I was too busy this week to do a proper self-portrait but I did shoot a few. I shot a maternity shot, however after some thinking, I decided it was a bit too revealing to post here. So I only had a few arm’s length left from when I was trying out my new reflector.
But…. I do have something super exciting to tell you today, in addition to the usual Selfie Saturdays.
I FINALLY CALIBRATED MY LENS’ AUTOFOCUS!!!
If you don’t know how HUGE this is, then you really gotta read up below! If you have already done the calibration yourself, then I bow to you, because it took me a year or so to get off my butt and do it, even though I was sick and tired of softly focused photos.
So first, selfies for this week:
Now onto the fun and useful stuff!
Tell me if this sounds familiar:
For years, I’ve been photographing and been somewhat disappointed with the quality of about 80% of the photos. My photos were almost always soft-looking. Yes after some sharpening in Photoshop and resizing, noone would really call them out of focus, but SOOC I never felt like my focus was always spot on.
It was even worse when my husband took photos- 90% of his were out of focus and 10% had soft focus.
At first I thought it was the camera ( Rebel at the time), and yes after switching to 5D, the quality did improve but the focus was still softer than I liked. Then I assumed it was because of the lenses I was using: my favorite 50mm isn’t exactly expensive or the best quality lens, even though it produces superb images.
After the most recent shoot, I started getting mad. I mean, you pay $3000 for the camera body, you buy what should be decent lenses, and how come some photographers’ shots are just that much sharper. I can’t blame it on experience because I’ve been photographing for with a DSLR for 5 years and I know how to focus properly, damn it!
So I don’t know what exactly brought me to it, but I found out that SOME LENSES HAVE TO BE CALIBRATED TO THE CAMERA IN ORDER TO HAVE THE PERFECT AUTOFOCUS!
As in, lenses out of the box will rarely perform to their full potential. Most of them focus on the front or the back, but rarely on the item you actually want them to focus.
That made sense to me: my 50mm gave us consistently soft focus. And I literally had to FIGHT to get super sharp focus. My other lens did a bit better, but I still wasn’t happy with it.
So I quickly found the appropriate setting in my camera’s menu- most DSLRs have it ( MENU -> AUTOFOCUS CALIBRATION or AUTOFOCUS TUNE UP ( that’s what most cameras call it) and then Calibrate by lens). Then it lets you adjust the autofocus from -20 (forward focus) all the way to +20 (backward focus).
I found a few tutorials on what technique to use to find the right focus, most of which had to do with positioning the camera at a 45 degree angle to some sort of ruler and adjusting it from there.
I tried and tried and tried it. I used rulers, printed out thermometer images, specific calibration charts – nothing seemed to give me consistent results. So I decided to simply experiment on what I shoot most- a person. I sat my husband in front of the white wall and told him to sit still. The I proceeded to take pictures of him focusing on the eye and changing the calibration by 1 point each time. Even looking at the results in the viewfinder, one could tell that at 0 (the natural setting) the focus was always on the nose ( not on the eye like the focus point showed me). It didn’t matter how many times the red spot blinked over his eye, the focus was almost always on the nose, and when it was on the eye, it wasn’t incredibly sharp. At +8 things started improving and at +10 (which where I stopped), I was shocked to see that the eye was finally sharper than I ever remember any photograph being.
I tried shooting moving objects – it was still perfect. It focused exactly where I intended it to focus.
So apparently my 50mm’s autofocus was too far forward, so regardless of where I think I am focusing, it would always focus just a bit up front (the nose).
I handed the camera over to hubby to test it out since we’ve always thought he’s just really bad at focusing. He took six shots. EVERY SINGLE PHOTO IN FOCUS! It was a miracle! I couldn’t believe it!
I decided to fine tune it further and arrived at +11 or +12 as the sweet spot.
Here’s a visual for you guys:
In these images I was focusing on the SAME spot each time – the front ball. The little red “focus dot” peeped and blinked in the same spot on every single shot. And yet look at how different the results are.
At -10, the focus was on the rim of the bowl
At +10, it was on the front ball but a bit too soft
At +11, it was crystal clear and sharp- THE PERFECT SPOT
At +15, i went a bit too far ( the focus is now shifting backwards towards the 2nd ball)
I cannot tell you how incredibly excited and relieved I am that my photos are now properly focused. The few shots I took since then are a joy to work on! I cannot wait to do a few actual shoots and enjoy the results!
I gotta tell you, if you’re seeing even a bit of a soft focus, take the time to deal with it. It’ll save you hours of frustration and wasted effort. Don’t wait years like I did.
NOW LINK UP
26 comments on “Selfie Saturday 34 and Autofocus Calibration”
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