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Home > Focusing Screens

© 1998-2021 Ferdi Stutterheim

Page Index

  1. Introduction
  2. Where can I buy a replacement focusing screen?
  3. What size is my focusing screen?
  4. Focusing screens for 6×6 cm TLR cameras
  5. Focusing screens for SL 66 cameras
  6. Focusing screens for SLX and System 6000 cameras
  7. Notes
  8. References

Introduction

Early Rolleiflex TLRs have rather dim focusing screens. Quite a lot of buyers are interested in replacing the screen for a brighter one. Choosing a screen is based on a personal preference. A brighter screen is not necessarily easier to focus. In general terms a very bright screen may lack snapping into focus. On the other hand you can see whatever you are focusing on. When people get older they may prefer a brighter screen anyway. Considerations when upgrading the screen are: where can I buy the replacement screen, which size do I need, can I do it myself or to whom shall I turn to. This page aims to help you making choices.

Where can I buy a replacement focusing screen?

A quick search of the internet will deliver suppliers who offer screens for a few tenners and the screen will arrive at your home in a week or so. I have not purchased one myself but people who did seem reasonably satisfied. It is that easy but you may end up with a screen that doesn’t fit your Rolleiflex or does not suit you. I know two of two suppliers of quality screens who are able to give good advice. The latest generation screens are in current production and can be obtained from the factory.

Quality screens in several sizes with or without a choice of focusing aids are offered by Maxwell Precision Optics1 and Rick Oleson BrightScreen2. Mr Bill Maxwell has no website but he can be found on Facebook. I have his contact details at the bottom of this page. His screens are of the highest quality and he can advise which screen to use. His prices reflect the quality. Expect to pay a few hundred US$. I do not have any of his screens in my Rolleiflex but I do have one in my Linhof. I am very happy. Mr Rick Oleson does have a website. You can order on line, choosing camera brand, type of screen and size. His screens are said to be of high quality and his prices are under US$ 100. I have not yet been a customer. For a comparison between a Maxwell and an Oleson screen read Mr Edward Goodwin’s blog3. His comparison is not entirely valid because he compared a screen without focusing aid with one having a microprism focusing aid. Never the less he gives a fair assessment of the two screens and a good view on the differences.

What size is my focusing screen?

The next question is about screen size. From the 1920s to present screens in five different sizes have been made. It all depends on the era the Rolleiflex was made. Three different size screens were built into cameras with fixed finder hoods. It means exchanging the screen is not a DIY job. You will need a qualified technician to do the job. It makes sense to have this done at a the time service of the camera is needed. Some technicians provide the screen and your worries are over. Others do not regularly replace screens or offer screens you do not like and may ask you to send a replacement with the camera.

Screen Sizes of Rolleiflex and Rolleicord cameras

Camera model lines Camera
production years
Particulars Screen Size Original screen(s) when
camera was first sold
Rolleiflex Standard
Rolleiflex New Standard
Rolleiflex Automat
1932 - 1949 Fixed finder 57 × 63.7 mm Standard screen
Rolleiflex 3.5, 3.5 A, 3.5 B
Rolleiflex 2.8, 2.8 B, 2.8 C, 2.8 D
1950 - 1956 Fixed finder 56.5 × 63.7 mm Standard screen
Rolleiflex 3.5 C (E)
Rolleiflex 2.8 E
1956 - 1959 Fixed finder
Exposure meter
56.5 × 62.7 mm Standard screen
Rolleicord Vb
Rolleiflex T
Rolleiflex 3.5 E2, E3, F
Rolleiflex 2.8 E2, E3, F
Tele-Rolleiflex
Wide-angle Rolleiflex
1958 -1984 Detachable finder
Exchangeable screen
64 × 69 mm Bright screen
(Hell-Einstellscheibe)
Rolleiflex SL 66
Rolleiflex 2.8 GX, 2.8 FX, 4.0 FT, 4.0 FW
Rolleiflex SLX and System 6000

Rolleiflex Hy 6
1966 -1984 Detachable finder
Exchangeable screen
56 × 63 mm Bright screen
(Hell-Einstellscheibe)
Super bright screen
(Superhell-Einstellscheibe)
Matte screen

Camera production years should be seen as guidelines only. In each row the key factor in screen size is printed in bold. The information in rows 3 - 5 is accurate. The rows 1 and 2 should be seen as ‘best effort’. Around 1950 the screen became slightly smaller (57 mm > 56.5 mm). Based on 1950 I have placed camera models in row 1 or row2. I suppose that will be accurate but I am not really sure. In the exposure meter group the actual presence of the meter is not important. The capability of having the meter is. I could not find any information about screen sizes of the Rolleicords I - Va. The Rolleicord Vb has the detachable finder that determines its size.

