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I apologize off the bat for my ignorance in this field & the simplistic language! I have a canon T1i and I love it. Had a problem with my 18-55 lens and sent it to Mack Camera where I had a warranty. Decided to send the body as well even though it seemed fine. Lens needed focus assembly but body was said (by Mack) to be fine. When I received it back & put both lens I had on it I noticed that it looked different through the viewfinder. Usually I see my subject in a full sized rectangular view, but now I see my subject through a much smaller round area with black all around it. Almost as though I was looking through just the lens and not the body. I am NOT impressed with Mack camera's customer service at all! Takes them forever to get back to me & apparently they send back broken equipment. Hoping it's a setting and not broken.

Thanks, Mike

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You don't happen to have access to another lens, do you? That seems like an important diagnostic first step. –  mattdm Feb 19 '13 at 15:48
    
Do you have another camera you could use to take a photo through the eyepiece and viewfinder of the camera you are asking about? Seeing the issue for ourselves could go a long way towards giving you an answer. Even something like an iPhone should be able to take a photo and show us what you see. Otherwise, a point and shoot camera in macro mode will do the trick. –  jrista Feb 19 '13 at 17:35
    
I'm voting to close this as unclear, as all the answers are guesses, and we haven't gotten any further clarification. –  mattdm Apr 13 at 23:34
    
@mattdm I'm pretty sure Heropup's answer is correct, it explains the symptoms perfectly (with no focussing screen you would see straight through the lens and hence get a circular view) and is also quite plausible as focussing screens are removed sometimes during service. –  Matt Grum 2 days ago
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6 Answers

Sounds like a circular component has come loose inside the lens, and is causing vignetting (blocking) of the image circle cast by the lens.

Can you confirm the same circular image occurs when you take photos with this lens? If not then there is something circular blocking your viewfinder!

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Is the circle centered in the view finder? If so, I'd suggest taking a picture and seeing if the image also has the circle on it. If it does, then something is wrong in the path of light coming in to the camera body. It could be that the lens is mounting too close to the camera body or could be a problem in the lens either obscuring light or causing it to focus the light on a smaller area.

If it is not visible in the images captured by the camera, then something must be happening after the light enters the camera body. There could be a problem with the mirror or the viewfinder itself. If, for example, they replaced the view finder with a prism with the wrong magnification, it could end up with the problem. Also, if your camera has interchangeable view finder overlays, it is possible that they replaced that with the wrong overlay. Are the edges of the circle soft or hard?

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Simple things first: Is the battery charged and in the camera? I see something similar when the battery is out of the camera.

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You do? With what camera? –  mattdm 2 days ago
    
Nikon D90 or D700 I believe. My first thought was I'd screwed up the lens (had removed the front element of an old lens to clean it. Much of the viewfinder was black, with a smallish dim circle of light, as he describes, in the centre –  MikeW 2 days ago
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You can take the lens off and look through the viewfinder without a lens attached, if the problem still exists, then it's the body. If not, it's the lens. Nothing will be in focus, but you should have a full very of light without a lens attach.

Look through the front of the lens and make sure the aperture is open all the way, it's possible it's stuck or they didn't put everything back together correctly. It should be open by default. If it's stopped down even after the camera is turned on, then the lens is broken, or your contacts between the lens and the body aren't functioning correctly.

Most likely an element got knocked loose during shipping.

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If the aperture is stuck partially closed, the viewfinder would just be dark, the obstruction must be someway in front or behind the aperture, or in the camera –  Matt Grum Feb 20 '13 at 13:01
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I just had the same problem. It seems to be the translucent screen is missing above the mirror.

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Can you elaborate a little bit more? –  mattdm Apr 13 at 17:20
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The most likely answer is that Mack Camera forgot to replace the focusing screen in the camera body after they inspected it. This will cause the image to not form correctly in the viewfinder, but it will not affect the picture taken by the camera. This is the answer that Dale L gave, and a very simple test for the user is to take a test photo with the camera. If the image does not show hard vignetting and appears normal, then the cause must be located somewhere in the light path from the reflex mirror to the eyepiece.

This problem is not caused by a problem with the aperture being too small: if the lens were stopped down, it would simply darken the viewfinder. With modern laser matte focusing screens designed for AF SLR bodies, this darkening happens more or less uniformly (older MF focusing screens might be different).

It is also unlikely to be caused by a defect in the lens unless the lens had been disassembled and one or more lens groups removed or altered. Hard circular vignetting could also be caused by the introduction of a foreign object (e.g., too long a lens hood) in front of the lens or behind the lens, but since this is obviously not the case, the most likely culprit is the missing focusing screen.

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