BECAUSE YOU’RE a professional photographer and your job is to produce the very best results you can for your clients, you might have invested a small fortune in acquiring top-quality glass to complement your high-resolution camera. Often you’ll have paid a premium for that extra little bit of resolution that can make all the difference but, just as your car benefits from its annual service, so your camera and lens line-up also require regular maintenance.
When a camera is getting tired you’ll generally know it, but the changes inside a lens can be more subtle and you might not realise that it’s losing its cutting edge until results obviously start suffering. Professionals work their gear hard and those in every genre can find there are times when their kit needs a touch of TLC. Fashion photographer and blogger Olivia Bossert is typical of many in that she’s never previously calibrated her lenses and she was finding that back focusing was starting to become an issue for her.
“It was something I’ve always struggled with,” she says, “and that can be stressful when you’re shooting for a client and they need their clothes to be in focus for their campaign. I need to know my images will be tack sharp, so it’s important my lenses are calibrated properly and I decided to see if the SpyderLensCal could help.
“It wasn’t especially difficult to come to terms with, even though I’m not the most techie of photographers, and I was soon up and running with the help of some YouTube tutorials. I found that calibrating my lenses almost always gets rid of my back focusing problems completely, and I’ll definitely use the SpyderLensCal every time I get a new lens or camera body, to ensure everything is working in sync.”
Olivia’s experience is the reason why this clever and surprisingly affordable set up should be a fixture in the armoury of anyone who is truly serious about their photography. Costing around £60, this fast and reliable accessory will ensure your autofocus is totally spot on and that the sharpness in your images will always be as good as it possibly could be. And the good news is that it’s all incredibly quick and easy to work with, and no advanced technical skills are required.
First off you need to set up the SpyderLensCal target and place the ruler in the correct orientation. There’s a tripod mount built in, though you can also utilise a handy table or shelf, and a built-in bubble indicator ensures everything is completely level. Then you need to select the camera and lenses you want to calibrate, set both to AF and, with the stabilising function off, ensure that either Aperture priority or Manual mode has been selected.
By following the simple directions, you then photograph areas of the chart as directed and check results either on your LCD screen or by transferring the file to a computer. You’ll quickly see if the point of focus is adrift, with front or back focusing easy to identify, along with how many centimetres it might be out. To make adjustments you head for your camera’s autofocus correction menu and select ‘adjust by lens’ to make your changes.
By then taking further test images you can check whether the adjustments made have corrected the issue you had, and you simply keep going until you’re happy everything is now working as it should be. Repeat the process for all of your key lenses and you’ll have the assurance of knowing that your kit is in optimum order and ready for your next assignment.
It really is as simple as that, and this is the kind of affordable accessory that very rapidly will become an essential part of your pre-shoot preparation.
More information: ■ datacolor.com
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