Have you tried Sigma's calibration service?

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ArtAlt
ArtAlt Senior Member • Posts: 1,939
Have you tried Sigma's calibration service?

I'm considering paying Sigma's $100 fee to get my 24-105mm calibrated in their shop to my D750.   Have any of you tried this service?  Did you get results that you are happy with?

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Nikon D750
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Horoscope Fish
Horoscope Fish Regular Member • Posts: 439
Re: Have you tried Sigma's calibration service?
1

ArtAlt wrote:

I'm considering paying Sigma's $100 fee to get my 24-105mm calibrated in their shop to my D750. Have any of you tried this service? Did you get results that you are happy with?

Sigma has calibrated the AF on two Art series primes for me: a 50mm and a 135mm, but they didn't charge me for the first one and only $50 for the second. I guess zooms are more complicated...

Pricing aside, the calibrations were absolutely spot-on when I got them back.

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saaber1 Senior Member • Posts: 1,505
Re: Have you tried Sigma's calibration service?

ArtAlt wrote:

I'm considering paying Sigma's $100 fee to get my 24-105mm calibrated in their shop to my D750. Have any of you tried this service? Did you get results that you are happy with?

Do they do anything different than you can do at home with the dock?

Morvegil
Morvegil Contributing Member • Posts: 591
Re: Have you tried Sigma's calibration service?

SO do you send them your camera? Hows this work?

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saaber1 Senior Member • Posts: 1,505
Re: Have you tried Sigma's calibration service?
2

saaber1 wrote:

ArtAlt wrote:

I'm considering paying Sigma's $100 fee to get my 24-105mm calibrated in their shop to my D750. Have any of you tried this service? Did you get results that you are happy with?

Do they do anything different than you can do at home with the dock?

I guess what I’m getting at is u may be able to accomplish the improvement u are looking for for free (but takes time though). I like the af tune procedure shown at “1)” in the text I pasted below. It is fast and accurate if u are methodical in your method and pay attention to details such as good light, tripod, vertical target, focus on infinity between shots etc.

... post from another thread below....

saaber1 wrote:

Here are some relevant posts that may be helpful. 1st post is a short description, 2nd is detailed method, 3rd is an example of results after using this method. Also Bill slattery Jr.stated that the 1 nikon unit = 2 sigma units was different on one of his lenses. So the 1 nikon unit to 2 sigma units may apply only to the 150-600S, I don't know. You'll have to try it to find out for your lens probably.

1) re how to tune at infinity... This post below was for one distance (infinity), repeat at any other distance you want to tune for. If you want to do all 4 distances at once, just set up the target and measure to where to set up the camera (f.e. 15'), find the AF tune optimum value, write it down, then move to the next measure measurement point (f.e. 50' or whatever the point is for your lens), write it down, and so on until you get all four values. Then detach the lens and hook it up to the dock and set the adjustment values on your computer all at once and you are done. Zooms obviously have more points to enter vs. primes.

saaber1 wrote:

I shoot a well lit, very far away, car license plate as a target for infinity adjustment. A license plate has big letters/numbers, medium sized state lettering, and tiny license tab lettering which really allows you to see any changes in sharpness.

Take some shots in live view and compare your viewfinder-focused shots to the live view shots. The live view shots are what you are trying to duplicate/approach with the Af tune adjustments. Also don't forget to set your lens to minimum focus in between every shot. Make sure you have excellent stabilization (use tripod plus lens resting on a chair/sandbag or something if you have to). turn the lens's OS to off, and use mirror-up remote release/ or self timer of at least 20 seconds (to give the camera time to settle down after you press the shutter release). Also minimize atmospheric distortion by shooting very early in the morning and not over a bunch reflective surfaces, if possible.

You can use the in-camera AF-fine tuning if you want to quickly see if there is a noticeable difference in sharpness at very long range. Then if you want to transfer that to the lens via the dock just use 1 nikon Af tune adjusment unit = 2 Sigma Af tune adjustment units (don't forget to set the camera's af tune back to zero if you fine tune the lens via the dock).

2) re general af-tune method...

saaber1 wrote:

I know the question "What is the best way to fine tune" is coming in this thread. : ) There are many methods out there for AF tuning and whatever works well for an individual is the best.

