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Gear Talk => Software & Accessories => Topic started by: bearbooth on September 23, 2012, 01:49:24 AM

Title: who uses Focal or similar?
Post by: bearbooth on September 23, 2012, 01:49:24 AM
How many beginner/amateur/hobby photographers use some kind of adjustment method to fine-tune their lens?

I've read so many good reviews on Focal AND a few other AF adjustments but wonder how many of those are from professionals or people who earn their living from photography.

Reason I ask is, I still consider myself as a beginner and if it wasn't for someone commenting on one of my photos as "it looks as though it maybe back-focus, that's why x is not clear"  I would never have even noticed. I would have thought, camera shake, I used the wrong setting, I focused at the wrong spot, not enough light, subject moved.....

how many would:
1) buy lens
2) check lens in detail
3) fine tune AF microadjustment
finally 4) go shooting.....
Title: Re: who uses Focal or similar?
Post by: rpt on September 23, 2012, 02:15:10 AM
Me. It is a hobby and I bought FoCal. It proved to me that my 24-105 was fine and my 100-400 needed fixing...
Unfortunately on the 5D3 it runs in manual mode for setting the MA value.
Title: Re: who uses Focal or similar?
Post by: PeterJ on September 23, 2012, 03:19:35 AM
I come into that category and had never given AFMA much thought until I came across this site. Before FoCal was around I bought a Lens Align Pro and they work well. For most of my lenses it didn't make a great deal of real-world difference with my 7D apart from a 100L macro. While taking hand-held close-ups I'd put focus problems down to hand movement and the very shallow DOF (plus I'd never owned a macro before) but AFMA made a remarkable difference and was money well spent just for that lens alone.

My 24-70L also needed a fair adjustment, although I tend to use that stopped down a bit and for less focus critical shots so it wasn't so noticable in practice. You'll probably find the same that for some lenses it doesn't make much difference but for others it does. IMHO it's money / time well spent considering what lenses costs to get the best out of them.

I've since bought a 5D3 and the FoCal software and while as rpt said it doesn't run in fully automatic mode I still find it less tedious than using a traditional target and it takes out the human factor analysing the images. While I don't obsess about it the sharpness charts are pretty cool as well for occasions when you don't care about aperture from an exposure / DOF point of view so you can pick the sharpest aperture.
Title: Re: who uses Focal or similar?
Post by: Mt Spokane Photography on September 23, 2012, 10:59:28 AM
FoCal Pro is the way to go.  My Lens align tool is just gathering dust.
Lenses which benefit most from alignment to the camera are the wide aperture lenses, but every one of my lenses except for my 300mm L needed some tweaking.  Only a couple were off enough such that it would make a real world difference.
The calibration curve is a excellent tool, it lets you visually see where the peak sharpness it.  This is only valid for the distance to subject, and for a zoom, the focal length used.  Thus, running at different distances and focal lengths gives you more information as to which AFMA settings will cover your most used distance and focal lengths without messing up the others too badly.
 
This is a older screen shot I took in January when I first received the software.  You can easily see where the peak sharpness is, but you can also see that being off a little is not the end of the world.
With this lens, a -5 to -10 does not make a whole lot of difference. The software picked -8 as the best.  A setting of "0" would be way off on focusing, and have much lower resolution.
 
(http://www.mount-spokane-photography.com/Photography/FoCal/i-VDgWSW8/0/L/untitled-4575-L.jpg)
Title: Re: who uses Focal or similar?
Post by: DET on September 23, 2012, 12:45:25 PM
FOCAL is still not available for the Mac.  Does anyone know of a similar product for the Mac?
Title: Re: who uses Focal or similar?
Post by: geminix on September 23, 2012, 01:42:28 PM
FOCAL is still not available for the Mac.  Does anyone know of a similar product for the Mac?
Actually they have released the beta for the mac, featuring full auto support for the 5DMK3 finally. I believe you have the purchase the pro version to have access to the beta.

Unfortunately the beta won't run on Mountain Lion yet - they are waiting for an update to the SDK from Canon, due in early October.
Title: Re: who uses Focal or similar?
Post by: canon816 on September 23, 2012, 02:33:35 PM
How many beginner/amateur/hobby photographers use some kind of adjustment method to fine-tune their lens?

I've read so many good reviews on Focal AND a few other AF adjustments but wonder how many of those are from professionals or people who earn their living from photography.

Reason I ask is, I still consider myself as a beginner and if it wasn't for someone commenting on one of my photos as "it looks as though it maybe back-focus, that's why x is not clear"  I would never have even noticed. I would have thought, camera shake, I used the wrong setting, I focused at the wrong spot, not enough light, subject moved.....

how many would:
1) buy lens
2) check lens in detail
3) fine tune AF microadjustment
finally 4) go shooting.....

