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S3 2000 - improving the focus patch by installing a color filter
Old 05-08-2009   #1
jonmanjiro
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S3 2000 - improving the focus patch by installing a color filter

I recently discovered that the focus patch on an S3 2000/2002 can be improved a lot by installing a colour compensating filter under the viewfinder window. I'm of the opinion that the focus patch on these cameras is actually pretty good to start with, but the finder is so bright that the focus patch tends to get washed out somewhat. Installing a colour filter helps to reduce finder brightness so the focus patch is easier to see.

If anyone is interested, here's a quick outline on how to do the installation. It's easy enough to do if you have the tools, but as always with these things, proceed at your own risk!

1. Remove the four minus head screws that hold down the front plate and store them somewhere safe. Be very careful while loosening and removing the screws, as the screwdriver can very easily slip and leave a nice big scratch across your front plate.


2. Carefully remove the front plate.


3. Take extreme care when lifting the front plate over the focus wheel and infinity lock as you can easily bend it.


4. Loosen and remove the three cross head screws that hold down the viewfinder front glass and store them somewhere safe.


5. Carefully remove the viewfinder front glass.


6. Cut the colour compensating filter to the required size. I used a 16mm x 27mm rectangular piece with the bottom left corner slightly cropped to fit around the focus helicoid. Regarding the colour compensating filter, I found the blue B20 filter pictured below to give the best results. I found that lighter filters gave progressively less contrast as the they got brighter, and darker filters made the viewfinder darker but did not improve contrast any further. YMMV.


7. Place the 16mm x 27mm rectangular piece of colour compensating filter over the viewfinder window as below.


8. Carefully replace the viewfinder window and the three cross head screws.


9. Carefully replace the front plate and four minus head screws.


10. Check out the improvement. This photo doesn't really give an idea of the improvement, but it is a big difference especially in low light.


11. Go take some photos!

Last edited by jonmanjiro : 06-16-2009 at 19:49.
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Old 05-09-2009   #2
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Thanks for posting this. I have a Topcon 35-L that might benefit from similar treatment. The blue RF patch on it seems to be good and it has a very bright finder. I was experiencing the same trouble as you were describing so we will give it a go.

Bob
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Old 05-09-2009   #3
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i have this mod on the s3-2000 i'm currently using and it was night and day! now the viewfinder is brighter than my M6 in low light (since you keep both eyes open). i'd highly recommend this mod to any nikon rf shooters!!
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Old 05-09-2009   #4
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Thanks Jon, I have to do this with my S3 2000 as I need a bit more contrast on the RF.
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Old 05-09-2009   #5
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This worked brilliantly. Highly recommended.

Thanks, Jon.
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Old 05-10-2009   #6
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Leica used to make a small orange filter that would fit over one of the rangefinder windows to up the contrast of the "patch". It does work with faded rangefinders. Unfortunately, they are scarce as well as round - but if you can get hold of a Lee Filter sample pack, you can cut your own and install. I did it with a SP with "diminished" capacity in the RF. Kind of works too.
Jon's idea is good - though in Vancouver, we rarely have that bright sunlight!
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Old 05-10-2009   #7
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Jon - how did you take the picture of the viewfinder image after the mod ?
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Old 05-10-2009   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by marcr1230 View Post
Jon - how did you take the picture of the viewfinder image after the mod ?
With a Lumix compact digital camera - amazing amount of DOF with that little camera.
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Old 05-11-2009   #9
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Jon

I did a variation on your idea. At a friends suggestion I used automotive blue window tint on the Topcon 35-L. It greatly improved the the patch contrast making the camera more usable. In the right light you can see bubbles in the film but not when looking through the VF when using it. Hard to get a squeegee in there to take out bubbles. It is a quick and dirty solution that requires no disassembly. I am not recommending anyone try it only that it maybe another option.

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Old 05-11-2009   #10
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Automotive blue window tint sounds like a great alternative, Bob. Glad you found an improvement in patch contrast and thanks for the idea!

Jon
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Old 05-11-2009   #11
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Although the 2000 S3 finder IS bright, the contrast between the finder view and the rangefinder patch was one of the reasons the camera just didn't work for me. Sometimes just hard to pick the images out of the 'white' brightness. The SP with its slight green look in contrast to the rangefinder patch was much better and the finder itself didn't flare at all (the other S3 problem I saw).

That blue filter makes me think of the slight blue tint of an M3. Do you prefer it to the SP tint?
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Old 05-11-2009   #12
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> That blue filter makes me think of the slight blue tint of an M3. Do you prefer it to the SP tint?

I still prefer the tint of the SP 2005 finder, but the blue tint on the S3 finder is a big improvement to my eyes.

