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Thread: 4x5 Focusing Screens: THE FINAL WORD

  1. #1

    4x5 Focusing Screens: THE FINAL WORD

    I have read several forums, several answers and still don't have a really solid sense of where to go with this question. Could someone who works in a professional capacity, who is extremely meticulous about focus, the quality of their images, the visibility of the image on the glass, alignment and so on please respond.

    I have a linhof master technica (bought new two years ago) and I use lenses ranging from 90-210... for now. The groundglass that comes with the camera as some of you may know, is not suitable to composing an image because you can't see the entirety of it on the screen. I will be photographing in sub-freezing temperatures and possibly be keeping my camera in a hot car (so this is to address any issues people might see with the bosscreens.) I want brightness, but when I focus on the glass with a loupe, I will want to be able to see the subject crisply without disturbing fresnel lines.

    Bob Solomon of HP Marketing was very kind to offer a lengthy thought out response which included using the Linhof fresnel on top of the GG. I fear that I will still get fresnel lines (also pricey.) Robert Maxwell told me a good bit about his screens, and the product seems enticing (are they milled to the precision that I require and are they really the BEST option?) The Bosscreen has worked nicely but has a major disadvantage to me in that it says "bromwell marketing" in the area that I will be composing. I find this terribly distracting and unfortunate. I also haven't had the chance to test it under the extreme conditions described above but want to avoid the potential for disaster on my outdoor shoot coming up in a week. I also want to say that Ted Bromwell is a very kind and honest businessman too.

    Money is an issue, but I understand that often, you get what you pay for. So... please, what is the all around BEST solution?

    I hope the responses will serve as definitive answers to future shooters seeking similar information.

    Many thanks for your time.

    -Serge

    www.sergelevy.com

  2. #2

    Join Date
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    Iowa
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    4x5 Focusing Screens: THE FINAL WORD

    FINAL WORD: Try a Satin Snow ground glass. High quality, custom cut, bright, & cheap.

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Oct 2001
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    Alberta, Canada
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    4x5 Focusing Screens: THE FINAL WORD

    I also have a Master Technika, which came with the Linhof Super Screen - combination plastic ground glass and fresnel. I purchased two Satin Snow ground glass replacements, and installed one of them onto my camera.

    First, let me say that the workmanship is very fine, and the entire package was very well packed. For a very small shop, it was impressive. The grind is fine, and very even.

    However, the glass that Dave makes is not a silver bullet that will magically make composition and focusing easier. The laws of physics still apply, in that the further off axis you get the dimmer the image will be, especially with wider angle lenses. In my case, I (just today in fact) removed the Satin Snow GG from my camera and reinstalled the SuperScreen.

    I have issues with the SuperScreen (it seems to curve ever so slightly, and the grooves are visible under a loupe - yes Bob, I know - get a focusable loop), but the S.S. GG so much dimmer than with the fresnel that it was very difficult to use.

    Please don't get me wrong - I'm not slagging Dave at Satin Snow. After all, as good as he his, he can't change the laws of physics. :-) My personal thoughts are that the GGs that Dave makes make great replacements GGs, and are a very good alternative for ULF users who need specially-sized GGs. His prices are great which makes the product all the more attractive.

    I guess what it all boils down to is that a plain GG will always be dimmer than a fresnel-type screen, but the fresnel will always have issues with grooves, and perhaps focus shift (so I've read).

    I don't need two of them, so contact me off-list if you're interested. The GGs have been sized for a Master Techinika, which makes them a perfect fit for you.

  4. #4

    4x5 Focusing Screens: THE FINAL WORD

    Try the Linhof over screen as it is the cheapest (+/-$100) and will require no modifications of any kind. The grooves are something I learned to live with and it is really not that big a deal.

    Since you will be stopping down to check focus, courseness with the image to get it to "pop" into focus is where I find the important variable. The super screens albeit improved are expensive when you take into account the cost to change the ground glass plane. Do the easiest thing first and go from there.

    Cheers!

  5. #5

    4x5 Focusing Screens: THE FINAL WORD

    "I guess what it all boils down to is that a plain GG will always be dimmer than a fresnel-type screen, but the fresnel will always have issues with grooves, and perhaps focus shift (so I've read)."

    Serge is not a photographer so confused answers he doesn't need.

    First the Linhof fresnel fits on TOP of the ground glass - not under the ground glass so there is no way it can effect focus.
    Second the purpose of the fresnel on 45 is the same as on 35 or MF. It spreads the light evenly across the screen and makes the image brighter.

    Enhanced screens usually incorporate a fresnel of some sort (not the Boss screen which uses wax).

    As for the grooves. With the loupe focused on the grain side of the GG the grooves form a fresnel are minimized. However the Linhof back was designed so that the fresnel can easily be removed by swing the chrome hold downs to the side so if they are distracting, it can be removed for critical focusing, and then replaced.

    And yes the Super Screen is an anser for some but Serge needs a grid system and we no longer will offer the overlay so there is no grid available for the Super Screen any longer - unless you know of a dealer with one in stock. We are out of stock and the supplier of the grid has reaised their price to a point where it would no longer be saleable.

  6. #6

    Join Date
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    4x5 Focusing Screens: THE FINAL WORD

    The final word is that different workers feel differently about these viewing issues. Posters above have cited the physics of it. (Ron Wisner has a good article on his site explaining these issues http://www.wisner.com/viewing.htm)
    My two cents opinion is that the best option for ease of both composition and focusing is to use a standard GG with a removable fresnel. Compose with the fresnel in place, remove it for critical focusing. "you get what you pay for" also applies to the effort you "spend" while working. My feeling with removable fresnels is that, since it is removed for the critical focusing stage, even a cheap fresnel will do, I use a cheap "page magnifier" bought at Barnes and Noble for my composing with my 5x7, then put my loupe directly on the bare glass. Good luck, and have fun with it.
    Tracy Storer http://www.mammothcamera.com
    Tracy Storer
    Mammoth Camera Company tm
    www.mammothcamera.com

  7. #7

    Join Date
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    4x5 Focusing Screens: THE FINAL WORD

    "Serge is not a photographer..."

    Boy, I'll bet Serge is suprised to hear that he's not a photographer...

  8. #8

    Join Date
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    4x5 Focusing Screens: THE FINAL WORD

    Took so long typing, Bob beat me to the "removable fresnel" answer.
    Best,
    Tracy
    Tracy Storer
    Mammoth Camera Company tm
    www.mammothcamera.com

  9. #9

    Join Date
    Jan 2001
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    4x5 Focusing Screens: THE FINAL WORD

    Would you please explain what you mean about the Technika GG being unsuitable for compostion because the entire image can't be seen. I don't understand....
    Wilhelm (Sarasota)

  10. #10
    aleatorist David R Munson's Avatar
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    Shanghai, China
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    1,313

    4x5 Focusing Screens: THE FINAL WORD

    I don't suppose you personally know anyone else who shoots 4x5, do you? If you do, see how their GG's look to you. I replaced the original glass on my Linhof monorail with a Beattie screen and love it. I've never had any problem at all viewing the entire image or checking critical focus with this screen, and it is definitely brighter than the original groundglass. My only gripe about it, really, is that it is quite possible to accidentally put some scratches in the "ground" side if you do much work with things like Grafmatics and remove the groundglass repeatedly in the field. Mine's starting to look like it's been around the block a few times.

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