In practice, many experienced photographers can do an informal fine tune in the field. For example if a buddy hands me a lens I've never used before I can do a very quick and dirty AF tune in about 2 minutes simply by shooting the lens wide open down at an angle to a small target (such as a leaf or piece of debris) in a patch of grass in front of me. Zooming in on the LCD will often show that the grass is perfectly sharp right at the target, before the target, or after the target. Then I can adjust the fine tune a few times and again zoom in on the LCD to see where the sharpest grass is and have it pretty close to being right on (note that this is basically a variation of the "angled ruler" tune technique). Keep in mind the tune is accurate for the distance to that piece of debris and may be different close in or far away. Picking a distance similar to what you will be shooting most often is best if possible. Don't shoot a very short distance unless that is your intended final shooting distance.

For formal adjustment of the AF tune, here is how I do it. This flat out works for even the most difficult to tune lenses such as Nikon's DC lenses (I just wrote this off the top of my head so there are a few typos in there I'm sure).

Step 1 Use a quantifiable focus chart. Use this chart for quantifiable focus adjustment evaluation.

Hit "original size" link to lower left then right click "save as"

2 Use a well–lit location. Print the chart at an appropriate size and hang vertically in a well-lit location. Don't print it too large for the distance you are shooting as you won't be able to see the focus differences. Also don't use a poor quality printer.

3 Pick the right distance for you and stabilize/level the camera. Set up your camera on a tripod, level to the target chart at a distance from the target of 40 times the focal length of the lens (modify this distance if you use the lens most frequently at a different distance –for example if you almost always shoot full-body length portraits with that lens, use a distance you would be shooting a standing average sized person). Set your aperture to the maximum aperture of the lens.

4 Determine the best focus the lens can achieve by using live view. Also, eliminate variables of camera shake and low contrast focus point. Focus on a high contrast area of the chart and take 5 pictures using live view focus. Between each shot, focus on infinity. Use either remote release/mirror up, or self-timer of 10 seconds or more (to allow camera to settle). Write down the highest numerical value on the chart where there is clear definition in between the lines. This live view value will now be the “target” you are trying to approach for the viewfinder AF tune.

5. Determine the lens default focus compared to live view. Shoot exactly the same way but use viewfinder focus with in-camera AF tune at “0” (the camera default). Compare the highest number achieved in the 5 shots to the value in step 4. Don’t forget to focus on infinity between shots.

6. Compare AF tune values to live view value to get a rough idea of what the AF tune adjustment should be. Adjust the in-camera fine tune value by +10, shoot exactly the same way as before and compare the highest value of the 5 shots to the live-view value. Repeat after adjusting the value to +20. Repeat after adjusting to -10, repeat after adjusting to -20. Don’t forget to focus on infinity between shots.

You should now have an idea about where the optimum focus lies (i.e. you have narrowed it down to a maximum variation of 10 in-camera AF tune units). For example, if the highest value on the chart with an in-camera adjustment of +10 is better than 0, but worse than +20, -10, and -20, then you know the optimum AF tune lies between 0 and +10.

7. Get a more precise value of what the fine tune adjustment should be. Repeat the same 5 shot sequence using smaller increments to further narrow down the point of optimum adjustment. For example if you know the optimum adjustment value lies between 0 and +10, shoot at +5 and compare that highest value to the highest value obtained for 0 and +10. Let’s say for example that +5 results in higher sharpness (higher value on the chart) than 0 but very similar to +10, then you know your optimum value is likely between +5 and +10 (you can try +3 to verify if you want). So next try +8,+7,+6,+9. The highest value will be your optimum in camera fine tune value. Congrats on finding it!

Note that it is not unusual to see no difference when making minor changes such as +/- 1. Remember to focus on infinity between each shot.

This will allow you to very accurately set your in-camera Af fine tune value.

3) Example of post sigma 150-600S tuning results...

saaber1 wrote:

I just re-did the lens fine tuning (previous fine tune was about a year ago) and I was surprised how much it "drifted". It's worth it if you haven't fine tuned for a while as either the lens or camera drifted in my case. Here are some shots from yesterday after the recalibration with a d750 (click on "original size" to see fine feather detail). All are crops and some are very large crops. Thanks!

ArtAlt
OP ArtAlt Senior Member • Posts: 1,939
Re: Have you tried Sigma's calibration service?

saaber1 wrote:

saaber1 wrote:

ArtAlt wrote:

I'm considering paying Sigma's $100 fee to get my 24-105mm calibrated in their shop to my D750. Have any of you tried this service? Did you get results that you are happy with?

Do they do anything different than you can do at home with the dock?

I guess what I’m getting at is u may be able to accomplish the improvement u are looking for for free (but takes time though). I like the af tune procedure shown at “1)” in the text I pasted below. It is fast and accurate if u are methodical in your method and pay attention to details such as good light, tripod, vertical target, focus on infinity between shots etc.

... post from another thread below....

...

