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Author Topic: Which lenses need micro-adjusting?  (Read 15015 times)

scottsdaleriots

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Which lenses need micro-adjusting?
« on: March 26, 2012, 10:57:28 PM »
I don't know a whole lot on this topic bt Im just wondering which lens are more prone to having to get taken to a camera shop to be micro-adjusted? I ask this becuase I want to save a few hundred $$$ or so and buy some lens (and other gear) online since it's cheaper.

All does it all depend on the copy of the lens you get that isnt tack sharp at all apertures/how it performs with your camera? And does it cost extra $ to get it adjusted?

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Which lenses need micro-adjusting?
« on: March 26, 2012, 10:57:28 PM »

peederj

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Re: Which lenses need micro-adjusting?
« Reply #1 on: March 26, 2012, 11:41:55 PM »
Probably less than 1% of the lenses that go in for micro adjusting.  ::) 

scottsdaleriots

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Re: Which lenses need micro-adjusting?
« Reply #2 on: March 27, 2012, 01:24:38 AM »
once again i accidentally post something in the rumours section of the forum...mod/admin please move thread if you are reading this, ta

Serious? But how can you tell if your lens (and/or) camera needs to be adjusted? I personally think all my lenses are fine but i could be wrong

peederj

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Re: Which lenses need micro-adjusting?
« Reply #3 on: March 27, 2012, 09:22:40 AM »
Lots of people blame the equipment for their failures as a photographer first and foremost. So there's a placebo effect. They might not know how to use autofocus in the first place, or they may be misinterpreting softness which can come from a variety of sources.

Secondly, lots of people blame the lens for the body's failures. It's a system and while there are situations where a lens is miscalibrated the body I'm thinking will correct for most of them automatically if it can. If the body can't overcome the lens's problems transparently (and not with the in-camera micro adjustment feature which I am personally very skeptical of as well), then I think in many cases there is a problem that alignment alone isn't going to fix...the lens control motor may be unreliable or the body's AF system may be faulty. Or the lens is just soft throughout the focal range which certainly can be addressed.

A fool and his money are soon parted, and people who are fooled will absolutely hate being exposed as such. I appreciate your caution in trying to avoid that by asking questions here. There likely are times when autofocus distance needs to be adjusted on the lens, but as I said, likely a tiny minority of the cases that are sent in by quivering pixelpeepers.

To test the focus alignment of your lens, you can waste another $80 buying the lens align thing or just lean a ruler next to a focus target in the same manner and see how you do over many iterations. Remember how DOF works and that your ideal focus point is about 1/3rd of the way into your subject...you may want the AF system to pick a point where the focal plane is a touch front-focused to leverage that, as well as hyperfocal DOF if you want infinity resolved. For these concerns AF adjustment may be smart, but the neurotic insistence that "my lens is a bad copy!  >:(  >:(  >:(" is often just whining.

Steve Todd

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Re: Which lenses need micro-adjusting?
« Reply #4 on: March 27, 2012, 10:39:23 AM »
I can only speak from my experience with EOS-1D Mk IV bodies.  With them, I found every lens I use must be adjusted to get the sharpest focus possible.  Each lens required a different amount of micro adjustment to gain the best sharpness, some as little as -2 (closer to camera) with a 28-105L and as much as -14 with a 50, 1.2L!  Other lenses I have fall somewhere in between these two.  Checking the same lenses on the other 1D4 body required about the same adjustment.  Several lenses looked very sharp initially.  However, on closer look , especially at long focal lengths or close distances when using a precise focusing point (eye or very small subject), it was clear the focus point of the lens was off (sharper behind the intended point of focus).  Taking the small amount of time to fine tune each lens to the body made all the difference in the world!  I don't use the fancy equipment recommended by some others, not that they don't work, it 's just that I have found a method that works for me!  I set the focus point (one shot) to the center one, set the shutter speed to 500, select the maximum aperture on the lens, set Auto ISO, and turn off the IS.  Using a steady rest, I focus on a small subject on the ground, outdoors in full sunlight (seed, pebble, or other very small subject).  I closely place other small objects along a line closer and farther away from the center subject.  I try to place the subject just beyond the minimum focus distance of each lens.  For zoom lenses or telephoto lenses, I will use the longest focal length.  The camera is at a 45 degree angle above the subject to give depth to the shot.  I shoot a couple of frames and then check the focus, make the adjustment and try again until the focus is sharpest possible.  This usually takes less than 10 minutes total time.  Again, I have found this method works for me.  Bottom line, no lens I have is its sharpest with "0" adjustment!  Hope this helps!
« Last Edit: March 27, 2012, 11:19:26 AM by Steve Todd »
EOS-1D X Mk II, EOS-1D X, 1D4, 5D2, 5D, EOS-1V, 1n, and a bunch of lenses.

neuroanatomist

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Re: Which lenses need micro-adjusting?
« Reply #5 on: March 27, 2012, 10:44:22 AM »
Well, I can confirm that I'm a pixel peeper, but I don't quiver.  I completely understand how AF works...and it's limitations.

