Calibrating the Diopter of Your Camera
Did you ever pick up your camera and think your eyes had suddenly gotten worse? In photography, there's good blur—and there's bad blur. When your diopter isn't calibrated correctly, it's bad blur. This can lead to your shooting photos that aren't in focus, because what you're seeing through the viewfinder is not exactly what the camera is seeing. Here are ways to remedy this problem.
Where is the Diopter?
For those who might not be aware, the diopter is located right around the viewfinder. It has been circled in the photo above. The diopter is usually characterized by a +/- sign. It needs to be adjusted to your vision, and because everyone's vision is different, people will see differently through someone else's viewfinder.
For example, the diopter on my Canon 5D Mk II is adjusted to suit my vision—which is very poor. When I hand my camera off to my boss to use—and he has perfect vision—he needs to make a substantial adjustment to the diopter to work with his vision.
This applies to both optical and electronic viewfinders, but the way to adjust them are different.
One of the best ways, I've learned, to calibrate an optical viewfinder is by doing the following:
- Make sure your camera is off, and the lens and body cap are unscrewed.
- Point the camera up into the light and look through the viewfinder.
- While doing this, start to adjust your viewfinder. As you dial in the + or -, you'll start to see the focusing points become either blurry or sharper.
- When you believe that the focusing points are their sharpest, you've successfully calibrated your diopter. Now you can put your lens or body cap back on.
Proper diopter calibration is paramount to achieving sharply and accurately focused photos—especially if you're manually focusing! As an extra tip when you're focusing manually, I recommend using a split image focusing screen.
Electronic viewfinders are different than optical. They are tiny LCD screens that are magnified, so that you can better see what your camera is focusing on. You'll often see these on Micro Four Thirds cameras. To calibrate these, you'll need first to ensure that your lens's aperture is opened all the way. Then, focus on something using your camera's autofocus. Then you should turn the +/- dial accordingly until your image becomes sharper. When you see that the area focused on is extremely sharp, you'll know that you're all set.
Luckily, most cameras with an electronic viewfinder also have an option of magnifying the area that you are trying to focus on. This can help you to achieve sharper photos.
Was this information helpful? Let us know in the comments below, and please share your thoughts on how important calibrating your diopter is.