FocusTune by Michael Tapes Design- Review
I just bought FocusTune by Michael Tapes Design!
I am a big fan of having sharp images. My Canon 5DMkIII has micro adjustment for Autofocus. So, as an ex-engineer, I love to fiddle with my camera and lenses to make sure the AF is always right on the money sharp. Of course AF systems are not totally reliable….but I can try. So I have have had Michael Tape’s Lens Align systems for years. I think I am on my third upgraded set. I wrote a blog post on how to do lens calibrations here that covered that system and others. I will have to update it with this new FocusTune system.
One of the problems I have with the Lensalign system is that you have to judge where your depth of field is on this ruler and sometimes its hard. In some cases you have to go into Photoshop and do an emboss effect to really see the focus area. But it works and in most cases you can see the focus area without this. The lensalign target also comes with an alignment system where you can be sure that the target plane and the camera sensor place are parallel.
Then along comes FoCal by Reikan. I reviewed it here. This is a nearly fully automatic system. You tether your Mac or PC to your camera. Make sure you are aligned with the target. Hit a button. Ka-ching….. Minutes later there is your best MA adjustment. One of the problems is that there is no alignment system . Maybe that is not all that important unless you are doing Macro work. Then in addition to that…. I upgraded my camera to a Canon 5D Mark III. Well the Canon camera software does not allow for automatic MA adjustment with FoCal. So you have to sit there and wait for the computer to ask you to change the MA ….. about 20 times or so. Gets old….
Now there is FocusTune by the LensAlign guys. I had to get it. So here are some of my impressions. Its Cheaper. The LensAlign is $80-160( depending on the model), the Focal Pro (this is the one to get) is about $111. The Focus Tune is $29 unless you are already a LensAlign owner and then its $19. So price is NICE!
But its a little less automatic that FoCal. Even though I have to make my own MA adjustments on the FoCal system, because of Canon, it still seems easier than the FocusTune. Here are FocusTunes steps:
1. Set up target and Camera so they are aligned (if you have the lensalign target then this is easy and gives you confidence that you are aligned) or you can use their printed target (like the FoCal system)
2. I put a set of lights on the target
3. Set up the camera. I use manual, f2.8, Single pt focus, ISO 100, IS or VC off, cover eye piece, Mirror lock up. And I set up a remote wireless shutter release.
4. Take a series of 4 shots at each MA value. I start with -20 then -10, 0, 10, 10. I rotate the focus ring to infinity between each shot.
5. Take the memory card out and feed the images to your computer.
6. Start FocusTune, and import the images
7. In the lower left of the screen zoom in till you have a good view of the target. Point to each corner of the target.
8. Hit the process and then analyze button…… Wha Lah!!! There is an estimate of your best MA an a graph.
9. You could stop there but to be precise I pick about 10-15 points around that recommendation and rerun the whole thing for a more accurate result.
So good news is its cheap. Bad news its kind of tedious. More good news is that you can turn around and check the results almost immediately by looking on the LensAlign Ruler. I think I like that the best.
Even when I do the FoCal, which is much more automated. I always get the lensalign system out and double check it.
So for the future I will likely stay with FocusTune and the Lens Align system. But…. since I am relatively lazy…. if the Reikan and Canon people can get together so that they can go back to a FULLY automatic cal on the Canon 5D MarkIII…. I may go back to FoCal.
There are many other features that the FocusTune system has like AF consistency, Focus point Comparison, Aperture Comparison, and a few others. These are good but FoCal does a better job at these and those particular tests ARE automatic on the FoCal system.