I also have a Datacolor Spyder LensCal. The LensCal is more robustly made than the LensAlign, but I find the LensAlign more accurate and easier to use. I already mentioned the sighting system, which the LensCal does not have, but in addition to that I find the LensAlign much easier to read due to the way the ruler is marked and is on more of an angle.
I find it easier to use than other methods I've tried. The results also show less variation between trials, so I'd say yes it's effective. However, I have not tried to calibrate all of my lenses, nor do I plan to do so.
I gave up on trying to get the last quantum of sharpness out of my gear a long time ago. If that's your goal, I'm afraid I'm the wrong person to ask.
One of the biggest mistakes a photographer can make is to look at the real world and cling to the vain hope that next time his film will somehow bear a closer resemblance to it. - Galen Rowell
I recently bought the lens align mk II. Have only tested 2 of my lenses so far. One was fine and the other had a front focus problem which I suspected. You will love the Nikkor 105 f2.8. It is an excellent sharp lens. -------------------
Thu 23-Aug-12 05:04 AM | edited Thu 23-Aug-12 05:15 AM by TomCurious
I used the LensAlign before, but now I switched to the Spyder LensCal, which I found to be much easier to use and more precise and repeatable. It has a much easier way to align it in parallel to the camera back (though it comes with no manual and I had to dig the procedure up on the internet). And it is more precise since the focus point is closer to the angled ruler, so any lens field curvature will not affect the results.
I just used the MkII version to test 11 lenses. I think it works fine. Pretty simple to use and set up. Use the distance tool they provide on their website to determine how far to be from the target for a given lens/camera or you can get away with using the ROT of 1" for each mm of focal length. Its pretty close.
I found it easier to build a preset in LR4 for evaluating the sample photos. You can do several different things but all I needed to do was bring up contrast, add some clarity, and sharpness to the RAW image I used.
Tks Wally, Tks for the heads-up on the distance tool, had a look at that already but was not aware how important it was until now Easy option actually Doing a search for a supplier here in Australia, if not, will order one from the USA, Trying to navigate around his website is a bit tricky Regards, Gary
I used to have a photographic memory but never got it developed
>Do you have a link to the alignment procedure you use for the >LensCal?
There was a website even with pictures how to do it, but I can't find it anymore. So I'll do my best to describe it to you, it's simple enough anyway. You position your camera to focus with the AF point on the focus target which is right next to the angled ruler. So not the center of the LensCal board, but closer to the right edge. Best to have the camera on a tripod. Then look thru your viewfinder and observe how the angled ruler lines up against the right vertical edge of the LensCal board. If thing are misaligned, there may be a gap at the top between the board and the ruler and it may overlap at the bottom, or vice versa. Since the ruler top and bottom may be out of focus, it often helps to stop down and press the DOF preview button to have it all nicely in focus. When things line up, the left edge of the ruler should be parallel and pretty much form one line with the right edge of the focus target board.
When you use wide angle lenses and/or use longer focus distances, you will be using more of the LensCal focus target area, not just the small target on the right, but the principle will remain the same.
It is much easier in practice than it sounds, and at least I found it to be faster and more convenient than those red dots and holes to align with the LensAlign. A side benefit is that the angled ruler is right next to the focus point, so lens field curvature will have less of an impact. And any small misalignment between the camera back and the focus target that you may have left with either product will also result in less of an error with the LensCal than the LensAlign which forces you to focus on the center of the target.