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To Check Your Camera's Focusing and Lens Calibration

Update May 15th - Is your sensor covered in dust? Here is the sensor on my Nikon camera. Its currently at Nikon, being 'fixed'. Sigh.

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How accurate is your camera's focusing? Have you ever checked? Did you know that many DSLRs are factory set to backfocus and that there is no absolute focusing setting for both your camera and your auto-focus lens? Rather, there are focusing tolerances and these days, you can fine tune your focusing to get tack sharp focus.

I know this first hand as one of my cameras almost backfocused off the chart and my other camera backfocused slightly when I got it. That was unacceptable for the work that I do (and it drove my crazy at first!!!!), but also because I actually like to have my subjects in focus, so I took them back to Nikon to correct and now, one came back pin point sharp while the other came back slightly front focusing.

How I know is I spent a lot of time researching this and bought a Spyder LensCal to calibrate my focusing and am very pleased with the results.

Thus, I know many of you have mentioned to me that your camera also has focusing issues, so this meetup will be solely for you to come and get your camera and lens focusing issue sorted out.

This will be in studio, all you need is your camera and lens, I'll have everything else.

What Will Happen

We will get together in pairs (meaning myself and two of you photographers) to check your lens and it could take 15 to 30 minutes to check. We'll check them and study results together, where I'll explain what we are doing and why every step of the way, using my Lens calibration tool as well as a special shortcut I use to check calibration.

Now, remember, your photos may not be sharp because of user error. I'll let you know if I see any movement from you when you shoot.

To come just RSVP on this event page and then please email me directly with your camera model and the lens models you want to check and I'll give you a time that day to come to the studio. 

Cost will be $35 for your camera and two lenses, and $10 every lense after that. If you would also like to do a camera sensor dust check, we can do it immediately after, cost will be $15.

You can pay cash when you arrive, no need to prepay on the event page, but you still must show up if I give you a time! ***

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If you think/know your camera has major focusing issues, post a comment here when you RSVP. It'll be interesting to see how many of you are aware and how it's affecting you.

Join or login to comment.

  • Darlene D.

    Now I can't blame my camera - well at least I might be able to blame the dust particles? It sure looked like the night sky though

    June 15, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    This was great. I feel much more confident about my lens focus and my camera focusing system after todays testing and recalibration.

    June 15, 2014

  • Ronald L.

    Had some interesting sensor dust maps today. Will post a few later.

    June 15, 2014

  • David B.

    -- (And then wait and wait and wait -- long enough to prompt you to buy another camera if you can afford it!). I believe they also vacuum out the dust that is in the trough under the filter that is deposited there when you use the camera's built-in vibrator to shake the dust off the filter. You should do that every time you change a lens. Probably it is a good idea to take the camera in after about 100,000 photos in any case since there are other parts that can wear out. (This is the end of my comment -- can you tell I used to be a university professor!)

    1 · June 11, 2014

    • Ronald L.

      The trend for the new high end cameras is looking like they will have bare sensors, with no Anti aliasing filter. That means you are touching the sensor with your cleaning too if you clean it yourself. I clean my own cameras and bring to Nikon as well (I get free cleanings) but that's because of the AA filter. Id probably only use air or the new gel tip cleaner only if I get one of these new cameras. Too much risk to screw up your camera if its direct contact with the sensor.

      June 11, 2014

    • David B.

      Thanks for that info Ronald! I'll make sure I check the specs if I get a new camera. I had almost convinced myself that I deserved a Nikon D800 until I realized that my favourite lens is a DX lens which would fit on the D800 but only use a portion of the sensor the same size as the one on my D300. I hadn't heard about the gel-tip cleaner. It might be just what I need if I am faced with a pesky sticky spot.

      June 11, 2014

  • David B.