The very first thing I do before I shoot with a lens is calibrate it to my camera bodies with focal..... If the AFMA is off there is no way to tell whether the lens is performing as it should.  Focal will also reveal whether there is a problem with a lens.  In very rare instances a lens can be such a bad copy that it will never work well....  I bought a $3,000 Sigma 300 f2.8 lens that could not be adjusted enough to focus properly.  Even at +20 it was still off by over 18inches on a subject only 40 feet away!!!!  This is pretty rare, but I sure was glad I had caught it before owning it for a year then realizing the issue.  (I didnt need focal to tell me this was a bad copy for my body, but it would be more common to if you found a lens copy that was unacceptably inconsistent.  )
Title: Re: who uses Focal or similar?
Post by: marekjoz on September 23, 2012, 03:01:14 PM
I use Focal but I have found, that if you have one body and one or two lenses only, you can try without it. It's a very good tool (although each time it crashes on my computer and reports some API errors) but finally shows what it should.
If you see, that your lenses is backfocusing or frontfocusing, you can hang on the wall in appropriate distance from the camera (the closer the distance to the really distance from subjects you shoot the better), then manually focus on tripod via liveview (with 10x magnification), treat it as a reference and later check AF with other AFMA settings (+/-). You have to make at least 3, 4 photos with the use of each setting and remember to defocus after each shot. You compare at which AFMA setting your photos look at best in comparison to the liveview reference and this is it.
It works as well. It is important to hang the test chart vertically on the wall, and not at some specific angle. As a chart you can use a money bill as well. Remember not to change light, ISO and other settings, except AF and MF. Shoot in M mode.
Focal is great for automatization of the whole process. When you have 2 or three bodies and several lenses, going manually through this can make your head ill.
Title: Re: who uses Focal or similar?
Post by: celliottuk on September 23, 2012, 04:33:01 PM
I've used it extensively to calibrate my 7D and 1D IV. Unfortunately, there's a bug which stops it working with a 1D  X
Title: Re: who uses Focal or similar?
Post by: neuroanatomist on September 23, 2012, 05:07:47 PM
I've used it extensively to calibrate my 7D and 1D IV. Unfortunately, there's a bug which stops it working with a 1D  X

Bug?  Can you elaborate?

I trust you're aware that the PC version only works in MSC mode with the 1D X and 5DIII (you have to change the AFMA values manually). The Mac beta has full auto for the 1D X.
Title: Re: who uses Focal or similar?
Post by: bearbooth on September 29, 2012, 11:03:12 AM
purchased the Focal software and just did it on my kit 24-105 @105 and my 50 1.4.

results:
50mm 1.4 needed +9 adjust
24-105 needed +5 adjust at 105mm

is that usual?
Title: Re: who uses Focal or similar?
Post by: Mt Spokane Photography on September 29, 2012, 11:18:17 AM
purchased the Focal software and just did it on my kit 24-105 @105 and my 50 1.4.

results:
50mm 1.4 needed +9 adjust
24-105 needed +5 adjust at 105mm

is that usual?
I have now done most of my lenses (I've a ton of old EF film lenses that I may consider some day).
Here is the results so far, and a typical report that FoCal Pro produces.
 
This is my table made to keep track of my settings in case I happen to lose them.  Zoom lenses have two settings, while primes have one.  I wish there were a macro setting for the 100mm L, I'm certain that the AFMA value will be a lot different at near macro distances.
Most of my lenses are close enough to be set to zero, but my most used lens, the 135mm L, along with my 85mm f/1.8 need AFMA.  I have yet to test the 35mmL, I overlooked it or would have done it when I had the 16-35mmL setup for 35mm.  Same for my 50mm f/1.4.  Doing a AFMA for my 15mm FE would not likely make a difference, but I'll do it anyway.
(http://www.mount-spokane-photography.com/Photography/FoCal/i-bbXgJhk/0/XL/Excel-Test-Report-XL.jpg)
 
 
Table produced by FoCal.  As you can see, the lens had a AF issue one time.  I was outdoors, and the wind was blowing gently, so a gust might have moved the target, or just the lens misfired.  It happens more than you might think, and FoCal shows it.
(http://www.mount-spokane-photography.com/Photography/FoCal/i-xJRx48k/0/XL/120926143504FullyAuto5Dmk36202-XL.jpg)
Title: Re: who uses Focal or similar?
Post by: canon816 on September 29, 2012, 12:59:16 PM
purchased the Focal software and just did it on my kit 24-105 @105 and my 50 1.4.

results:
50mm 1.4 needed +9 adjust
24-105 needed +5 adjust at 105mm

is that usual?

not at all.

as long as it is within the afma range of -20 to 20... it doesnt really matter.
Title: Re: who uses Focal or similar?
Post by: neuroanatomist on September 29, 2012, 01:41:12 PM
I wish there were a macro setting for the 100mm L, I'm certain that the AFMA value will be a lot different at near macro distances.

