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Author Topic: Focus "Micro Adjustment" tools  (Read 5305 times)
walter.sk
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« on: July 21, 2012, 11:36:37 AM »
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My new 5DIII and my armload of lenses seem to need some mutual "Micro Adjustment," and I am considering buying one of the commercially available setups (focus target and a scale on which the degree of front or rear focus is visible) but decided first to check here to see what people's preferences are.

What have been your experiences with doing this?
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JeanMichel
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« Reply #1 on: July 21, 2012, 12:23:10 PM »
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Hi,
The LensAlign system works very well.
Jean-Michel
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BartvanderWolf
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« Reply #2 on: July 21, 2012, 12:38:47 PM »
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What have been your experiences with doing this?

Hi Walter,

I wouldn't have a new camera without that feature, and the LensAlign will allow to do a larger number of lenses quite efficiently. The LA takes a bit of time to set up accurately, but from that moment on it's simple and easy to do. The adjustable angle is great, offering much better accuracy than a simple 45 degree design when used with a more horizontal ruler, and it helps when the maximum aperture is not very wide. With a more vertical ruler you can also test close up DOF scenarios and see if everything in the DOF zone is in focus You can also use the LA when shooting tethered, that will reduce the number of files you need to generate.

See also here for some more discussion.

Cheers,
Bart
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Wayne Fox
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« Reply #3 on: July 22, 2012, 01:12:14 AM »
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I have both the LensAlign and FoCal system, and when used correctly both work quite well.

Both are an investment and if you have many lenses, or in the case of a 5D Mark 3 want to align both the wide and narrow ranges of a zoom lens, using them could be a timesaver.  Doing it yourself with a good target is also quite possible, especially if you can shoot tethered into a program which allows  you to compare images side by side at 100%. The main advantage of the LensAlign is you can tell which direction you need to go because of the ruler.  with FoCal the theory is it shoot from -20 to +20 at 10 point increments, then it starts narrowing the range to find the point of best focus. 

The advantage of the FoCal system is it doesn't depend on you deciding where things are sharp,  as the software analyzes the results of each capture and finds the "sweet" spot which averages out the best results. I wasn't too sure about the system, but the latest "public" beta changes the algorithms which do the analysis and are improved, even working well with the d800e.  You see a graphical analysis of the test, and each point represents an image analyzed which you can click on and visually compare.  FoCal will also run a full set of shots comparing each f/stop which quickly shows which are the sharpest as well as those where diffraction degrades the image.  At this point we've switched from LensAlign to FoCal for calibrating lenses in my store. I don't believe the promised Mac version has arrived, but works flawlessly on my MacBook Pro (both 2011 as well as the new Retina one) using Parallels/windows 7.
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walter.sk
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« Reply #4 on: July 22, 2012, 10:21:30 AM »
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I have both the LensAlign and FoCal system, and when used correctly both work quite well.

The FoCal system sounds interesting.  Do you have a link, or publisher?  When I Google it I get zillions of search results for "focal."

Also, thanks for your replys, Bart and Jean-Michel

*NOTE*  I found the Reikan website.  I gotta think about this method...
« Last Edit: July 22, 2012, 11:02:13 AM by walter.sk » Logged
Ellis Vener
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« Reply #5 on: July 22, 2012, 01:07:07 PM »
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I use the LensAlign Mk II and it works very well.   It is easier to align the camera and the target  if you have a buddy ( and you can split the cost that way as well) at the target.
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Ellis Vener
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MarkL
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« Reply #6 on: July 22, 2012, 02:29:29 PM »
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I moved to FoCal because I had to test every lens when I changed to my D800E. I used the semi automated method with it and it was great, the software does very well at walking you through it, you just let it do it's thing. It takes out spurious AF results adding more iterations if it needs to, tells you when the light has changed too much, distance isn't optimal, the target isn't square etc. It's recommendations were perfectly repeatable.

Takes a load of frustration and time out of the process - all my lenses are dead on now. Highly recommended and cheaper than lensalign.
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snoleoprd
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« Reply #7 on: July 23, 2012, 02:15:27 PM »
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I have the Lensalign and Focal, and I think the Focal system is easier, faster and possibly more accurate and very consistent. It took me an afternoon to do all my lenses. For me it was easier to use the software. others might find it easier to use the Lensalign. Both will work but I doubt I will ever use my LensAlign again now that I am using Focal.


Alan
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Alan Smallbone
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« Reply #8 on: July 23, 2012, 09:33:22 PM »
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I used the lensalign system, I think it is a great product but frankly setup and manually adjusting the fine tune focus was too time consuming for me. I'm going to try Reikan Focal now...automated and computer analyzed sounds ideal to me.
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walter.sk
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« Reply #9 on: July 24, 2012, 11:36:40 AM »
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Well, after reading all these replies and looking again at the Reikan website, my tentative conclusion, for me, is this:
My laptop computer is running CS2 on WinXP, and won't even consider running the Canon utitlity for the 5DMkIII.  My desktop computer is in a tiny room that wouldn't give me a way to achieve even the minimum shooting distance for the Reikan method. 

