View Full Version : Buying a new screen - gridded or plain?

3-Jan-2008, 13:23
I'm using an Ebony 5x4 and have only ever used the Ebony screen, which is gridded.
Now looking at buying a (hopefully) brighter screen, and the choice is plain or gridded.
I shoot landscapes and natural textures, and am going to start doing some macro (up to around 1:1 - nothing of significantly higher magnification).
What's the favourite - plain or gridded?
I know there is another thread going at the moment - about how to grid a plain screen, but doesn't specifically answer this question, and decided best not to sidetrack that thread.

Eric Woodbury
3-Jan-2008, 13:27
If you don't do architecture all the time, go plain.

Ebony has a pretty bright ground glass. As good as any.

Dave Parker
3-Jan-2008, 13:28
I would say, the quickest way to find out, is to get a piece of clear cheap glass, cut to fit your camera, then get some scotch brand tape, like you use for wrapping packages, run strips of tape across the glass, butted up to each other, so one side has a frost look to it, then install and practice focusing and see how you like it, although not high quality, it is a good way to check and compare a plain ground screen, I have even used it to shoot with out in the field when I have broke a screen. But again, quick, cheap and gives you an idea of how a plain screen works.

Now my personal opinion, I like plain screens, especially for macro work. I also, might add, Ebony is a pretty darn good screen, and you will probably need to go to an enhanced screen to improve on it much.

Dave Parker

3-Jan-2008, 13:32
I'd do like Dave suggested, make it removable. You could use a piece of transparency paper (like for overhead projectors) and lay it over the glass when ever you need/want a grid, then take it off when you don't.

MIke Sherck
3-Jan-2008, 14:18
Get a plain one. if you get the urge to try a grid of some kind, carefully mark it in pencil on the frosted side of the glass. If you decide you don't like it, it comes off with soap and water.

Sometimes you can have you cake and eat it, too!

Dave Parker
3-Jan-2008, 14:32
Just in case, and many know this, I have 4 different 4x5 patterns on our website that are free to download in .pdf, just pick the one that suits you and trace onto the screen or print on the transparency overlay and head to the hills.


3-Jan-2008, 15:11
Thanks for all the advice. I'll definitely try plain and do as you say. I'll have a good look at satinsnowglass and the templates - thanks Dave.

Brian Ellis
3-Jan-2008, 20:06
I agree with others, the Ebony screen on the two Ebonys I've owned was about as bright as you'll find. It isn't the easiest to focus because of the Fresnel lines but it's plenty bright except around the edges with wide angle lenses. The only screen that IMHO is going to be a significant improvement over the Ebony in terms of combining brightness with ease of focus is a Maxwell or possibly a BosScreen though the BosScreen probably isn't going to be as bright as the Ebony, it's just a lot easier to focus. Getting back to your original question, I've always preferred grid screens but then I do a fair amount of architecture.

4-Jan-2008, 03:42
Hi !
I've just bought a set of screens for my Sinars and MPP from a Belgian guy ( http://www.sheetfilm.be ) which also sell on Ebay.
The nice thing about these screens is that they use something called "Lumigrid" i.e. the grid is like the grounding, just a little more luminous.
When you focus, it is easy not to see it at all, but when you ask yourself "is my picture level", Voila ! the grid is here ! Your brain sees it again ! So IMHO it may be an option to consider.
P.S I'm in no way connected with this guy, just an happy customer, and I've to add that he provides excellent service and a terrific packaging !

Jim Jones
4-Jan-2008, 20:15
I achieve that effect by scribing the grid on the ground side of the ground glass with something hard enough to break down the texture of the ground glass. A ball point pen that can no longer deposit ink works well for this.

11-Jan-2008, 20:15
i prefer gridlines, after a while you don't even notice they are there, but useful to sync with horizon.

scribing on the gg not recommended.

11-Jan-2008, 23:41
I prefer the grid -- on my 8x10 they are 2 inches apart. A 1/2 inch grid pattern would probably be too much for me. It is a mental thing, but if I really don't want to see them, I don't notice them.

But it is what I have grown accustom to --which is probably the biggest reason for liking grided or non-gridded for a lot of us.


12-Jan-2008, 01:31


C Buchanan
26-Jan-2008, 21:17
The first thing I did after my first photo trip with my first Deardorff was to remove the original gridded glass and replace it with a plain ground glass with the corners left on. The original glass is still carefully wrapped and stored. Have never missed it. I vote for plain screen unless you are copying.

Bright and clean is best. C Buchanan