Viewfinder Accessories for the Olympus E-1

My other articles related to the Olympus E-System cameras.

Here is another piece by John Foster, quick notes on two useful Olympus finder accessories: the FS-2 finder screen and EP-2 eyecup. My comments are always clearly marked as such.
Please note that both are specific to the E-1; they can not be used with the E-300!

FS-2 Focusing Screen

(Picture by Olympus)

This is an optional focusing screen for the E-1 (while FS-1 is the screen included with the camera). It has an engraved grid pattern, made up of seven vertical and five horizontal lines, giving 48 squares. It also has the same center ring and AF focus guides as the FS-1.

Size: 19 x 14mm i.e., 266 square millimeters area. For comparison, an OM screen was 35 x 25 mm.

Andrzej: Olympus quotes the size as 18.8 x 14.8 x 1.5 mm. Some of the screen area is a margin, not used by the projected image which is 17.3 x 13 mm. Obviously, for the sake of viewing and focusing, the projected image has to be of exactly the same size as that on the CCD sensor, i.e., about 1/4 of the area of a 35-mm, 100%-coverage screen.

Packaging: I was quite surprised to see the FS-2 presented in what looks like an OM-system screen case, complete with modified tweezers — but no brush.

The screen has its own plastic tote with a small black plastic insert that fits snugly into the screen grips of the OM case and supports the FS-2.

Installation: An instruction sheet is supplied. Take off the lens, locate the screen frame release tab at the top of the lens mount, and with the hooked end of the tweezers pull the tab towards you. The frame flips down and can throw the screen out, so be careful.

With the grip end of the tweezers take hold of the screen tab and lift it out of the frame. Place on a clean, dry, dust-free surface. Remove the new screen from the plastic tote with the tweezers and place it in the screen frame. Push the screen frame back with the tool until the tab clicks into place.

Store the removed screen in the plastic holder and put it back in the screen case for safekeeping.

(Photos by John Foster)

In use: I have always had a soft spot for grid screens. They are helpful for general composition as well as for their original purpose, architectural work with shift lenses.

Andrzej: A shift lens for the E-system would be great. While you can try an OM shift lens, much of its advantage will be lost because of the narrower image angle resulting from the smaller sensor.

Brightness: Though I have no method of accurately measuring screen light levels, I would say the grid screen is marginally darker than the FS-1.

Contrast: To my eye it seems identical as in FS-1.

Moiré: The instruction sheet warns that Moiré patterns might be seen at small apertures. To date I haven't seen any.

Andrzej: Just wait for some detail with on-screen frequency comparable to that of the screen structure... Although the irregularities in the latter should help.

Image "snappiness": On 35 mm cameras grid screens tend to remove a bit of "snap to focus", and this one is no different. With AF, of course, this is not really an issue, but if you are using manual focus (e.g., with other system's lenses), you might just notice the difference. Still, it is negligible and outweighed by the aid to composition this screen provides.

Price: £42 in the U.K. — not cheap, similar to (new) OM screens.

Andrzej: In the U.S. you can buy it at B&H or Adorama of about $50. Who said one pound is 1.8 dollars?

Overall: Is it worth £42? It is expensive, but I recommend that anyone who uses the E-1 should own one.

If you have used a grid in the past, you will love it. If you haven't, then you might be better not investing until you try one. This is largely a matter of personal taste, but anything that helps imaging must be worth considering.

EP-2 Eyecup

This is a replacement eyecup you can use instead of the EP-1 which is included with the camera.

It is made of soft rubber, and has an overall diameter of 49 mm and a depth of 8mm.

This cup has been designed for maximum comfort. Complete with its own plain ocular glass, it fits to the body via the eye piece bayonet. When fitted, its flat spot lines up along the top of the rear screen.

Installation: Simply twist off the original EP-1 cup and refit the EP-2 to the bayonet.

In use: Every photographer should use an eyecup. The difference it makes to imaging and composition is uncanny.

Until you've tried one you probably do not believe that a bit of shaped rubber could be so useful. It cuts out extraneous light entering the field of view between your eye socket and the rear ocular that can spoil the finder image.

This light can be significant, especially with a high sun behind you. The cup is useful also for dusk work, macro/micro work, and especially in stop-down mode (for example, using OM ZUiko lenses).

(Photos by John Foster)

Andrzej: Less light entering the finder also means that the camera's light metering becomes more accurate. Why do you think I'm wearing a wide-brimmed hat?

Note: The instruction sheet insists that the viewfinder shutter and diopter adjuster cannot be used with EP-2 fitted. What is true is that while they are more difficult to use, but still work fine. In any case, once you have adjusted the finder for your eyes, it is rarely touched further.

Price: £19 in the U.K. is, again, not cheap — more expensive than the OM-series (plain) eyecup.

Andrzej: In the U.S. it is $25.

Overall: Is it worth £19? Yes, every penny.

Andrzej: Yeah, but you cannot use it on the E-300...

My other articles related to the Olympus E-System cameras.

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Posted 2005/01/30 Copyright © 2005 by John Foster and J. Andrzej Wrotniak