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Changing focusing screens on an ST


New Member
Hello contaxians,

I have an ST that has the standard focus screen. I find it hard to
determine the correct focus due to the information overload that I get
(horizontal split verse microprism verse matte background) so to simplify
things I thought that I could replace it with just a plain matte finish
screen (FW-3) as I find that things pop in an out of focus for me with the
matte portion of the screen.

So my questions are:

1) am I correct in my assumption that a matte screen provides a reliable
means of focusing for a 45/2.8 and 50/1.4?

2) how easy is it to change a focus screen?

Any input would be greatly appreciated.

Mark -%)



I had the same idea about the matte screen for my RX and RTS III. I especially like the matte when using long telephoto because the center doesn't black out.

For me, the dis-advantage is that I need the split image focus for critical focusing in the studio. The plain matte didn't allow me to get the BEST focus in the studio due to poor lighting. I use strobes and not continuous lighting. If one were to use continuous lighting, I am sure that the matte screen would work very well.

I have found changing the screens to be a little fiddly. Be sure and have a clear and clean tabletop with lots of light. Carefully review the instructions, especially the part about unlatching the screen holder. Its not that bad really, just be sure you have not had too much coffee.

best regards, Ron


Active Member
I also bought camera with standard focus screen, horizontal split, microprism, etc.For longer lenses or slower it was not much useful, so bought a plain one too, which is much better for that.
I do not shoot much with standard focal lenght- lenses (round 50), but when I use my 28-70, standard mate - with horizontal split- brings me better service then the plain only. I would not use plain screen with very fast lenses (normal), like p50 or p85/1,4, cause depth of field is very small (especially for close distances) and there is no assistence to focus with.

With other types of screen I have no experiences.
Changing the screen is so easy,intuitive, it cannot be more simple, it takes me less then 15 seconds. You wont need any guide. Screen is sold in small box containing tweezers.
Just my 2 cents (or how they call it...?), Pavel


Mark, I think that at the end of the day, you'll just need to try out the different types of screens to see which one suites your needs the best. I have an ST with the standard horizontal split, and that is pretty good overall. Sometimes I find the spilt to distract composition. I also have a RTSII with a grid screen and plain matte screen. Again, different uses. I do find it easier to use a split to focus fast lenses like the 85/1.4 and the 50/1.4, especially less then 5m. Beyond that, the focus isn't as critical.

It is fairly easy to change the focus screen. If you buy second hand, just make sure the screen comes complete with the special tweezers that are required. Also, contax changes their screen between certain models, so watch out that you get the correct type.

Hope it helps, David.