Why do I need to focus calibrate my Canon / Nikon DSLR camera and lens combination and what is the benefit?
When DSLR cameras and lenses are manufactured they have been set up as accurately as possible but there will always be a variation in the calibration. To correct for this variation your DSLR camera and lens combination needs to be focus calibrated together using the cameras inbuilt Microadjustment / AF-Fine Tune facility and an independent focus calibration tool.
If you shoot wide open with apertures of f2.8 or larger, the depth of field could be down to as little as 2cms. This is where variation during manufacture becomes most apparent. Focusing in a portrait on an eye, the actual part in focus could be the ear or nose; Incredibly frustrating if that moment you photographed is not in focus. In specialisms such as Family, Portrait, Studio, Schools, Lifestyle, Branding, Maternity and Newborn, Headshot, Fashion, Wedding, Dance, Event, Advertising, Editorial, Sport, Equine, Wildlife, Bird, Animal and Pet photography these moments are fleeting and you need to be confident your focus is accurate, reliable and repeatable.
CFSS will focus calibrate all your Canon / Nikon DSLR camera bodies, lenses and independent lenses as well as update firmware and carry out enhanced testing (if specified) all in one session. Thus enabling you to concentrate on other parts of your business whilst your equipment is collected by DPD/DPD Local, calibrated by CFSS and returned to you.
Which Canon & Nikon camera bodies do you support?
What lenses makes do you support?
CFSS can test a variety of different types of lenses from ultra wide-angle primes and zooms through to long telephotos up to 800mm in lengh (Current capabilities). Canon, Nikon, Sigma, Tamron and Tokina, Samyang autofocus lens makes are supported. Unfortunately we are unable to work with manual focus lenses.
Can CFSS focus calibrate Sigma Art Lenses?
Yes we can, by using a combination of FoCal software and Sigma’s Dock system for Firmware updates, CFSS can focus calibrate a range of Sigma Art (A), Contemporary (C) and Sport (S) lenses for Canon and Nikon DSLR camera bodies.
Can you calibrate zoom lenses as well as prime lenses?
Yes we can, most Canon and Nikon DSLR cameras only allow for setting a single AF Microadjustment / AF Fine Tune value to cover the whole range of a zoom lens. The exceptions to this are Canon’s EOS – 1DX / 1DX MKII / 1DX MKIII / 5D MKIII / 5D MKIV / EOS 5DS / EOS 5DS R / 6D / 6D MKII / 7D MKII / 70D and 80D and 90D and Nikon’s D780 cameras which allow you to input a value for both ends of a zoom lens range. e.g. using a 70 – 200mm lens a value is input after calibrating at the 70mm end and another value is inputted after calibration for the 200mm end (Two Values).
With a one value input camera e.g. Nikon’s, we are still able to test both ends of a zoom lens range but are only able to enter one value. So for example if you had a value of +5 at 70mm and +10 at 200mm then any value between 1 and 10 will ultimately improve the focus of your lens at any of its focal lengths rather than its default setting of 0.
But which value do you choose if it’s a one value input camera? Focusing errors will be more pronounced at the longer (Telephoto) end on a zoom lens, this is because of the reduced depth of field (Shooting wide open), it is better to weight the value slightly toward the longer end. So in the above scenario a value of +8 would be chosen from experience, with a great improvement on the 0 starting point.
Can you focus calibrate a Macro lens that is also used as a portrait lens such as the Canon EF 100mm f2.8L Macro IS USM lens?
Yes, we can focus calibrate a prime lens that is used for more than one purpose, but as with any prime lens with Canon and Nikon DSLR cameras only one Microadjustment / Fine Tune value can be set in the camera. CFSS will test the macro end of the lens and the telephoto end of the lens with both values given on the test report. It is the photographer’s responsibility to specify the primary use of the lens- i.e macro or portrait and CFSS would set the corresponding value. Also with the other value known the photographer can change the setting themselves for the other lens usage if required.
Will my camera settings be changed after calibration?
The calibration process changes a number of settings in the DSLR camera while running the tests such as metering, ISO and aperture. Before the start of each test the current camera settings will be stored on a hard drive and then restored to the camera when the tests are finished. Your camera settings will be back as they were before the testing process.
Are the Microadjustment / Fine Tune calibration settings reversible after calibration?
Yes they are, the Microadjustment / Fine Tune settings that have been set in Canon / Nikon DSLR for each camera / lens combination can be re-set at any time and so are fully reversible.
How often should I get my Canon / Nikon DSLR camera / lens combination focus calibrated?
