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Mirrorless Digital Cameras


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    • Those appear to be custom made from raw materials, similar to what Rick Oleson currently does but apparently employing a more labor intensive process resulting in more brightness. The website confusion stems from a combination of language translation and MagicFlex trying to obscure the fact that they do sometimes accept returns/refunds if the customer is sufficiently strong willed (hence the offerings of "slightly used or B-stock" screens). As I noted previously, decades ago during the original BriteScreen era a couple of vendors did commonly recycle the original camera maker screens for their product: they would modify existing screens to be brighter but did not usually fabricate their own screens from raw materials. The option of buying raw materials from China to establish a custom independent focus screen business was a fairly late development, which came toward the end of BriteScreen dominance and made Rick Olesons first and second generation of screens possible. His later and current screens involve a secret sauce of custom mfrd raw materials enhanced by proprietary patents he licensed from the estate of the BriteScreen founder. Bill Maxwell screens are highly unusual made-from-scratch items, which partly explains their extraordinary high price. Unless his production process changed recently, AFAIK each Maxwell screen is individually crafted to order from fairly fragile materials, not the usual mass produced China-sourced fresnel sheets that form the basis for all other camera-brand and independent screens. Acute Matte is the random outlier in the mix, developed in the mid-1970s by Minolta as a selling point for their then-new XD-11 luxury 35mm SLR. AM is radically different from any other screen concept: instead of a textured surface capturing a viewing image, the entire AM screen is composed of tiny cones or microprisms that funnel a type of aerial image directly to the eye. This is notably brighter, and wonderful when implemented in 35mm SLR eyelevel prism finders. When used in larger cruder medium format waist level viewing systems, problems arise. it can be difficult to consistently identify the correct focus plane vs what seems to be the focus plane. Many Hasselblad photographers soon complained of more frequent missed focus with the Acute Matte, prompting Hasselblad to install split image focus aid versions as standard in their newer cameras (vs plain Acute Matte). They also developed the Acute Matte D update to dampen the aerial image issues, but it isn't dramatically more successful than the older Acute Matte in this regard. Both D and non-D have a tendency to trap moisture from the air between their thin layers, causing characteristic cloudiness or fresnel stain rings: not a fun discovery in your $500 screen when it happens.  Hasselblad enthusiasts have developed a near-comical cult for the D version in recent years, but few photographers can truly verify the D as significantly reducing their missed focus issues. Acute Matte "is what it is" and a tad overrated: bright as the sun, but a pain to focus accurately/quickly. Many of us 'blad users take advantage of the easily interchangeable screen feature to swap back to the old type screen in good outdoor light: its more instinctive and quicker. Acute Matte (D or non-D alike) can give you a headache when you're in a hurry to nail precise focus. Minolta cut a deal in 1988 to give Hasselblad the medium format exclusive on Acute Matte, so it was never available in sizes for other camera brands: only Minolta 35mm SLRs and Hasselblads. So Acute Matte is irrelevant if you don't own a 'blad. Vintage customized BriteScreens, current Maxwells and perhaps the MagicFlex fall somewhere between standard construction matte screens and Acute Matte high tech: they can be super bright, don't have aerial parallax issues, but can still stumble a bit in focus ease. You really do need to try different screen techs and settle on the one most suitable for your eye/brain coordination. None is perfect in every aspect. 
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