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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great tool for those that want tack sharp focus from their lenses
I should have looked at the overall dimensions when I made the purchase. For some reason, I thought it would be bigger. When "assembled", the SpyderLensCAL SLC100 is nearly 6" square. Folded flat, it is approximately 8.5" x 5", easy enough to fit inside a camera bag if necessary. It is a nice piece of gear for calibrating lenses though, far better...
Published 7 months ago by Terry L. White

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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars It Works, But Do You Really Need It?
There is this little voice in the back of my head that kept asking, is my camera achieving precise autofocus? I don't have to wonder any more, the answer is yes; and well I don't need this device any more. The good news / bad news, after spending a morning messing around with setting this up, taking pictures and evaluating focus points; both of my lenses focus perfectly -...
Published 5 months ago by Daniel G. Lebryk


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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars It Works, But Do You Really Need It?, January 22, 2014
This review is from: Datacolor SpyderLensCal SLC100 (Electronics)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
There is this little voice in the back of my head that kept asking, is my camera achieving precise autofocus? I don't have to wonder any more, the answer is yes; and well I don't need this device any more. The good news / bad news, after spending a morning messing around with setting this up, taking pictures and evaluating focus points; both of my lenses focus perfectly - no adjustment was necessary. The biggest culprit to missed autofocus is not that the autofocus system is not calibrated, but the camera choosing the correct autofocus point.

Until I used the SpyderLensCal, I would have never been satisfied that my camera was focusing correctly. I had absolutely no reason in the world to believe there was something wrong, just this doubt in my mind. When I discovered that my camera has the micro focus adjustment capability, I wanted to test my lenses. Now that I've done the test, well I feel kind of silly.

Here are the cameras that have micro focus adjustment (March, 2014 update, as listed by DataColor at the time of this review - see comments, there are more sony cameras than listed here)
Canon (50D, 7D, 5DMkII, 5DMkIII,1DMkIII, 1DMkIV, 1DsMkIII, 1Dx, 1Dc)
Nikon (D7000, D300, D300s, D700, D800, D800E, D3, D3s, D3x, D4)
Sony (A850, A900, A77)
Olympus (E-30, E-620, E-5)
Pentax (K-20D, K-30, K-5, K-7D, K-2000/K-m, K200D, 645D, K-x)
The caveat with this adjustment is, if you are using a kit lens, don't bother with this target. The depth of field on a kit lens at f 3.5, 4, or 5.6 is so great - even at 200mm, you will never ever see a need to adjust the focus plane. This target is really only useful for f2.8 and above lenses. And frankly, it is only useful for 70mm and longer. I suppose it could be useful for macro lenses, except that the tolerances at incredibly close focus distances are so critical, I'm not sure you can align the target and your camera correctly to reliably do this test.

The procedure is simple but painful. Essentially you set up the target parallel to your film plane, with the camera exactly centered in front of the target. You need to be about 50 times the focal length away from the target (so with a 200mm lens, that means about 10 meters, or 30 feet). The camera has to be on a tripod and the target on something very stable - a table or another tripod. The target needs to be lit fairly brightly - a flashlight will do the job (color balance and even lighting is irrelevant). Set the camera to ISO 200 (you want a sharp grain free image) and the largest / finest Jpeg image you can dial in (yes you can mess around with Raw if you like, but you already knew that - and it doesn't really improve the test other than to add an extra step at the computer). Set the camera to aperture preferred and set the lens to the widest aperture. Now comes the critical piece - you need to set your camera autofocus to a single center spot and use pinpoint if your camera has that setting (some cameras can use a wider or narrower square for focusing). If you allow the camera to choose the focus point, it will focus on the front edge of the target and it will look like your lens is way off. There is one positive thing I learned about my camera, even though it lit up with the focus point on the center of the target, it actually focused on the front edge of the target. Put the center focus spot exactly on the tiny square target next to the 0. Now move the focus to infinity, press autofocus, and take a picture.

Now comes the painful part. On the camera LCD you can vaguely check your work. Because the target image will be fairly small, you'll have to blow up the playback to maximum size. At this point, basically check to see if you can read the numbers and lines clearly (you didn't get camera shake and the exposure was somewhere near right). If all looks good, repeat the image two or three more times (each time rack the lens to infinity focus). With those three or four images, now go to your computer and look at the image. You will have to blow the image way up to see the lines. You are looking for the one line that is the sharpest. If the 0 line isn't the sharpest line, then you need to do the micro focus adjustment on your camera. I would suggest changing it a lot at first so you can see the difference (this is a bit like when you make adjustments with Photoshop, first go big to see the effect, then go back and tweak it to the subtle change you really need). After making the adjustment, take more pictures.

