Datacolor SpyderLensCal (Part 2)

6/5/2012 3:46:13 PM

Setting the SpyderLensCal up was easy enough. The bubble level lets you know once you have the base of the device level and from there the target locks into place. To ensure that the target and camera's sensor are on the same plane, I mounted my camera on a tripod alongside the SpyderLensCal and lined up the centre of the target and the centre of my lens at the same height, before moving the camera into position. I chose to first calibrate my Sigma 50mm f/1.4, which I use primarily for portraits, and so positioned the camera at the typical distance that I would shoot a portrait from using this lens.

Description:  SpyderLensCal Easter Special

I selected aperture-priority mode and my lens's widest aperture, and focused on the target. I wanted to test the full range of adjustment available, so started by setting the AF forward microadjustment at it's maximum: -20.1 then changed the adjustment by five points after each shot to record the full spectrum of adjustments. Before each shot, I set the lens's focusing ring to infinity to ensure that the way the lens focused was the same each time.

After loading in all nine shots to the computer and zooming in to 100%, I eliminated the least accurate images. It left me with what I felt were the two best shots that showed the zero indicator on the SpyderLensCal's ruler in focus. In the case of the Sigma lens, these shots were the ones taken with zero AF microadjustment and +5 backward adjustment. With this in mind, I selected a middle ground of +3 backward adjustment and took another shot. The image produced a sharper picture than the shots taken at zero and +5, proving that a minor adjustment was needed.

I repeated the above on a Canon 135mm f/2L, which I consider already to be a sharp lens. I was surprised to find that the results showed that the lens required +7 backward microadjustment to produce its most accurate results, making it even sharper.

Finally, I repeated the test with a Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L. I tested this lens twice, once at 24mm and again at 70mm. The test revealed that at 70mm a zero microadjustment was the sharpest, whereas at 24mm a forward adjustment of -5 was needed. The Canon EOS 5D Mkll used for the test does not allow for different microadjustments to be stored at different focal lengths on a single lens (unlike the new Canon EOS-1D X), so I had to take the average of the two, leaving me with -2 as my final setting.

Description: Datacolor Spyder Lens Cal


Once the SpyderLensCal was set up and in place, it couldn't have been easier to use. The device feels well-built and solid, and gives you the impression that you are going to get as close to ideal test conditions in your own home as possible. The attached scale ruler allows you to easily see how far forward or backward your lens is focusing - however, this measuring scale doesn't correlate to the adjustment increments on your camera, so some trial and error is necessary. If I had one complaint, it would be that the supplied quick-start guide is overly brief and leaves you guessing at some of the details in the steps taken. It does give you enough to grasp the basics, though, and with a pinch of common sense you can create a fair test environment for comparing each adjustment. At £50, it isn’t the sort of thing you would rush out and buy if all you had in your kit bag was your camera and kit lens. But if you have a collection of lenses, or other photographers to split the cost with, then it is well worth the investment.

Likes Well-made, simple to set up and very easy to see the results from any adjustments you make.

Dislikes The instructions are on the concise side and leave a lot to be desired, meaning research is needed before use.

Overall Description: C:\Users\TGS\AppData\Local\Temp\Rar$DI00.356\image001.jpgDescription: C:\Users\TGS\AppData\Local\Temp\Rar$DI00.356\image001.jpgDescription: C:\Users\TGS\AppData\Local\Temp\Rar$DI00.356\image001.jpgDescription: C:\Users\TGS\AppData\Local\Temp\Rar$DI00.356\image001.jpg

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