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Author Topic: Lens calibration question  (Read 12140 times)

Mancubus

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Lens calibration question
« on: September 09, 2016, 06:39:39 AM »
I have a 70-200 2.8 II IS, which had some focusing inconsistency with my 5d3 in the past (AFMA wouldn't solve it because it was randomly misfocusing).

I've sent them both to Canon and after a month it came back perfectly calibrated, nails focus all the time without need for any AFMA. However, my backup camera (a 100D or SL1) is hopeless with this lens, misses focus a lot of the time. It works well with my other lenses though.

It doesn't really bother me because I rarely use that body especially with that lens. I could send it to Canon for a month to calibrate but not with the lens (which I need for my work). Questions:

1- Can Canon do anything about my 100D calibration without me having to send in the lens as well?

2- If I buy a 5d4, I'm afraid it could have the same issue and I don't want to send it in for a month right after buying it. Since the 70-200 has been serviced and calibrated for my 5d3, will it also work perfectly with the 5d4 (assuming I don't buy a lemon)?

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Lens calibration question
« on: September 09, 2016, 06:39:39 AM »

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Re: Lens calibration question
« Reply #1 on: September 09, 2016, 10:40:33 AM »
Canon calibrates to a standard reference, so 5DIII was calibrated to the standard and the 70-200 was calibrated to the standard (which is one of the reasons why they wipe out the AFMA tables, although if it was randomly misfocusing and is no longer, then other adjustments were probably made to the lens).  That said, does your SL1/100D consistently front/back focus with the 70-200?  If so, then sending the 100D/SL1 body to be calibrated would solve the problem, but I'm not sure if it's worth it.  Do you have to set any AFMA values with your 5DIII, especially fast lenses you're planning on using with the SL1?  If so, then adjusting the SL1 to the standard may affect its performance with your other lenses.  However, if the other lenses you use with the SL1 are slow, then the calibration will likely fall within the depth of focus already, so the effect will not be noticeable.

The 5D4 has AFMA so at worst, you'd have to put in a nonzero value.  My 5D3 used to have consistent -4 to -7 with the majority of my lenses.  I had it serviced, and now all my entries are zero (except a Sigma lens, surprise, surprise...).

Mancubus

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Re: Lens calibration question
« Reply #2 on: September 09, 2016, 02:25:53 PM »
Canon calibrates to a standard reference, so 5DIII was calibrated to the standard and the 70-200 was calibrated to the standard (which is one of the reasons why they wipe out the AFMA tables, although if it was randomly misfocusing and is no longer, then other adjustments were probably made to the lens).  That said, does your SL1/100D consistently front/back focus with the 70-200?  If so, then sending the 100D/SL1 body to be calibrated would solve the problem, but I'm not sure if it's worth it.  Do you have to set any AFMA values with your 5DIII, especially fast lenses you're planning on using with the SL1?  If so, then adjusting the SL1 to the standard may affect its performance with your other lenses.  However, if the other lenses you use with the SL1 are slow, then the calibration will likely fall within the depth of focus already, so the effect will not be noticeable.

The 5D4 has AFMA so at worst, you'd have to put in a nonzero value.  My 5D3 used to have consistent -4 to -7 with the majority of my lenses.  I had it serviced, and now all my entries are zero (except a Sigma lens, surprise, surprise...).

Thanks for the clarifications, so I think the wisest thing to do it send the 100D alone to be calibrated to the standard. I thought it actually had to be sent with the lens.

Dumb question: why Canon sells cameras and lenses that are not calibrated to the standard? This should be a mandatory procedure before anything leaves the factory.
« Last Edit: September 09, 2016, 02:30:21 PM by Mancubus »

Mt Spokane Photography

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Re: Lens calibration question
« Reply #3 on: September 09, 2016, 07:59:06 PM »
Canon does calibrate lenses. They can be damaged or knocked out of adjustment in shipping or in use. Always check them as soon as you get them. Third party lenses seem to be even more prone to being knocked out of alignment. The latest canon lenses are more robust and better packed but shippers can damage anything