While it may be a tedious method, the fact that I could set up the LensAlign system using the full length of my house downstairs from my computer room, shoot required number of shots at each end of my zooms, and then look at the results upstairs on the desktop seems to be the only feasible way for me to go.  I suppose I should set aside a few afternoons, since I have these lenses:  500 f4, 100-400 f4.5-5.6, 100 f2.8, 50 f1.8, 28-135, 15 f2.8, and 16-35 f2.8 (all Canon), and a 28-300 f4.5-6.3 Tamron.

The Reikan and Bart's Moire routine seem the easiest but next to impossible for my setup.

Nobody here has mentioned the DataColor Spyder LensCal system.  How does it compare to the LensAlign?
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Ellis Vener
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« Reply #10 on: July 24, 2012, 01:47:18 PM »
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These are the  problems I see  with the Datacolor product:

-It doesn't have a way of aligning the focus target to make sure the traget and ruler support are parallel to the camera sensor
-There is no "long ruler" option as there is with the LensAlign Mark II and you will want that with  longer focal length lenses, longer than 100mm in my experience.

It should not take you more than a single  afternoon  to calibrate all eight lenses  with a single body. It does help to have another person work with you when aligning the target rig and the camera. If you also want t ocreate a custom camera color calibration using the Xrite 24 patch color checker or ColorChecker passport you can also include it in the frame.
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Ellis Vener
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digitaldog
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« Reply #11 on: July 24, 2012, 01:49:35 PM »
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Focal looks quite cool! I have a LensAllign but think this might be useful to test. So the question is, Standard, Plus or Pro?
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Andrew Rodney
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Moreno Polloni
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« Reply #12 on: July 24, 2012, 05:41:00 PM »
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Focal looks quite cool! I have a LensAllign but think this might be useful to test. So the question is, Standard, Plus or Pro?

I got the Standard version, thinking that as my Nikon requires the semi-automated method there wouldn't be much point to the Plus or Pro. As it turns out the Standard version is not semi-automated at all - it's all trial and error and somewhat buggy. Save yourself hours of frustration and get the Plus or Pro.

The Pro (beta) has an interesting feature that checks all of the focus points and gives you a chart showing the quality of focus for each point. Based on my experience and the useful features in the upcoming versions I'd suggest the Pro version.
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allegretto
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« Reply #13 on: July 24, 2012, 09:25:51 PM »
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Never tried FoCal but I can tell you that LensAlign is great with primes and impossible with zooms. At least Sony zooms. I think the reason for this is probably due to the fact that most zooms are not true zooms. That is they are not what I'll call "confocal" (though that's probably not the right term) and thus continuously refocus as they change their focal length

Found significant variability from long to short settings, thus ended up balancing somewhere in between.
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walter.sk
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« Reply #14 on: July 25, 2012, 09:59:15 AM »
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Found significant variability from long to short settings, thus ended up balancing somewhere in between.

Hopefully, the fact that the 5DIII has the ability to store corrections at the tele and wide end of a zoom lens will prove effective.
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Ellis Vener
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« Reply #15 on: July 25, 2012, 11:11:44 AM »
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Quote
Hopefully, the fact that the 5DIII has the ability to store corrections at the tele and wide end of a zoom lens will prove effective.
And other manufacturer's will take notice as well.
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Ellis Vener
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walter.sk
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« Reply #16 on: July 26, 2012, 02:42:58 PM »
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I just sent off for the LensAlign MkII Plus kit from Michael Tapes.  Documentation is old, and I googled several different ways, but I have other questions that were not answered.

Should I use the 5D MkIII by focusing with the viewfinder, or with Live View?  And, if I use Live View, should it be in the Quick Mode?

Also, would the "spot" one-point focus be better than the one-point focus?
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digitaldog
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« Reply #17 on: July 30, 2012, 01:18:09 PM »
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Focal looks quite cool! I have a LensAllign but think this might be useful to test. So the question is, Standard, Plus or Pro?

I wrote to the author of FoCal to see if I purchased a Windows version, I could run on a Mac when that version comes out. Answer: Yes. So I purchased the Pro version. Very, very slick, even for a Windows novice Mac guy. I was impressed. The software is very nicely designed, intuitive and easy on the eyes. The manual is very good. I was impressed at ease of use and results! I just got my Canon 24-105mm back from service so I figured this was the time to do an adjustment. Previous setting was -6, the FoCal adjustment was -1. Looking at the two side by side in the software was remarkable! I had adjusted this lens a good two years ago using LensAlign but to be fair, it was just serviced so the differences could be due to that, my inaccuracy using LensAlign or a combo. I really like this product and think it is far easier to use than the previous process. I don’t know how much more work woulkd be involved using the less expensive Standard version but the auto method is super easy. Setup the camera parallel to the target, press one button after testing that the camera and target are setup up and walk away. The resulting report is super geeky but fun. I used a single Solux to light the target which I printed using an Epson 3880 on Luster paper. The entire process could not have been easier.
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Andrew Rodney
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« Reply #18 on: August 04, 2012, 05:27:05 PM »
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Thanks for contributing your impressions Andrew. With a new body on the way I think it's finally time to invest in a tool such as this, and the FoCal Pro version looks to be the one for me as well.
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wcwest
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« Reply #19 on: August 08, 2012, 02:08:07 PM »
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Has anyone tried using Focal on the 7D with the Version 2 firmware? I have read comments the firmware affected existing MA's. In another forum one person mentioned having a problem with Focal but there has been no confirmation from others.

Thanks,
Bill
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