Nikon DF Split Screen Manual Focusing Screen

_DSC2316---September-02,-2014-Edit

One of the biggest complaints about the Nikon DF retro styled camera (other than it doesn’t do video) is that it didn’t come with (or at least have an option for) an old school split screen manual focus screen. It did seem odd to me that they would make it compatible with any of the older Nikon manual focus lenses but they wouldn’t give a great way to focus them.

Now I can already hear you all cracking your knuckles getting ready to type out a long “But the two arrow/green dot rangefinder system is really good and accurate and Bla Bla Blaa…..” comment.

nikon-d600-viewfinder

To that I say yes it works great but it sucks to look away from your subject to the green dot and then back to the subject that chances are has moved :) The green Dot is awesome for stationary or slow moving stuff but street photos or what not it sucks to actually use in real life.

Now as near as I could discover researching this on the Internet was that everyone would say that these aftermarket focus screens were available but it would seem that no one wanted to spend the money to find out if they did or did not suck/work.

NIkon-DF-Focus-Screen-googleSeriously at the time of this post the first three google hits for ‘nikon df focusing screen‘ are Nikon Rumors saying hey these are available but nothing more,  Dpreview.com forums filled with people wanting a review, and Flickr Discussion board filled with people asking if anyone had tried it out.

So the long and the short of it I got tired of waiting for someone to try them out and I tried one out myself. Now I feel obligated to tell the internet about how it all worked out :)

Nikon-DF-Focus-Screen

Installation:

The changeover was super easy once I half ignored the badly translated Taiwanese instructions and just looked at it logically. There basically is a wire spring/clamp (not all that dissimilar from a traditional mouse trap) that holds the screen in place in the camera. Holding the camera upside down with the front of the camera facing towards you gently press down and back on the wire to unhook it from the black plastic clip and bob’s your uncle it pops right up. The focus screen is actually sandwiched between two of these wire holders so carefully pull the old one out and put the new one in and reset the outer wire spring to hold it in place. Done!! I did have to lightly jiggle the camera to make the screen sit in there well to be able to clamp it down.

Initial insights of its actual Use:

It works Brilliantly! To start the manual focus seems to be BANG ON
 and the regular autofocus works just the same as it did with the factory screen.

It seems to be just as bright and what not as the factory screen with no overly dim corners or weird spots.

I didn’t have to shim it or anything to fit, it was perfect as is.

The split screen portion looks really small in the photos and when you are looking at the uninstalled screen but in the camera viewfinder it is large and easy to see the split.

NIkon-DF-Focus-Screen

It seems as though it is as accurate or better than the Electronic RF system. The green dot comes on when the split is in ‘focus’ but it seems you can do much finer adjustments with the split. Something that is slightly not matching on the split part will still just show as a green dot with the Electronic RF. We will see what real world testing shows on that EG: not just taking photos of things while I sit in the dark at my computer desk at 11:30pm :)

Update:

It seems that Prime lens manual focus works brilliantly but for some reason modern zooms seem to be a little hit & miss. I tested both manual and autofocus with the 24-70 and at 70mm the manual focus was significantly better while at 24mm the autofocus was the way to go.  I found similar discrepancies with the 70-200 but I will have to do some more testing to be sure. That all being said all of my primes (35, 50′s & 85′s) manual focus has always been as good or better than autofocus or the Electronic RF system.

The metering seems the same. I tested this by metering on some specific things about the house (spot, matrix, & Centre weighted)  and confirmed these numbers with my Sekonic both before and after changing the screen and the numbers were the same.

Dealing with the company:


I was originally apprehensive about ordering some ‘sketchy screen’ from some ‘shady website’ that i am sure was translated into french, german, italian and mandarin before finally being translated into English. I actually feel that this video is a good representation of how such an awesomely awful translation could have happened.

However dealing with the company (at least from my point of view) was just fine really, the paypal payment was as they always are. Seemed all legit. ETC. All that being said I haven’t tried to return anything so who knows about that  part of the customer experience really :)

Nikon-DF-Focus-Screen-siteThe Shipping to Canada was way quicker than I thought it would be.
 I bought it in the middle of the night on July 28th and it was delivered here (Vancouver BC) August 5th. So just 5 business days! Way crazy.
 There were 3 email updates to let me know when/what was happening so again the customer service seems good but again I haven’t returned anything or had out of the ordinary questions.