Like you, I've also found the SP 2005 finder to be flare free. Noticeably better than a vintage SP in that regard. Though I didn't really notice how big the difference was until recently when I shot a vintage SP and an SP 2005 side by side at the Tsukiji fish markets. The SP 2005 handled the bright indoor lights with ease. The benefit of modern multicoating, perhaps?
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Old 05-11-2009   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jonmanjiro View Post
Automotive blue window tint sounds like a great alternative, Bob. Glad you found an improvement in patch contrast and thanks for the idea!

Jon
I'll thank my friend for you it was his idea. I don't know how great it will be in the long run but only time will tell.

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Old 05-11-2009   #14
Jan Van Laethem
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Great tip, Jon, thanks for the very clear explanation and great pictures.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jonmanjiro View Post
With a Lumix compact digital camera - amazing amount of DOF with that little camera.
Which particular Lumix model are you using? I'm looking for a small compact digital with close focusing ability.
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Old 05-11-2009   #15
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Jon, where did you buy the filter material?

Thanks for the great tip and excellent directions and pics.
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Old 05-12-2009   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jan Van Laethem View Post
Which particular Lumix model are you using? I'm looking for a small compact digital with close focusing ability.
I'm using a Lumix DMC-FX35. At 25mm, the wide end of the zoom is nice and wide but image quality is just so-so.
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Old 05-12-2009   #17
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Originally Posted by ray*j*gun View Post
Jon, where did you buy the filter material?
I bought the filter at the local Yodobashi Camera store. They've got a full range of filters with samples that you can play with to work out what you need. I spent about 20 minutes trying out different filters until I worked out that the B-20 filter gave me the best results. Any similar type of filter should do the trick though.
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Old 05-12-2009   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dreamsandart View Post
The SP with its slight green look in contrast to the rangefinder patch was much better and the finder itself didn't flare at all (the other S3 problem I saw).
out of curiosity, how did you get the S3 finder to flare? i have not run into that at all. one thing that i have run into is the rear viewfinder element reflecting light into my eye and washing everything out. not sure how albeda brightlines work, but i assume it's a function of that. it is very easy to correct, however. you just need to block the light source from behind w/ your head/eye. ie: if i move slightly, everything reappears.

of course i could just be rationalizing since i don't own an SP 2005
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Old 05-12-2009   #19
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You can also get the small Lee Filter sample books (usually free at camera stores), and play with the various blue filters until you find something you like.
That's what I used in one of my S3s to strengthen the patch contrast, and it works like a champ.
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Old 05-12-2009   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by enochRoot View Post
out of curiosity, how did you get the S3 finder to flare? i have not run into that at all. one thing that i have run into is the rear viewfinder element reflecting light into my eye and washing everything out. not sure how albeda brightlines work, but i assume it's a function of that. it is very easy to correct, however. you just need to block the light source from behind w/ your head/eye. ie: if i move slightly, everything reappears.

of course i could just be rationalizing since i don't own an SP 2005
Jon can probably give you a better assessment of the S3 finder comparison then me having owned one only briefly and awhile ago. I remember the S3 finder does flare with bright light. Its not a total wash out, but happened with strong light sources in the finder view. Its not bad, but especially comparing it to the new SP finder was there. The main problem with the S3 finder for me was picking out the double image rangefinder patch in some lighting situations with the whole finder being so bright, and Jon's fix seems to be an improvement with that.
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Old 05-12-2009   #21
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i think the problem with the S3 is partly that the rear viewfinder element is very reflective. I remember brian Sweeney mentioning a while back that he keeps his hair long as a preventative measure! Or you could just do as Bjorn Rorslett did and glue a piece of cutout neck strap over the finder


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Old 05-12-2009   #22
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I used the Roscolux Swatch Book to find a blue filter similar to the one used above -- I bought it at B&H for $1.95. It's actually pretty cool - there are dozens and dozens of filter samples in it and they more or less fit most flashes that I have.

I actually tried a combo of Jon's fix and Tom A's Okaro-esque suggestion. I haven't had a chance to look through it in bright light, but at first glance, it's not a huge improvement. May fiddle with the colors a bit to see if I can come up with a combo that keeps the brightness, but adds contrast.

