Thursday, April 26, 2012

Long Lens Support

Nikon D23s, Nikon 600 f4 with Borden Accuracy Long Lens Support

I have been trying to determine the factors in improving crispness of images while using long lenses.  there are a number of articles out there describing how to hold lenses to get best performance.  Looking at the long lens it often intrigued me why they are built with such a cantilevered load.  The very design is prone to rapidly transmitting vibrations.  Some other manufacturers have support bars and wheel support shysters.  However, they entail a number of clamps, bars and layers of clamping.  It significantly increases height as well as weight.  The increased height is not conducive to getting crisp images.  My friend bob Adamowicz and I spent a considerable amount of time last year analyzing the situation.  I built some prototype units for he and I to use to debug the system.  As a result of that prototyping, I was able to design and manufacture a low design foot with support bar for the Nikon 600 and the Canon 600.  I am still working on the details of the Canon 500 and Nikon 500.  The units are built with direct replacement feet so no multiple layering of plates is required. 

Testing the units with the FoCal software has revealed that reduced IQ variability is achieved using the support. The above unit is not yet anodized.  The final production models will be anodized black.  We expect to be ready to take orders by the end of May.

Jim Borden

Update: The units are in production and sales are being handled by 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Bluebird and Lens Calibration

Nikon D3s; Nikon 600 f4 with 1.4tc F6.3, 1/800 ISO 320 Better Beamer +2

I spent some time with Joan last week calibrating her camera body and lens.  We also calibrated it with the 1.4 TC mounted.  The calibration was done using FoCal Pro Software. The lens and camera body calibrated quickly and with very low variability in focus performance.  

Here is a graph of the calibration results. X Axis is AF Fine Tune setting (would be MA setting for Canon), Y Axis is quality of image. Note the very tight variability around the curve for the multiple shots taken at each setting.

The 1.4 TC never quite calibrated as the lens with the 1.4 TC mounted is still back focusing when the MA is set at -20.  The TC will be going back to Nikon for Warranty repair.  However, it provided us with an opportunity to demonstrate how some folks work around not having their lenses calibrated with their camera body.  Joan took the above Eastern Bluebird picture with the TC mounted and she took it at f6.3 at a distance of 50 feet.  So, she had a depth of field of about 5 inches.  Notice how the branch behind the Bluebird is in focus and the branch in front is not. Admittedly this technique works-but it is a compromise as the lens can not be used successfully wide open. I believe that is why there is so much talk about having to find the sweet spot f stop for a lens.  What is actually being done is compensating for not having a lens and camera body calibrated for the focal plane. 

Here is a graph of the FoCal Results for the 1.4TC plus 600 lens:
You can see that the lens is just starting to get lower variability and that the focus is starting to get closer to being on plane at the -20 MA setting.   Bottom line is that the FoCal Software was instrumental in determining what the issue was with this TC and we now have quantitative info to give Nikon to demand repair. 

On Saturday, our friend Bob Adamowicz from Massachusetts visited to problem solve some issues with his wife's Nikon Camera and Lens.  We used FoCal to help problem solve and resolve the issues.  He and I also tested the Long Lens Support System I am manufacturing and we determined that it improves variability of focus  (pictures and a dedicated post coming in near future). 

We also did some tripod testing and will be writing a separate post about the details.  This type of testing really helps debunk some myths about tripods, leg extensions and mounting systems. 

Until Next Time.

Jim Borden

Also-we have revamped our Photography website.  Stop by for a visit by clicking here

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Ducky Weekend

Saturday was a beautiful day.  Went out early in morning to listen and watch for turkey gobblers.  They did not cooperate, so I went to some favorite spots while sun was still low in the sky to see what waterfowl I could find.  I was blessed with three wood ducks and a Common Loon.  This is closest I have ever been to wood ducks.

Early Morning light resulted in a blue cast to the loon.

Until next time

Jim Borden