How to calibrate your lens to your camera body.
You may have heard “have you tried calibrating your lens” when you have been researching why you aren’t achieving focus, even when you know you have done everything under the sun to get it. I want to show you how to calibrate your lenses (if your camera supports it) fairly simply and without purchasing any special equipment or software.
Things you will need:
Ruler or tape measure, (make sure its FLAT, no curves) I use a level with a ruler on it. Its longer and flat.
Camera and lens
Smart phone to download an angle finder app. (or a protractor if thats your thing)
The first thing you will need to do is set your camera on a tripod, and obviously attach your lens. (I always try to stand some feet away and focus on the level first, to make sure I’m far enough back to get auto focus to work as close to the subject as I can, and then mount it on the tripod there) Now, I’m not going to put where in the menu you will find (if you have it) the AF fine tune or Micro adjustment because quite frankly, I don’t want to scour the web finding all the makes and models and where they would or wouldn’t be. I will instead just show you the setting on MY camera so that you can have a reference to what Im talking about. Also, you can get fairly close with a 35, 50, and even an 85 on a chair, but if you have the 70-200, you will need to be in the next county!! Ok not really, but you will be pretty far back, and UP on that tripod.
The next thing you will do is lay your level/ruler flat on a surface such as your table, or a chair. At this point you will want to set your aperture to the lowest number you can get, f1.4 for my example.
Set your phone on the angle finder app and hold it next to the camera lens and tilt your camera until you are at 45 deg. You can place it beside the center of your lens like this, or you can put it flush up agains your lens front, like the lens has a phone sticking out the front, and that will work too.
Focus on a number, such as the number 13. When you review the number on the back of your screen, the 13 was what you focused on, but the number above and below are what you need to check. So, with the 13 being the center point, you now need to see if the 14 is EQUALLY as blurry as the 12. (notice I didn’t say anything about comparing them to the number 13…..DONT). With numbers ascending (my level has the inches on the left in ascending order, a ruler may not) if the 14 is more in focus than the 12, you are BACK focusing (not to be confused with BBF, or back button focusing) and if the number 12 is more in focus than the 14, you are FRONT focusing. Meaning, your focus is falling behind or in front of the focal plane which was the number 13. With me so far?
Now, lets say that the 14 is more in focus. Go into your menu and open the setting for you to be able to adjust your AF. Mine is under the wrench (NIKON) and I would go to AF Fine Tune, turn that ON, and then go to the Saved setting. When you make these adjustments with this lens, every time its attached, your camera will remember to adjust it by that much for that lens, and so on with each lens. So, now you can see the meter in there, where in the center is 0 and up the scale is + and down the scale is -. Think of that 0 as the number 13 you just focused on, and think of the + as being toward that 14, and the - as being toward that 12 on that level. So if that 14 was more in focus, you were back focusing and would need to bring the plane forward a bit….so you would go MINUS with the adjustment. I like to start at -5. Move the setting to -5, focus on the 13 again, review it, and now does the 14 look the same as the 12? If its CLOSE but not quite, go a bit further and if you went too far, go back a bit. The same applies to if the 12 was more in focus, you would be front focusing and would need to go to the + side a bit. So, with these photos, I had already calibrated my 50mm 1.4 lens and it needed to be at -1. Well, in trying to get the images for this blog, I didn't have my angle right, and had to re adjust, so when I'm showing them on the play back, I had adjusted to -2. Do you see that the 12 is more in focus than the 14? After doing this project, I double checked the angle, re did the calibration, and I was correct to move it back to -1 and now the 14 and the 12 are equally as blurry as each other when focusing on the 13 at 1.4.
If you have a prime lens, you are done. If you have a zoom lens, you will need to do this with the Wide end and the Telephoto end. On Canon cameras, when the zoom is attached, you should have a W and a T to change settings on. With the Nikons, you would just zoom out, and take the settings down, and zoom in and take the settings down. Some where in the middle is where you would put it. I haven’t had to make the adjustments with the zooms that I have, they have all been spot on.
That is how to calibrate your lenses. Good Luck!!
Leyla Dwelle Photography, LLC Bismarck, Mandan, Wedding, Birth, Boudoir, Beauty Photographer