX.  I don't make this statement lightly as I have great respect for Canon and its products.  However, the removal of the 5DIII screen only requires two screws and is a simple affair.  Canon could have provided interchangeable screens for the 5DIII at low incremental cost if they wanted to..  I am thankful that I have an alternative..

I hope this is helpful for others..

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