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
f.64 Academy and f.64 Elite are the brainchildren of Blake Rudis. While he is a landscape photographer, he is most passionate about post-processing images in Photoshop and mentoring others.

For Blake, it's all about the art and process synergy. He dives deep into complex topics and makes them easy to understand through his outside-the-box thinking so that you can use these tricks in your workflow today!
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