Calibrate all your lenses for all your cameras!

I’ve been beta-testing some fabulous software recently. But first a bit of background as to why and what this software is and why it’s on a photography website!

Well each camera and lens is made to factory standards. As we know modern manufacturing is great, but, everything is build to a tolerance. In short this means that everything is build correctly but that small imperfections still exist.

Now how does this apply to cameras? Well modern cameras all autofocus. This is great, press the button and like magic it focuses and you take the photograph.. this is great and works brilliantly. Now there was a time when people only did small prints and if the camera didn’t focus correctly you’d not notice. And even if you did big prints and did notice you could send the lenses off to be calibrated with your body and the problem was solved (at least for a short time anyway…)

The problem is now that everyone has much higher resolution digital cameras and you can zoom into them 100% on the computer so any focus errors are shown in all their glory. Now there are 2 kinds of things that cause this error.

1.Each AF has an inbuilt AF/software tolerance – be it 1/3 of the Depth of Field – this means that it will be good enough for 99% of applications
2.As mentioned above there are variances in lenses and this can mean that a lens focuses in front or behind (front/back focus) of where it should do. (there are other reasons but they aren’t important for this discussion).

Now the camera manufacturers have realised that people sending back cameras and lenses for reason 2. is a bit wasteful so they’ve introduced a way to solve this. This is called AF-fine tune in nikon land and AF-microadjust in canon land. This basically allows you to tweak your camera and lenses (on either a camera or per lens basis) to focus in front or behind of where they would without any adjustment. This means that you can ‘adjust’ or calibrate all your lenses to work as they should without having to send everything back to canon/nikon/sony/olympus/etc. Now give this can cost a lot of money to send back a camera and lots of lenses all insured and then wait until it comes back and hope all is well… esp as you might have to do it each time you buy a new lens/etc.

So you may remember before all the waffle I mentioned something about some software?
Yes indeedy – Something Called Fo-Cal automatically does it (well at least for Canon cameras (most of them).
There is also a manual mode which means that you can do it manually and the software tells you the correct value.
The beauty of the automatic mode is that it all just works, no faffing about no worrying that it’s wrong.

I could go on about how I setup the target and plugged everything in, but, that’s not the interesting bit, whats important is that this saves loads of time and hence lots of money. And thats before even thinking of sending off the cameras to canon or nikon.

I’ll soon be opening this Calibration of lenses service to my clients and customers. So if you’re interested in getting your camera and lenses calibrated then give me a shout and in the meantime check out Fo-Cal if you’d like to do it yourself.

if you’d like to see a quick video about what it’s all about then check out.

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