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Author Topic: AF microadjustment - SpyderLensCal  (Read 28227 times)

keith_cooper

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AF microadjustment - SpyderLensCal
« on: September 02, 2010, 04:01:06 am »

datacolor have announced their answer to the Lensalign - the SpyderLensCal http://www.northlight-images.co.uk/stuff/?p=580

Seems considerably cheaper too... :-)

I currently use the (free) moire fringe technique to set the AF adjust for my lenses
http://www.northlight-images.co.uk/article_pages/cameras/1ds3_af_micoadjustment.html (other techniques listed too)

I should get a look at the SpyderLensCal soon and see whether my long time scepticism about such devices is misplaced.  ;-)


« Last Edit: September 02, 2010, 04:49:01 am by keith_cooper »
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Josh-H

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Re: AF microadjustment - SpyderLensCal
« Reply #1 on: September 02, 2010, 04:38:53 am »

+1 here for the Moire adjustment method - which so far I have found far more accurate than these over priced devices. In the interests of keeping an open mind I an quite Interested to see how you get on with testing it.
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Bart_van_der_Wolf

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Re: AF microadjustment - SpyderLensCal
« Reply #2 on: September 02, 2010, 05:43:36 am »

datacolor have announced their answer to the Lensalign - the SpyderLensCal http://www.northlight-images.co.uk/stuff/?p=580

Seems considerably cheaper too... :-)

But also less well thought out!

True, the LensAlign is expensive for occasional use, but people probably don't realise that it did cost a lot of money to develop and it cost's a lot to produce and assemble. The datacolor clone (I wonder if they'll get into copyright trouble for such a similar looking replica) tries to assure parallel positioning of sensor and focus plane with a simple bulls-eye bubble level and requires the camera to be leveled as well, which is a much less accurate way of assuring plan-parallel alignment (a big variable if one wants absolute repeatability and accuracy). The ruler is also of much simpler design, which means it won't be useful at longer distances, and I don't know it it can be mounted at different angles which is very useful for lenses with e.g. f/4.0 widest aperture, or for figuring out depth of field (e.g. for focus stacking). The datacolor unit will have it's use, but looks less versatile than the original LensAlign.

Quote
I currently use the (free) moire fringe technique to set the AF adjust for my lenses
http://www.northlight-images.co.uk/article_pages/cameras/1ds3_af_micoadjustment.html (other techniques listed too)

As the inventor of the technique, who am I to criticize the moiré technique  ;D

Quote
I should get a look at the SpyderLensCal soon and see whether my long time scepticism about such devices is misplaced.  ;-)

I think you'll find, as I did, that they complement each other.

The moiré technique depends on Live View and reasonably sharp lenses, preferably with wide apertures (if that doesn't include much more aberrations), used at a distance that will produce clearly visible moiré. With less favorable conditions it may be hard to get obvious moiré patterns. It is also difficult to calibrate lenses at long distances, unless one has a large studio or a large screen laptop in the field. Also, the user must still figure out in which direction to adjust. On the plus side, the accuracy of optical moiré is unsurpassed.

The LensAlign/angled ruler technique gives not only focus plane, but also depth of field feedback at the same time. that means that it is easy to figure out the direction of the adjustment needed, and how accurate the focus can be positioned, given the DOF. It also shows how variable the focus is due to e.g. hysteresis.

Cheers,
Bart
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keith_cooper

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Re: AF microadjustment - SpyderLensCal
« Reply #3 on: September 02, 2010, 06:36:44 am »

I take my hat off to the inventor of this very useful (and free) method :-)

When I look at the Lensalign I just keep thinking of the gizmos you see at kitchen shows or advertised on late night cable 'infomercials'.

That said, there is always a solid core of people interested in photography who will look to gadgets before technique, so I can't criticise it from a business POV...