This is fantastic information, I will save it of course

I do my own MFA on my Nikons using the "dot-tune" method but I do not have the time currently to investigate or deploy the more powerful system that Sigma offers (16 different MFA points on the zoom, as I understand, compared to just one in-body adjustment on the Nikons).

To address an earlier question, Sigma customer rep claims that their own procedures are more accurate than the procedure clients use with the dock, because they take advantage of internal features of the lens, but I suspect that I could do it for free on my own and be happy but for the time it would take.
Hopefully in the future.

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ArtAlt
OP ArtAlt Senior Member • Posts: 1,939
Re: Have you tried Sigma's calibration service?

Horoscope Fish wrote:

ArtAlt wrote:

I'm considering paying Sigma's $100 fee to get my 24-105mm calibrated in their shop to my D750. Have any of you tried this service? Did you get results that you are happy with?

Sigma has calibrated the AF on two Art series primes for me: a 50mm and a 135mm, but they didn't charge me for the first one and only $50 for the second. I guess zooms are more complicated...

Pricing aside, the calibrations were absolutely spot-on when I got them back.

Thanks for letting me know, this is very encouraging.

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saaber1 Senior Member • Posts: 1,505
Re: Have you tried Sigma's calibration service?
1

ArtAlt wrote:

To address an earlier question, Sigma customer rep claims that their own procedures are more accurate than the procedure clients use with the dock, because they take advantage of internal features of the lens, but I suspect that I could do it for free on my own and be happy but for the time it would take.

Very interesting.  I guess it makes sense that the consumer's dock would have a more simplified version of the AF correction vs. their own "dock" system because they don't have to make their system user/consumer friendly so it could have more options in it.  I'm curious if they ever disassemble the lens and realign an element if it is de-centered.  If they did that for $100 it would really be well worth it IMO (if the lens needed it I mean).

Re time for at-home AF tune, yes it takes time but there are ways to speed it up greatly.  At first I did the method of removing/installing the lens multiple times but later on found that the "1)" method shown above was way, way faster and just as accurate (on my 150-600 Sports anyway).

The last time I did it I did just the 600mm focal length (times four distances including infinity) and it took maybe 10 minutes to get the AF values (note that the first time doing anything always takes longer though).  I just set up the target (shown in above post) on a clipboard and hung it from an old tripod so it was vertical.  Then I measured the required distances from the target and put a piece of masking tape in the yard for each distance.  Then I set up the camera on a tripod level with the target and used the in-camera Af fine tuning to get the optimum AF value for each distance (according to the methods shown in the text:  use tripod, compare to live view, remote release, good light, focus on infinity between shots, etc.) and wrote the values down.  For example 15 feet +7, 35 feet -8, etc.

Then I transferred to the lens via the dock all at one time.  Once you get the method down it goes pretty fast mainly because you only remove the lens once and input all the values once.  In the case of my 600mm-only example I mean "once" for the 600mm focal length -as that is the one I really rely on being perfectly accurate- and I can do the other focal lengths on another day if I think it's needed... or a person could do all focal lengths at once if there is time/need).  Also the same methods (vertical chart, camera on tripod level with chart, remote release, focus on infinity between shots, good light etc.) can be used to test the sharpness of one lens against another lens (make sure to test at 40x focal length or even longer) so it's a handy skill to have IMO.

ArtAlt
OP ArtAlt Senior Member • Posts: 1,939
Re: Have you tried Sigma's calibration service?

Morvegil wrote:

SO do you send them your camera? Hows this work?

Yep, sorry that I overlooked this question initially.  You have the option of just sending in the lens and getting it calibrated, without a camera body, or you can also send in a camera body for them to fine tune together.

I sent in the camera body but not without some hesitation.  I want them to fine tune my lens to work well on any Nikon body - especially those that let you tune in a MFA figure manually like my D750 and D810.   But those bodies make you choose a single MFA number per lens, which I think is not so bad for primes but end up being sub-optimal for zooms.   When I fine tune a typical zoom on my Nikon I find that it needs different numbers at different focal lengths, sometimes in different directions.

So in my instructions I asked them first to fine tune the Sigma so that it could effectively be fine tuned on multiple Nikon bodies, and then to firm up the adjustment for my D750.

We shall see.

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Mike - Contributing Member • Posts: 722
Have you tried Sigma's calibration service? Sorta

I just used Sigmas service, sorta.

The fact that they offer their "Dock" to calibrate their lenses.

