Photography Tips 6: Review of Autofocus Microadjustment on Canon 5D Mark II

I have worked for years now trying to get perfect tack sharp focus in my images. I have had several big eye opening moments that have incrementally improved my focus.
1.) Don't use continuous autofocus with focus and recompose (this should have been a no-brainer, and it was once I THOUGHT about it).
2.) Don't use really slow shutter speeds when you are handholding a big camera, or at least don't expect sharpness when you do.
3.) Toggling my focus points, which was much easier once I got away from the XT where doing that required me to hit a lot more buttons than it does on my 5DM2
And my most recent one?
4.) It's not always me, sometimes it is the gear. I stumbled on this one when some one posted a link to this article, on a photoboard I visit. Being an engineer the tolerances/calibration argument really struck me as a valid point. I was enchanted to find out for the first time ever I have a camera that can help me with this!

Next step, how do I use this function? Of course I started with reading the manual but I wanted to see how others had done it and their results. A couple of the articles I found that made a good reference:
Camera AF Microadjustment - for free
Jeffrey’s Autofocus Test Chart
Canon 5D Tips:Custom Function: Autofocus Micro Adjustment
Autofocus Microadjustment

I made myself a focus tester by printing out one of the focus test charts, and taping it on a mutilated cardboard box that would keep it always at 45 degrees when placed on a flat surface. I also added a flat focusing chart for testing the sharpness of the focus after the adjustment.

The main lens that I thought would benefit from an autofocus adjustment (and so far the only one I have really adjusted by much) is my 50mm 1.2L. You might remember the focus test I did back when I purchased it. I was marginally happy at the time, at least compared to the refurbished one, but over the past 6+ months of use, I haven't been happy with the sharpness of the images, especially when compared to my other lenses.

I decided my methodology would be to just adjust the numbers until I found a setting that I liked, live with it for a few weeks and readjust as needed. I started with an adjustment of +2, eventually went up to +7 and now I am pretty happy at +8.

All shots below were taken with the 5DM2, 50mm 1.2L at f/1.2, ss 1/200, ISO 400, and yes I did it handheld. When I buy my fancy new tripod at the end of this month I might try it again to see if my results are any different.

100% crops

What are your thoughts? Anyone plan to try this on their lenses?

Having lived with the adjustment on the 50mm for a while now, I am much happier with the lens than I was before the adjustment, but it is still a weaker lens than several of my others, and yet it is my most expensive lens. Not one I would really recommend to others.

1 comment:

Ryan McNeal said...

I have pretty much the same problem, or i think so...

My 50mm 1.8 has a TACK SHARP FOCUS, very impressive than my 24-70mm canon. :'(. I will try a focus test i hope to be a user error instead of a camera/lens. :'(.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...