Nikon viewfinder screens
Nikon developed and introduced its first single lens reflex camera, the Nikon F, as a system camera. The camera body can be ‘dressed’ with a great variety of lenses, finders, backs, motor drives and other accessories. Nearly everything could and can be exchanged.
When new a camera was fitted with one standard view finder screen. Depending on the photographical burden that had to be tackled the photographer could exchange certain parts, including the viewfinder screen. All later Nikon SLR’s - with just a few exceptions - have the possibility to exchange the viewfinder screen. For macro-, micro-, tele-, available light - or whatever photography a special screen was developed and supplied. Up to 22 different screens for just one camera!
In fact the viewfinder screens mentioned here are little lenses. Most of the viewfinder screens consist of two lenses hold together in a metal frame. In one or both lenses fresnel* rings and various focus aids are grinded and/or engraved.
* Fresnel (speak: frèh-nell) comes from its inventor, the French scientist Augustin Jean Fresnel (1788-1827).
Nikon didn’t invent difficult names or codes for the variety of screens; it just took the Latin alphabet, starting with A.
And - luckily - all screens of a certain design, no matter what camera it was made for - kept the same letter. The grid screen, which is available for nearly each Nikon SLR, is always named E. Some screens can be used in different (more than one) cameras. Sometimes there are some limitations. There are also some screens which demand a tiny change in the camera (exposure program) settings. And certain screens can only be exchanged with the help of a tool, which normally comes with the screen. The professional SLR cameras, like the Nikon F up to the Nikon F6 have the largest choice. Finally: not all versions are available for all cameras.
Below the screens are listed, including indications (in a matrix) for which camera(s) they are made for. If a camera isn’t listed at all, there is no exchangeable screen made available or that camera has the possibility to project a screen in its viewfinder. In all camera manuals (in chapter ‘technical specifications’) one can find either all or non-available screens.
The screens available for the Nikon F, Nikon F2, Nikon F3, Nikon F4 and Nikon F5 can be exchanged by removing the viewfinder. By unlocking the screen it will drop out of the camera body (when hold upside down). Screens of other cameras can be exchanged via the lens mount, by pressing or lifting a small tab.
The viewfinder screens for the Nikon F and Nikon F2 are interchangeable. The very first viewfinder screens for the Nikon F had white letters on its side. With the introduction in 1965 of the first Photomic-T viewfinder, featuring Through The Lens (TTL) exposure metering, the screens were improved and got yellow letters. In 1969 they were improved again and received red text on its side. All other screens - of later cameras - have the text in white.
All known screens (made by Nikon) brought together in a matrix.
Features of the Nikon viewfinder screens
A = fresnel lens with little 12mm. ring and focusing aid/split, for general photography.
B = mat fresnel lens with little 12mm. ring, for general photography, especially with 'slow' lenses.
C = clear screen with 4mm. cross, for macro- and astro-photography.
D = clear screen for long tele lenses.
E = clear screen with grid lines, to level the camera and for architecture.
F = fresnel with little ring and focus bracket for mirror lenses.
G = fresnel with 11,300 micro-prisms in the center; series of 4 to be used with various lenses: G1 and G2 for fish-eye and wide-angle lenses; G3 and G4 for long tele-lenses.
H = fresnel with 86,400 micro-prisms; series of 4 to be used like G-series.
J = fresnel with 1,530 micro-prisms in a 4 mm. circle
K = fresnel with 5,000 micro-prisms in a 5 mm. circle
L = identical to screen A but with tilted focusing aid
M = fresnel with large cross with millimeter scale; for micro-photography
P = identical to screen K, now with large cross
R = identical to screen E but with focusing aid
S = to be used with data back, showing the space where data will be imprinted.
T = fresnel with frame of TV-screen; usable when taking pictures of older TV tube/screen.
U = nearly identical with B and EC-B, specially made for Nikon F5
V = for Nikon D2X only: with high speed crop lines
W = for Nikon D2X only: with high speed crop lines