Focusing screens for 6×6 cm TLR cameras

Standard screen

The standard screen is to be found in Rolleiflex and Rolleicord cameras with fixed finders. It was not sold separately to users because the screens were not seen as exchangeable by the user. When a screen was damaged it had to be replaced by a qualified repairer with a collimator for calibrating the position of the screen. The bottom of the screens is fixed to the camera body while the top has to be in the right position for proper focusing. In order to compensate for slight differences in thickness of the screens shims may be necessary and recalibration is needed after screen replacement.

The standard screen is a glass matte screen. This is a screen modern users often want to replace. It is not very bright with dark corners. A Rolleigrid Fresnel lens can be placed on top the focusing screen for better brightness especially in the corners. The Rolleigrid is no longer made and is not easily obtainable as a used piece.

Bright screen

The Rolleiflex cameras were equipped with detachable finders from 1958. Focusing screens can be exchanged by the user. Several screen options were offered. The screens were no longer screwed on to the camera body but are held in a spring loaded frame. The springs push the screen up in the frame. This way the screen is held with reference to the top of the screen. Assuming the frame is in position, so is the screen. Differences in thickness of screens do not matter. The springs will compensate for this. The original bright screen (1958) was also available in sizes for previous camera models. At that time the factory sold upgrading kits with bright screen and shims. The kits were not very popular. I have never seen one on offer.

The bright screen is a combination of a matte screen and a Fresnel lens. It is made of plastic. It was developed and produced by the Rollei factory. A choice of bright screen options were available to suit all photographers and all kinds of photography. There is less need for replacing bright screens but users with advancing age often consider replacing for an even brighter screen.

Bright screens for 6×6 cm TLRs up to F-types

Screen type Production years
focusing screen
Particulars Screen Sizes
Rolleigrid lens 1953 - 1961 Fresnel lens with clear-view spot for brighter and more evenly lit
screen. The Rolleigrid is only to be used combined with a standard
glass screen. It is to be placed on top of the glass screen with the
rough side facing the screen and is held by a notch at the front and
a button at the back of the finder. FOGRI4
54 × 58.5 × 1.1 mm
Bright matt screen 1958 - 1984 Bright matt screen without focusing aids. Evenly lit up to the
corners. Advised when focusing aids would interfer with composing.
Portraiture f.i. Grid lines. Factory choice 1958 - 1966. As spare part
only.
64 × 69 mm
57 × 63.7 mm
56.5 × 63.7 mm
56.5 × 62.7 mm
Bright matt screen with
split‑image wedge.
1963 - 1984 Bright matt screen with split-image wedge. Evenly lit up to the
corners. Universal use. Split-image rangefinder for precise focusing
on vertical lines. Grid lines. Factory choice from 1966. FOIND
64 × 69 mm
Bright matt screen with
microprism spot.
1967 - 1984 Bright matt screen with microprism spot. Evenly lit up to the
corners. Exact focusing not depending on vertical structures.
Sharpest focus is marked by a ‘shimmer-free’ image.
Grid lines. FOERA
64 × 69 mm

Focusing screens for SL 66 cameras

A number of focusing screens were available for the SL 66 line of cameras. The later Rolleiflex SLX, System 6000 and modern TLRs like 2.8 GX, 2.8 FX, 4.0 FT and 4.0 FW were designed to accept screens of the same size. The screens are interchangeable. The following table lists the screens that were offered in the SL 66 era. I do not know when production ended. It was later than around 1994. Some were continued into the SLX and System 6000 era. Others were replaced for new ones with frame lines rather than grids.

Bright screens for Rolleiflex SL 66 cameras

Screen type Production years
focusing screen
Particulars Screen Size
Bright matt screen 1966 - Focusing screen with microfine structure for full-area focusing and
unobstructed composition. Also suitable for small-aperture lenses
and for depth-of-field monitoring. Grid lines. #560 040, #560 045
56 × 63 mm
Finely ground glass screen 1966 - Finely ground glass screen for ultra-precise focusing, especially in
macro photography, at all apertures and with more powerful focusing
magnifiers. No grid lines. #560 030
56 × 63 mm
Bright matt screen with
split‑image wedge
1966 - Universal screen for the most demanding focusing requirements,
with wedge and matt screen. The split-image wedge gives extremely
precise focusing on vertical lines, e.g. for architectural photography.
Grid lines. #560 050, #94 911
56 × 63 mm
Bright matt screen with
micro-prism spot
1966 - Universal screen for rapid shooting with micro-prism spot and matt
screen. Allows trouble-free focusing even in poor light. Sharpest
focus is marked by a ‘shimmer-free’ image. Grid lines.
#560 060, #560 065, #64 913
56 × 63 mm
Bright matt screen with
clear-view spot
1969 - 1988 Special focusing screen for macro‑photography and photomicrography
with clear-view spot, measuring scale and matt screen. The clear-view
spot allows parallax-free aerial image focusing at extremely small
apertures. e.g. through a microscope. Reproduction ratio is set on a
scale. Grid lines. #560 100
56 × 63 mm
Bright matt screen with
central split-image wedge
and micro-prism ring
1976 - Universal screen with split-image wedge, micro-prism ring and matt
screen. Split-image wedge for precise focusing on vertical lines.
Micro-prism ring for focusing to a ‘shimmer-free’ image. Matt screen
with microfine structure for full-area focusing. Grid lines. #560 180
56 × 63 mm