Don Haines

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Re: Lens calibration question
« Reply #4 on: September 09, 2016, 08:20:56 PM »
With any calibration process, there is the question of "to what accuracy"...... In the manufacturing process, lenses are tested and adjusted to be "good enough" but they are not precisely calibrated. Calibration takes time and skilled people with precision equipment and that costs money.
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Re: Lens calibration question
« Reply #5 on: September 10, 2016, 02:50:24 PM »
Canon does calibrate lenses. They can be damaged or knocked out of adjustment in shipping or in use. Always check them as soon as you get them. Third party lenses seem to be even more prone to being knocked out of alignment. The latest canon lenses are more robust and better packed but shippers can damage anything

+1.  My 5DII + 70-300 dropped into muddy grass and it changed the AFMA values by about -3.

Viggo

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Re: Lens calibration question
« Reply #6 on: September 10, 2016, 03:19:11 PM »
It depends on how much it misses with it's inconsistency. With my fairly broad experiences with AF and calibration, one value can seem to be perfect, but the lens misses too much and both front and back.

Then when you find that correct afma it all falls into place and the AF becomes MUCH more stable.

Just recently with my 200 f2 I tested and found +3 to hit, but in Servo it was missing too much and I ran it through FoCal which gave me +4. After that it became like glue and it simply doesn't miss anymore.

So be aware that +/-1 will not make a difference in sharpness, most often, but in stability. Seen this with all kinds of L-glass, also zooms.
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Re: Lens calibration question
« Reply #6 on: September 10, 2016, 03:19:11 PM »

Mancubus

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Re: Lens calibration question
« Reply #7 on: September 11, 2016, 06:06:22 AM »
Canon does calibrate lenses. They can be damaged or knocked out of adjustment in shipping or in use. Always check them as soon as you get them. Third party lenses seem to be even more prone to being knocked out of alignment. The latest canon lenses are more robust and better packed but shippers can damage anything

The lenses come inside a plastic bag, with a very protective foam around it, and then a box. If you order online there will be an additional foam/bubble wrap and then another cardboard box. I know these lenses can take quite a beating, I'm pretty sure my lenses endure daily a lot more than a brand new lens that never left the box.

I don't think I could be rough enough to mess up the calibration of a brand new lens in the box without clearly damaging the box. I also believe that in the absolutely majority of cases, these new lens boxes are properly transported. My conclusion is: If a brand new lens is not focusing well, Canon didn't do a good job calibrating/testing it enough.

Viggo

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Re: Lens calibration question
« Reply #8 on: September 11, 2016, 06:36:45 AM »
Canon does calibrate lenses. They can be damaged or knocked out of adjustment in shipping or in use. Always check them as soon as you get them. Third party lenses seem to be even more prone to being knocked out of alignment. The latest canon lenses are more robust and better packed but shippers can damage anything

The lenses come inside a plastic bag, with a very protective foam around it, and then a box. If you order online there will be an additional foam/bubble wrap and then another cardboard box. I know these lenses can take quite a beating, I'm pretty sure my lenses endure daily a lot more than a brand new lens that never left the box.

I don't think I could be rough enough to mess up the calibration of a brand new lens in the box without clearly damaging the box. I also believe that in the absolutely majority of cases, these new lens boxes are properly transported. My conclusion is: If a brand new lens is not focusing well, Canon didn't do a good job calibrating/testing it enough.

Your conclusion is wrong. Every lens and every camera is manufactured within certain tolerances. If you get a camera and lens at the edge of what Canon approves it might miss quite a bit when you put them together, if you then have a camera off in one end and the lens in the other end, suddenly they are bang on together. To compensate for this, you have the possibility to AFMA in the camera body.
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Mancubus

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Re: Lens calibration question
« Reply #9 on: September 11, 2016, 07:10:23 AM »
Canon does calibrate lenses. They can be damaged or knocked out of adjustment in shipping or in use. Always check them as soon as you get them. Third party lenses seem to be even more prone to being knocked out of alignment. The latest canon lenses are more robust and better packed but shippers can damage anything

The lenses come inside a plastic bag, with a very protective foam around it, and then a box. If you order online there will be an additional foam/bubble wrap and then another cardboard box. I know these lenses can take quite a beating, I'm pretty sure my lenses endure daily a lot more than a brand new lens that never left the box.

