Classic SLRs Series
Interchangeable Focusing Screens
During the early days, the Nikon FE is an automatic camera with a full match needle manual exposure control system, another selling point was its interchangeable focusing screen capability. This feature was missed out in the mechanical Nikkormat FT and electronic EL series models.
Until the FM2 of 1982, Nikon FE remained first model other than the Nikon professional F series to have this unique and useful feature. The original FM wasn't equipped with this either.
It was only made available in the original Nikon FM2 in 1982 and during the initial stage, the FM2 shares the same screens designed for the FE which is slightly dimmer. This interchangeable screen feature was made standard later in all the mid-compact manual focus Nikon bodies - FM2, FE2, FM2n, FA. Sorry, neither the current Nikon FM10 and FE10 has this useful feature incorporated, both of these bodies have only a fixed, non-interchangeable standard K screen as standard. With the introduction of the Nikon FM3a in 2002, the Company also debuted a 3 new series of screens (K3-type Spliprism-image Rangefinder Microprism, Clear Matte Screen IIa and Etched system with horizontal and vertical lines ) specifically for the camera.
Generally, regardless of old or new, there are a total of three different types of focusing screens available. You can categorized them in two different groups: The early days of K/B/E (for the FE, FM, and FM2) and the later K2/B2/E2 for the FA, FE2, FM2n/FM2T and K3, E3 and B3 for the Nikon FM3a. What was the difference ? The screens in the second and third series are brighter than earlier ones for easier view and focusing, that is all. The new K3/B3/E3 has a smaller diameter of the split-image renagefinder than earlier versions..
Out line their general applications:
TYPE K (K2): Matte/Fresnel with horizontal rangefinder and microprism. Matte/Fresnel field with central 3mm-diameter split-image rangefinder (horizontally aligned) surrounded by 1 mm-wide microprism collar. This screen combines the split-image and the microprism for quick and accurate focusing, particularly with lenses of brighter maximum aperture. Screen also provided with centrally positioned, 12mm-diameter etched reference circle denoting area of center-weighting TTL exposure measurement. Excellent for general photography, the Type K screen is standard equipment on the Nikon FM/FE/FM2. While K2 screen is the standard screen for FE2, FM2n, FM2T, FA, FM10 and FE10.
TYPE B (B2): Matte/Fresnel with focusing spot. Matte/Fresnel field with central 3mm-diameter fine-ground matte focusing spot. The 12mm-diamter reference circle corresponds to the area of center-weighted TTL exposure measurement. Rated excellent with all lenses, this screen proves especially good with lenses having small maximum apertures, such as Reflex-Nikkors, as well as for close-up photography applications. Since most of you experienced one way or another with darkening of the spit image with those small aperture lenses, especially with zoom lenses.
TYPE E (E2): Matte/Fresnel with focusing spot and grid. Matte/Fresnel field with central 3mm-diameter fine-ground matte focusing spot and etched grid. The 12mm-diamter reference circle corresponds to the area of center-weighted TTL exposure measurement. Rated excellent with all lenses, this screen proves especially good for exacting reproduction work, such as copying, as well as for architectural photography with PC-Nikkor lenses. The grids, are useful for perfect registration in multiple exposures or use it for reference guide in composition etc.
The two groups of screens are compatible with any of the above cameras. Note: Some exposure compensation is needed when certain screens are installed in certain cameras. For instance, when you intend to use an FE, FM, or FM2 with the newer group of screens, an exposure compensation (Either through the exposure compensation dial or adjust the ASA) of + 1/3 to +1/2 stop exposure compensation is required. On the other hand, if an FE2, FA, or FM2n is used with a screen from the earlier series, a compensation value of - 1/3 to - 1/2 stop exposure compensation is necessary.
Still confused ? Here is a compatibility chart with the recommended exposure compensation values: (NOTE: Nikon claims FM3a can used K2/B2/K2 without the need to compensate exposure but they didn't indicate whether how much adjustment needs to be done on the other way round i.e. using the new screen(s) on older bodies)
K, B, E
K2, B2, E2
K3, B3, E3
+ 1/2 EV
+ 1/3 EV
FE2, FA, FM2n, FM2/T
- 1/3 EV
Updated by Lars Holst Hansen <LHHansen@zi.ku.dk> Creator of the Nikon Repair Mailing List
Note: These are suggested compensation values published by Nikon on the little leaflet that came with the optional screen, please use it only as a reference. For more precise results, try to perform a test on your own to find the best combination.
Next issue is - how to differentiate between these two groups of screens ?
I suggest you'd better try to absorb this info, as not many shop assistants out there are knowledgeable enough to help you, as these are minor accessories to them. It could be quite troublesome for you to keep two type of these screens in your camera bag if situations demand you to keep changing screens for various assignments.
Type K/B/E screens have a straight tab. Type K2/B2/E2 screens have a notched tab.
Caution: If you use the Type K/B/E screen, you must make exposure compensation by setting the exposure compensation dial to -1/3. However, no exposure compensation is necessary when performing TTL auto flash photography with a Type K/B/E screen installed in the FE2 or FA.
Type K3/B3/E3 screens for Nikon FM3a.
Generally, it is easy-to-change focusing screens with the Nikon cameras mentioned earlier. For most situations, the standard K/K2 screen works fine. The other two options are quite specific. Like for close-ups or long telephoto shots, B/B2 offers an unobstructed view in the center. E/E2, with etched horizontal and vertical lines, is ideal for copying, duplicating, architectural work (with PC-Nikkor lenses) or as a general aid in composition. But for all round applications, based on individual preference, I would still suggest the B2. In fact, the H2 in Nikon F3 are quite similar in nature with the type B in the FE series. This, of cause is just a personal preference. The split image in the earlier FE's K screen tends to darken when used with many lenses, I have used to the plain image screen due to that reason.
Update: The FE10 and FM10 does not have a interchangeable screen function. A fixed, standard type K screen is used for both bodies.
Guide on maintenance of screens: These are factory guide for the FE published in 1978 maintenance guideline and should be used as a reference if you want to do it yourself:
How to clean Focusing Screens of Nikon FE
This note is applicable only to the focusing screens for Nikon FE, which are made of acrilan. On changing focusing screens, they should be removed / mounted with tweezers, to avoid getting smudges or fingerprints on their optical surfaces; As a general cleaning, simply use a brush or blower brush to remove external dust. However, when the screens are smudged or printed by mistake, clean them carefully with a cleaning tissue soaked with the adequate liquid listed below. In this case, do not rub focusing screens strongly, because they are prone to be easily damaged.
How to change the screen ? Forgot to link this earlier, errr..
Liquid/Agent Remarks Freon (CCl2F2) Excellent Lens cleaner (on the market) Excellent Ethyl Alcohol (C2H50H) Acceptable Methyl Alcohol (CH3OH) Unacceptable Ethy1 Ether ( (C2H5)2O) Unacceptable Thinner ( on the market) Unacceptable
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Relative: Nikon Focusing Screens for Nikon F, Nikon F3, Nikon F4, Nikon F5 & Screens for MF-Nikon Mid-compact Bodies.
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