Super bright screen for SL 66 cameras

Screen type Production years
focusing screen
Particulars Screen Size
Super bright matte screen with
split‑image wedge and microprism ring.
1987 - Special focusing screen for extreme unfavourable light.
Grid lines. #560 170
56 × 63 mm

Focusing screens for SLX and System 6000 cameras

Focusing screens of the SL 66 and the 6000 models are of the same size. The SLX and the System 6000 used SL 66 screens to start with. The screens also fit in the Rolleiflex 2.8 GX, 2.8 FX, 4.0 FT and 4.0 FW. The present Rolleiflex Hy 6 is also equipped with screens of this size as far as I know. The factory does not publish detailed specifications of this camera costing €10,000. New screens should be available from the factory and perhaps from remaining dealers. Some SL 66 screens were updated, mainly with respect to grid lines. Often the grid was omitted or replaced for 4.5×6 cm horizontal and vertical frame lines. In next table only new or updated screens are listed.

Bright screens for Rolleiflex SLX and System 6000 cameras

Screen type Production years
focusing screen
Particulars Screen Size
Bright matt screen with
micro-fine texture
1988 - 1992 Micro-fine structure for focusing anywhere in the frame and easy
composition, also suitable for very low-speed lenses and for checking
depth of field. No grid. #97 052
56 × 63 mm
Bright matt screen with
micro-fine texture
1993 - Micro-fine structure for focusing anywhere in the frame and easy
composition, also suitable for very low-speed lenses and for checking
depth of field. Guidelines for horizontal and vertical-format 4.5×6 cm
shots. #64 911
56 × 63 mm
Bright matt screen with
split‑image wedge
1993 - 1995 Micro‑fine structure and split‑image wedge for higly precise focusing.
Guidelines for horizontal and vertical-format 4.5×6 cm shots. #64 913
56 × 63 mm
Bright matt screen with
microprism spot
1988 - Universal screen for rapid focusing with microprism spot and matt
screen. For easy and precise focusing even in poor light. Focusing
criterion: no image shimmer. Guidelines for horizontal and
vertical-format 4.5×6 cm shots. #97 074
56 × 63 mm
Bright matt LSC screen 1966 - Special screen for use with Digital Scan Pack.
Guidelines for 41.2 ×35 mm shots. #61 396
56 × 63 mm

The brightest screen is the high definition High D screen for System 6000 cameras. By the time it came on to market the SL 66 was out of production but the screen fits that camera line too. The High D screens also fits the Rolleiflex 2.8 GX, 2.8 FX, 4.0 FT and 4.0 FW. The most recently produced TLRs and System 6000 cameras had the High D as a factory fitted screen.

High D screens for System 6000 cameras

Screen type Production years
focusing screen
Particulars Screen Size
High D‑screen with
split‑image wedge
1996 - High definition screen for outstanding brightness of viewfinder image
and precise focusing even in critical lighting conditions, such as in
twilight or in a portrait studio. A central split-image rangefinder
facilitates focusing on vertical lines. Guidelines for horizontal and
vertical-format 4.5×6 cm shots serve to align the camera with high
precision. #10 772
56 × 63 mm
AF-High D-screen 2002 - High D-screen with marks for auto-focus metering fields. Brilliant image
even in low light. Guidelines for horizontal and vertical-format 4.5×6 cm
shots serve to align the camera with high precision. Standard screen of the
Rolleiflex 6008 AF. #56 704
56 × 63 mm

Notes

[1]
Mr. Bill Maxwell
Maxwell Precision Optics
P.O. Box 33146,
Decatur, GA 30033-0146,
U.S.A.
Telephone (404) 244-0095
e-mail: Maxwell Precision Optics
Particulars: Focusing screens for Rolleiflex and other cameras.
About this entry (01/2020). Contact details: no recent information. Back
[2]
Mr. Rick Oleson
Rick Oleson BrightScreen
Particulars: Focusing screens for Rolleiflex and other cameras.
About this entry (01/2021). Website: up. Back
[3]
Edward Goodwin Photography
Maxwell and Oleson focusing screens side-by-side. Back
[4]
The order code, order number (6 digits) or part identifier (5 digits) is printed in bold. The order code (also telegram code) was used for ordering camaras or accessories with the factory. Back

References