I don't think I could be rough enough to mess up the calibration of a brand new lens in the box without clearly damaging the box. I also believe that in the absolutely majority of cases, these new lens boxes are properly transported. My conclusion is: If a brand new lens is not focusing well, Canon didn't do a good job calibrating/testing it enough.

Your conclusion is wrong. Every lens and every camera is manufactured within certain tolerances. If you get a camera and lens at the edge of what Canon approves it might miss quite a bit when you put them together, if you then have a camera off in one end and the lens in the other end, suddenly they are bang on together. To compensate for this, you have the possibility to AFMA in the camera body.

If this is the case, either the tolerance is insufficient or I was extremely unlucky to have about half of the lenses and bodies I've ever had (about 10 lenses and 5 bodies) seriously misfocusing.

And most of the time I've had focus issues, AFMA didn't help because the focus was inconsistent, not missing always in the same way.

Back to the thread, I'm quite happy that now I finally have a decent camera (5d3) with 3 lenses that actually work well (16-35 f4, 40 pancake and 70-200 II). My concern is if this will maintain after I buy a new camera body, or will I have to send everything to Canon again to calibrate.

YuengLinger

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Re: Lens calibration question
« Reply #10 on: September 11, 2016, 07:11:46 AM »
Canon does calibrate lenses. They can be damaged or knocked out of adjustment in shipping or in use. Always check them as soon as you get them. Third party lenses seem to be even more prone to being knocked out of alignment. The latest canon lenses are more robust and better packed but shippers can damage anything

The lenses come inside a plastic bag, with a very protective foam around it, and then a box. If you order online there will be an additional foam/bubble wrap and then another cardboard box. I know these lenses can take quite a beating, I'm pretty sure my lenses endure daily a lot more than a brand new lens that never left the box.

I don't think I could be rough enough to mess up the calibration of a brand new lens in the box without clearly damaging the box. I also believe that in the absolutely majority of cases, these new lens boxes are properly transported. My conclusion is: If a brand new lens is not focusing well, Canon didn't do a good job calibrating/testing it enough.

Viggo is right, but more than one of your conclusions is wrong.

You are right that new Canon lenses are packed adequately.  In fact, I think the protective foam and cardboard has evolved somewhat over the years to deal with the realities of online ordering and delivery.  But the lenses are still delicate, precisely aligned instruments that can be knocked out of calibration.

As for why lenses still need calibration, first there is the handling that happens after they leave the factory.  Then there is the handling in warehouses, retailers, and on the way to the final destination.

But there is also the same series of handlings of camera bodies, which get knocked around just as much.

And, unless you are putting a new lens on a new body, you have been handling the camera body, often unaware of knocks and bumps.  Then there are the effects of temperature changes.  It cannot be good for calibration if, for example, a camera is left in a hot car for much of a summer.  (Yeah, I've done it.)

As for delivery services "properly" handling lenses, you have to be kidding me.  And retailers?  I stopped ordering any camera gear from Amazon because they take less care boxing a $2000 lens than a $10 paperback book.  Or they used to, several years ago.  I've heard they have improved a bit.  B&H won the shipping competition with me!  In my area, USPS was doing better with undamaged packages than UPS, but then Amazon stopped using UPS for the most part.  Now I cringe whenever I see a FedEx truck; they used to be great, now roughly 1 of 3 packages come very dirty, banged up, and/or torn open.  The worst of the worst the past year.

And, no, the lens boxes are not marked, "Handle with Care.  Fragile!"

Glad you are having better luck!

Finally, even if there were no environmental or handling variables, the cost of perfect calibration on a mass produced scale would raise the price of any instrument way beyond what a consumer or even professional could afford to pay.  Our space agency, NASA, is a pretty typical government black hole of tax dollars, but the legitimate costs which result in $100 million dollar satellites include some of the most precise manufacturing on the planet.  Can't be reproduced in a mass production factory.

