focus here

I have had the Nikon D3100 body for a few days now and I am pleased to say that so far, it is working well. You may wonder what I do when I test a camera, and what it was that this time last year led me to take 2 Nikon D90 bodies back to the store because they were not working well. So here are the steps I go through when I get a new camera.

1) Take the first ever photo with the body, then check the photo IExif data using software like the Opanda IExif Viewer, to see that this photo is truly the first ever shutter release for the camera body. If it is not, it means that the body is either a demo or it has been used and returned by someone.

2) Examine the body to make sure that all the parts are not damaged.

3) Check all the camera functions to make sure they work. Likely all of the above are fine, they usually are. The next test is the most crucial and if a body fails this is likely where it will be; the focus test.

4) Using a focus chart like the one above, test each of the camera’s focal points. Instructions on how to do this are here. This test is best done with an autofocus lens that allows a very shallow Depth of Field; the shot above was taken on f/1.8 which as you can see, makes the camera’s focusing accuracy critical because only a very narrow area will be in focus. You want that narrow area to be exactly where you focused the camera. This was where the two D90 cameras I used last year failed. Last year’s results do not mean all D90s have a focusing problem, my cousin has a D90 that focuses perfectly, such issues can happen with any model which is why it is important to do this test. As you can see, the D3100 is testing well and seems to be focusing within acceptable parameters (just about).

5) Finally, test the body in real life circumstances and examine the results. Some would argue that this is the only test that is needed-certainly at the end of the day it is the only test that matters. The other tests above, however, can help you figure out when you get poor real life results whether to blame the camera or your own skills. Given the way the D3100 is testing so far, if I get bad results, I will have to blame myself.

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