I have two AFMA-capable bodies and 10 AF lenses, and 19 of those combinations - all but one of the lenses on one of the bodies - has some amount of AFMA applied.  In some cases, it's not a large enough amount of adjustment to be necessary in anything but a critical situation.  But my holy trinity of primes (35L, 85L II, 135L) on my 5DII all need an adjustment of >8 units, which means more than a full depth of focus off.  Now, that's something that even a happy-go-lucky-I-don't-mind-a-little-blurriness non-pixel-peeper would be sure to notice. 

Remember how DOF works and that your ideal focus point is about 1/3rd of the way into your subject...

True for wide angle lenses, but as focal length increases into the telephoto range, it approaches 50:50. 
EOS 1D X, EOS M2, lots of lenses
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NormanBates

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Re: Which lenses need micro-adjusting?
« Reply #6 on: March 27, 2012, 11:10:11 AM »
my answer to this question would be: "every lens that is f/2.8 or faster"

so if you're going to use fast lenses, you NEED a body with microadjustment, otherwise you're tempting luck

a quick explanaition of why I think this is here:
http://www.similaar.com/foto/tuten/510.html
and an in-depth explanaition can be found in the links at the bottom of that page

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Re: Which lenses need micro-adjusting?
« Reply #6 on: March 27, 2012, 11:10:11 AM »

pdirestajr

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Re: Which lenses need micro-adjusting?
« Reply #7 on: March 27, 2012, 11:28:19 AM »
I may be wrong here, but I don't think micro-adjusting will make your lens any "sharper".

It will adjust any slight front or back focusing, resulting in your auto-focusing point actually being in focus.

I guess the result is that your picture will look "sharper" because it is actually in focus?

peederj

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Re: Which lenses need micro-adjusting?
« Reply #8 on: April 01, 2012, 09:34:37 AM »
Ok so I have a bit of mea culpa and can proudly stand corrected. I bought the Lensalign II because I had to be sure I wasn't missing anything with my setup, and sure enough, two of my dozen FF lenses did need AFMA. Ironically, the vaunted 35L and 135L, which I bought some six years ago or so. My newer 50/1.4 and all the L zooms were fine, as was even a Tamron 70-300VC. And I'll happily note, with the Tamron pro 1.4x, it autofocused fine at f/8 min aperture on the 5d3, and yes the f/8 was reported to the body properly. AFMA did not, however, recognize the Tamron tele converter as its own setup, so I'm glad it didn't need AFMA.

I did all the protocol exactly according to Hoyle, aligning the bullseye inside the Lensalign and lighting it with studio lights (my gawd the LoCA/bokeh fringing some of these well-thought of lenses exhibit wide open...shock and horror... ???), manually focusing both to infinity and minimum on different iterations from different distances.  Really only the 135/f2L (which needed -10 on my body) absolutely needed the adjustment, and possibly because it's an older model. Though I think I've treated it well? Everything else was utterly flawless, other than the 35/1.4L which I gave -4.

So OK I do suggest you run the AFMA procedure if you do it right, but in most cases, you probably won't need it. When they unify phase detect and contrast detect autofocus the camera will truly self-correct, and I do think it self-corrects to some degree already, but at least on some of these older primes I can confirm it is a useful feature. Thanks to this board for giving me the motivation to do these tests.  :-*
« Last Edit: April 01, 2012, 09:36:19 AM by peederj »

dstppy

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Re: Which lenses need micro-adjusting?
« Reply #9 on: April 01, 2012, 10:44:36 AM »
Well, I can confirm that I'm a pixel peeper, but I don't quiver.  I completely understand how AF works...and it's limitations.

I have two AFMA-capable bodies and 10 AF lenses, and 19 of those combinations - all but one of the lenses on one of the bodies - has some amount of AFMA applied.  In some cases, it's not a large enough amount of adjustment to be necessary in anything but a critical situation.  But my holy trinity of primes (35L, 85L II, 135L) on my 5DII all need an adjustment of >8 units, which means more than a full depth of focus off.  Now, that's something that even a happy-go-lucky-I-don't-mind-a-little-blurriness non-pixel-peeper would be sure to notice. 