Now you probably see why a really solid tripod is critical (you are going to do a lot of removing and inserting your memory card), and why it is critical to set the target on something solid.

In the end, if you find out your lens was focusing one direction or the other by a half an inch or an inch - well that's good news; you made the adjustment and now can rely on autofocus in those critical situations. If on the other hand you find out everything was just right, well this was a futile exercise. Remember, this test doesn't tell you anything about the quality of your lens, it only tells you if your lens can autofocus accurately.

Some tricks I learned while setting this up. Don't over think the set up. If the target is a little bit crooked, it isn't going to make a lot of difference (the 0 line and the focus target are right next to each other, you'd have to be a long ways off crooked for that to matter. Make sure you get your tripod perfectly level - the bubble in the exact center of the bubble level. Match the camera and target height as best you can. Ultimately I switched to Manual on my camera and bracketed the exposure several stops. I was using a flashlight to light the target and the target image size was so small, the evaluative exposure was way off. Don't mess around with lenses less than f2.8, this isn't worth it.

When I consider the cost of my equipment (a Canon 7D, with 70-200mm f2.8 II and 24-70mm f2.8 lenses) and the cost of my time missing focus, this device isn't terribly expensive. Now that I've found out my camera focuses correctly, well this is a waste of money. I'm not sure I'll ever use it again.

I find it very difficult to figure out who would really benefit from this device. In some roundabout way, a professional might find it useful if they have three or four bodies, and several f2.8 lenses. Unfortunately for Datacolor, those people already belong to the professional camera services of their brand of camera and the manufacturer does this adjustment for them (Canon has this service for gold and above Canon Professional Service members). A cleaning and calibration provides exactly this service.

There are ways to build this device yourself for virtually no money. They aren't terribly hard to do if you are a little bit handy. After I've used this commercial device, I'm not sure I would be happy if I'd spent a day building one myself. I really think this is a solution looking for a problem.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great tool for those that want tack sharp focus from their lenses, November 17, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Datacolor SpyderLensCal SLC100 (Electronics)
I should have looked at the overall dimensions when I made the purchase. For some reason, I thought it would be bigger. When "assembled", the SpyderLensCAL SLC100 is nearly 6" square. Folded flat, it is approximately 8.5" x 5", easy enough to fit inside a camera bag if necessary. It is a nice piece of gear for calibrating lenses though, far better than my "MacGuyver'ed" attempts at one. I purchased it to calibrate my Canon EF 50mm F/1.2L since some of my images just seemed softer than I was expecting.

It's made of a sturdy plastic that folds down flat for easy storage. The focusing surfaces of the device are covered in matte finish plastic stickers. On my copy, the vertical plane sticker was slightly askew, but I didn't feel that it would affect focusing accuracy.

Overall, a great tool, but I deducted one star for price.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Does a good job., August 13, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Datacolor SpyderLensCal SLC100 (Electronics)
I knew my lenses were not focusing correctly and I tried the manual approach of printing out focus test charts from the web and trying to do the 45degree angle thing with a tripod, it didn't work as well. This takes all the hassle of the manual process and makes the calibration easier to accomplish.

I'd agree with a lot of the reviewers that this is an overpriced piece of kit for the what you get but I think in the long run it will pay for itself. The parts are a bit flimsy and the ruler arm needs to sit right with the notch holding up the vertical part. The bubble level helps keep things square and the metal threaded hole makes it easy to mount this on a light stand or small tripod.

Every lens I owned needed a bit of adjustment. It was easier using this tool for lenses with lower F-Stops (i.e. 1.4 and 2.8.) where the short in-focus range is more pronounced wide open. You'll need to calibrate twice for zoom lenses; once for the wide and then for the tele end of the focal range. My Canon 24-105 and 16-35 had micro-adjustment settings for both ends of the focal length.

I noticed that it was harder deciding which lines around the zero mark on the ruler were in focus for the higher F-Stop lenses. In reality it may not make a difference since the subject would have also been in focus.

Dropped a star due to the cost.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars SpyderLensCal simplicity, April 6, 2014
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This review is from: Datacolor SpyderLensCal SLC100 (Electronics)
Assembled easily and functioned as advertised, easy to use and interesting enough all three of my lenses required some minor adjustment.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Easy to setup and use, February 17, 2014
This review is from: Datacolor SpyderLensCal SLC100 (Electronics)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
In a nutshell: this calibrator was easy to setup, and the whole process took about 20 minutes from start to finish.