It wasn't for me. For the 100L Macro on my 1D X, it was +4 at 50x FL, +2 at 25x FL, and +3 close up (filled the frame with FoCal's tiny target).  On the 7D, it's +2, +3, and +2, respectively, and the 5DII was -2, -1, and 0.
Title: Re: who uses Focal or similar?
Post by: hoghavemercy on September 29, 2012, 03:42:05 PM
purchased the Focal software and just did it on my kit 24-105 @105 and my 50 1.4.

results:
50mm 1.4 needed +9 adjust
24-105 needed +5 adjust at 105mm

is that usual?
I have now done most of my lenses (I've a ton of old EF film lenses that I may consider some day).
Here is the results so far, and a typical report that FoCal Pro produces.
 
This is my table made to keep track of my settings in case I happen to lose them.  Zoom lenses have two settings, while primes have one.  I wish there were a macro setting for the 100mm L, I'm certain that the AFMA value will be a lot different at near macro distances.
Most of my lenses are close enough to be set to zero, but my most used lens, the 135mm L, along with my 85mm f/1.8 need AFMA.  I have yet to test the 35mmL, I overlooked it or would have done it when I had the 16-35mmL setup for 35mm.  Same for my 50mm f/1.4.  Doing a AFMA for my 15mm FE would not likely make a difference, but I'll do it anyway.
(http://www.mount-spokane-photography.com/Photography/FoCal/i-bbXgJhk/0/XL/Excel-Test-Report-XL.jpg)
 
 
Table produced by FoCal.  As you can see, the lens had a AF issue one time.  I was outdoors, and the wind was blowing gently, so a gust might have moved the target, or just the lens misfired.  It happens more than you might think, and FoCal shows it.
(http://www.mount-spokane-photography.com/Photography/FoCal/i-xJRx48k/0/XL/120926143504FullyAuto5Dmk36202-XL.jpg)

I have a year old 35L at +8, and a 4 months old 70-200 f4L IS at +4 pretty new, i think even brand new lenses might need a little calibration. not worried since it's giving better results.
Title: Re: who uses Focal or similar?
Post by: Mt Spokane Photography on September 29, 2012, 08:23:57 PM
I wish there were a macro setting for the 100mm L, I'm certain that the AFMA value will be a lot different at near macro distances.

It wasn't for me. For the 100L Macro on my 1D X, it was +4 at 50x FL, +2 at 25x FL, and +3 close up (filled the frame with FoCal's tiny target).  On the 7D, it's +2, +3, and +2, respectively, and the 5DII was -2, -1, and 0.
My 5D Mark II seemed to have a big difference, but I did not use FoCal at the time.  I'll check my new 5D Mark III with the lens. 
Title: Re: who uses Focal or similar?
Post by: Richard8971 on September 29, 2012, 09:11:34 PM
I have used Focal with great results. It is a program suited for studio and "set up" photographs as the micro adjustment changes with the distance you are away from the subject and such. If you take photographs of subjects that are "always" the same distance away from you and you "always" use the same focal lengeth, then it is perfect! :)

D
Title: Re: who uses Focal or similar?
Post by: Mt Spokane Photography on September 29, 2012, 09:40:33 PM
I have used Focal with great results. It is a program suited for studio and "set up" photographs as the micro adjustment changes with the distance you are away from the subject and such. If you take photographs of subjects that are "always" the same distance away from you and you "always" use the same focal lengeth, then it is perfect! :)

D
Thats true, but it has nothing to do with Focal, its a lens property.
Some lenses change their AF point depending on distance to the subject.  FoCal merely shows you what is happening.  Typically, lenses front focus as you get nearer to the subject.
Title: Re: who uses Focal or similar?
Post by: Sony on September 30, 2012, 12:23:28 AM
I have Focal Pro. After doing AFMA to my 50D and 5DMKiii with my lenses, I compared pics before and after. I couldnt believe my eyes; they were different. Especially with 5DMKiii as it has Wide AFMA and Tele AFMA for zoom lenses. Focal Pro really works.
Title: Re: who uses Focal or similar?
Post by: spinworkxroy on September 30, 2012, 01:35:32 AM
Personally, I do use Focal but i find that it's only useful to a certain extent.
Firstly, for wide angle lenses you won't really need to do much AMFA..you really can't tell the different and the adjustment is done wide open…i doubt many will shoot a wide angle landscape type shot wide open anyways.