Remember how DOF works and that your ideal focus point is about 1/3rd of the way into your subject...

True for wide angle lenses, but as focal length increases into the telephoto range, it approaches 50:50.

Have you gone back over the Auto-Focus software? I read your posts a few months back but it seemed like everyone was looking for a few updates, no?
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JR

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Re: Which lenses need micro-adjusting?
« Reply #10 on: April 01, 2012, 12:46:09 PM »
Well, I can confirm that I'm a pixel peeper, but I don't quiver.  I completely understand how AF works...and it's limitations.

I have two AFMA-capable bodies and 10 AF lenses, and 19 of those combinations - all but one of the lenses on one of the bodies - has some amount of AFMA applied.  In some cases, it's not a large enough amount of adjustment to be necessary in anything but a critical situation.  But my holy trinity of primes (35L, 85L II, 135L) on my 5DII all need an adjustment of >8 units, which means more than a full depth of focus off.  Now, that's something that even a happy-go-lucky-I-don't-mind-a-little-blurriness non-pixel-peeper would be sure to notice. 

Remember how DOF works and that your ideal focus point is about 1/3rd of the way into your subject...

True for wide angle lenses, but as focal length increases into the telephoto range, it approaches 50:50.

Wow!  I am starting to feel happy-go-lucky with my mkII body since I was lucky enought not to perform MA on any of my lenses...
1DX, 24mm f1.4L II, 35mm f1.4L, 50mm f1.2L, 85mm f1.2L II, 135mm f2L, 24-70mm f2.8L II, 70-200mm f2.8L IS II :  D800, D4, and a whole bunch of Nikon lenses

marekjoz

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Re: Which lenses need micro-adjusting?
« Reply #11 on: April 01, 2012, 01:08:39 PM »
I was glad, that my lenses didn't need it. I checked their AF several times the way I could it - no special software or targets - just aiming some "H" on keyboard from 45 degrees above and checking if it's sharp. Once I got Focal and after checking it appeared that they may be microadjusted. Not much in my opinion: least of all 70-200f4 LIS(0 and -1). Most of all 50 1.4 but it's not a big number either. Is it better? I'm sure my feeling is that I've done all to make best of my gear and can only blame myself :)
« Last Edit: April 01, 2012, 02:08:25 PM by marekjoz »
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Mt Spokane Photography

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Re: Which lenses need micro-adjusting?
« Reply #12 on: April 01, 2012, 01:33:20 PM »
Virtually all lenses can use some micro adjust of the focus.  I have 14 lenses plus 2 TC's and use Reikan FoCal software to check them all.  I did this on both my 7D and 5D MK II.  I used to think that my lenses did not need it, but getting a accurate tool really helped.
 
Only my 300mm f/4L did not need AFMA on either camera, and I sold it to help fund my 5D MK III.
 
The curve plotted by FoCal Pro shows why you might not really need to adjust, the top of the curve can be broad so a little focus error might not be a problem.  If you have a very wide aperture lens, it can be a narrow peak.
 

 
 

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Re: Which lenses need micro-adjusting?
« Reply #12 on: April 01, 2012, 01:33:20 PM »

neuroanatomist

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Re: Which lenses need micro-adjusting?
« Reply #13 on: April 01, 2012, 01:37:56 PM »
The curve plotted by FoCal Pro shows why you might not really need to adjust, the top of the curve can be broad so a little focus error might not be a problem.  If you have a very wide aperture lens, it can be a narrow peak.

Indeed, as long as the peak of that broad curve is somewhere near zero.  In the example you show, no adjustment would be pretty far off from optimal.
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Daniel Flather

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Re: Which lenses need micro-adjusting?
« Reply #14 on: April 01, 2012, 11:34:42 PM »
With my 50/1.2 that I only shoot at f1.2 (why else buy it?(well, besides the many other reasons to buy it)) any adjustment I dial in is lost due to subject or camera movement.  So why bother setting an AF adjustment?  If I shot everything on a tripod with a static subject, then yes, it needs an adjustment dialed in, but in that case I would be manual focusing anyways, so the adjustment is moot. 

This is what I've come to realize lately.  ymmv
| 5D3 | 8-15L | 24L II | 35L | 50L | 85L II | 100/2.8 | 200/2L | EOS M | 22 STM |

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Re: Which lenses need micro-adjusting?
« Reply #14 on: April 01, 2012, 11:34:42 PM »