Steps to Calibrate Your Lens (for PERFECT Focus)

Lens Calibration

How to Calibrate Your Lens

Getting the perfect focus is one of the most-asked about questions in our Facebook group.  It can be frustrating when you feel like you are trying everything you can and your photos still are NOT coming out sharp in-camera

If you have followed the advice of fellow photographers, watched our videos on getting it right in camera, yet still find yourself struggling, RELAX it may be your lens!

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Does Your Lens Need to be Calibrated?

Do you find that when you use one lens, you nail focus more often than with another one of your lenses? 

Are you choosing the correct focal point such as the eye, but find that the nose or ear are more in focus when you look at your image during post processing?

If so, you are not alone!  I recently found myself with this exact same issue and it was a very disheartening place to be! 

A few years ago, I received a new lens for Christmas and could not wait to pop it on and try it out.  Right away, I found myself hugely disappointed - my photos were a mess! 

I instantly knew there had to be a problem with my new lens because I have 4 other lenses that this did not happen with.  But, if it had been one of my FIRST lenses I probably would have mistakenly blamed myself!

Just like a computer monitor needs to be calibrated for perfect, precise color matching, your lens also may need to be calibrated and fine tuned for your camera!

How to calibrate a lens

How to Calibrate a Lens

I hopped straight on Amazon and ordered a Spyder Lenscal lens calibration tool because I know they make quality calibration products for photographers.  Although I didnt enjoy paying an extra $65+ to calibrate my lens, I figured my $900 lens would be a bigger waste if it just sat there unused.

As soon as I received my Lenscal, I went straight to work:

First, I popped the Lenscal out of the package and set it on a table

Next, I put my camera a few feet away (see tips below) on the exact same level as the Lenscal and took 3 test shots aimed straight at the center of the target.  The ruler running up the side of the Lenscl target will show you if your camera is "front focusing" or "back focusing".  I found that my lens was front focusing (which was causing the 4 on the target to be in perfect focus instead of the "0" in the center.  This was NOT what I wanted!

So, how did I fix this?  I will tell you it was WAY easier than I thought!

I went into my Camera's Menu > Setup Menu > AF-Fine Tune (note: your menus may differ - so make sure to consult your owner's manual) and adjusted the slider there.  The slider will look similar to a ruler or a slider in Lightroom. 

My autofocus slider needed to be adjusted to +10 to get my lens to focus perfectly on the center "0".  To figure out the exact adjustment needed, I had to move the slider a few degrees, take 3 more test shots, and then adjust again until the focus was right.

Camera Lens Calibration

Additonal Tips to Successfully Calibrate Your Lens

  • Take your test photos in GOOD light.  Your camera needs to be able to focus easily on its target.  Use light from a window or go out on your porch in the shade.
  • Use a tripod.  You need to make sure you camera is steady and precise so all the test shots are the same.
  • Make sure your camera and the target are at the same height.
  • Get close enough that the target can be easily seen in your viewfinder.  For my 35mm lens, I was about 2.5 feet from the target.  For my 85mm lens, I was about 4 feet from the target.
  • Most importantly, don't just say "no, it's too confusing", or "I can't do it".  YES YOU CAN.  I just did it and I'm "just a girl", "just a momtographer", "just a lady who likes to take photos".  So get your camera, your lens and take charge!

Here are two test photos that I took while calibrating my lens.  The first image  was before I calibrated my lens.  You can see where it was incorrectly focusing - about 4 steps below "0" on the target.

Canon Lens Calibration

And this next image was taken after calibration.  Its now focusing directly on the "0" - PERFECT!

How to Calibrate a Lens to Your Camera

Conclusion

If you feel like YOU are not the cause of your photos being out of focus, you might be right!  Check your lens with a calibration tool -  it may just save you hours and days of frustration!

The fix is simple, quick and worth the time to get your photos perfectly sharp straight out of the camera.

Do you have any questions or comments about How to Calibrate Your Lens?  Just leave us a comment below - we would LOVE to hear from you!  And PLEASE SHARE this post using the social sharing buttons (we really appreciate it)!

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