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PRESS RELEASE: RawWorkflow Unveils LensAlign For Managing Back and Front Focus Issues
"Get the most from your fast glass!" -- Michael Tapes.
MELBOURNE, Fla. -- The new LensAlign Focus Calibration System from RawWorkFlow.com provides a unique and precision test bed for testing camera/lens combinations for front or back-focus problems when using "fast glass" (lenses with aperture openings of f4 or larger). While there are several free test charts available on the web, none have the ease of use, speed, accuracy or repeatability of the LensAlign system. Owners of today's sophisticated dSLRs and modern lenses are quite aware of the potential front/back focus problem, but have not had access to a proper testing methodology previous to LensAlign. Without confirmation of proper AF operation, a purchaser of new or used equipment has no idea if it is working to its amazing potential. Now with LensAlign a new lens purchase, for example, can be verified on one or more camera bodies in the photographer's arsenal.
The release of LensAlign also coincides with the camera makers' subtle but real acknowledgement of the back/front focus issue, company founder Michael Tapes observed. Beginning with the Canon Mark III Series 1 cameras, almost all professional and enthusiast dSLRS are now equipped with a function called AF Microadjustment, which allows the camera body or individual lenses to be calibrated such that the focus problem can neutralized. However, no official calibration procedures have been announced by any of the camera makers. It is the belief of RawWorkflow.com that with the release of LensAlign, camera makers will now have a universal reference from which to base at least one calibration procedure. Although there is no official endorsement of LensAlign by camera makers, Canon U.S. and other camera makers have been kept in the loop during the development of LensAlign and their feedback was implemented within the LensAlign design.
"In conceiving LensAlign, it struck me that there was no good way to communicate the focus problems that were being widely reported," Tapes said. "Photographers could post test images, but they did not have a common reference from which the performance of the camera or lens could be judged. I hope that LensAlign can become this common reference, so that specific camera/lens combinations can be profiled as to performing in specific ways in terms of auto-focus. I hope to be able to create a database of LensAlign images from camera/lens combinations so that a perspective buyer or new owner can compare the results that they get from their equipment to a profile of performance images stored in the database. Since there is no specific specification number when it comes to auto-focus, I feel the best way to see if one's equipment is up to its potential is to compare it to identical camera/lens combinations in use by others."
LensAlign will be available in two different configurations. The first, LensAlign Pro, will ship Dec 16, while the portable and less expensive LensAlign Lite, will ship around Jan. 10. Both models are comprised a focus target and a companion depth-of-field ruler, together with a novel, custom-designed sighting system that ensures accurate parallelism between the LensAlign focus target and camera sensor/film plane. Having set up the camera and LensAlign using the sighting mechanism -- all of which is explained in the accompanying video tutorials -- the user takes an image of the target and ruler. Any front/back focus anomalies will be instantly revealed on resultant image of the angled ruler scale.
"If the focus is spot-on," Tapes explains, "the ruler's zero mark will be in perfect focus, with proper depth of field in front and rear of the mark. But, if the auto or manual focus system is off, then the ruler markings will show this instantly, either in front of or in back of the target plane (0 ruler marking). The entire process is easy to perform, accurate and is entirely repeatable. Even photographers who focus manually can benefit from the regular use of LensAlign," Tapes considers, "because while not as complex as the AF system, the manual focusing of dSLRs or rangefinder cameras utilizes a separate light path than the capture, which is the cause of the problem in the first place."
LensAlign ships with a companion DVD tutorial series and is available online from RawWorkflow.com for $139.95 (Pro) and $79.95 (Lite) both plus shipping. Because of the portable nature of the LensAlign Lite design, it is well suited for international purchase and is shipped in a Flat Rate postal envelope to minimize shipping costs outside of the U.S.
LensAlign is a patent pending design.
(Also see Newsletter Editor Mike Pasini's LensAlign Pro review.)
(First posted on Friday, December 12, 2008 at 12:00 EST)