This is on my 600D. I'm a noob so forgive if it's obvious. There's a clear moire-like interference pattern on the viewfinder on the 50mm which is not as obvious at all on the kit lens. It's especially obvious when looking at out-of-focus bokeh but doesn' show up in the photos.


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It sounds like you're observing the laser etched glass focussing screen. A focusing screen requires a rough surface so an image can be formed for you to view through the viewfinder.

Ground glass used to be used for this purpose but now glass etched in a circular pattern with a laser is used, to improve the brightness of the viewfinder when used with slower lenses. This pattern is probably what you're interpreting as moire.

Here's what a standard DSLR focussing screen looks like close up:

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    \$\begingroup\$ I'll add that the reason Mel is seeing it with this lens is that being a 1.8 its letting in a LOT more light than a kit lens, making the viewfinder much brighter and making the effect much more pronounced and noticeable. (I have seen a similar effect with the 50mm 1.4 on my D800) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 23, 2013 at 16:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks. I thought it was something like this. I just don't get why it becomes so much more apparent when the lens is out of focus. \$\endgroup\$
    – mel
    Commented Oct 23, 2013 at 16:22
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    \$\begingroup\$ its probably because of the DETAIL that is in-focus makes it less apparent. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 23, 2013 at 16:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ The glass most likely isn't laser-etched, as laser polishing is an extremely new technology being researched at the Fraunhofer instutite in Germany. Rapid local heating a la a laser tends to cause glass to explode. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 7, 2016 at 0:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ @BrandonDube, it may be something of a hybrid etching, similar to what's done for some steps of IC manufacture: a photosensitive mask is applied, the laser + some chemical wash removes part of the mask, and then chemical etching is done on the parts where the mask was removed. \$\endgroup\$
    – Nate S.
    Commented Jan 15, 2020 at 17:51

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