Manual focus screen for a digital SLR

focus screen

Most modern digital SLR cameras use matte focus screens with their autofocus systems instead of the split circle manual focus screens found in non-digital SLR cameras. Although not factory endorsed, there are replacement manual focus screens which can be very expensive. Reader [Jan-Erik Skata] decided to save some money by salvaging the focus screen from a Miranda dx-3 film camera. Removing the screen proved extremely difficult and the Miranda would have been a total loss if it had been functional. Once out, the screen was sanded down, cleaned and then placed in a Canon EOS 300D. It’s hard to take a picture of the screen through the view finder to prove that it works, but I’m sure Jan-Erik is taking some great photographs having completed this upgrade.


  1. furtim says:

    Actually, my (film) N65 also leaves out the split-circle focus ring in favour of showing the AF sensor zones. I might try this hack, except that I couldn’t afford to replace my Nikon if I screwed it up.

  2. grayskies says:

    this is pretty cool, although I couldn’t stand it with the huge scratch on it.

  3. furtim says:

    Yeah, a scratched focus screen would drive me nuts.

    I also had another thought: is there a way to get these focus screens without ripping apart an old camera? Granted, sometimes the ripping apart is halft he fun, but then you end up with big scratches on your new focus screen. I imagine there must be some supplier for camera repair shops or whatever where you can purchase these kinds of spare parts, but does anyone know of one?

  4. JanErik says:

    Actually there are ready-made focus screens available from and . Mostly for Canon, and they cost around 100

  5. Photodan says:

    This hack really isn’t recommended because of the potential damage you could do to your original focusing screen. They’re ultra sensitive to scratching because they’re laser etched. Even a cotton swab can do a lot of damage.

    It’s also likely that the “new” screen will result in inaccurately focused pictures. The thickness/spacing of the screen is crucial to correct focusing.

  6. Alan Anderson says:

    If you’re interested in performing this hack, You can buy a new focus screen from Katz Eye Optics at You can also purchase new ones from Haoda Optical Research Group at

  7. Big Ben says:

    Err…. there’s something wrong with the focus on your camera? I mean, I realize there is _NOW_, after the original focusing screen’s been removed. But there was before?

    I used to replace the split-image rangefinders in my SLRs with an entirely matte-surface screen. Focusing was much easier without that silly distracting split-image thing. I can’t imagine going the other way. But to each his own, I guess.

    Depending on the camera, this can be very destructive to its ability to focus — just a warning. The screen is all-matte for a reason.

  8. tt says:

    we have split focusing screen too. best quality at competitive price

  9. Hello, I just thought I’d post and let you know your website layout is really messed up on the Firefox browser. Seems to work good in Internet Explorer though. Anyhow keep up the good work.

  10. googfan says:

    That seems like a very scary thing to do. Those sensors are more delicate then hard drives.

    ok not quite, but i would never do that to my camera.

  11. This is amazingly low cost for such camera.

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