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LensAlign MkII Focus Calibration System
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- Enter your model number to make sure this fits.
- Reliably test your DSLR Auto-Focus system performance
- Adjust the Auto-Focus Fine Tune and Micro-Adjustment on compatible DSLRs
- Improve the "out of box" performance of your compatible DSLR
- Ensure precise camera to target alignment required for proper AF evaluation
- Simple Assembly - Under 5 min, no tools required.
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|Shipping||FREE Shipping||FREE Shipping||FREE Shipping||FREE Shipping|
|Sold By||Michael Tapes Design||Amazon.com||my Goods||Amazon.com|
|Item Dimensions||4 x 11 x 6 in||1.58 x 6.9 x 12.21 in||2.76 x 3.15 x 7.49 in||2.93 x 2.73 x 1.71 in|
LensAlign MkII is a precision reference tool that enables photographers to accurately measure and then adjust the Auto Focusing accuracy of their DSLRs. It also reveals the performance of the camera's manual focus system. A few years ago, photographers started to notice front/back focusing problems with their DSLRs. For example, when their camera's AF system was locked on a person's eye, the person's nose or ear was actually the sharpest part of the captured image. In order to allow hundreds of lenses and bodies to be interchangeable, the tolerances within the manufacturing process can cause any specific body/lens combination to potentionaly exhibit these front/back focus anomalies. To compensate for this condition, most new professional and enthusiast DSLRs have an Auto Focus Adjustment within their menu system. LensAlign was created as a focus system measurement standard by which photographers can accurately measure and improve the performance of their cameras' focus systems. Like its industry standard LensAlign PRO predecessor, the LensAlign MkII features our exclusive and patent pending True Parallel Alignment™ (TPA™). TPA verifies perfect parallel alignment between the camera sensor plane and the target surface of LensAlign, a requirement for consistent and precise Auto Focus adjustment. LensAlign MkII comes standard with a 10.5" Focus Display Ruler containing 2 alternate display patterns, one on each side. A 24" Long Ruler add-on option will be available in early February. LensAlign MkII is shipped flat in a Priority Mail postal envelope to reduce shipping costs. The MkII can also also be disassembled for travel or storage. Note: Ships flat. Simple assembly required. (Under 5 minutes with no tools).
Top Customer Reviews
Use is not complex once you get the hang of it. Unfortunately, you will have to go to Tapes' website and search for usage instructions. There is nothing provided with the product, an inexplicable omission. Even when you get to Tapes' website, you'll have to search around a bit to find the procedural instructions. His "knowledge base" under the support tab has 28 articles, which is a bit confusing. The one you want is [...]
In a nutshell, here's how the thing works:
(1) Assemble the FCS.
The FCS arrives in knockdown form, with stiff plastic pieces. You'll be able to set it up in a couple of minutes, using the precise instructions provided. They're of the insert-tab-A-in-slot-B type and well illustrated. You'll be wondering why, given that it consists of a few stiff plastic pieces, it cost as much as it did. The key features are a focus target with a hole in it that shows a red dot behind when things are lined up, and a tilted ruler on the side of the focus target that has calibration numbers extending forward and backward from the plane of the main focus target. The red dot and rigid structure after assembly ensure the ruler is perfectly square to what your camera will be focusing on.
(2) Figure out how far your lens needs to be from the FCS to run the test.
This varies by lens focal length, aperture, and camera sensor size. You'll have to consult the website to get the formula, but once you're there Tapes provides a handy calculator. For example, with a full-frame camera like a Canon 5DM2 using a 200mm f/2.8 lens, this is 16.4 ft to give a depth of field of +/- 2 inches. A 50mm f/1.2 lens on the same camera should be at 4.1 ft, giving a +/- 0.8 inch depth of field. Be aware that very long or slow lenses may need Tapes' extra-long ruler as an accessory purchase for the FCS so that their full depth of field falls on the ruler. The calculator advises you when this is necessary. It's not specified whether the distance is measured from the camera focal plane or the front of the lens but I'm thinking focal plane.
(3) Get your camera perfectly aligned physically with the front of the FCS, at the distance calculated in step 2
The little red dot on the back wall of the FCS must be perfectly centered and visible through the hole in the FCS front wall. This involved lots of tiny re-positionings of your camera and the FCS and repeated test shots. Getting your camera and lens(es) perfectly aligned to shoot the test photos takes a few minutes. Your camera can't be too high, too low, angled to the left or the right--it must be absolutely square to the front of the focus target. One tripod is a necessity and a second (I used a tabletop Gorilla-style tripod here) is helpful. If you're an owner of a camera that offers focus calibration micro-adjustment and are considering this product, however, you almost certainly already own a good tripod. I found using live view and magnification to be quite helpful. I also wrote the various lens, aperture and distance settings on post-it notes so they were in view in the test photographs.
(4) Let your camera autofocus on the main target of the FCS, with the ruler also visible on the side. Take your test shot. Using a time-delayed exposure or shutter release cable to minimize motion is recommended.
(5) Examine the test shot to see whether the focus on the ruler is properly centered on the 0 and not centered behind or in front of the plane the autofocus targeted. If it is, you'll need to adjust the microfocus in your camera per the manufacturer's instructions. Tapes doesn't provide much guidance on how much to adjust, but this varies by camera and test result. Tapes suggests using the "emboss" action in Photoshop to make the results clearer (another gotcha if you don't have Photoshop handy) but I didn't find this necessary.
Figure 30 minutes to do your first lens, 10 minutes to do each subsequent lens. You can disassemble the FCS for flat storage when you're done.
If you don't have a microfocus adjustment in your camera, the FCS might be of some small use to you. It could help you identify whether a particular lens is back-focusing and needs to be sent for calibration, for example. You could also learn whether you need to remember when using that lens to focus a bit in front or behind a future subject. Clearly, though, the FCS is of greatest use if your camera permits this kind of microfocus adjustment for individual lenses.
Minus 1 star for lack of usage manual (inexcusable in a product in this price range). I'd take off another 1/2 star if I could for the high price for the few die-cut pieces of plastic, but the thing does work well. I'd like it better if it were half the price. I didn't feel, when holding it, that it should cost so much. Be aware that you may need to make the accessory purchase of the extra long ruler if you're calibrating very long or slow lenses. Check out the website to see if you'll need that for your camera/lens combo before you make the purchase.
1. It does not ship with any usage instructions. The only instructions it comes with are for assembling the device. Instructions for use can be found on the LensAlign website, but given the price, a simple printout of the basic instructions would be appreciated.
2. The device is small, much smaller than I had anticipated, which makes it small in the frame. I would think that making the focus target larger would yield more consistent results. I purchased the MkII primarily to help calibrate my 400mm f/2.8 lens on both of my camera bodies. Given that the instructions from the website recommend the device be places at least 25x the focal length of the lens to calibrate, that puts the device quite a distance (minimum 35 or so feet) away, which makes it quite small in the frame. I had trouble getting repeatable results as the autofocus would sometimes focus on the front edge of the ruler rather than the focus target, even though the selected focus point in the camera was centered on the focus target. A larger focus target would probably help solve that type of issue.
3. The device is a very good design. I hadn't considered the need to align the planes of the target and the camera sensor during earlier focus adjustment attempts, and this devices does that rather cleverly. It may take a bit of time to get things aligned, but it works quite well.
4. In the end, the device did, I believe, help me isolate and address some subtle focus issues in my system, but not without some trouble with the longer lens. A more substantial focus target seems like it would help the MkII give more consistent results. Documentation on either Amazon or the LensAlign website doesn't mention inability to use the MkII with long lenses.