Random Thoughts on a warm and windy Saturday.

First up:  I'm so happy with all the responses (online and offline) that I got about the last blog post.  People really do want to understand why they photograph and what it all means.  At least my readers pretty much uniformly understand that technical prowess should be a means to an end and not an end goal.  Several people wrote to say that they couldn't express what it was they wanted to capture in pictures until they had the skills to make the statement and I think that's a different way of looking at the same equation.  I think we need to have more give and take about projects that are dear to our hearts.  And maybe we need to share picture stories more often.  People are always welcome to post links within their comments as long as it's not spam-o-rama.

Second:  A few little items that have made life fun and intriguing for me in the past few days.  I've always liked working with the manual focus Zeiss lenses I've been buying up like a college kid buying pizzas, but I've had issues with focusing.  In good light....no problem.  In marginal light those sucky autofocus enabled focusing screens are awful.  I end up depending on the focus confirmation and I am disappointed from time to time.

Yesterday I got the first of a mess of split image rangefinder focusing screens I've been researching and ordering.  It's the EC-S screen for the 1Dmk2N (and all other early 1D camera variants out there).  The screen was a whopping $30 and it's changed things for me.  A nice split screen in the middle that show very clearly when you've achieved sharp focus......two images come together as one!!!  Then there are two concentric circles around the center that give a sharper (more aggressive??) indication of in and out of focus.  The rest of the screen seems brighter too.  If you get one be sure to head into the custom function menu and switch screens there so the meter will continue to be accurate.

I also ordered a screen for the Canon 5Dmk2.  It's not a Canon screen so I'm holding my breath in anticipation.  It comes from a company called,  Cowboy Studios.  It's called a 180 something or other...
How they decide on these names I just don't know.  Once I found this screen I was emboldened to also order one for the 7D but I look forward to its arrival with much trepidation because the screens in 7D's are not made to be user replaceable.  But they include tools and an "instruction book."

If you look hard and long enough on the web you'll find just about anything.  I'll try my luck with the 5D2 and the 7D but I won't mess with the 60D because it's currently my "go to" video production camera and I'm right in the middle of a project.

I came across the photo below.  It's from 2006 or 2007.  I was doing a PR job in Scottsdale, AZ for the folks at Freescale Semiconductor.  I thought it was a silly photograph and that the more curmudgeonly among my critiques would have fun sending me "interesting comments."  Lost to the crop are my amazingly cool black shoes.  Interesting shoot coming up this Tues.  I've been reminded by the client several times that I am currently "under NDA" but since it's something newsy I look forward to spilling the details a few days later.  After the embargo is finished.

I've decided to go ahead and do the book revision project I anguished about all last week.  Does that mean we'll have a flurry of Pollyanna/Happy blog posts?  Maybe.  That's it.  Tomorrow is my first afternoon off in ages.  You probably know what that means.  A big walk thru downtown Austin to check out the value of that new focusing screen in conjunction with some manual focus piece of glass.  Either that or some portraits.  Hope you're having a good weekend.  Kirk


Brad C said...

Keep us posted - I'm very curious on the screen for the 7D...

Cedric said...

"curmudgeonly"… what a great word :)

Sorry, just had to say so.

Ct Photo said...

I always love your downtown Austin days.

Greg said...

There'sa also the KatzEye line of focusing screens, Kirk. I had one on my Nikon D700 and it worked pretty well. I just looked at their web site and it looks like they now have a 60D version.



LensBubbles said...


I have been using an EC-L cross split screen on my 1-series cameras. The best thing about this screen is that you don't need to turn the camera 90 degrees for the horizontal split. You get horizontal and vertical splits at the same time.

Anonymous said...

I don't think people give good focusing screens and good viewfinders nearly enough credit in the creative process. It's hard to "see" something clearly unless you can see something "clearly".

Thanks for bringing up this topic.

Irving Avedon.

Bill Beebe said...

So tell me Kirk, is that the Popeil two-in-one light meter and Julienne fry slicer you're modeling?

Dave Elfering Photography said...

Funny how much we strive to go back to what essentially seems like the split prism, manual focus system in our old rangefinders :)

I don't know that there is a more sure fire system than that aside from using a loupe against the fresnel glass on a large format camera (but which takes minutes instead of seconds). The E-P1 about made me go cross eyed while trying to manually focus when shooting with my Nikon lenses on it. The best view of all my cameras? A little Nikon N2020 35mm film camera. The viewfinder blows me away. All our megapixels and digital computerization and old tech still hands us things we cannot duplicate :)

Greg said...

Dave, the megapixels and digital computerization go along very well with old tech in a Leica M9. I find it to be the best of both worlds.

Greg Shanta

Jessica said...

Love Cowboy Studios - I bought a stabilizer for my handheld video projects - it rests on your shoulder and abdomen, and it really makes a big difference, as long as I'm fairly stable myself and don't breathe much during the take. And it was only about $30 on Amazon. Performed much better than the $600 version of something similar my friend rented for the same project.

This screen sounds interesting, but I'm too scared to take apart my camera.