Has anyone had an experience with either of this products when tuning your lenses with a D800?
I have done simple tests with my 85mm 1.8 lens, and I am afraid it needs some fine tuning. Initially, I wanted to get FocusTune, it is a simpler product, but a less advanced one. Now, I am thinking about FoCal as it gives more options and seems like a more mature tool.
I use FoCal and I'm sort of frustrated with it. It claims it's automatic, but with the D800, you constantly have to dial in the Fine Tune settings after each focus check by the software. This can occur at least 10 times during a "Semi-automatic" session. In this day and age and after paying the cost of the software it should be automatic and should make the changes to the camera automatically.
>I use FoCal and I'm sort of frustrated with it. It claims >it's automatic, but with the D800, you constantly have to dial >in the Fine Tune settings after each focus check by the >software. This can occur at least 10 times during a >"Semi-automatic" session. In this day and age and >after paying the cost of the software it should be automatic >and should make the changes to the camera automatically.
My take would be that LensAlign and LensTune make an easy combination and accomplish 80% of what you would get with FoCal.
Focal is much more sophisticated in terms of the results and the decisions you can make, but it is also much more time consuming and complicated to use. I don't think I have seen anyone who is using FoCal successfully that prefers a different tool. But I have seen people give up on FoCal due to the complexity and limited documentation.
I use FoCal with no issues. The non-fully automatic mode is due to Nikon's limitation and not FoCal's.
If you want to fine-tune without spending the money, I recommend looking at this link. It was written around Canon, but works equally well with Nikons. I've used it, and the results match what I obtained through FoCal Pro.
This method is very sensitive, very easy to setup and use. You do not print a target, but use your LCD monitor with the downloaded pattern as the target. On my Apple MacPro Retina Display, I first changed my resolution down to 1024x640 and the pattern was very easy to see when in focus in Live View.
Your comments are always very helpful. I've desided to try FocusTune first, it is quite cheap and I can get it at a discounted price since I just bought the LensAlign. And also, Michael Tapes is a very helpfull type of a person and makes you want to buy his staff.
The only issue, I do not have any decent constant light source, so I will try my SB-700 with a softbox. Hopefully, it will work.
I used halogen lights several times while doing FoCal tuning, but they really burn out fast. I found that a regular light bulb in a reflector works just as well as a halogen light. You can get a blue type of light and eliminate the WB correction that you are tempted to do during tuning...which makes no difference in the results.
I've used Focal on both my D800 and D800E with all my lenses. The software works quite well. But the problem is that it could drive a person crazy for these reasons:
--With zoom lenses, you will get different AF Fine Tune settings at different focal lengths.
--With both zooms and primes, you will get different settings at different f stops. Most people want to test a lens wide open, but if, for example, you mostly use a 2.8 lens at f/4, then it makes sense to test it at that f stop.
After going through all this, I've come to agree with what many pundits say about the D800/e...for most landscape shooting, use a tripod and Live View.
>I've used Focal on both my D800 and D800E with all my lenses. >The software works quite well. But the problem is that it >could drive a person crazy for these reasons: > >--With zoom lenses, you will get different AF Fine Tune >settings at different focal lengths. > >--With both zooms and primes, you will get different settings >at different f stops. Most people want to test a lens wide >open, but if, for example, you mostly use a 2.8 lens at f/4, >then it makes sense to test it at that f stop. >
All of the points you bring up are not related to FoCal but with your lenses. Unfortunately with Nikon Cameras you can only set a single adjustment value for each lens even though you sometimes need different values for different focal lengths and different f stops. No tool can get around this limitation.
I have tried buying all kinds of charts and focal rulers etc and have tried to adjust all of my lenses over the past year. After setting up the Focal targets on a wall with good lighting and the camera on a tripod it was easy to go through 9 of my lenses and adjust each one of them. I am absolutely thrilled with some of the lenses that I thought were not very good before. Every lens that I own (except for the 14-24/f2.8) needed some adjustment.
I don't want to compare FoCal with other software tools because I haven't tried any of them. What I can say is that it it has proved to be worth every penny and more to me.
>All of the points you bring up are not related to FoCal but >with your lenses.
