Modern Classic SLRs Series :
Nikon F3 - Interchangeable Focusing Screens - Index Page

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© JenSiow Sudio '98

The unique concept modular structure employeed in the Nikon professional F-series camera bodies made inter changable viewfinder prisms and focusing screens possible. Unlike focusing screens for some of the mid-price Nikon bodies that are made of acrilan,  which is prone to damage as well as hard to clean, focusing screens for the F-series bodies since the Nikon F in 1959 are a solid block of glass with a protective metal frame. This arrangement allows simple removal for cleaning while protecting the integrity of the screen and reducing the potential for damage.

Since the body dimension and the viewfinder mount is designed differently from the Nikon F2, earlier screens are not compatible with those used on Nikon F3. The convenient viewfinder changing method of the F3 makes changing of focusing screen so swift and easy as compared with the cumbersome method in the earlier Nikon F and Nikon F2 bodies. There are a total of 23 types of focusing screens available and each comes with its dedicated function either specifically just for viewing convenience, composing or to supplement lenses of a specific type.

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Other than the Nikon F3AF model, the standard focusing screen used on any F3 camera is the Type K screen: It is a combination of Type A and J screens. It has a Matte/Fresnel field with 3 mm split image rangefinder spot surrounded by 1 mm-wide microprism doughnut.

Suitable for all round general photography. Rapid and accurate focusing for subjects with both straight lines and ill-defined contours is possible. The 12mm outer circle defines and outlines the exact 80/20 heavy centre-weighted metering area used specifically on the Nikon F3 (except early models before the Nikon F Tn Photomic in 1967 - which was the first Nikon SLR body that used the center-weighted exposure metering method). The usual 60/40 combination for centre-weighted exposure measurement was, for the first time, being altered to the Nikon F3 preferred combination.

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Before you can change a screen, First - you have to remove the finder. Next, just use your finger nail and lift the screen up,
replaced with the screen with one of your choice .

There are * no less than 20 types of focusing screens available for use with the Nikon F3. Each provides you with the various functions that you think can best suit your kind of assignment or preferences. Other than the F3AF where you need to take out the focusing screen before you can mount your DX-1 Finder, each screen can work in conjunction with all the interchangeable viewfinders developed for the F3. Some screens can actually be used on the F4 as well, while F4 screens can also be interchanged and used on the F3. The advantage of the metering cells being housed underneath the main mirror box shows its strength here - virtually ALL interchangeable viewfinders and focusing screens require no adjustment to metering nor exposure compensation.

* In later years, where some of the variants of the F3, like the F3AF, F3H, came without or different from the standard K type screen. For example, the F3 High Speed used the Type B as standard, while the F3AF use a fixed dedicated screen that mounted directly on the DX-1 finder and cannot be used on other F3 models.

Type A : Mane/Fresnel field with 3mm circular split/image rangefinder spot and 12mm reference circle. Rapid and accurate focusing. Excellent for general photography.

Type C : Fine-ground matte field with 4 mm clear spot and cross hair: For photomicrography - works especially well with the DW-4 finder, astrophotography and other high magnification work, using parallax focusing on aerial images.

Type J
: Matte/Fresnel field with central microprism focusing spot and 12mm circle. Good for general photography.

Type M : Fine-ground Fresnel field with 5.5 mm clear spot and double cross hair for use in parallax focusing on aerial image, plus millimeter scales for calculation of individual magnification of objects or for measuring objects. Brilliant image in dim light. Suitable for close-ups, photomicrography and other high-magnification applications. Another good companion with the DW-4 high magnification finder.


Type L
: Same as Type A screen but with split-image rangefinder line at a 45° angle. Wroks best with subjects with horizontal lines.

Type G : Clear Fresnel field with extra-bright 12mm microprism focusing spot for viewing and focusing in poor light. Four models (G1-G4) are available corresponding to specific focal length lenses.
* Depth of field cannot be observed

Type P
: Same as Type K but with split-image rangefinder line at a 45° angle and etched horizontal and vertical lines as an aid to composition. Rapid and accurate focusing for subject with horizontal or vertical lines or ill-defined contours suitable for general photography.

Type H: Clear Fresnel field with microprism focusing pattern over the entire screen area. Permits rapid focusing on any part of the screen with optimum edge-to-edge brightness in poor light. Available in 4 models (H1-H4) corresponding to particular focal length lenses. I am using H2 on my F3T.
I use H3 on my F3HP/MD4 with Zoom Nikkor 80-200mm f4.0 (its standard lens) which provides excellent results for action photography - Allan M Purtle -


Type B: Matte/Fresnel field with 3mm fine-ground matte focusing spot and 12mm reference circle. Good for general photography, especially with long lenses. Type B screen is also used as standard screen for F3 High Speed motor drive camera body.

