Focus Screens Part 2

In my last blog post I talked about the Focus Screen on your camera and what it does. This week I am writing part two of this article on how to replace or clean your Focus Screen properly so that you can always have a clear viewfinder to look through.

To remove your Focus Screen for cleaning or replacement, you need a Focus Screen tool. This is a special, plastic, tweezer-like tool that can grab the Focus Screen by it’s little tab and remove it safely. If you take off your lens and lay the camera on it’s back, look at the top of the lens opening and you will see a small metal tab. Flip that down carefully with your finger or tweezers and that releases the frame, and there the Focus Screen is. In this first image the Focus Screen release tab is circled in white.


Once you have flipped the Focus Screen frame switch, the frame drops down on it’s own and you can see the Focus Screen. Using the Focus Screen tool, grab the Focus Screen by the tab and gently lift it out of the camera. This next image is of a new Focus Screen in the package.


To clean the Focus Screen, Canon recommends you use a Rocket Blower first to see if you can blow any of the particles off the Focus Screen. You can then re-insert it with the tool, close the frame and look through your viewfinder to see if you were successful. If not, remove the Focus Screen again and you can try cleaning it with soap and water.

Prepare some warm water in a small dish or cup, you can use Distilled water but it’s not required. Add a small amount of dish soap like Dawn or whatever you have in your kitchen. Put the Focus Screen in the solution and let it soak for a bit, remove it from the solution and gently brush it with a horsehair brush, like a small paint brush, new of course, that people use to paint models.

Next, use your Rocket Blower and blow the Focus Screen dry, never use your breath. You can use compressed air, but make sure you don’t freeze the Focus Screen by blowing it too closely with the compressed air. Once you feel it’s clean, and dry, put it back into the frame and snap the frame back into place. Never touch the Focus Screen with your fingers, other than by the side edges as the oils in your skin will make a mess of the Focus Screen and that oil is pretty much impossible to get off again according to Canon. This third image is a Rocket Blower for cleaning sensors and Focus Screens.


Check your viewfinder again, if it’s clear, you are good to go! I sometimes try to clean my Focus Screens, but I have bought used cameras and had the Focus Screen just so incredibly dirty that I just replaced it. You can buy new Focus Screens from Canon, Nikon (if you are a Nikon shooter), B&H, Adorama, or Amazon. When you order a new one they come in a nice plastic tray assembly with a snap close lid and the tool comes with it. After I remove my old one and swap it out, I put the old one in the tray and store it in a drawer just in case I need an emergency spare.

Now, if you don’t have the stomach to clean the Focus Screen, you can easily just replace it yourself or take your camera to a camera shop to do it for you. I will warn you that depending on where you live, it can cost you upwards of $200 to have it changed. If you are a CPS member, Canon will clean it for free along with your sensor once a year, but you have to ship it to them and be without your camera for a few days.