Other Random Questions I had that I couldn’t find answers to…
:

Q. Why is it say canon when it is for a nikon?
A. I don’t know. Infact have no idea. I just assume that the Canon made screens are the same spec as the nikon ones? I am guessing here really The screen came in a Canon box (although the packaging looks a little grey market)

Q.Do I need to shim or not?
A. totally looks like not but I think that some come with it just incase? Again the literature here is really hard to decipher but I am assuming the random plasticy things were shims and i am sure that I didn’t need to use them if that is infact what they were :)

All in all A++ would buy again :)

Walk for coffee in Railtown

Corbin & I went for a quick coffee run this morning as we were out this morning :)
this is parked on the street
Nikon DF Railtown Landrover

Lens Baby

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Gastown Multiple Exposures

Tonight we hung out on a boat. Because we are friends with someone with a boat. Because we ARE vancouver. It was awesome. WHY? Because boat!

We have a double wedding weekend starting in the AM so I get to test the awesomeness of the Brixton bag again! :) I am going to name the bag Bowie because
A: Alliteration (Bowie the Brixton Bag)
B: It would seem that David Bowie is the most famous person to come from Brixton.

Gastown Multiple ExposuresGastown Multiple Exposures Gastown Multiple Exposures

The ONA Brixton

It has often been said that there isn’t ‘One Bag To Rule Them All’ What is a great everyday carry around bag is often too small to hold gear for most pro shoots and what is big enough for your shoot gear is often way too big to carry around on an everyday basis. Looking at all the bags that I have owned over the last 12+ years I would normally wholeheartedly agree that no single bag is good for all circumstances. ONA Brixton leather Camera Bag That is until I saw the Brixton From ONA at Broadway Camera one day. I was instantly in love with this bag and I came home and researched the shit out it. I found that the reviews all said the same things… It is nice but its not that big, or it’s two heavy, or there is not enough pockets, or the most common complaint, it’s way too expensive. So I sadly stopped looking at it. I instead looked at the next round of random on-sale lowepro bags and suffered through another six months of failing zippers, immediate dirty looking raggedy seams and just the general camera bag looking camera bags that didn’t actually have much camera stuff in them. Thankfully while looking to replace yet another failed camera bag I stumbled across it again and I seriously looked at it yet again. One afternoon after an unexpectedly fruitful photo sale from a particularly problematic client I felt I could ‘treat’ myself and I bought the bag with the plan to probably utilize B&H’s generous return policy. The short version of this ‘review’ goes like this “THIS BAG IS FUCKING AWESOME!!” The long version of this review can be found elsewhere on the internet. Seriously Other people have some great reviews of this bag. Just go read them. What I would like to touch on are the questions that I could’t find satisfactory answers to while doing my research.

Jerk With A Camera reviews the ONA Brixton Camera Bag

ONA Brixton leather Camera Bag ONA Brixton leather Camera Bag To be honest I am normally not actually a camera bag person for my day to day non-shooting just out and about life. (seriously I talk about it being freeing) I mean I usually only have my Leica with the 50mm or the Nikon DF with the 50mm with me, and whichever camera I have is pretty much out in my hand ready to shoot. Thus making a dedicated camera bag seem rather pointless and it would be mostly empty. However, I am a bag person for my day to day life stuff. I often carry a magic notebook or a pair of sun glasses or a battery pack for my cell phone etc.. & I have used a variety of these bags over the years A:Crumpler karachi outpost B:Crumpler ’7 Million Dollar Home C:Lowepro Passport Sling D:Lowepro Nature Trekker E:Lowepro Nova 200 F:Lowepro Top Loader G:Lowepro Passport Messenger H:My Crumpler Textbook Point I:Snowboarding Backpack J:Everything ELSE!! The fact that the Brixton can be my Day to day bag as well as my pro bag is the total plus here. I’m serious! I have been to about a half dozen shoots and one wedding this past week as well as general photo walk abouts, adventures to get groceries and a few trips to Postmark to fill a growler or two. All with this bag. Design and Durability I have had so many camera bags over the years and they all lack something really important or if they are mostly well designed, they wear out in 6 Months to a Year of daily use. I have worn out so many Crumplers in my time. (which I genuinely thought at first to be completely invincible) This bag looks like it will last! I truly believe that like my Leica, Corbin will grow up to inherit this bag. It Holds Stuff!! A Lot of stuff. Seriously!! With some slight modifications (EG: I added/traded additional velcro dividers from other old bags to the inside and pulled out the laptop pocket divider) this bag can easily hold a Nikon D800 with a 50mm lens, a Nikon D610 with a 24-70 and a unmounted 70-200 in the main compartment. One of the front pockets can hold two SB700 flashes, and the other can hold all the extra batteries/cards/wallets/phones etc. It can hold all this and close properly. I have been calling it my Tardis bag because it is deceivingly large inside. Seriously!! I am driving home this point because reviews were saying that it is best for a small mirrorless camera kit, or a Leica and maybe a second lens… LIES! In fact all the above photos comfortably contained all of this….with extra room for another small lens or perhaps a flash.