    -- The solution they sell is supposed to evaporate completely and not leave a residue. But you are touching the filter with a wet swab so it is slightly more nerve-wracking than the butterfly. There is no danger of damaging the sensor since it is covered by the low-pass filter However rough treatment like dragging some very sharp particle across the filter could scratch it and then you are in for an expensive repair. There are videos put out by the company "VisibleDust" that show how to do all these operations but if you are nervous you are better to take your camera in for regular cleaning by the factory. (more to come!) --

    June 11, 2014

  • David B.

    I agree that the Arctic Butterfly isn't perfect. For those who don't know about it, it is a brush that is spun in the air by a little motor to pick up a static charge -- you can see by the way the soft bristles fan out. You then open up your camera, retract the mirror, and then gently pass it over the low-pass filter covering the sensor (without touching if your hands are steady enough!). This picks up fine dust and generally improves things a lot. But there are likely to be some particles of pollen or other sticky dust that are stuck to the filter too strongly for the static force on the brush to pick up. The only way that seems to remove these is to use wet swabs made by the same company ("VisibleDust"). (to be continued!) --

    June 11, 2014

  • Theresa

    Is it possible to calibrate for each lens separately. Some of my lenses are very sharp while others seem off?

    May 19, 2014

    • Ronald L.

      Yes, most modern cameras will allow for both a global focus adjustment and an individual lens adjustment. The reality is the individual lens adjustment is what you need to get super tack sharp images, as not all lenses are off the same amount.

      June 10, 2014

  • David B.

    Sorry I can't join you but I'm off on a trip that day. If you ever do it again, I'd like to have some of my lenses checked and to see how to calibrate the focus. I've solved the dust on sensor problem with an "Artic Butterfly" and some wet swabs. That is always going to be a problem with DSLRs unless you never change your lens. (Actually zoom lenses can pump dust into the camera if the seal isn't perfect so it probably can affect P&S as well and since the sensor on those is not accessible it might even be more of a problem).

    1 · June 9, 2014

    • Ronald L.

      The arctic buttery on its on is only a so so solution. I have one as well and it doesn't work as well as advertised, when you have stubborn dust on the sensor. The only thing that works is a wet clean and that's a risky one to do on your own.

      HOWEVER there is a new product that is a sticky gel tipped pencil that you press on the sensor to get dust out. I haven't used one yet but I'd love to get one.

      1 · June 10, 2014

  • Marlisse

    I'm very interested in doing this, but that is the day after my son's grad and I'm anticipating a late night of driving teens home safely through the wee hours. Will you be offering this again, by any chance?

    May 15, 2014

    • Ronald L.

      Contact me after this one and we'll see.

      May 15, 2014

    • Marlisse

      Thank you Ronald :)

      May 15, 2014

  • boxerpug

    Quick question - is this for DSLRs only? Sounds like it from the description. Thanks!

    May 15, 2014

    • Ronald L.

      Its for cameras with interchangeable lenses. If you have a fixed lens point and shoot, those are pretty sharp due to their crop factor/deep depth of field, usually.

      May 15, 2014

    • boxerpug

      Thanks, Ronald. I figured as much. I have a very nice P&S, but am eyeing the new Sony alpha camera. When I ever have a spare $2,000 (hah, hah) I may get myself one of those. I don't want a DSLR because of the bulk and the weight. I do really miss having a view finder, though. My last P&S had one and I was more connected when out shooting.

      May 15, 2014

  • Darlene D.

    I sometimes wonder if it's my limited vision or my camera. What I see and what I shoot are sometimes off.

    May 15, 2014

    • Ronald L.

      When we did this two months ago, one photographer with TWO high end cameras found out that TWO of her expensive lenses were so miscalibrated that she would never get anything sharp at depth of fields shallower than F4 (was majorly front focusing). It could be a combination of you and camera.

      May 15, 2014

  • Ronald L.

    Is your sensor covered in dust? Just posted a image of my sensor dust may on the event page description. Its currently at Nikon, being 'fixed'. Sigh.

    May 15, 2014

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