« Last Edit: September 11, 2016, 07:25:12 AM by YuengLinger »

Viggo

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Re: Lens calibration question
« Reply #11 on: September 11, 2016, 07:21:15 AM »
If you find your gear to be very inconsistent either sell that Sigma cr@p, or send your camera to be serviced.

I had my 1dx serviced 5 times after they replaced my shutter. The symptoms was that the camera could do ten VERY different focusing distances on the same still subject with great contrast with one shot, each shot was different even if the focus locked each time. They claimed it worked, but when I got it back it was doing the same thing. The last time they said we either find the fault or replace your camera. They finally got it right and it's working again.
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Mancubus

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Re: Lens calibration question
« Reply #12 on: September 12, 2016, 02:43:02 AM »
If you find your gear to be very inconsistent either sell that Sigma cr@p, or send your camera to be serviced.

I had my 1dx serviced 5 times after they replaced my shutter. The symptoms was that the camera could do ten VERY different focusing distances on the same still subject with great contrast with one shot, each shot was different even if the focus locked each time. They claimed it worked, but when I got it back it was doing the same thing. The last time they said we either find the fault or replace your camera. They finally got it right and it's working again.

I already got rid of my sigma cr@p (gladly I only had one lens, never again). At this moment my current main gear works fine, what I'm worried is about my next one (probably 5D4 in a few months).

But do you think it's acceptable to send it FIVE times? How long did you stay without the camera? How much frustration did you endure when it came back for the 3rd/4th time still with the same problem?

You're not the first case I read about an unacceptable service, and yet you disagree when I say that Canon is not doing a good job before shipping/servicing these expensive lenses and bodies. You had the most expensive/tough/badass body and still got cr@ppy service.

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Re: Lens calibration question
« Reply #12 on: September 12, 2016, 02:43:02 AM »

Viggo

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Re: Lens calibration question
« Reply #13 on: September 12, 2016, 04:25:43 AM »
If you find your gear to be very inconsistent either sell that Sigma cr@p, or send your camera to be serviced.

I had my 1dx serviced 5 times after they replaced my shutter. The symptoms was that the camera could do ten VERY different focusing distances on the same still subject with great contrast with one shot, each shot was different even if the focus locked each time. They claimed it worked, but when I got it back it was doing the same thing. The last time they said we either find the fault or replace your camera. They finally got it right and it's working again.

I already got rid of my sigma cr@p (gladly I only had one lens, never again). At this moment my current main gear works fine, what I'm worried is about my next one (probably 5D4 in a few months).

But do you think it's acceptable to send it FIVE times? How long did you stay without the camera? How much frustration did you endure when it came back for the 3rd/4th time still with the same problem?

You're not the first case I read about an unacceptable service, and yet you disagree when I say that Canon is not doing a good job before shipping/servicing these expensive lenses and bodies. You had the most expensive/tough/badass body and still got cr@ppy service.

Of course they should've calibrated and realigned everything properly at the same time they replaced the shutter, but I don't blame Canon as a brand and in general for a few useless technicians.

And besides, I have had pretty much every L-lens under 300mm f2.8 IS, and many of them 6-8 times over the years, and only once have I needed more than +20 afma value, sent it in and adjusted +3 and it worked. I had the dreadful 1d3 that really made me think twice, but Canon admitted (finally) that it was useless and it was one out of 10-12 bodies I have owned. Stuff breaks, but Canon gear has VERY low percentage of faulty products in my experience. And when it works like intended it's the worlds best.
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Sabaki

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Re: Lens calibration question
« Reply #14 on: September 12, 2016, 06:27:58 AM »
Whilst on the subject of calibrating equipment...

Had a chat with a former Canon technician who said that Canon have what he termed 'master technicians'. These are the guys who train the gold level technicians that handle the major issues the average comsumer may encounter.

He went on to state that these are the same guys who calibrate review bodies and lenses for Canon's ambassadors and that got me thinking, are all Canon technicians able to calibrate a piece of equipment 100%?
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Re: Lens calibration question
« Reply #14 on: September 12, 2016, 06:27:58 AM »