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7 Steps to Calibrate Your Camera's Autofocus

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Once you have tested the accuracy of your camera's autofocus system as described in our previous article and determined that one or some of your lenses do not produce perfectly sharp images, you have two solutions: have your camera serviced by a professional or, if your camera has an autofocus micro-adjustment feature, do it yourself. In this article, we will guide you through 7 easy steps for DSLR camera's autofocus calibration process using Live View mode on the example of Canon 5D Mark II camera.

First and foremost, determine whether your camera has an autofocus micro-adjustment feature.

Supported Canon cameras include: 1D Mark III, 1Ds Mark III, 1D Mark IV, 1D X, 5D Mark II, 5D Mark III, 6D, 7D, 7D Mark II, 50D, and 70D.

Supported Nikon cameras include: D3s, D3, D3X, D4, D4S, Df, D800, D800E, D810, D300, D300s, D600, D610, D700, D750, D7000, and D7100.

If your Canon or Nikon camera is not on this list, there are no options for this sort of adjustment and you will have to see a professional. If you have a DSLR camera of different brand (Sony, Pentax, etc.), check its manual to see whether it supports autofocus micro-adjustment.

DSLR camera's autofocus system can be adjusted according to each lens you use. If you have several lenses, you will need to run the autofocus accuracy test and calibrate autofocus for each lens separately. Here is how you can do that in 7 easy steps:

1. Set the camera on tripod, stand focus chart on a level surface in front of the camera and select the widest possible aperture (lowest f-number) of the lens you are going to calibrate, as explained in our previous post.

2. Look through the viewfinder and lock the center focus point by half-pressing the shutter button.

3. Turn the autofocus system off (switch to manual focus) and turn the Live View mode on.

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4. In Live View mode, enlarge the image by pressing Magnify button twice. This will give you a 10x pixel-by-pixel zoom of the image how it will actually look on the sensor. See if the finest details of the focus chart are in focus.

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5. Repeat steps 2 to 4 a couple of times for more accurate results. If the picture you see on the screen is razor sharp, congratulate yourself on a great lens that does not need any calibration. If this is not the case, proceed to step 6.

6. To calibrate the lens, turn Live View mode off and go to your camera's menu. In Functions menu, select Autofocus/Drive menu and press Set.

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This will take you to another screen, where you have an option of adjusting all the lenses that are used on your camera by the same amount or do it for each lens separately. Canon cameras can remember the settings for up to 99 different lenses that are used on a particular camera.

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7. To make changes, hit the "Info" button and adjust the focus: go "+" if your lens tends to back-focus, or "-" if it has front-focusing issues. Press "Set" to register the changes and run the autofocus accuracy test again using Live View mode as described in steps 2 to 4. As to the amount of adjustment, try increments of +/-5 until you are happy with the result.

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Once your camera and lenses are calibrated, enjoy the sharpness of your travel images and share the best ones with us!

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About the Author

Nadia Gric

Nadia Gric

Nadia is passionate about the visual aspect of life and the personalities she meets along the way. Living in the heart of Paris, Nadia never stops exploring the City of Light through her camera and readily shares her knowledge and love for photography. Learn more...