I just bought their 24-105 Art lens for my Sony a99 II. The initial shots were, ok... But the Dock came with the lens, so I got out my Spyder tool and started adjusting. Major detail difference in the pictures. While the lens should have come this way, there are a lot of variables in today's gear, so it's somewhat understandable that the aftermarket lenses can be better calibrated "to" a given camera body.

Beside learning something (sorta) new, there's nothing better than doing something yourself vs. just paying for it. And the fact that I don't have to put my camera and lens into the hands of some shipping company with who knows what the possibility's there are..!

Mike

SushiEater
SushiEater Veteran Member • Posts: 8,727
Re: Have you tried Sigma's calibration service?

ArtAlt wrote:

I'm considering paying Sigma's $100 fee to get my 24-105mm calibrated in their shop to my D750. Have any of you tried this service? Did you get results that you are happy with?

For the adjustment like this all you need is a dock. $60.

Small lens like yours can be done in like 30 minutes because it is so small. Larger lenses like 150-600mm sport or 120-300mm sport takes a little longer.

I made my own target.

Basically it is a 2x4 with 2 cheap aluminum rulers butted at 0. Then I use a 4.5 x4.5 piece of plywood with 90 degrees bracket and attached it 45 degrees on the side. I made my own print in Photoshop and glued it on. Rulers  I bought from Harbor Tools and the rest from Home Depot. Took maybe 30 minutes to put together but I am very handy wit the tools.

This contraption can be put anywhere. Against the wall, tree on the chair etc.. so the vertical print is perpendicular to the ground and at the same height as the camera. The good news is that ruler is 48 inches long so even those lenses with the greater DOF can be adjusted.

Now as far as sending to Sigma I did send my 150-600mm with my camera because the optics were bad. They replaced the optics and adjusted to my camera. They don't use dock at all but the optical bench. Then the lens and the camera came back first two distances were perfect but the third and infinity were not. Since replacing of the internals was done under warranty I did not have to pay anything. But I had to send it back (they paid for the shipping label) for other adjustments. I did not even even send the camera the second time around. They have their own D810 so I told them to MFA my lens to their camera first and then adjust the other focal lengths on the lens. It worked.

But I did check all of the focal lengths after the lens came back and it took maybe 30 minutes. All values in software right now are at Zero and camera is at Zero.

I also, adjusted lenses like Sigma 20mm, 35mm 120-300mm Sport. Tamron 24-70mm and 70-200mm G2s. Well worth doing it at home.

Adjusting for Infinity is tough though. At Infinity DOF is huge so my target does not cover it. I did find the roof of the house with AC unit in the middle of it so I used that as my target. It is not at infinity but far enough to act like one.

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ArtAlt
OP ArtAlt Senior Member • Posts: 1,939
Re: Have you tried Sigma's calibration service?

Excellent points in these last few posts, you have me rethinking my decision to ship it out to Sigma.    What happens in a year when I suspect that it needs to have the focus adjustment touched up?   Do I spend $100 again plus round trip shipping OR do I try it at home, risking making it worse rather than better?  Yikes!  Anyway I shipped it yesterday .....

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Morvegil
Morvegil Contributing Member • Posts: 591
Re: Have you tried Sigma's calibration service?

im trying to find the link for this service

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ArtAlt
OP ArtAlt Senior Member • Posts: 1,939
Re: Have you tried Sigma's calibration service?

Morvegil wrote:

im trying to find the link for this service

I called them to discuss it and then used the online order form at the link on this page.

https://www.sigmaphoto.com/service-support/

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SushiEater
SushiEater Veteran Member • Posts: 8,727
Re: Have you tried Sigma's calibration service?

ArtAlt wrote:

Morvegil wrote:

im trying to find the link for this service

I called them to discuss it and then used the online order form at the link on this page.

https://www.sigmaphoto.com/service-support/

Did they tell you how much it would cost? Or is there a cost table somewhere?

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Bhupinder Singh Forum Member • Posts: 66
Re: Have you tried Sigma's calibration service?
2

ArtAlt wrote:

I'm considering paying Sigma's $100 fee to get my 24-105mm calibrated in their shop to my D750. Have any of you tried this service? Did you get results that you are happy with?

I used their services once for my 150-600 sports. I had issues doing AFFT for this lens on my new D850 - despite repeated attempts to get stable AFFT values, there was significant variation in the numbers.

I took both camera body and the lens to them, but they didn't use the D850 body for adjustments. What they showed me was a Sigma dock - much bigger than the one we use at home - apparently it allowed them to make some adjustments that went beyond simply adjusting the AFFT values. The technician did mention about adjusting some 'wave-forms' on the monitor by adjusting some parameters thru the dock, but I couldn't see the entire process.

