3 free & effective DIY focus calibration systems


Living in a part of the world where lens to body calibration is not possible I was really happy when micro-focus adjustment, MFA, was introduced in dSLRs and it was a major decisive factor for me to change cameras yet another time.

Unfortunately MFA can be quite frustrating and time consuming if you do not rely on a solid method. I’ve been myself quite close to buying focusing system products but I just couldn’t justify the cost.

I have since found 3 reliable and free methods to adjust the focus of my lenses

Method 1: Sharper is bigger

In short this method relies on the fact that a sharper image will yield larger file size.

You will need for this a target with a lot of patterns and details I simply printed this resolution chart on A3 paper.

The setup

  1. Make sure your target is completely flat
  2. Set your camera on tripod with MLU 2 second timer or remotely triggered
  3. Set your camera to be perpendicular to the target
  4. Let your target fill the frame
  5. Set ISO to be in max 400 (lower is actually better)
  6. Set your lens to its widest aperture
  7. Set your image quality to fine large JPG or RAW

The test

For a corresponding micro focus adjustment value

  1. Defocus your lens completely
  2. Focus using 1 shot Auto focus
  3. Take the shot.
  4. Repeat from step 1 twice
  5. Pickup larger file size between the 3 delete the others
  6. repeat the whole process for another micro focus adjustment value


Finally the value giving the bigger file size is the best one for this lens.

Of course you don’t have to do this for all available values you can quickly check first using live view what range is giving the best autofocus results and use the above for fine tuning.


Method 2: Moiré interference pattern

I wouldn’t know how to explain this from a technical perspective but the idea is to focus on an LCD screen (not a paper) and pickup the micro focus adjustment value giving the most moiré interference pattern, the whole procedure is explained in details at northlight-images and reference images can be found here and here.


Method 3: DIY Focus charts

These are actually cheap free alternatives to the products you can find on the net. All you have to do is print the focus chart, do some folding and then test the accuracy of your autofocus system.

Here you are no longer relying on file size but on a ruler to know if you have any front/back focus issues.

2 charts are available for free download and use, the first provided by focustestchart.com with full and detailed instructions, the other is curtsey invisicord.com (also available in .doc format), also with instruction of use.


Well hope this well give you more confidence next time you are trying to calibrate a lens.

DIY: $1 and pocket sized monopod


I haven’t tried this so I cannot judge its effectiveness !
Although I really doubt it would be as effective as a monopod, I do think this is a good trick to learn since it can easily be implemented and used when a monopod is hard to carry around or not available.
So let’s consider it as a MacGyver photography trick shall we ?

DIY: Egg Crate Grid for Diffusion Panels


This is a guest post by Robert Mitchell from Robert Mitchell Photography. Thank you Robert for this great DIY tutorial.

I just completed testing my new DIY Egg Crate Grid for my floor to ceiling diffusion panel. Total cost was about $30.

The material used is actually called ‘egg crate’, it’s sold in 2 ft x 4 ft panels just like lighting panels themselves and can be found in the lighting department of Home Depot, Lowes, and some hardware stores. They’re made of white plastic and have a grid of about 1 inch x 1 inch. I primed the plastic and then painted in black, giving it a few coats to make sure that all the corners and insides of the ‘honeycomb’ were evenly covered.

For my grid I kept the 4 ft length and put 2 panels side by side, cutting one of them down to 16 inches so it would fit right over my diffusion panel width of 40 inches, with a grid size of 48 inches x 40 inches. The plastic is very easy to cut with a heavy duty scissor or cutter. The 2 panels were joined together with small nylon cable ties and I tied them every 5 squares. That holds them very tight against each other.
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DIY : Poor’s man ring flash


I’ve previously discussed here a a do it yourself methods to build a ring flash but this one is by far the cheapest 🙂

It is not exactly a ring flash but rather a flash diffuser done with milk-jug, so it is practically free
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Convert your empty match box into a pinhole camera


I was contacted today by Rami pointing me to this great DIY ” ((“Do It Yourself”))” video tutorial demonstrating how to turn an empty box of matches into a pinhole camera.

The process is very easy to follow and, best of all, free, the only “investment” is a roll of film ” ((“No it is not digital”))”.

Material needed: Match box, soda/beer can, scissors, hammer, tape, piece of plastic and a film roll.

That guy even included in the video sample pictures he took with this cam and, if they are true, there amazing for a pinhole camera.

Definitely worth a try IMHO now enough talking enjoy the video
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