It works well for more" zoomed" lenses…for me 50mm and above. And i don't even think it works for zoom lenses that well since the 5D wil "average out the in betweens"

However, for specific lenses like 85mm or Macro lenses..it works fantastic..you do see a huge difference if your lens is out.
But, depending on the distance and lighting condition, Focal might give varying results so it's best to do the adjustment at the distance you USUALLY shoot at….
Title: Re: who uses Focal or similar?
Post by: marekjoz on September 30, 2012, 04:32:53 AM
I wish there were a macro setting for the 100mm L, I'm certain that the AFMA value will be a lot different at near macro distances.

It wasn't for me. For the 100L Macro on my 1D X, it was +4 at 50x FL, +2 at 25x FL, and +3 close up (filled the frame with FoCal's tiny target).  On the 7D, it's +2, +3, and +2, respectively, and the 5DII was -2, -1, and 0.
My 5D Mark II seemed to have a big difference, but I did not use FoCal at the time.  I'll check my new 5D Mark III with the lens.

My 7D required bigger AFMA numbers than 5D2.
Title: Re: who uses Focal or similar?
Post by: canon816 on September 30, 2012, 05:54:48 AM
I have used Focal with great results. It is a program suited for studio and "set up" photographs as the micro adjustment changes with the distance you are away from the subject and such. If you take photographs of subjects that are "always" the same distance away from you and you "always" use the same focal lengeth, then it is perfect! :)

D
Thats true, but it has nothing to do with Focal, its a lens property.
Some lenses change their AF point depending on distance to the subject.  FoCal merely shows you what is happening.  Typically, lenses front focus as you get nearer to the subject.

I have found that once I get a lens dialed in it works well at all shooting distances with the same AFMA point.  I realize that as the elements move a little bit when shooting at different distances that it will effect the AFMA point, but it is ever so slight. 

And many lenses (in fact all of mine) do not have a single AFMA point that is optimum but rather a slight plateau of the curve which includes 4-5 AFMA points.  If you calibrate at an average shooting distance and set it for the middle of this curve then you are all set for shooting at distances near and far.

I have seen a couple of curves that have a much steeper curve then I describe leading into the optimal AFMA point, but even here you are quite close to optimum and you would be hard pressed to notice issues in your images. 
Title: Re: who uses Focal or similar?
Post by: Mt Spokane Photography on September 30, 2012, 12:20:42 PM
I wish there were a macro setting for the 100mm L, I'm certain that the AFMA value will be a lot different at near macro distances.

It wasn't for me. For the 100L Macro on my 1D X, it was +4 at 50x FL, +2 at 25x FL, and +3 close up (filled the frame with FoCal's tiny target).  On the 7D, it's +2, +3, and +2, respectively, and the 5DII was -2, -1, and 0.
My 5D Mark II seemed to have a big difference, but I did not use FoCal at the time.  I'll check my new 5D Mark III with the lens.

My 7D required bigger AFMA numbers than 5D2.
Even the same model different bodies will have different results.  There are many things that can cause this.  My 35mmL has a +2 on my 5D MK II while my 5D Mark III had a +17.  Canon calibrated the lens on their reference 1D Mark III and it was right on, while only changing a couple of points on the 5D Mark II.  There were different numbers for my 7D as well.
Usually, if a lens was front or rear focusing on one body, it did the same on all, just a different amount.  However, there were exceptions.  I've done it with dozens of lenses on several cameras.
Title: Re: who uses Focal or similar?
Post by: marekjoz on October 01, 2012, 04:23:59 AM
I wish there were a macro setting for the 100mm L, I'm certain that the AFMA value will be a lot different at near macro distances.

It wasn't for me. For the 100L Macro on my 1D X, it was +4 at 50x FL, +2 at 25x FL, and +3 close up (filled the frame with FoCal's tiny target).  On the 7D, it's +2, +3, and +2, respectively, and the 5DII was -2, -1, and 0.
My 5D Mark II seemed to have a big difference, but I did not use FoCal at the time.  I'll check my new 5D Mark III with the lens.

My 7D required bigger AFMA numbers than 5D2.
Even the same model different bodies will have different results.  There are many things that can cause this.  My 35mmL has a +2 on my 5D MK II while my 5D Mark III had a +17.  Canon calibrated the lens on their reference 1D Mark III and it was right on, while only changing a couple of points on the 5D Mark II.  There were different numbers for my 7D as well.
Usually, if a lens was front or rear focusing on one body, it did the same on all, just a different amount.  However, there were exceptions.  I've done it with dozens of lenses on several cameras.

I wish Magic Lantern team could provide a feature allowing use different AFMA settings at different focals (when zooms) and distances to target. I think it's a small step for them and the big one for the Canon community :)