After your first camera / lens calibration session we recommend you re-calibrate every 6-12 months depending on how much usage your equipment has had. Camera and lens parts wear and if used heavily, twice yearly calibration is recommended. Microadjustment or Fine Tune calibration values can be affected by extremes of temperature; re-calibrating closer to the temperature you will be operating in will be of benefit. In areas with large seasonal temperature ranges it is worth calibrating with the summer and winter changes. If your camera or lens combination receives damage due to being dropped or receiving harsh treatment calibration can be used to check the general functionality of the camera and lens. AF calibration cannot identify all possible problems but could show if the camera / lens is behaving normally.
What are the enhanced tests and what are the benefits of them?
The enhanced tests provide an extra level of information not provided in the calibration test:
Aperture Sharpness Test
The aperture sharpness test will determine which aperture gives the sharpest image for each lens tested.This is achieved by taking test shots at each aperture setting on the lens and then analysing the results. This test will also show the difference in quality between the best aperture and wide open aperture.
Autofocus (AF) Consistency Test
The autofocus (AF) consistency test allows you to review the consistency of the camera’s AF system throughout a number of identical defocus/focus test shots. The results will show the repeatability of the cameras AF system for each camera/lens setup,also giving the ideal AF Microadjustment / Fine Tune value to use for each camera/lens combination.
Are the tests reliable?
With a consistent lighting setup in a stable testing environment and years of experience working with FoCal calibration software, test results are accurate and reliable. The tests and enhanced tests can provide you with information on your camera / lens combinations that will help to improve focus and identify the best aperture setting for sharper results.
Do I get any reports back from CFSS which show the test results?
Yes, CFSS provides you with reports that show test results for each camera / lens combination and also enhanced test reports if you had purchased them in addition to your chosen package. All test reports and results are saved and sent to you via a Dropbox/email link.
What are CFSS hours of business?
Camera Focus Support Services is open Monday – Friday 9am – 6pm.
Where is CFSS based and what geographical areas do you cover?
CFSS is based in Cardiff, South Wales and covers the whole of mainland UK with a DPD/DPD Local courier service. Clients are able to deliver and collect their equipment to and from CFSS premises if they would prefer.
What is the turnaround time on DSLR camera / lens focus calibration?
We provide a 3 working day turn around, Scotland plus one day (excluding weekends and bank holiday’s) on booked sessions with the ability to offer add an Express service for a two day turn around. Equipment is collected by DPD/DPD Local a working day before your session booking date and returned to you three days after your booked session date depending on your location, unless the session has Express service added to it.
Sessions booked for a Monday would have equipment collected from you the Friday before the booked session date.
Sessions booked for a Friday would have equipment returned on the following Tuesday, unless an Express service has been added – whereby they would be returned on the Moday.
What is Express Service?
We understand time is money and your photographic equipment is an essential part of that, therefore CFSS provides an add on Express service for busy clients. Equipment would be delivered by the client to CFSS premises by 5pm the day before your session date and then collected by you after 5pm on the booked session date at an extra cost of £99 to the package charge, or returned the day after the session date by courier.
What are the different Packages and what do they contain?
CFSS provides three different package options depending on the size of your DSLR outfit with the option to add extra services:
Supports up to 2 Canon / Nikon DSLR camera bodies and up to 8 lenses, firmware updates are included free of charge (If required) on Sigma supported lenses and up to 2 camera bodies. There are also extra options available to customise the camera bodies for back button focus / continuous focus and add enhanced tests with a courier collection and return service available.
Supports 1 Canon / Nikon DSLR camera body and up to 6 lenses, firmware updates are included free of charge (If required) on Sigma supported lenses and up to 1 camera body with a courier collection and return service available.
Supports 1 Canon / Nikon DSLR camera body and up to 3 lenses, firmware updates are included free of charge (If required) on Sigma supported lenses and up to 1 camera body with a courier collection and return service available.
Can I add extra camera bodies to my package?
Yes you can, you are able to add an extra Canon / Nikon DSLR camera body or bodies to any of the Professional / Basic+ or Basic calibration packages at a charge of £99.00 per extra camera body.
Is CFSS Insured?
Yes, CFSS is fully insured for professional indemnity, public and product liability and photographic equipment worldwide.
How much does it cost and what is included in the cost?
Package prices start from £199.00 for the Basic package which includes the calibration of 1 Canon / Nikon DSLR camera body and up to 3 lenses, firmware updates are also included (If required) on Sigma supported lenses and up to 1 camera body.
Do you accept card payment or do you offer an alternative method of payment?
We accept payment via Paypal. You will need to have a Paypal account set up with a payment card linked to it to enable us to take payment. Or you can pay using a debit or credit card at the Paypal checkout.
What additional items do you require when you collect my equipment?