Yes, that was my point..no matter how good the testing methods, there are going to be differences in AF Fine Tune values which are a function of f stop and focal length. It would be great if Nikon cameras allowed for different AF Fine Tune values at different focal lengths and f stops. With previous bodies I've never felt the need for it, but the D800/e resolves such amazing detail, that it would be nice to be able to do.
>Yes, that was my point..no matter how good the testing >methods, there are going to be differences in AF Fine Tune >values which are a function of f stop and focal length. It >would be great if Nikon cameras allowed for different AF Fine >Tune values at different focal lengths and f stops. With >previous bodies I've never felt the need for it, but the >D800/e resolves such amazing detail, that it would be nice to >be able to do. > >Michael
On the main topic, I'm going to sit down and do some tuning today and I use Lens Align (and recently supplemented by their software). Thankfully my main job today is my 500mm prime (and TC14, TC17) so I don't have to deal with the zoom issue. Are you guys seeing large differences in optimum settings for example at 70 vs. 200mm on zooms? Surely the 200mm setting is the most important since the DOF will be narrowest there, so that's what I do. And likewise I just tune at the largest aperture, again on the theory that is the least forgiving.
I have been tuning all my cameras for years now, long before all this D800 AF business. Particularly with the 500mm being so unforgiving, that got me started way back when with my D300, then D700, D7000, D4, and now D800E. I also tune my 70-200 and 24-70 and my D800E is sitting at -5 in all but one case, even with TC14/17.
As an aside, I was processing some D7000 images today with 500mm and TC14 and boy is that tuning value at +10 sharp! I think when you have a good value dialled in, you really notice it on a long lens. It is much harder for me, evaluating real world images afterwards, to settle in on "did I really get a good value established" on shorter lenses like a 70-200.
Anyhow, my untuned D800E with 500VR has seen a lot of use already, is very sharp, and is delivering crazy resolution so I'm expecting modest adjustment values on the order of +5 for the TC14 and perhaps near zero on the TC17 and sans TC.
I am joining late here but spent $80 (with coupon) to buy FoCal Pro. I tested several lenses on one of D800E this afternoon and amazingly, AF values are right on (or so close) to my visual results, which I spent days. This gave me confidence and reliability of the software. Multi Point Focus Test is the same and the result does not indicate radical focus differences in 51 points, which again is the same conclusion to my hours of manual tests. This is an impressive software.
I often questioned focus tuning, especially for zooms and did not like dealing with the various results using FoCal with various focal lengths and f-stops. Great program, lots of data and room for interpretation - however those dedicated to it seem to really like it.
When I tried LensAlign I was not always sure where the limits of focus were without altering the images.
I did start with the first version of FocusTune and now use FocusTune 3.0 with LensAlign (not required), like the simplicity of it, and the results have worked well.
It is pretty easy to see if I adjust a zoom lens for a specific focal length if that adjustment is detrimental at other focal lengths.
I've been using FoCal since last summer. Yes, it's not completely automatic with Nikons due to Nikon crippling the software; the only problem I have is keeping the camera aligned with the target when changing settings. I solved that by going to a geared tripod head that does not "creep" down after locking. You have to have a well lit target (I put a halogen lamp on the target) or FoCal doesn't work properly. With use, I find I can finetune a lens in 15 mins or less.
>I bought FoCal the other day and it worked very well fine >tuning my Sigma 35mm 1.4 - producing spectacular results. > >My Tamron 90mm however produced inconclusive results (I had >this lens sent to Tamron for a checkup some months ago). > >It just *might* be the lens.. but I am going to retry >calibrating it today.
I've had some lenses that were that way (the 200-400/F4 was one).
In some cases by chosing a different target (if you are using ad-hoc targets), better lighting, or a different distance helps.
Better lighting almost always seems to help - not just brighter, but make sure there's no glare reducing the contrast.
Very cheap and good method: I have a BBQ in my backyard with a handle. I wrapped the measuring tape around he handle so it doesn't slide back and 36" mark is on the same level as the top. The tape is thick so it doesn't bend. I put a target on top of the BBQ which happen to be a fertilizer canister with very bright writing on it so the front of it matches 36" mark. Done. Something I already had in the house.