Photography News 83 Web

First test

Calibration by CameraCal PRICE: STARTING FROM£99


SPECS ›  Prices Calibration services

If your DSLR and expensive lenses aren’t giving you the razor-sharp pictures you’re expecting, it’s time to get your outfit calibrated. Ann Healey ARPS reviews the UK’s leading calibration service

One camera body with 1 lens £99, with 2 lenses £134, with 3 lenses £169, with 4 lenses £184, with 5 lenses £194, with 6 lenses £225 Two camera bodies with 2 lenses £189, with 3 lenses £225, with 4 lenses £255, with 5 lenses £275, with 6 lenses £325 Converters/extenders are priced at £49 per lens per camera ›  Courier service* – single camera body calibration from £99 ›  Other CameraCal services l Sensor cleaning – by studio appointment. l APS-C/MFT £36, full-frame and medium format £56. l Courier collection* and return is an extra £16 l Annual camera service, by courier*, from £99 l Firmware upgrade £19.50 l Lens optimisation service to find the lens’ sweet spot or best aperture at £19.50 per lens l Diagnostic service £34 l Camera configuration £19.50 ›  Training: Available 1-2-1 courses, including how to clean your sensor £79-99, Lightroom and other photo-related training from £99 *An option to have your kit collected and returned via a GPS-tracked peli case is available for an extra £69. Please check full details and current prices on the website. Contact or call 01798 306599 to calibrate and the software produces extensive and detailed reports. With Canon zooms, there’s the ability to calibrate both ends of the lens. With combinations, such as the 100-400mm lens and a 1.4x converter, that extra time and effort is worthwhile. With Nikon, it’s calibration at one end, while specific Sigma and Tamron lenses can be tested at multiple focal lengths. Comprehensive reports of each lens arrived a few days after my visit. If you prefer, a single page simplified report can be provided. With the large outfit I took to CameraCal, I was on-site for several hours, but I emerged satisfied that my gear would deliver spot on results next time. AH

THERE ARE ANY number of reasons why your DSLR and lenses aren’t giving you the critically sharp shots you expect. It might be user error, it may be that your tripod is not as stable as it should be or you might be using poor-quality filters. After a process of elimination and self-analysis, you could find the finger of suspicion pointing at your expensive kit. ‘How can that be?’ you ask yourself. Well, the fact is that excessive use, or that time you banged your lens against the fence, can impact on your kit’s overall performance. It’s also true that such problems aren’t confined to existing kit and while, quite naturally, you would expect your new lens to performperfectly, it is generally necessary to optimise your kit. CameraCal, founded in 2016 by Anthony Sinfield, is the UK’s leading camera and lens calibration specialist. Calibration, however, is just part of its business, so check out its website for full details of what it offers. It is also the UK distributor of Breakthrough camera filters, a filter systemmanufactured in the US. I’d booked an appointment for a personal visit to CameraCal’s offices in West Chiltington, in rural West Sussex. I’d arranged to bring alongmy Canon EOS 5DMark IV (which needed its sensor cleaning), along with several lenses and two extenders for calibration. If you are unable to visit in person, CameraCal offers a FedEx courier service – for an extra £69, there’s a GPS tracked peli case pick up and return option. I arrived and was warmly greeted by Anthony. He gaveme a tour of the excellent, spacious and air-conditioned facilities, appropriately adhering to social distancing rules.

TESTKITLIST: For this test, I took along the following kit: ›  Canon EOS 5D Mark IV (which had its sensor cleaned, too) The following lenses were calibrated: › EF 17-40mm f/4L USM › EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM ›  EF 100-400mm Mark II f/4.5- 5.6L IS USM › EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM

IMAGE An aperture sharpness profile created by Reikan’s FoCal calibration software for a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV with a EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM and 1.4x extender

› EF 1.4x III Extender › EF 2x III Extender Total cost: £387

One camera body and four lenses at £184, three lens and converter combinations at £147 (£49 each) and a sensor clean at £56.

The calibration process beganwith Anthonymounting the camera and the first lens on to a tripod, lined up with a test chart at a set distance – this changed for each lens. After linking the camera up to hisMacbook Pro and using Reikan’s FoCal software, the automated evaluation process began. The software is for Canon and Nikon DSLRs and Nikon Zmirrorless cameras at this time. This process is automated to test the autofocus system’s performance, indicating the sharpness that is expected over a range of apertures. As expected, the widest aperture is not necessarily the best setting to use, and

IMAGE Results of the automatic focus calibration for a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV with Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM and 1.4x extender

as each one progressed on the large TV screen in front of me. It was a fascinating process. The programanalyses the lens profile before showing you what the optimum settings should be, as well as ‘before’ and ‘after’ photographs of the focus chart. For remote clients, the whole process can be viewed live on the TV. At the end of the process, the software indicates the level of micro adjustment needed. Each lens takes about 30minutes

there’s likely to be one or two apertures that provide sharper images. Moreover, sharpness drops away at the smaller apertures due to diffraction. Anthonymeticulously explained the entire process as he worked, and I watched the calculations on the graphs

PROS Equipment ready to fulfil its true potential, sharper images, outstanding professional service and value for money CONS None Verdict If you think your camera gear is working perfectly well and doesn’t need calibration, think again. If you’ve invested good money on the best kit, having it calibrated is an absolute no-brainer.

ABOVE CameraCal’s Anthony Sinfield at work RIGHT Behind the scenes at CameraCal

Issue 83 | Photography News 63

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