Along with the Canon / Nikon DSLR camera bodies and lenses we require a fully charged camera battery per camera body, one camera battery charger for each type of camera. Any battery grip attached to the camera body needs to be removed and the original battery chamber cover needs to be re-attached, we are unable to calibrate with a battery grip attached to a camera body. Also any sling fasteners or tripod plates need to be removed from the base of the camera.
How should my equipment be packaged for DPD/DPD Local to collect?
All equipment should be in the safe and secure padded Peli hard case container supplied by CFSS as part of the DPD/Local courier service.
Is there a charge to collect and return my equipment?
Yes, there is a £89 charge which covers the collection and return of your photographic equipment by DPD/DPD Local courier service,this includes equipment insurance up to £45K. The Collection and return service by DPD/DPD Local is only available for Professional+, Professional and Basic packages. You choose at the checkout which collection & delivering method you require, either DPD/DPD Local collects and delivers at a cost of £89 or the Client delivers and collects to and from CFSS premisis.
Can I deliver and pick up my equipment from CFSS myself?
Yes you can, but we would require the photographic equipment to be delivered to CFSS the day before your booked session and collection on the day after the session date unless you have added the Express service – then it would be ready for collection after 5pm on the session date. For a Monday booked session we would require the equipment to be delivered on the Friday before the session. You choose at the checkout which collection & delivering method you require, either DPD/DPD Local collects and delivers at a cost of £89 or the client delivers and collects to and from CFSS premisis.
What is back button focus and what does it do?
When you press the shutter button half way down on a DSLR camera the metering activates along with the cameras autofocus system. When you press the shutter button a further halfway the picture is taken. Back button autofocus will take the focus function away from the shutter button and assigns it to another button on the back of the camera. The new back button (AF) will then activate the autofocus system independently of the shutter button which activates metering and fires the shutter to take the picture.
With back button focus you can set focus and it will stay set until you decide to change it. For Family, Portrait, Studio, Schools, Lifestyle, Branding, Maternity and Newborn, Headshot, Fashion, Wedding, Event, Advertising, Editorial, Sport, Equine, Wildlife, Bird, Animal and Pet photographers you can fire the shutter as many times as you want with the subject in focus as long as it hasn’t moved.You won’t miss that unrepeatable split second ‘moment’ due to the camera re-focusing.
What is AI Servo / AF - Continuous?
The Three main types of autofocus on a Canon camera are One shot, AI Focus and AI Servo with AF-Single (AF-S) and AF-Continuous (AF-C) on a Nikon.
One shot meaning that when you press the shutter button half way or press your assigned back button focus button, your focus will be set once on the subject you are aiming at. If you have a moving subject or you move you will have to refocus. So this method of focusing is inadequate for a moving subject e.g. Sports, Children, Wildlife, Wedding couple coming down the aisle.
Another way of focusing called AI -Servo (Canon) or AF-Continuous (Nikon) can be used instead. This focusing method actually tracks focusing on moving subjects. With a fast moving subject coming straight at you, using one or more focus points kept on the subject in AI Servo / AF-Continuous mode and a fast shutter speed a high percentage shots will be sharply in focus.
AI Servo / AF-Continuous when combined with back button focus can significantly increase the amount of usable images in focus and also help to reduce post production time spent trying to salvaging out of focus images.
Are the back button focus and AI Servo / AF - Continuous customisation settings reversible?
Yes they are, back button focus and AI Servo / AF-Continuous settings can be returned to their original state. If after trying back button focus / back button focus & AI Servo / AF-Continuous for a two week you find that you preferred the original shutter button focus method, CFSS will put the camera back to its original state at no extra charge.
What are Firmware updates and can they be reversed?
Firmware updates are software updates for your camera or Sigma Art lenses that generally contain fixes or feature enhancements to improve its operation. Once firmware is updated it cannot be returned to an earlier firmware version. As part of the Professional, Basic+ and Basic packages, firmware updates will be carried out on supplied cameras and Sigma supported lenses if necessary free of charge with every package (recommended).
Does CFSS clean camera sensors?
Camera Focus Support Services does not clean camera sensors although we advise all clients to have there camera sensors cleaned after focus calibration and before there next photographic shoot. We take the utmost care of photographic equipment during calibration and have strict quality control systems in place. Camera body caps are always on camera bodies when a lens is not in place as well as adopting a lens off lens on policy in a controlled environment, however a cameras internal sensor cleaning system will dislodge dust particles that can be attracted to a sensor and this will collect inside the camera overtime. During transit this dust can also be dislodged and collect on the sensor to be seen as marks or spots and should therefore be cleaned off as soon as possible.