F-F-Focus on Me!

A few years ago I went from a regular computer monitor to a glass iMac screen. Oh the CLARITY! It was beautiful!! But then I realized something quite alarming... my images were not properly focused!!! 

It completely blew my mind and I could not figure out what I was doing wrong. Mad google searches and posts in forums only found answers about back button focusing, and people who had never seen my photos assuring me that it was my lack of knowledge and technique that caused me to miss focus on my images. 

It was so consistent though, I kept trying new techniques, and after every amazing session was this gut wrenching disappointment in the missed moments I had with my missed focusing. It would leave me in tears. It was months of searching for a solution and getting nothing. 

Now I will date myself, haha, but this was before our awesome photography groups we now have on Facebook. So this tip, you may already know it. But I wanted to make a post about this, just in case there is someone else out there going through what I went through, and maybe reading this will save them months of confusion and frustration.

Its called Auto-Focus Fine Tuning. 

What it means is that sometimes we need to calibrate our lenses to our cameras. Our manufacturers leave a small window of give or take on our focusing, because truly getting it always perfect out of the box is nearly impossible for them. Everyone's camera is different, and every lens is slightly unique as well, so when you get a new lens, if it isn't focusing correctly you will need to fine tune that auto focus. 

For example, my 35mm F2 needs calibration. As you can see here my lens is focusing on the blanket in front of the baby's face rather than the eyelashes I was focusing on at the time. Yes, that's right, even though my focus point was on the baby's eyelashes, the camera focused a few millimeters in front of the baby's face. 

Now it may be hard to see it in the whole photo, but if your client comes back and wants to print this image on a canvas, you have a lot of work to do, and I hate to break it to you, when the focus is missed this much, there is really no saving the image. 


I considered doing my own tutorials on this, but there are actually quite a few videos on it on youtube now that go into a lot of detail on how you can do this in many different ways. 

A lot of them suggest you use a SpyderLensCal from Datacolor, but I have had no issue using a tripod low to the ground and my camera pointed down to a measuring tape on the floor. Where the videos I am going to link below will say you need to focus on the zero, I would focus on the 1 foot mark on my measuring tape and see where my focus landed in reference to that. 

I do want to note - not all camera's will fine-tune auto focus - you will have to check your manual to be sure.

Here are some tutorials on how to calibrate your lenses. 

First here is the SpyderLensCal you will see in a few of these videos:

Here is a more detailed show of how to calibrate your lens:

And finally here is the video I used waaay back when I needed to do my own fine-tuning :) I just liked this guy's sense of humor :) 

I hope these videos help!

I was thinking of when I finally got around to calibrating my lenses, it would probably be a cold winters day, and I would be warm and cozy in my studio with my tripod and measuring tape. When I think of this day that I will be calibrating, I have a hunch that I will be drinking Hot Chocolate to keep me warm. So in that spirit I thought I would also give you some Hot Chocolate - in the form of an ACR preset!

This ACR Preset is super stylized and will not work for EVERY image, its a warm creamy edit, and I feel like it is much like my Bales of Hay PS Action from Simply Autumn. Click here to get your FREE ACR Preset - Hot Chocolate!

Image by  Rock Paper Pictures  

Stay tuned for tomorrow's blog where we will talk about my favorite new scheduling system that I love, and your awesome freebie!