The S3 2000 has made a left-eye shooter of me on occasion. Seems to do the trick when there's light being reflected back out of the rear viewfinder window. I seem to notice that the left side of the element is where most of the reflected light comes from.
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Old 05-14-2009   #23
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Very interesting - well worth trying but I am a little bit worried about starting to take my cameras apart! :-)
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Old 05-14-2009   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JonR View Post
Very interesting - well worth trying but I am a little bit worried about starting to take my cameras apart! :-)
Jon
Jon,
It's very easy to do, unless you are all thumbs.
I added a filter to one of my S3s months ago based on only the sketchiest of verbal instructions.
The only things you need beside the filter gels and the exacto-knife to cut it to shape is a jewellers screw driver, a small glass bowl to put the screws in and a clean white dish towel to place on the work surface, so if you drop a screw, it won't bounce off the surface.
It's very easy to do and there aren't any nasty surprises awaiting you when you take the front piece off. No loose pieces or springs to shoot across the room.
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Old 05-14-2009   #25
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This is a really cool idea. In many 70s rangefinder cameras that have a reputation for a contrasty rangefinder the focus patch is quite intensely yellow or green. I was wondering if one could achieve a similar result by placing a filter in the light path of the rangefinder, thereby just changing or intensifying the color of the patch. This would be particularly easy to do on russian rangefinders such as the Fed 2, where there is a small frame in the light path that one could simply place the filter on.
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Old 05-14-2009   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by monemmer View Post
This is a really cool idea. In many 70s rangefinder cameras that have a reputation for a contrasty rangefinder the focus patch is quite intensely yellow or green. I was wondering if one could achieve a similar result by placing a filter in the light path of the rangefinder, thereby just changing or intensifying the color of the patch. This would be particularly easy to do on russian rangefinders such as the Fed 2, where there is a small frame in the light path that one could simply place the filter on.
Just tried this myself with an ND filter. It seems that placing the filter over the viewfinder rather than the RF gives a better effect. I'm now on the lookout for some 'donor' filters....

would these do?
http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/CTO-Color-Correction-Flash-Filter-Gels-Strobist-Rosco_W0QQitemZ290315888794QQcmdZViewItemQQptZCame ra_Flash_Accessories?hash=item290315888794&_trksid =p3286.c0.m14&_trkparms=66%3A4|65%3A1|39%3A1|240%3 A1309|301%3A1|293%3A1|294%3A200
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Old 08-22-2009   #27
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I really need to do this.
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Old 09-01-2009   #28
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i did this with my Bessa, and thought it was a wonderful little trick.
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Old 11-08-2009   #29
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I just did this mod and what a difference!! Thanks Jon for the great idea and thanks for the help on my helicoid question!
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Old 06-09-2010   #30
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I had done this mod, but I removed it because it seemed to cause even more flare in the finder.
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Old 06-09-2010   #31
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom A View Post
Leica used to make a small orange filter that would fit over one of the rangefinder windows to up the contrast of the "patch". It does work with faded rangefinders. Unfortunately, they are scarce as well as round - but if you can get hold of a Lee Filter sample pack, you can cut your own and install. I did it with a SP with "diminished" capacity in the RF. Kind of works too.
I used Tom's Lee Filter-trick to my Canon P. I can see the yellow rangefinder blob much better now.
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Old 06-09-2010   #32
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Quote:
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I had done this mod, but I removed it because it seemed to cause even more flare in the finder.
From memory (I don't have one anymore so cannot check) with the filter installed in the S3 finder, bright unfiltered flarey light is visible along the left edge of the frame when your eye is off-centre to the left side of the eye piece. Is that what you experienced?

Except for keeping your eye centered on the eye piece, I don't know of a way to work around this with the S3. It's not a problem with an SP or S2.
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Old 06-09-2010   #33
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jonmanjiro View Post
From memory (I don't have one anymore so cannot check) with the filter installed in the S3 finder, bright unfiltered flarey light is visible along the left edge of the frame when your eye is off-centre to the left side of the eye piece. Is that what you experienced?

Except for keeping your eye centered on the eye piece, I don't know of a way to work around this with the S3. It's not a problem with an SP or S2.
That and more. It seemed to catch every stray ray of sunlight. The S3 finder isn't very good anyway so this just made it worse for me. While the contrast was better the flare drove me insane. The S2 is a dream and the SP is nice too. I'd rather have had a Reissue S2 with a SP/S3/S4/F style shutter speed dial than an S3.
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Old 06-09-2010   #34
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I'd rather have had a Reissue S2 with a SP/S3/S4/F style shutter speed dial than an S3.
That would be very nice. Preferably with titanium shutter curtains.
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Old 06-09-2010   #35
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That would be very nice. Preferably with titanium shutter curtains.
While we're dreaming with either a multi-coated 5cm f/1.1 or a 2.1cm f/4.
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Old 5 Days Ago   #36
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Many years later - just added the filter to my new S3 2000 finder, and it is indeed transformative! Thank uou!
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Old 5 Days Ago   #37
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Many years later (...)
You were lucky enough that this thread, like anything a bit technical looks to be nowadays and PDQ, hadn't been moved into the "Repair forum" yet, where you probably would have never found it... .
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