How to test your camera lenses.

How to test your camera lenses.

Testing your camera lenses doesn’t have to be rocket science!

The first thing I do when I get a new wide angle lens is test it out.  Before I run off and try to take some epic shots with it, I need to know all about it.  What are its strengths and weaknesses?  Does it suffer from vignetting?  What aperture is the best aperture to use on my landscape images?  These are all questions you should be able to answer about your lenses.

In this tutorial, I am going to show you how I test my wide angle lenses in my studio.  I am going to show you my basic setup and what I look for when I conduct my tests.  However, if you already have a killer setup and are the pixel peeping type who prides themselves in their technical knowledge of all things glass and apertures, this test may not be for you. This test setup is designed for the average joe who wants to test their gear in the comfort of their own home while having a controlled environment.

The setup:

  • Have your camera tripod mounted.
  • You will be testing every Aperture of your lens at various focus points (in the tutorial I just show the center, but test them all).
  • I print out various test targets that I got from B & H’s website.
  • I put these test targets in strategic locations.  The first is the corner of the lens, be sure it is in the FAR corner.  I put another one in the center of the room, and one in the far rear of the room.  The test targets aren’t calibrated, just printed from my home printer on printer paper.  They are more of a guide than a calibration tool.
  • I set my camera to Aperture Priority mode and my ISO to 100.
  • Test every Aperture from the largest to the smallest and focus on the same spot throughout.

What to look for:

  • Corner sharpness throughout the range of apertures.
  • Vignetting
  • Center sharpness
  • Far object sharpness
  • barrel distortion (if wide angle)

After conducting your tests indoors, be sure to take your gear out in their normal environment.  Instead of trying to shoot phenomenal portfolio images, though, shoot with the specific things in mind that we were looking at in our in-home setup.

Blake Rudis
Creator of f.64 Academy
Blake is a husband, father, and avid photographer whose passion for Photography led him to create f.64 Academy and f.6 Elite. He is dedicated to bringing the finest Photoshop and Photography education on the web!
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17 Comments

  1. ENJOYED THIS PRESENTATION–BUT THEN I DO LIKE THE WAY YOU TEACH AND EXPLAIN

    KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK – YOU COULD SPEAK JUST A TOUCH SLOWER

    Reply
  2. Nice presentation, using what we already have to find out what settings where our lenses do best so we can get the most out of them.

    Reply
  3. I too liked this. I like the fact that is for the day-to-day photographer and not for a pro/sciencey guy, as I am just an enthusiastic amateur. Clear presentation well explained. The more I see of Blake’s teaching the more I like it. I echo Thomas’s comment: keep up the good work!

    Reply
  4. Hi.

    This was interesting.Even I did understand it. I will share it with the members of the local photoclub. I am sure some of them will try this out.

    Greetings from Norway

    Reply
  5. great video thanks for sharing and i was wondering what is the best way to set lens to infinity

    Reply
  6. Top class once again.
    Very many thanks.

    Reply
  7. Where on the B&H website did you find your test targets? I looked at the site and couldn’t find anything like the ones you used. The had a few test targets for sale but they didn’t look like yours, and the least expensive was well over $500. Any assistance you could provide would be appreciated.
    Thanks!

    Reply
    • Thanks, I thought I posted that… whoops!

      Reply
  8. Help. With my tiled images open I am unable to add the rest of the images as layers. They end up as tabbed images on top of the original. What am I doing wrong ?

    Love your teaching style Blake. Thanks

    Reply
    • It may be the way your Ps is setup. Go to Preferences > Workspace , then uncheck the “Open Documents as Tabs” That should allow them to free float.

      Reply
      • When I open my test images from ACR they float. When at the point of layering the images, at the 5:50 mark of your video, my images don’t stack as layers. When moving my f16 image onto my f22 image they tab together rather than create a layer.

        Reply
        • That may be due to how you are grabbing them. Don’t grab the window of the file. Instead, press the V key for move, and move the layer of f/16 onto the window of the document for f/22. Be sure you press and hold shift while you move it so it aligns from the center.

          Reply
          • Got it. Kinda tricky.

            Thanks Blake

  9. Thanks, Blake for another terrific lesson. I am going to test my wides with your techniques. Also, I kind of got intrigued with your PS Workplace. I am wondering if you can do a video on what Extensions you use and what has helped with your workflow and post-processing. Many thanks.

    Reply
  10. Thanks for the lesson. It is a great approach for us enthusiasts who are not necessarily pixel peepers. I found it was easier to open the files into Photoshop layers by tagging the files and opening them into Adobe Bridge CC 2017. Then tag all of the files in Bridge and go to Tools | Photoshop | Load Files into Photoshop Layers. Photoshop processes the files and they are opened into layers in a single document.

    Keep up the good work!

    Reply

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