More Cameras Offering Auto-Focus Micro Adjustment

Its taking time, but an increasing number of cameras are  now offering the capability of adjusting auto-focus in the camera’s menu. This is very useful to users who depend on auto-focus. And a number of these cameras allow you to set corrections on a per-lens basis, so that each lens is individually adjusted.

I now shoot with the Canon 5D Mark lll, which is the first camera I’ve used which provides auto-focus so good that I actually use it for the majority of my shooting. The Mark lll offers another first: it allows the user to set different auto-focus adjustments at each end of the zoom range of zoom lenses. Given that one adjustment might not be right for all focal lengths, this is a welcome addition. I could even envision, in the future, offering adjustment setting for both end of the f:stop range as well.

But just how do you make all these auto-focus micro adjustments? There are a number of methods, and a couple of tools on the market specifically to assist with this process. But by far the simplest, and the easiest to read, is Datacolor’s SpyderLensCal. I won’t go into detail here about using LensCal, but once you get the general idea of the process (get the sweet-spot at zero, set-up further away for longer lenses, etc) its fairly straightforward.

In this image auto-focus is zeroed in

My research today into the camera models now supporting auto-focus micro adjustment resulted in the list  of 34 models shown below. Keep in mind that a tool like LensCal can check the focus on most any camera, but it can only be adjusted by the user if its listed below. Other camera/lens combinations that are clearly out of auto-focus would need to be sent in for adjustment.

  • 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, NEX-7/LA-EA2)
  • Olympus (E-30, E-620, E-5)
  • Pentax (K-20D, K-30, K-5, K-7D, K-2000, K-m, K200D, 645D, K-x, K-r)

Credits: C. David Tobie, Copyright 2012. Website: Return to Blog’s Main Page


6 responses to “More Cameras Offering Auto-Focus Micro Adjustment

  1. Most likely you also purchased an “L” quality lens from Canon with your 5D III leaping you forward with auto focus abilities. Auto focus is as much or more a function of the lens, not the camera…. 40D, 5D II, 1D IV, now 1DX, and even when I put an “L” lens on my way old D30 that I always manual focused, do I know have the pleasure of reliable auto focus… As with Image Quality, it’s the same three rules ie: “L Glass” L Glass, L Glass… just the fax man!

    • I’m a Canon shooter; and every DSLR lens I own that’s not a Lensbaby is an L series lens. And every L series lens I’ve ever checked (mine and numerous others) has required one degree or another of micro adjustment. Ironically, the Nikor lenses are more consistent, much as it pains me to admit it. Moral of the story: trust, but verify.

  2. I wonder if you’ve tried MagicLantern’s “AutoDotTune” capability on Canon DSLR’s that support micro-focus-adjustment. Seems to work well on my 5dm2.

    • I’ve looked at a couple of automatic methods of setting auto-focus. They tend to be reasonably accurate, but are lacking in a few areas. They don’t really show you where your sweet spot is, or how they have adjusted to it. So you have no confirmation of getting just what you want.

      They also don’t offer the ability to tune just where in that sweet spot your lens is targeted. For glamour and portrait work the auto-focus captures the high contrast of the eye, and with that you would like the nose to be sharp, but you don’t really care about the ear. So you pull your focus forward enough to get that result.

      Similarly, for architecture or some types of sports, the goal may be the focus point, plus what is behind it, so that tuning towards the back of the sweet spot is preferred.

      And for newer bodies, such as the 5D Mark lll, the ability to set the auto-focus at both ends of a zoom lens’ range can be very useful. For a 70-200 or 70-300 lens you may shoot mostly people at the short end, so prefer to pull the focus a bit, while at the long end scenes may be the usual subject matter, so pushing the focus a bit maybe preferred.

      Options such as this, and confirmation of my results, is what keeps me adjusting my auto-focus myself, with a SpyderLensCal unit.

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