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.

Photographer of the week: Joshua Carlsen

When I first saw Joshua’s flickr stream I was directly attracted by his landscape pictures. His composition & use of slow shutter speed is definitely my kind!

And then I started digging a bit more into his photography and found how interesting and diversified Joshua’s photography was.

Take a moment & browse Joshua’s gallery on flickr and you are most likely to find, like I did, refreshing pictures with quite unusual perspectives.

And now a taste of his work in these 10 pictures

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Photographer of the week: Tanya Traboulsi

This is the first time I have the chance to feature on Adidap a photographer from my homeland so you can only imagine how special this is for me!

I found Tanya’s website totally by chance and I was directly struck by her style, I like the way she compose her pictures and specially the way she sees and understands light.

Before I leave you with a sample of Tanya’s work I want to invite you all to visit her personal website at TanyaTraboulsi.com & make sure to go over her on stage pictures they are stunning.

And now, for your pleasure, here is a collection of 10 handpicked pictures from this Lebanese photographer.

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Canon Instant Fall Rebates (Canada)

Canon Fall rebates for the year 2009 are now up and will run till October 31st.

So, if you live in Canda, here is the list of the rebated items.

Instant rebates, no more rebate forms!

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6 things you forgot to do when you first got your new dSLR

Picture by Gone-Walkabout


You just got your brand new dSLR camera, you can’t wait to unpack it and start shooting with it. 

Here are a few things you will most probably forget to do before you snap your first picture.

  1. Charge the battery overnight: If am guilty of one that would be it. I can never wait long enough, I usually charge the battery a few minutes (30 min or so) before I start playing around. But, seriously, with the new battery technology is it really still important to charge the battery for 6 hours+ the first time?
  2. Set the date and time: This is crucial info for you and your pictures and, still, I see many cameras with dates way off. I have to admit that it is much more common to adjust the time after daylight saving changes occur.
  3. Dioptric adjustments: You know that small knob next to your viewfinder? I have seen people owning they cameras for months/years not even knowing it was there. Hold the camera to your eyes and turn it up/down till you can see the text in the viewfinder clearly.
  4. Reset the numbering: I can’t remember how many times I have read in forums people saying that their newly bought camera was not new because the first image number was xxx. Obviously they had just used a memory card from their old camera and the new one is just picking up with the numbering. I got used to format all my cards before inserting them in the new cam. This will not allow me to know if it is really new or not, not that I am worried about it, but rather to keep track of how many picture I am taking with my camera & assigning a unique reference number to each.
  5. Read the manual: Yea right! Now, honestly, who does? It doesn’t matter if you are a first time dSLR user or you’ve been shooting for a couple of years, if you bought a new camera chances are it is for its new features, so spend some time reading the manual and getting familiar with it while the battery is charging.
  6. Do not get obsessive testing it: I learned this the hard way. When I first got the Canon 30D I spent so many hours testing the focus that I sent it 3 times to canon for calibration and yet I was not happy with it. When I finally gave up testing and started shooting my pictures were getting better and sharper with time. Yea cameras have their own learning curve too so instead of doing useless tests enjoy it & take some pictures. Your warranty is for 1 year and it is plenty of time to discover all the defect your camera might have.
  7. Set the owner information: This should have been in the list from the start, I just forgot about adding it. Thanks to John he kindly reminded me in the comment. So yes do not forget to add your name in the camera so that it will also appear in the EXIF. In Canon this is done by the EOS Utility software. I have got the chance to use my 30D last week, that I sold more than 1 year ago to a friend, and noticed it still had my name registered.

Got anything to add to this list? Maybe a personal experience? Feel free to drop a comment.