During the bird and landscape photography courses that I have taught during the past two years, I always mention the need for autofocus fine tuning of camera bodies with lenses to assure yourself that you are capturing the sharpest images you can capture with your gear. I sometimes run into those same folks at parties in my community or at photography events in the area. If I have the chance during those post-course encounters (and my wife is out of ear shot so she does not give me that funny look), I ask how their photography has progressed since the course. I often get glowing remarks about that progress, but I also get some responses that lead me to believe the person or persons were not proper candidates for the toughest follow up task – autofocus fine tuning.
At the risk of offending some readers here, I will try to describe the characteristics of the folks who have found autofocus fine tuning either to distasteful or too complicated to do…and yes, my wife fits well into that category of folks. Here goes; read on at your own risk!
The following folks probably don’t make good candidates to perform autofocus fine tuning of their camera bodies and lenses:
- You consider yourself an artist and just don’t get into the technical details of how or why a camera does what it does.
- You don’t have the patience to work at a tedious task for hours on end in order to achieve perfection.
- You don’t mind spending thousands on camera gear, but you skimp on software because you do not consider software a critical element in your photography.
- Tethering a camera to a laptop computer and running software that drives the camera is just too much rocket science for you to handle.
- You would rather use your computer to search the Web than to analyze camera data.
- You are not a gadget person, and have never quite figured out how to use a GPS to navigate somewhere.
- You have a 55 inch HD TV, but you listen to the sound of movies through the built-in TV speakers instead of an attached surround sound system.
Opps, I may have gone a little too far there at the end. However, you do get the idea. It takes a lot of patience and time as well as some technical knowhow to run a successful autofocus fine tuning process, especially for camera bodies that do not support fully-automated autofocus fine tuning through software (e.g. Nikon bodies).
However, I still find myself muttering under my breath when I hear someone ask why I bother with autofocus fine tuning. If you could make out the words, they would sound like “because close enough for government work is not good enough for me.”