 ONA Brixton leather Camera Bag
1.Nikon 610 w/AF-S NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8G ED
2.Capture Camere Clip System
3.Carabiner (for water bottles etc)
4.Lens Baby Composer pro (with the edge 80 optic & sweet 35 optic)
5.Nikon DF w/AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 G
6.4x5 film box of goodies (Extra camera & cell phone batteries, laser pointer, square reader, remote shutter, gps locater)
7.Handfull of Business Cards
8.Pelican Card Case
9.Magic Notebook (seriously this is a live scribe notebook when you write in it your pen notes sync with your evernote www.livescribe.com)
10.Sunglasses
11.My old & beat up wallet
12.Samsung Galaxy Note II
13. Spare Nikon Camera Batteries14. Holga Lens (Nikon Mount)
15.Samsung Galaxy Tab 4
16.Manual Shutter Release Cable (for the Nikon DF, Leica, or random film cameras)
17.Magic Pen (again livescribe.com)
18.Lens cloth

Seriously!! There is a lot of room. After my pro shoots I simply pull out the second camera/24-70mm and I can fit a 1L growler or a six of beer cans inside Seriously!! It Looks Good. This is where I agree with every single review on this bag. It is so freaking pretty! I assumed that other reviewers were exaggerating when they said that they got compliments on the bag. I got three in the first two days, and like the other reviews say, it blew peoples minds when you show them that it is a camera bag. It is a bag that will look better with age, as opposed to my many years of Crumplers and Lowepro’s that are embarrassingly tattered and worn within 6 months. In fact feel I need to upgrade my wardrobe up to the level of this bag. It is that pretty.

Con’s List (because it is not a ‘review’ without a cons list)

It stinks to high heaven at first. I am serious take this bag out of it’s plastic in a well ventilated area. I may have gagged a little bit at acrid first breath. The bag airs out pretty quickly but you will smell it’s distinctive new bag sent on your camera gear for a couple of days. As far as a negative goes not a biggy. It does lacks small item organization. Small things will get lost in those tight side pockets and be swimming around in the huge front pockets. My solution was to get crafty with an empty 4X5 Film box. I added some simple cardboard dividers to it but you can also just toss everything into a small bag or box as well. The included dividers are kind of short. If you were to stick a 24-70 and a 70-200 into two of the four slots they will clang and run along the upper half. I added a variety of dividers scooped from old Crumper’s and Lowepro’s and I am able to make a pretty versatile well padded inside. The Price. Every body complains about the price. but i have spent 3 times that on camera bags over the last 10 years and I am sure that this bag will last at least that long so seems like I will be saving money on the long term :) Conclusions This is the most exciting bag that I have ever owned. I want to go for walks with it because it begs to be shown off. I would totally recommend checking it out. For now, for me, this is absolutely the One Bag To Rule Them All.

Picking On Complete Strangers

Picking On Complete Strangers - Nikon DF - Railtown

Picking On Complete Strangers - Nikon DF - BC Ferries

Picking On Complete Strangers - Nikon D610 - East Van

Picking On Complete Strangers - Leica M9 - Gastown

Random

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Picking On Complete Strangers – Olympic village

Picking On Complete Strangers - Nikon DF - Vancouver Olympic village

Picking On Complete Strangers - Nikon D800 - Vancouver Olympic village

Nikon DF walk about at the Olympic Village

These are some more photos from a random wander about with the little man at the Olympic Village. I forget why we were there really but it was nice and Corbin was in freaking love with the new statue of people over on the west side.

Nikon DF - Vancouver Olympic Village

Nikon DF - Vancouver Olympic Village

Nikon DF - Vancouver Olympic Village

Nikon DF - Vancouver Olympic Village

Picking On Strangers at the Olympic Village

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