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Nikon D800 Focusing Screens: BrightScreen and KatzEye

With the Canon 5D Mark III not offering interchangeable focusing screens, readers out there are telling me they are interested in switching to the Nikon D800. See my thoughts on the D800 in yesterday’s blog entry.

For users of manual focus lenses, interchangeable screens can be a defining feature for a camera. Fortunately, it appears that the Nikon D800 offers that option.

The D800/D800 use the Nikon “Type B BriteView Clear Matte Mark VIII screen with AF area brackets and framing grid” by default. Its unclear which of Nikon’s other focusing screens can be used on the D800.

I can find no mention of focusing screen alternatives in the D800 user manual, with nothing found under accessories (pgs 387-390), but it appears that it is possible, just a strange omission. Perhaps Nikon just won’t be directly offering alternatives.

Reader Mark J passes this along from

Thank you very much for your inquiry. At this point, we do not have
information about the D800 screen, release date, or possible compatibility.
We did not have any advance access to the camera and we still have not
obtained a sample camera for review.

Rachael Katz, KatzEyeT Optics

UDPATE! Thanks to reader Thomas H for sending me this link at the Digital Journal of Photography which reports:

Nikon UK has just confirmed to the DJP that the 36MP Nikon D800* has interchangeable focusing screens. While some controversy surrounds Canon's decision not to include interchangeable focusing screens on the new Canon EOS 5D Mk III, the option, either for OEM or replacement screens, is considered essential for precise focusing with MF lenses such as those from Carl Zeiss. Nikon users with older manual focus AIS lenses will also be able to benefit.

(*and presumably the D800E, though that's not confirmed at this time).

UPDATE 2 sent by a reader (not confirmed independently)

Unfortunately information on the DJP website is only partially correct - while the focussing screen on D800 / D800E can technically be replaced, it is intended to be performed in the Service Centre only as a part of the repair process. Nikon does not plan to release any accessory screens for these cameras and cannot recommend usage of 3rd party screens or their replacement by the user.

We apologize for any inconvenience it may cause you. Please do not hesitate to contact us again in case of any questions.

Aleksander Nowak
Nikon Europe Support "

I notice that lists several screens for the D800/D800E. I have not used these screens, but they show promise for those who want improved manual focus characteristics. I also cannot speak to the auto-exposure or autofocus implications of changing the screen.

Also, Aa 3rd party focusing screen won’t support the LCD grid overlay and similar features as far as I know.

  • NUMBER 1. PLAIN MATTE — offers basic traditional ground glass simulated focusing, which is very popular in portrait photography and for use in micro and telephoto applications.
  • #1
  • NUMBER 2. MICROPRISM SPOT CENTER: offers a central focusing aid microprism which shows a pattern of dots (microprisms) that are highly visible when the camera is not in focus, and gradually disappear when the subject is calibrated into correct focus. This aid is particularly beneficial for moving subjects. A new larger 13 mm microprism spot center Proscreen™ is also now available for all 645, 6x6, 6x7 and selected 35mm / digital cameras.

  • #2
  • NUMBER 4. AND 5. SPLIT IMAGE WITH MICROPRISM COLLAR: The #4 has always been our most popular screen style until the #5 screen was produced. These screens combine both of the features of our #2 and #3 screens. This screen is very commonly found in cameras and is often furnished by camera manufacturers as a standard style screen. When available, for most 35mm and 120 format cameras, this screen offers the best variety of overall general focusing features for both still and moving subjects. The NUMBER 5. PROSCREEN™ is available for most medium-format cameras, selected 35mm / digital and some long-roll cameras. It has the same features as #4, but with a larger than normal 6mm split image, and larger microprism collar.
  • #4 / #5

Wythe W writes:

There is also a company that modifies what appears to be a Canon S screen for use in the D700. What I like about these screens is that there's no bothersome split-image prism nonsense. The whole screen is bright and clear. Not sure how well they fit in the D700 or whether the D800 screen has the same dimensions. Will have to wait and see.

DIGLLOYD: No experience here. Seems like trying too hard to have to modify something.

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