Having both wide aperture (all f/2.8 ) lenses and big screens/laptops I can see that I might not have pushed some areas of the fringe technique. There is no difficulty that I've found in working out the adjustment needed (unless you count the need to think about what you are doing and the lack of fancy looking hardware ;) )  Guess I'll have to borrow some 'cheap' lenses to test the SpyderLensCal ;-)
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deejjjaaaa

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Re: AF microadjustment - SpyderLensCal
« Reply #4 on: September 02, 2010, 10:09:24 am »

I currently use the (free) moire fringe technique to set the AF adjust for my lenses

and I simply have properly aligned MF screen (w/ split prism) installed - so I can tune the AF based on how I see the image is being split after focusing using AF in the field w/o any special target - it is clear where AF makes a BF or FF error... certainly it works only for a central point and w/ wide angle lenses it is not that ideal
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Michael Tapes

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Re: AF microadjustment - SpyderLensCal
« Reply #5 on: September 03, 2010, 09:38:34 am »

When I look at the Lensalign I just keep thinking of the gizmos you see at kitchen shows or advertised on late night cable 'infomercials'.

Hi Keith,

I am the creator of LensAlign. I have always thought that your less than kind references to LensAlign were unfair. You are certainly entitled to like it or not, but the question is have you used one, or even seen one. The look and feel in person is quite different than a web JPEG. But yes, it is not a mass produced product stamped out in a foreign country, so it has some "rough edges" on it (pun intended).

Regarding price...simply costs a lot to build. $15+  in die costs alone, and a lot of hand labor and each one is precision tested on a Laser based test bench to assure the accuracy of the sighting system. (I laugh when people in the forums say that there are $5 worth of parts in LensAlign. The packing material alone is about $5. Ever try to purchase a custom made precision stainless steel ruler?)

I agree that Bart's Moire system is very clever, and told Bart so when he created it and then proceeded to get his input on LensAlign, as I did with many photographers, Pros, inventors, etc.

Back to the DataColor unit. As Bart said, appears to have no ability to ensure that the image plane is parallel to the focus target. You cannot do that with levels. Even if the camera and test unit are both level that is no indication that the target and sensor are parallel. The ruler appears to be small, and they demo the devise without regard to proper distance between camera and test device. The pop up mechanism appears to be very slick, but it remains to be seen whether it provides the proper precision (it very well may).

I will not make any comments on potential patent infringements (except this one). :>)

There are many ways to adjust the AF adjust on the cameras. Some are just not right (flat charts), and others (DIY) are technically good but beyond the means of many people to build or assemble them properly, not to mention that most pro photographers barely have the time to adjust the AF, let alone set up a jig that is non-repeatable or lacks in precision.

I would guess that the DataColor will meet many peoples needs, but it appears to lack much of what is needed for many other people. As long as DataColor plays fair, I welcome them into the marketplace. I DO resent them saying in their promotional material that before their product there was no way to correct back/front other than sending the camera/lens back to the mfg. That is simply a lie for so many reasons. If they cheat like that, then I have no respect for them.

And BTW, the timing is interesting as we will be introducing a new lower cost version of LensAlign shortly to replace our previous LITE version.

Thanks for letting me comment within this discussion. I tried to be factual, but if my marketing hat slipped on in a few places, I will be happy to remove the post if the moderator suggests it.

Michael Tapes
Creator: LensAlign, WhiBal
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keith_cooper

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Re: AF microadjustment - SpyderLensCal
« Reply #6 on: September 03, 2010, 10:52:49 am »

I don't have any issue with people selling precision gizmos to other people - well done for finding this particular market.

My issue would be more likely with how many people -really need- such a device - not so many I as I think might believe they need it. My thoughts about kitchen shows do not reflect the quality of the items on offer, more the kind of market they are aimed at.

As to 'other' products being 'foreign', I should perhaps point out that if it's made in the US then it's as foreign to me  (in the UK) as if it were made in the Far East (where my cameras come from).
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Geoff Wittig

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Re: AF microadjustment - SpyderLensCal
« Reply #7 on: September 03, 2010, 01:09:53 pm »

I am the creator of LensAlign.

Thanks for letting me comment within this discussion. I tried to be factual, but if my marketing hat slipped on in a few places, I will be happy to remove the post if the moderator suggests it.