Type U: Matte/Fresnel field with 3mm fine-ground matte focusing spot and 12mm reference circle. Utilizes the same matte field as

Type B, but with lenses longer than 100mm the image in the viewfinder is easier to see. * With shorter focal length lenses, this screen is not suitable because of light falloff in the corners.

Type R: Same as Type A but with rangefinder prisms of sloping surfaces at a smaller angle and horizontal and vertical lines to aid proper composition. Works best with lenses having maximum apertures from f 3.5 to f /5 6.

Type D: Overall fine-ground matte field. For specialized close-up photography and for use with long lenses.

Type S: Same with Type K, except at the left corner, there is a provision with used in conjunction with the 250 back and the MF-17 Databack to register data imprint.

Type E : Matte/Fresnel field with 3mm fine ground matte spot, 12mm reference and etched horizontal and vertical lines. Ideal hr architectural photography, copying works etc. .

Type T: Mane/Fresnel field with split-image rangefinder, 12mm reference circle, and horizontal and vertical lines. Used when preparing slides for TV broadcasting. Dotted lines indicate standard TV screen format. Solid outline shows "safe action" area, whereas broken lines indicate "safe title" area.

How to change the screens in the F3, first , just use the finder to slide the finder release levers (on both sides), and lift the finder up. Click here for More !

Download a copy of the PDF file (368k) of the Focusing Screens Compatibility Chart for Nikon F3HP or equivalent models.

NEW ! A Special Focusing Screen for Nikon F3 Oxberry Pro 5 Camera here.


Third Party options Focusing Screens (List Price: US$112.50)
Beattie logo.gif
A company in the US, Fresnel Optics are providing some alternative choices for focusing screens other than those offered by Nikon. It was a company primarily engaged in the development, design and manufacture of precision micro structured optics. In 1997 in a corporate move to acquire Beattie Intenscreen, a company focused on producing focusing screens for cameras. Located in Rochester, NY,  Fresnel Optics bought Beattie and extended the product line to more screens and 'varieties for many popular 35mm medium and even large format cameras.

The company claims screens made by them generally range from a stop brighter than most camera manufacturers. You can buy online if you wish or write to them at: Fresnel Optics, Inc.- Beattie Intenscreen. 1300 Mt. Read Boulevard, Rochester, NY 14606 USA (716)647-1140 Fax: (716) 254-4940. Screens made by Beattie Intenscreen usually have a fresnel lens design, made from optical grade acrylic, the fresnel lenses are optically engineered to concentrate and redirect light (and the image) to the exact position of the eye where it claims traditional ground glass-type focusing screens simply act as a surface for viewing the image and don't effectively utilize all of the available light, resulting in a dim image with little contrast. In addition, the screens made by Intenscreen go through a special chemical coating and curing process adding even more brightness. According to them, the exclusively developed manufacturing process has also been patented. Personally, I have no experience dealing with these screens. I have no eyesight problem, my lenses are adequately bright and I don't think the price justifies the change. As I noticed from the site, the screen is retailing at US112.50 whereas the Nikon screen was quoted at RM100.00 (Used to be at RM20.00 15 years ago..). I thought that was excessive.. (In November 1999, exchange rate was fixed at US$1.00=RM3.80 under currency exchange control). That means an original screen is selling at below US30.00 a piece.




Although it may not be suitable for a 'realistic' guy like me, there may be some out there who would find these viewing aids of great help (like darkening of the split-image rangefinder caused by slower speed lenses or deteriorating eyesight problem etc..).
They have six F3 types for you to select from, each comes with a product code and design.

UPDATE May 2008
Beattie Intenscreen was acquired by Reflexite Display Optics at some point and still manufactures products for the photographic market segment. Current link bellow. Products support F, F2, F3, F4, F4s, F5, F100, FE, FA, FM2, FE2, N90, N90s - Allan M Purtle -

"Beattie Intenscreen®
Reflexite offers a wide variety of brightness enhancing focusing screens for the photographic industry with over 350 screens currently available. To accommodate the diverse needs of the photographer, there are several varieties of Beattie Intenscreen® available within each camera product category."










Relative: Nikon Focusing Screens for Nikon F, Nikon F3, Nikon F4, Nikon F5 & Screens for MF-Nikon Mid-compact Bodies.

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Nikon F3 - Interchangeable Focusing Screens - Index Page

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