My $40 USD piece of plastic ‘review’

Today, In the mail, I received my Canon EC-S focusing screen. What you ask? Is an Ec-S focusing screen? Well the marketing geniuses at Canon label’s its features as:

  • Focusing screen features super precision matte
  • Essential for manual focusing shots
  • Makes it easy to determine the precise point of the sharpest focus

In laymens terms, it is essentially a 40 dollar piece of plastic, no larger than the size of a quarter, that allows geeky photographers to take pictures using old ass lenses that can’t auto-focus( or super crazy macro lenses ).



Which begs the question. “What idiot would go and waste $40 dollars on a tiny piece of plastic?” ….As the room goes silent, only one idiot raises his hand. Yes, that idiot, would be none other than yours truly.

Installation was pretty straight forward. You open up your camera and poke at the top to release the focusing screen housing.

Just be very careful to try to perform this action in a relatively dust free environment, and be sure to clean your hands. Otherwise, bad things will happen to your sensor. You use the handy dandy tool that comes with the Ec-S screen to take the original focusing screen out, and replace it with the shiny new focusing screen.


Snap the housing back in place, and plop a lens back onto your camera. Note: The EC-S is can technically only be used on a 1DIIN, 1DIII, 1DsIII and a few higher end film bodies from Canon. The reason is you need to go into the custom functions of the camera and inform it that you are using the Ec-S screen so that the light meter can recalibrate itself to the darker screen. Darker screen you say? Yes…once installed you will lose 1-stop of light, therefore you will need fast glass to even use this. lenses of 2.8 aperture or wider is ideal. (But I’ll get to my conclusions later).

So after I installed this wondrous new focusing screen (note the sarcasm), I immediately put on in my macro lens and attempted to take a picture (Yes I shot that using manual focus).


And Wow…I must admit. There is a world of difference (Again, note the sarcasm). It is then that I finally realized the futility of my new expensive piece of plastic. Manual focusing, and thus, manual focus lenses are really supposed to be used by people who could actually SEE! Yes, people with don’t wear ginormous bottle cap glasses such as myself. People with better vision who could…for lack of a better term….Actually manually focus! Blind people, such as myself rely on newfangled computers to determine focus. Though I wonder if it means that video camera operators must have good or near perfect vision, because most higher end cameras are all fully manual focus only?

So, to conclude my review, all kidding aside. I think there is about a 15% to 20% increase in the clarity of the image for manual focusing. The Ec-S screen as neat as it is, may not be the most practical purchase because newer camera bodies these days offer live view. That is, it allow you to visually see what you are focusing on via the LCD with super precision. You can Optically zoom 10x and focus precisely. Even blind people like me can use live view to focus accurately. New technology has made this EC-S screen obsolete, in my opinion. I’ll keep the new ec-s on my camera for a bit to see how it performs during daylight conditions. My 1DII does not have live view, so I may decide to keep it. However, I have a sneaking suspicion it will go back into the box eventually, and perhaps I’ll put it up for sale for someone else to try =)


About greenbeanfx

Photography is what I do =) If you wish to contact for a photoshoot, send me an email or comment on a blog with your info and I'll get back

Posted on October 20, 2009, in Aperature and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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