Michael Tapes
Creator: LensAlign, WhiBal

All things considered, your post is a model of polite, restrained understatement. I'd probably be thinking much more colorful unkind thoughts toward Datacolor if I were in your shoes.
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CDTobie

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Re: AF microadjustment - SpyderLensCal
« Reply #8 on: September 03, 2010, 02:54:34 pm »

All things considered, your post is a model of polite, restrained understatement. I'd probably be thinking much more colorful unkind thoughts toward Datacolor if I were in your shoes.

Michael has been very polite to us on all counts. I recall him watching a demo of SpyderCube when it was first announced, and looking quite crestfallen as the features were described. However, by the time I had gotten free from the booth, and caught up with him in the aisle, he had composed himself and congratulated me on an innovative product, one that would give WhiBal a run for its money. As you say, I'm not sure I could have managed that, if the situation was reversed.

Datacolor is in the position to invest in industrial design and tooling costs to create production process versions of items, but has to sell them in larger quantities to justify this process. This means lower prices and larger audiences, with a focus on a more general market. As long as there are still feature distinctions, there should be a place in the market for both types of products. The consumer should benefit from the choice.

C. David Tobie
Global Product Technology Manager
Digital Imaging & Home Theater
Datacolor
CDTobie@datacolor.com
www.datacolor.com/Spyder3
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Michael Tapes

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Re: AF microadjustment - SpyderLensCal
« Reply #9 on: September 03, 2010, 06:28:06 pm »

David,

With all due respect...

From your marketing materials...

“…then you know that the only professional solution is to send the camera body and lens to the manufacturer to have them calibrated together.

But now, you can do it on your own with Spyder LensCal!”

I guess DataColor was unaware that LensAlign has been in the market for almost 2 years.

While the concept of a parallel focus target with slanted ruler/scale were well known, based on the emails I am receiving today, one might say that DataColor basically copied the basic structure of LensAlign.  One might also wonder if a company with the ability "to invest in industrial design and tooling costs to create production process versions of items.." could do better than that. Oh well..

Have a nice weekend,

Michael Tapes






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digitaldog

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Re: AF microadjustment - SpyderLensCal
« Reply #10 on: September 03, 2010, 06:57:22 pm »

From your marketing materials...

“…then you know that the only professional solution is to send the camera body and lens to the manufacturer to have them calibrated together.

I saw that mentioned in their video and yes, its utter BS! Lets hope this first rev of their product fairs better than the number of Rev1 items (Spyder comes to mind, MC7, don’t get me started) that didn’t deliver on the promises. FWIW, I have had and used Michaels product since month it shipped. Its extremely well built and he deserves to be recognized as the originator of the product, despite the marketing hype from that other company.
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digitaldog

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Re: AF microadjustment - SpyderLensCal
« Reply #11 on: September 03, 2010, 06:59:26 pm »

As long as there are still feature distinctions, there should be a place in the market for both types of products.

And the feature distinctions of the DataColor product would be what?
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CDTobie

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Re: AF microadjustment - SpyderLensCal
« Reply #12 on: September 03, 2010, 09:13:33 pm »

>>I guess DataColor was unaware that LensAlign has been in the market for almost 2 years.

You did say Marketing Materials. Let's just say our marketing team are not all aware of it. Oversimplified marketing is a fact of life. Those who have heard of LensAlign and other solutions will take this with a grain of salt. Those who have not are new to the field anyways.

>>While the concept of a parallel focus target with slanted ruler/scale were well known, based on the emails I am receiving today, one might say that DataColor basically copied the basic structure of LensAlign.  One might also wonder if a company with the ability "to invest in industrial design and tooling costs to create production process versions of items.." could do better than that.

One could also say that both companies chose a pre-existing concept appropriate to the task at hand. Our design is actually licensed from a source in Europe.
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CDTobie

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Re: AF microadjustment - SpyderLensCal
« Reply #13 on: September 03, 2010, 09:19:32 pm »

I'll just say I enjoyed this discussion, and check out while it's still pleasant. Thanks!
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Bart_van_der_Wolf

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Re: AF microadjustment - SpyderLensCal
« Reply #14 on: September 04, 2010, 08:06:22 am »

I'll just say I enjoyed this discussion, and check out while it's still pleasant. Thanks!

