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Article about photographic lenses and equipment

Backfocus calibration tools

Accidental comparison between Datacolor SpyderLensCal and Peleng8 printable calibration sheet

Today I went to local Sigma dealership to buy me another Sigma lens. This one is really for my wife but one can hope to use it from time to time. Well those places are kind of a candy store for me and I usually avoid going into them because I can't control my self in places like that.(same goes for real candy stores) 
While I was waiting on paperwork and talking with my acquaintance (from my model plane building days) who owned a nice hobby shop I spotted SpyderLensCal tool.
Buy Buy Buy urge kicked in and I decided to buy it.
Not that I really needed it but it was there in nice shiny box calling my name.
I know that all my lenses are spot on because I made similar tool for lens calibration which I discovered here. They offer (for free) printable template and instruction how to build and use it. It is tool that you will need if you are using old lenses (from film era) and any kind of programmable AF Confirm Chip "Dandelion". When I was using Canon 450D their chip (sold by Peleng8) was the best on market and the only way to correct back focus because there is no such feature in 450D. When I switched to 7D I had to replace all Dandelion chip's on all lenses because they were producing strange effects in viewfinder. (like a bright flashes) I finally replace “EURO Dandelion” chips with cheep ones from china and 7D is now working as it was intended.
Painful process was recalibration of all freshly chipped lenses for proper focusing.

Now to the interesting part what's in the box:
1. SpyderLensCal
2. Quick start guide (pleas read this one I know who reads manuals)
3. Storage bag
4. Some kind of registration card

First impression:
 Really nice mat finish on focusing target and ruler, it has tripod mount for standard tripod screw, big spirit level and it is foldable for easy storage. It's precision made from high grade plastic and it looks like it's made to last.

First use:
 It's really easy to setup. I used two tripod setup one for SpyderLensCal and other for camera, for additional lighting I used standard halogen lamps.
It took me 15 minutes to setup and make test shots and check focusing point for three lenses.
I imagine that more time would be needed (what I'm I talking about I know) for full lens calibration but I can see benefit from this little gizmo.

Conclusion:
If you have $ 60 to burn go wit it and you'll not be sorry it's a nice gizmo and it'll be useful if you have trouble with your AF or if you are using a lot of old glass with single adapter (chip will need recalibration for each lens)
Compared to Peleng8 calibration chart SpyderLensCal is much easier to setup especially if you are using two tripod combo. SpyderLensCal will probably travel around with me for lens focus calibrations because it'll fit in my photo bag (and it'll not crumple). Pleas do not get me wrong home made paper one worked perfectly until today, what can I do I like new shiny objects but final result are same. If you just want to test your optics and AF system of your camera go with paper one it is more of a challenge to setup but it is free. Read both instructions for Peleng8 calibration chart and SpyderLensCal. Instructions and setup guide for SpyderLensCal can be found here under Literature tab. For me any focus calibration tool is more important than any other calibration tool if picture is out of focus nothing can save it.

Author: Radovan 28.02.2013 02:57:29
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