Nikon Automated One of Photography's Tedious Chores

If you own a DSLR and like to shoot with fast lenses, you're likely acquainted with the procedure known as "autofocus microadjustment." The process is a bit tedious and annoying, but highly useful for those of us who savor that razor-thin depth of field. Thankfully, owners of new Nikon bodies now have the option of having their cameras perform the procedure automatically for them.

I have a serious love/hate relationship with my Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L II. It takes beautiful images, but its autofocus is positively devilish at times. To quote Jane Austen: "Oh! How gladly would I suppose [it] only fickle — very, very fickle." And yet, I still think it conspires against me. Alas. One way to make it slightly better is to perform an autofocus microadjustment. However, this requires a rather cumbersome process that involves test charts, repeated small adjustments, and a fair abundance of squinting. 

Enter Nikon. The new D5 and D500 both contain a feature that automates this with no charts or input required. By comparing the autofocus module data to on-sensor data, the camera can automatically detect and compensate for the difference, making the process much quicker and easier. Check out the video above; it takes just a few seconds, as opposed to the ten minutes or so the manual method takes. 

For those of you not shooting the new D5 or D500, you'll have to stick to the manual method or use specialized software. Let's hope we see this feature in more cameras in the future! 

[via DPReview]

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18 Comments

Daniel Wesser's picture

If you're a Canon user, MagicLantern has a feature called "Dot Tune" that will do this. If memory serves you first have to activate the dot tune module then it can be found if the AF menu of MagicLantern.

dred lew's picture

One would hope this feature could be added retroactively to older cameras by way of a firmware update.

Matt Lim's picture

That's exactly what I was thinking. Couldn't it be easily added via firmware update?

Rob Mynard's picture

That would be nice but it doesn't sound like something Nikon would do; Fuji, Olympus, or Lumix yes but I don't remember Nikon ever adding a feature to any of my cameras via firmware before.

Adam Padgett's picture

Actually they have. The D4 allowed you to change the ISO by customizing the record button. No other camera at the time did, but they updated the firmware and then you could do the same thing with the D800 and maybe D600. I think they have also tweaked auto ISO functions in the past as well.

Rob Mynard's picture

Awesome, my D750's and I would be very happy to be wrong (in this instance)

Jarrett Hunt's picture

If it comes to the D7000 I would be so happy. Yes I still have a D7000. I can't afford anything else :(

Fritz Asuro's picture

Be happy. I started my photography years borrowing cameras like the D60 and D40. No one can even lend me a D90 that time.

James Peroul's picture

Fuji would do it. I have a fuji for non-professinal work and I was amazed how many new features I got through firmware updates.

Benjamin Thomson's picture

Fuji doesnt need to do it, its only a problem for cameras without Contrast AF

jan bella's picture

ok so if it's just a software thing canon needs to do, i say get writing guys .....

Daniel Smith's picture

Life is so tough for you. Good thing you don't shoot 8x10 view cameras.

Thuc Tran's picture

This is cool. But i never had any issue with Canon lens since there's Lens profile. I belive that Canon's technician had made a calibration profile for each lens for each body.
For example, I'm using Ef 28mm/1.8. It's been reviewed giving a soft focus. It does. But when i install (just selct profile) the profile for this lens. It was impressive improved.
That may be the reason Canon don't have this Af fine tune.
But this is a cool feature.

Toby Hawkins's picture

Sadly still only microadjustments for one focal length and focus distance per lens. Sigma have the right idea!

Jay Briggs's picture

AAH, I want this on my D750!

Rajesh Ramjit's picture

I grimaced when he touched that mirror..would have preferred a disclaimer, "no smudges or dust were left on the inside of the camera, in the making of this movie"

Alex Cooke's picture

I can't say I would ever dare to do that either. :)

Campbell Sinclair's picture

Too bad I forked out on a D750 as it had the best fps below the D4 now the D500 comes out :-(