Micro Adjustment Success! REVELATION!

Started Jul 17, 2007 | Discussions thread
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bross1 Regular Member • Posts: 273
Micro Adjustment Success! REVELATION!

I just completed calibrating all my lenses with my Mark III and had surprising and outstanding results. After getting better results with some lenses than with others and after reading other threads concerning it here I decided to check all my own lenses:
17-40 f/4 L
24-105 f/4 L IS
70-200 f/2.8 L IS
70-200 f/2.8 L IS + 1.4x TC
300 f/2.8 L IS
300 f/2.8 L IS + 1.4x TC
100 f/2.8 Macro

I have a 1D Mark II and a 20D (my first DSLR after converting from an EOS 3 film body). After selling my 24-70 to get a 24-105 I was disappointed with the results with that lens and my Mark II. I thought it should be better than the images I was getting out of it. Don't get me wrong, the Mark II images have been excellent with all lenses, even the 24-105 when stopped down to 5.6, but I had no idea how good the image capture could really be with these lenses until I did this calibration.

The results of my calibration were the following:
17-40 f/4 L : -2
24-105 f/4 L IS : 5
70-200 f/2.8 L IS : 0
70-200 f/2.8 L IS + 1.4x TC : 5
300 f/2.8 L IS : 4
300 f/2.8 L IS + 1.4x TC : 6
100 f/2.8 Macro : 8

One of the most interesting parts of this process has been comparing my Mark II to my calibrated Mark III images. After the multiple Mark III exposures with a range of micro adjustments I would exchange the bodies and do one shot with the Mark II. I was shocked to find that my Mark II, with the lenses I have been using so successfully, was not dead on with any of them except the 100mm f/2.8 Macro. With all my other lenses (and lens + TC combos) my Mark II images are highly inferior to the calibrated Mark III images. The difference is instantly apparent and makes me wonder how I have been getting away with this out-of-calibration set-up. As a side note, I just got both my 24-105 and 70-200 back from CPS for focus adjustments because I knew things weren't perfect with my Mark II before but had nothing else to do but send them in to have them serviced.

I took a few "play" shots just to test out the lenses with their new calibration configurations set up in the Mark III. All these images were far superior to the same lens, same subject, etc. only seconds later with my Mark II.

The summary of this long post is that the Micro Adjustment works! And it is absolutely imperative to perform with all your lenses and lens/TC combos in order to get the type of images out of the Mark III that we have seen others produce and want to produce ourselves. Anyone failing to perform the Micro Adjustment is dooming him/herself to lackluster AF performance from the Mark III. Everyone's cameras and lenses are different, so some may be dead-on with no adjustment required, like my 70-200 bare (no TC), but that will likely be the exception rather than the rule.

Disclaimer: I am not saying that those who have experienced AF problems need only to perform this and their problems will go away. I don't know why some folks are having more problems than others, in different situations, etc. I'm just sharing my experience with One-shot AF performance.

I am a pro sports photographer and require AI Servo and high-speed shutter drive to do my job. So far my Mark III has performed at least equal to my Mark II in tracking performance, if not better. Not 100%, but that is far beyond reality for any camera and lens, no matter how good your technique. Anyone expecting 100% tack-sharp images from a 15, 20, 25, etc. frame burst is not being realistic.

In case you are interested in my testing protocol:

tripod mounted camera (or lens in the case of those with a tripod collar), cable release, fast shutter speed to avoid camera shake, open sun on a mounted focus chart (two different target charts were used) mounted perpendicular to the ground on a flat plane with the camera and lens. I started with -10, -5, 0, +5, +10 to start with each lens to identify that lens' adjustment zone, then I did 15-20 shot sequences starting outside that range, shooting through it and out of the range on the other end (eg. range identified as better at +5 in initial sequence). These 15-20 shot sequences were in 1 click increments. For the zooms I did this protocol at three focal lengths: full zoom, mid-range, and no zoom (eg. 200mm, 135mm, 70mm for the 70-200). I also used 1/3 stop down from wide open to avoid lens inadequacies to influence the test. I did this with each lens and lens + TC combo, downloaded the files, and examined them at full resolution on my calibrated monitor to identify the very best setting for each lens. Then I simply attached each lens and made the final and permanent adjustment in the Mark III for that lens.

It's time consuming, but it is well worth it if you as critical about your images as I am (aren't we all?). I have two shoots tomorrow, including a commercial shoot that will require absolute perfection in the extreme close-up product shots. Now that I have my new Mark III properly calibrated to my lenses I will be shooting with confidence knowing my gear will help me look better rather than worse.

I haven't taken the time to learn to post images here yet, and as I fly out early Thursday morning to shoot the remainder of le Tour de France I likely will not be able to take the time to do it. Sorry for that - you'll just have to take my word for it if you choose. Doing the calibration was time consuming enough, and I have now spent WAY too much time on this post.

Take care, and for those of you with new Mark III's, I hope you enjoy your new Mark III's as much as I'm enjoying mine. And yes, I will be one of the first to download the new firmware update in hopes of improving on an already fantastic camera (for me).

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