Digital Camera: How to Perform Your Own Lens Calibration

The more we use our lenses, the more we need to properly maintain them. One of the most enigmatic camera maintenance procedures is lens calibration. Lenses are optical devices that transmit and reflect light, converging the beam onto a photographic medium where the image is captured. They're very precise instruments constructed under the strict laws of optics to create sharp, crisp images. Overtime, a len's precision can become compromised, which causes the images to be slightly out of focus. Lens calibration is needed to correct that.

Until recently, the only way to have your lenses properly calibrated was to send them to the manufacturer or to go to an expensive camera professional. But now, some new digital SLR cameras are giving the user the ability to calibrate the lenses themselves.

Make Sure Your Camera Can Calibrate Itself

The first step in calibrating your lenses is to make sure that your camera has the ability to do it. Check your camera's menu for a calibrating option. If you have it, then you can precede; if not, then you're out of luck. Although, there might be software that you can buy which will allow you to calibrate the lenses yourself.

Gather What You Will Need

The next step involves gathering the tools you need to make the calibration possible. In addition to the camera and lenses, you will also need a tripod, tape, lens calibration charts (or something similar), and white material for a white balance. The whole point of calibration is to make sure the focus is sharp. A calibration chart is composed of multiple distinct lines that are closely spaced together. The goal is to keep the center of these lines in sharp focus. A lens is a precision instrument and this is precision test. If you cannot get a calibration chart, then a large thermometer or ruler will work.

Set the Chart and Camera Up 

You want to tape the chart to a wall or anything else that will position it upright. Once that is set, you should level your tripod with the camera in front of the chart. You're going to want to tilt and raise the camera so that it is looking down at the chart at a forty five degree angle.

Once the camera and chart are in position, you should white balance the image before you begin the calibration procedure.

Calibrate Your Lens

Now, you can view how the camera is automatically focusing the image to see the sharpness. The softness might only be minimal, but it is there and the purpose of this procedure is to make the image completely sharp. Because every manufacturer is different, calibration is a guess, test and revise process. Adjust the value in the menu and see if that is helping the focus or if it is making it worse. It's not hard to do, and you will have sharp lenses in a few minutes.

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