View Full Version : focusing screen on Ebony RW45

22-Dec-2008, 05:06
Hi, I got my second hand Ebony RW45 and I'm completely thrilled with this camera. It's a stunning beauty, and it's so "direct" in use. However, I'm a little bit hesitant with respect to the original Ebony ground glass (focusing screen). I think it's pretty much grainy, not easy to focus, and not very bright. What are your suggestions in this matter? I know, that gg are a little bit like good wine, some prefer this, some that...

I'm happy to get your opinion.


Joanna Carter
22-Dec-2008, 05:18
No question, a Maxwell screen is the best thing I ever fitted to my Ebony; it copes with lenses from (at least) 72mm to 400mm.

Brian Ellis
22-Dec-2008, 09:46
I owned two Ebony cameras and didn't care for the Fresnel screens in either of them. I second Joanna's suggestion of a Maxwell. I've used numerous screens - Beattie, BosScreen, Linhof screen, OE screens on Tachihara, Deardorff, et al and the Maxwell was the best. It's pricey - around $250 - but worth it IMHO.

Drew Wiley
22-Dec-2008, 10:13
The screen was the one thing I didn't like about my Ebony. Was hard to focus and got
condensation between the glass and plastic elements. Modified a Sinar glass to fit and
it was better, but later put on a Satin Snow glass which has been wonderful, even for
wide-angle use.

22-Dec-2008, 10:30
I have been considering changing the ground glass on my Ebony and have followed a few threads where GGs have been discussed. I am interested in the differences between the Maxwell screen and a Satin Snow given that the former appears to cost 10x that of a Satin Snow given the price for the Maxwell quoted by Brian. Does anyone have a opinion regarding the comparative merits of each ?

Gem Singer
22-Dec-2008, 11:12
The Maxwell screen is made of plastic. It has a ground surface on one side and
a Fresnel lens on the opposite side. it requires a thin cover glass, either plain or gridded, on the photographer's side to protect the soft plastic from scratches.

The Satinsnow is made entirely of glass. It is fine ground on the lens side and plain glass on the photographer's side. No additional cover glass needed. The plain glass side can be gridded, if desired.

Maxwell --- Plastic, combination Fresnel and ground focusing screen.
Satinsnow--- ground glass focusing screen. No Fresnel.

Look up a Fresnel lens on Google.

Aender Brepsom
22-Dec-2008, 11:18
Remember that David Parker (Satinsnow) is not taking orders anymore. Too bad, but unless a used Satinsnow gg turns up, there is no chance getting one.

22-Dec-2008, 11:18
The maxwell screen is a 'fresnel' and a ground glass combined.

The fresnel is a lens that has been subdivided into sections just like the lens you see in a lighthouse. Because it is a lens, the optical quality of it's surface dictates it's performance. A lot of plastic fresnels 'sag' when moulded leading to obvious circular lines where the sharp tips of the lens segments has softened.

A good fresnel is optically clear, has sharp edges and when viewed, you can only just see the circles as very faint lines.

Maxwell screens are the best you can buy and work really well on an Ebony


Eric Woodbury
22-Dec-2008, 12:02
When I asked Dave about a Satin Snow gg for my Ebony, he told me that the Ebony gg was very good. I like the one I have and use it with lenses from 58mm to 300mm. I don't use a fresnel.

Sass Quatch
24-Dec-2008, 08:59
The screen on the 4x5 Ebonys is clear glass over a fresnel. Everyone's vision is a little different, but I find the viewing system on Ebony very bright. It is similar in brightness to a new Linhof. Is it possible that your camera has a replacement screen? I am an Ebony dealer.

David Karp
24-Dec-2008, 10:17
I had a screen once that was very bright, but harder to focus than the Bosscreen I used on my Cambo cameras. Nothing I have used was as easy to focus as that Bosscreen. (I have not tried a Maxwell.)

24-Dec-2008, 13:36
I personally experienced the Lumigrid sheetfilm.be gg and I thought they were much brighter than the original ebony gg. I might be wrongK I'm not really satisfied, that's why I'm asking...


Steve Hamley
24-Dec-2008, 15:29
My 2 cents, brightness is not the primary consideration, although vintage, dim, crude GG are definitely not desirable. I've used Maxwell's, Ebony's, and the GG by Steve Hopf for ULF.

The Maxwell is a stop brighter, less grainy, and more difficult to focus because it's less grainy. The Ebony is a little dimmer, grainier, but "pops" into focus in the way I like. The GG image is not an end into itself, it is a focusing tool only.

Steve Hopf's GG are simply that, a GG. But they are bright and work well in the ULF cameras for which fresnel options aren't available. I think they would be an excellent alternative to the Satin Snow GG.

Now all that said, I'll say what I did before in the endless GG threads (if you search), that I also believe the choice is to some significant degree dependent on your eyes and brain, so in other words, YMMV. But I would agree that if your only criterion is a beautiful image on the GG, Maxwell is the choice.



Brian Ellis
24-Dec-2008, 19:56
I had a screen once that was very bright, but harder to focus than the Bosscreen I used on my Cambo cameras. Nothing I have used was as easy to focus as that Bosscreen. (I have not tried a Maxwell.)

I've used a BosSceen on several cameras in addition to a Maxwell. The BosScreen is excellent and would be my second choice behind a Maxwell. As you know, the BosScreen isn't technically a "bright screen," i.e. it doesn't have a Fresnel that "brightens" the image. However, the interior sheet of wax spreads the image out evenly across the entire screen so it makes it easier to see the edges and corners and gives the effect of a brighter image. Also, since there's no Fresnel lens you don't have the focusing problems that Fresnels can present.

The only reason I preferred the Maxwell was because it does brighten the image (it has a Fresnel lens) and doesn't present the possible problems that the BosScreen wax does in extreme heat or cold. I don't know what Maxwell does to make its Fresnel so effective but the Fresnel in the Maxwell was much better than the Fresnel in other screens I've used such as Beattie, Ebony, et al. There was almost no drop-off in brightness at the edges even with an 80mm lens and it was very easy to focus. However, the BosScreen costs about $100 less than a Maxwell so it would be a good choice for someone on a budget (relative to a Maxwell) who wants an excellent screen and doesn't photograph in extreme heat or cold.