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"Cleaning a 300D Focusing Screen"

I’m definitely getting braver in my old age.

Today I took calculated risks with two fairly precious items – my watch, and my Canon EOS 300D. The second is the point of this post, but the first is worth a quick mention.

My watch ‘glass’ (don’t know what it actually is) was fairly scratched – not the extent of rendering it unusable, but enough to be a pain when reading the time. I discovered on t’internet that Brasso (!) can be used to remove small scratches on watch glass – and it works! Thanks to Steve Waddington for giving me the courage to give it a whirl via his article on cleaning watch faces.

The proviso is that I tried the same on my other half’s watch, and it didn’t make any difference to her scratches. YMMV.

Emboldened by my success with the watch, my attention turned to my camera. I know it’s an old model now, and probably £25 on eBay or something, but I absolutely love it. I am constantly surprised (even after 6 years) with the quality of pictures that come out of it.

If you want to see for yourself, point a browser at photoboxgallery.com/eutony. Not all of these are from the 300D, but the vast majority are.

Anyway, which photographing on a beach in Cornwall earlier this year, some sand was introduced to the interior of the camera, and settled on the mirror and focusing screen (eek!). I cleaned up the mirror ok, but in trying to clean up the focusing screen I made matters very much worse, rendering the viewfinder on the brink of useless. This is not a good thing on an SLR.

In the excitement of our pending new arrival (due any day!!), I decided I need a fully operational camera, so started some research on what one could do about a trashed focusing screen. I discovered a whole new world of people intentionally switching their focusing screen to a split prism one, which grealty assists manual focus. I liked the sound of that, so I’ve ordered myself a cheapy on eBay to give it a whirl.

I also found instructions on how to remove and clean the focus screen on digitalrebel.nl, and thought (bouyed by my success with the watch) why not?

It is actually very straightforward. You just need some tweezers and a steady hand. I took the screen out, gave it a good ‘ol bath and a polish, and – to be honest – it’s a good as new now. I thought it had been scratched by the same, but it turned out to all be dirst/dust/smudges. It is, however, very important to make a note of its orientation when it comes out!!

It did take me 5 attempts to replace it back in the camera. First time I hadn’t cleaned it properly. Out it came again. Next 3 I had it in upside down and in some cases only partially seated. Upside down it seems to work ok, except the auto-focus lights don’t light up. You also have to watch that you don’t catch the foam pad (which damps the mirror) in the clip. I’m not sure the auto-focus lights quite show properly, but there always were a little fuzzy.

The final attempt also had a bit of a heart stopper when the clip slipped up behind the mirror, and hence periously close to the sensor. Seem to have got away with it though!

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