Podcast Episode

The Lensrentals Podcast Episode #61 – How to Test Your Gear At Home

Published July 7, 2022

Each week Roger Cicala, founder of Lensrentals.com, hosts conversations about the art and science of capturing images. From photography to videography, film, history, and technology, the show covers a wide range of topics to educate and inspire creators of all kinds.

How to Test Your Gear At Home

We’ve all had it happen before, you just wrapped a great photoshoot, and you get home, excited to look through the photos, only to find that all the images are a hair soft. This can be for a number of reasons, but one of the first things to diagnose will likely be to see if your lens is suddenly back focusing or front focusing a bit.

Fortunately, with recent iterations of digital cameras, you no longer need to send this gear to the manufacturer and can do a lot of these tests at home. While of course, for serious issues with your camera or lens, we always recommend sending out your gear to an authorized repair center, but for some smaller issues, you can do a lot at home. Today on the Lensrentals.com Podcast, Ryan, Roger, and Joey sit down to talk about how to properly test your gear and fix any small issues it may be developing. From focusing charts to systems that can help micro-adjust your lenses to your camera, the team sits down and talks about all your options when it comes to testing, and correcting your gear.

Gear Mentioned In this Episode:

Resources Mentioned In this Episode:


0:10 – Welcome to The Lensrentals Podcast! This week we’re discussing how to test your own gear at home.

1:15 – Before we start, Ryan wants things from Roger’s office.

2:20 – One of the things up for grabs is a collection of antique lenses. Let us know if you have any ideas about what we should do with these.

4:40 – We don’t typically use our testing equipment for our personal gear. Even Roger tests his own lenses at home.

5:45 – Roger starts with a list of what NOT to do.

8:10 – Why you should always test your lenses with a wide-open aperture.

9:00 – It’s important to understand the limits of what testing can offer. The question is not “Is this lens perfect?” It’s “Is this lens within spec and good enough for what I need to do?”

9:50 – Why is it important to test on a chart at all if you’re not noticing any imperfection in your normal images?

13:00 – Tests should always be done at a variety of focus and zoom distances. The severity of almost any optical issue can vary a lot based on those two factors.

15:15 – The design and print quality of your test chart can be the difference between an effective test and an ineffective one.

17:50 – Roger shares a great tip for saving money on a flexible chart setup.

19:00 – How to adjust your tests when working with zoom lenses. Almost any zoom will perform differently at different focal lengths.

21:40 – Break

22:25 – What are some simple tests you can do at home without needing a chart or any other equipment?

24:00 – AF micro-adjustment is one of the most important maintenance tasks a photographer can perform on their own. Here’s how to do it.

27:55 – Depending on the kind of work you’re doing, AF micro-adjustment can complicate the process of shooting with multiple bodies.

29:25 – How often do photographers actually need to test their gear?

31:05 – Most of the problems Lensrentals find on our lenses are caught first with a simple physical inspection. Here’s a quick checklist of physical things you should check on your lens before every shoot.

35:10 – Having tested hundreds of copies of just about every lens made by a major manufacturer in the last ten years, we have an idea of what “in spec” looks like for each lens. If something comes up in your tests and you’re unsure whether or not it’s normal, give us a call and we’ll happily compare our results with yours.

36:20 – Joey recommends buying a sensor loop and learning how to clean your sensor.

39:55 – Thanks for listening! On the next episode of The Lensrentals Podcast, we’re talking with commercial and concert photographer Nathan Armstrong.

The Lensrentals Podcast is a production of Lensrentals, founded by Roger Cicala. Our production staff includes Drew Cicala, Ryan Hill, Sarah McAlexander, Julian Harper, John Tucker, and Zach Sutton. Other contributors include Roger Cicala, Joey Miller, Ally Aycock Patterson, Joshua Richardson, and Philip Robertson.

Thanks to Jacques Granger for our theme song.

Submit a topic idea, question, or comment, leave us a voicemail at 901-609-LENS, or send us an email at podcast@lensrentals.com.


Author: Lensrentals

Articles written by the entire editorial and technical staff at LensRentals.com. These articles are for when there is more than one author for the entire post, and are written as a community effort.

Posted in Podcast Episode
  • Nicolas Woollaston

    and one of the quickest of the quick and dirty home tests when comparing one lens against another, shoot in-focus jpegs at the best quality and sharper lenses will give you bigger file sizes (for images with lots out of focus smaller jpeg files indicate smoother bokeh)

Follow on Feedly