It took them 20mins to do the job (D850 body was with me all the while) and I am very happy with the results I get now. All the AFFT values on the lens and on the body are set to '0'. They didn't charge me for the service. I also got my Sigma 24 - 105 Art calibrated and the results now are excellent.

It will certainly not be possible for them to open the lens, adjust elements and then put it back together in those 20 mins.

I hope it helps..

-Singh

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ArtAlt
OP ArtAlt Senior Member • Posts: 1,939
Re: Have you tried Sigma's calibration service?

Bhupinder Singh wrote:

....

I took both camera body and the lens to them, but they didn't use the D850 body for adjustments. What they showed me was a Sigma dock - much bigger than the one we use at home - apparently it allowed them to make some adjustments that went beyond simply adjusting the AFFT values. The technician did mention about adjusting some 'wave-forms' on the monitor by adjusting some parameters thru the dock, but I couldn't see the entire process.

....

It never dawned on me to visit their site with the lens and have them do it while I was present.  Never realized it was an option.

Glad to hear this worked out so well for you.

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SushiEater
SushiEater Veteran Member • Posts: 8,727
Re: Have you tried Sigma's calibration service?

Bhupinder Singh wrote:

ArtAlt wrote:

I'm considering paying Sigma's $100 fee to get my 24-105mm calibrated in their shop to my D750. Have any of you tried this service? Did you get results that you are happy with?

I used their services once for my 150-600 sports. I had issues doing AFFT for this lens on my new D850 - despite repeated attempts to get stable AFFT values, there was significant variation in the numbers.

I took both camera body and the lens to them, but they didn't use the D850 body for adjustments. What they showed me was a Sigma dock - much bigger than the one we use at home - apparently it allowed them to make some adjustments that went beyond simply adjusting the AFFT values. The technician did mention about adjusting some 'wave-forms' on the monitor by adjusting some parameters thru the dock, but I couldn't see the entire process.

It took them 20mins to do the job (D850 body was with me all the while) and I am very happy with the results I get now. All the AFFT values on the lens and on the body are set to '0'. They didn't charge me for the service. I also got my Sigma 24 - 105 Art calibrated and the results now are excellent.

It will certainly not be possible for them to open the lens, adjust elements and then put it back together in those 20 mins.

I hope it helps..

-Singh

I don't know if you read my ordeal with this lens but on the first try (paid for shipping only) all I know they adjusted it to their D810. No good.

On the second try, free, they told me I have two options. Either they replace the innards of the lens or send it to Japan. I chose the first option and from MFD to 15m the lens took pictures like a prime. Between 15m and infinity did not focus correctly. So I sent it in again on their dime. This time they adjust it really good. Still inconsistent focusing sometimes though but I can live with that.

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ArtAlt
OP ArtAlt Senior Member • Posts: 1,939
Re: Have you tried Sigma's calibration service?

SushiEater wrote:

...

I don't know if you read my ordeal with this lens but on the first try (paid for shipping only) all I know they adjusted it to their D810. No good.

On the second try, free, they told me I have two options. Either they replace the innards of the lens or send it to Japan. I chose the first option and from MFD to 15m the lens took pictures like a prime. Between 15m and infinity did not focus correctly. So I sent it in again on their dime. This time they adjust it really good. Still inconsistent focusing sometimes though but I can live with that.

...

Thanks for telling the story.   I wonder what is so hard for them to get right?   I will test my 24-105mm carefully upon return, now that I understand what problems are possible (e.g. works ok up to 15m ....).

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SushiEater
SushiEater Veteran Member • Posts: 8,727
Re: Have you tried Sigma's calibration service?

ArtAlt wrote:

SushiEater wrote:

...

I don't know if you read my ordeal with this lens but on the first try (paid for shipping only) all I know they adjusted it to their D810. No good.

On the second try, free, they told me I have two options. Either they replace the innards of the lens or send it to Japan. I chose the first option and from MFD to 15m the lens took pictures like a prime. Between 15m and infinity did not focus correctly. So I sent it in again on their dime. This time they adjust it really good. Still inconsistent focusing sometimes though but I can live with that.

...

Thanks for telling the story. I wonder what is so hard for them to get right? I will test my 24-105mm carefully upon return, now that I understand what problems are possible (e.g. works ok up to 15m ....).

24-105 might have different distances. for 150-600mm they are MDF, 6m 15m and Infinity. But remember these are not hard coded. So 15m for example is probably setup to 30m or longer. I could not adjust Infinity because I don't have anything to adjust it by. IOW I don't have a target. I have no idea how Sigma is doing it. They must have something.

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