Who is it for?
First, the camera being calibrated must have Auto Focus Micro Adjustment capability.
Second, the lens' Depth Of Field is shallow (f/2.8 or less) which exacerbates focus errors.

The process is relatively straightforward: you set your lens to its max aperture; setup this calibrator and the camera such that both are level, and that the lens is aimed squarely at the center of this chart; use a distance that is about 25x the focal length between the two; and fire some test shots at different AFMA settings until the focus is cleanly on the 0 point of the ruler.

A few tips:

1] use a tethered setup with Adobe LR. The magnifier tool on the camera while workable, was much harder for me.

2] For zoom lenses, this is complicated by the fact that most cameras only support a single AFMA setting per lens. So, calibrate the focal length that you use most often.

3] Using B&W photos rather than color made it easier to detect edges

Happy photography!
~A_E~
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It works best for me in bright daylight (UPDATED), January 22, 2014
This review is from: Datacolor SpyderLensCal SLC100 (Electronics)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The SpyderLenCal is a very clever and well designed device. The way it folds into it's configuration, has a nicely done brass tripod socket and an integrated bubble level all make this a very easy device to setup properly.It's clear a lot of thought went into the design.

I used the SpyderLensCal to check and adjust lenses on my Olympus E30 DSLR. I checked the 12-60mm prime zoom and the 40-150mm kit lens. I first tried to check the focus indoors under moderately bright room lighting. It wasn't so great. My poor camera wasn't happy. The next morning I had bright north-light available and things went much better.

I strongly recommend using a tripod or stable level surface for the SpyderLensCal and a tripod mounted camera. Just eliminate as many variables like shake or motion with hand held camera test. I have 2 tripods so no problem.

I found my 12-60mm lens focus was off by a bit and corrected it pretty easily. The manual for my E30 camera covers making focus adjustments, but only minimally. Fortunately it's not too hard to fill in the gaps intuitively. A nice feature is being able to store a default adjustment (for body corrections) and adjustments for up to 30 lenses! The E30 provides for a general adjustment for a lens or separate adjustments for wide and tele zoom settings. The general setting I used gave good results at both wide and tele zoom settings.

My 40-150 kit lens did not need an adjustment. I was happy to have that confirmed.

In summary the SpyderLensCal is easy to setup and use with an elegant and photographer friendly design. It found and helped me correct a focus problem with one of my lenses (the much more expensive one!), With bright lighting use a tripod for the SpyderLensCal and your camera if you have two.

I'm very pleased with the results and it was easier than I expected to setup and use. That and a nice design and actually working as advertised I think it rates 5 stars in my opinion.

I'll update this review as I check more lenses and see if I have some interested friends with different DSLR cameras.

Updated: June 4, 2014

I've tried the LensCal with all my lenses and only one needed correction (the one mentioned in the main review). Nice to know and to catch the one. I have had one friend take me up on my offer to check their lenses and the two they tested were OK.

Since then I also got the Datacolor SHD100 SpyderHD which is very helpful at providing calibration for color throughout the process. The result is more accurate color/exposure throughout the processing path - camera, editing, printing. Most useful in studio-like situations. It also supports video which I do not use. It is also well designed.

Hope this is helpful.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Expensive, but works well, December 6, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Datacolor SpyderLensCal SLC100 (Electronics)
This product does assist in lens calibration and is more accurate/less time consuming compared to DIY options. I gave it a 4 because in the end, this is still just a few pieces of plastic. While it does save time compared to making one for yourself, it is a little expensive!

Still, if you are noticing focusing issues with any of your lenses, this can help you to assess what is off and make an accurate camera to lens profile.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great tool, March 20, 2013
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This review is from: Datacolor SpyderLensCal SLC100 (Electronics)
You spend a chunk of change on a DSLR and great prime lenses and get frustrated because your images aren't that sharp. For the cost of getting one lens calibrated you can DIY with this great tool. Yes, there are ways to do it for free with printed PDF and/or a ruler. But get one of these things and you can start charging your friends. :)

Seriously easy to use and a must have if you're serious about your equipment.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great tool., March 14, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Datacolor SpyderLensCal SLC100 (Electronics)
A little overpriced for a piece of plastic, but the peace of mind it provides that your lenses and cameras are functioning correctly is great.

I'd recommend this over the DIY kits which will near-definitely be flawed from being hand-made.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It is exactly what it says it is... but pricey, March 1, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Datacolor SpyderLensCal SLC100 (Electronics)
This is the right tool for the job. The construction is high quality, but the price is steep. Buy good used one if you can find it.
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Datacolor SpyderLensCal SLC100
$69.00 $64.00
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