Too bad, now we still don't know the feature distinctions. A missed opportunity?

Cheers,
Bart
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Mike Arst

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Re: AF microadjustment - SpyderLensCal
« Reply #15 on: September 04, 2010, 04:50:34 pm »

Quote
Too bad, now we still don't know the feature distinctions.

I won't miss hearing from them again, despite -- O, cruel Fate -- the tragic omission of the Feature Distinctions.

The excuse about the marketing strikes me as absurd. One role of a company's marketing department is to understand the market -- the competition included. Another is to devise marketing strategies that, among other things, do not include claims that might put the company in a bad light. Dismissing the "oversimplified marketing" as some mere marketing-department Oops, our bad! oversight strikes me as lame at best. Considering the similarity of the products' appearance, it's beyond my belief that everyone in a position to approve the marketing strategy would have been ignorant of LensAlign's existence. (As for the "oversimplified marketing" remark -- love the spin. Did he truly believe that people reading his remarks would be dumb enough to fall for such a ploy?)

I have no quarrel with competition, which can benefit all concerned. Fishy-smelling claims in the service of competition are another matter. Then there were the guy's somewhat personal remarks, masquerading as merely cordial or casual, with their insincere-sounding praise and their "subtle" hawking of the other product. Obnoxious. The fellow having departed while the conversation is "still pleasant" (another Great Moment In The Annals of Spin), they won't likely see this response. No matter. If I buy a focus-adjustment tool it will be a LensAlign model. If "oversimplified marketing is a fact of life," so is viewing disingenuous behavior with a jaundiced eye -- likewise, voting with one's wallet.
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digitaldog

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Re: AF microadjustment - SpyderLensCal
« Reply #16 on: September 04, 2010, 04:56:16 pm »

Too bad, now we still don't know the feature distinctions. A missed opportunity?

If the opportunity exists, something that I suspect isn’t the case.
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KevinA

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Re: AF microadjustment - SpyderLensCal
« Reply #17 on: September 05, 2010, 06:24:50 am »

Is this microadjust thing just a big con for not making the thing right in the first place. I mean I microadjusted everything for my 1DsmkIII's. I have also just bought for a specific task a 550D, I was concerned it does not have microadjust, thinking it was essential with digital. Truth is it's as sharp and more consistent with the focus than the 1Ds, my 1Ds mkIII is now my back-up for the cheapo 550D. Even the 17-40 mm on the 550D looks half decent, my 70 -200 is sharp across the range, on the 1Ds it often missed focus at the 70 mm end.
If the lens and body are made well enough why would we have to microadjust anything? After buying a 550D I feel even more conned about the Ds's, sure I got weather sealing etc, but I have jumped through hoops to get basics like sharp pictures with microadjusts and trips back to Canon. I buy a throw away priced camera and it works out of the box.

Kevin.
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martinreed22

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Re: AF microadjustment - SpyderLensCal
« Reply #18 on: September 05, 2010, 07:14:37 am »

I can recommend the following article about photographic equipment and tolerances:

http://www.lensrentals.com/news/2010.03.06/this-lens-is-soft-and-other-facts

I have no connection with Lensrentals but do have a solid engineering background :)

Regards, Martin
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Bart_van_der_Wolf

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Re: AF microadjustment - SpyderLensCal
« Reply #19 on: September 05, 2010, 07:28:25 am »

Is this microadjust thing just a big con for not making the thing right in the first place.

Hi Kevin,

Sure, manufacturing tolerances are involved, and cost is therefore affected. Whether that translates into reduced end-user price, or manufacturers margin, or both, has to do with quantities. However, mechanical tolerances are a fact of life, and there is software/firmware to calibrate and compensate. Part of the intelligence is in the lens, part is in the camera. These need to be tuned to eachother, otherwise the individual deviations from average may add to double the deviation, or it may cancel out, or anything in between.

Now even if the mechanical tolerances happen to cancel out, the firmware may introduce a mismatch. With AFMA we now have a means to adjust for some of that, without a need to send stuff in for servicing. Occasionally things are perfectly tuned right from the start without the need for intervention, such is the nature of statistics.

Cheers,
Bart
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