Dioptric Adjustment

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If you’re having focus issues that you can’t quite explain or pinpoint the cause, you might need to adjust your camera’s diopter. Everyone’s vision is different, so your camera provides the ability to adjust the focus of the viewfinder to your individual needs. Your SLR camera has a small dial, typically near the eyecup, that has a plus and minus sign. Turning this small knob/dial/wheel adjusts the focus of the viewfinder as you are looking through the lens.

Simply allow your camera to auto-focus on an object, then turn the diopter dial back and forth until the object is focussed according to your eyesight.

It’s beneficial to check the diopter every now and then – it may get bumped, or adjusted by someone. In some camera models it may be difficult to turn the knob if it’s very close to the eyecup – remove the eyecup, perform your adjustments, then replace the eyecup.

Different camera models offer different adjustment ranges (for example, the Canon 7D diopter adjusts from -3 to +1). If you find that your diopter doesn’t offer the range of adjustment that you require for sharp focus, or if you’d like to be able to look through the viewfinder without requiring your glasses should you wear them, many camera models (I found Sony, Nikon, and Canon models on Amazon) offer correction diopter lens/eyepiece combinations. A starting point of minus one (-1) is considered optimum for “normal” vision – corrective diopters typically range from minus three to plus three (-3/+3).

It may seem like a small thing to consider, but it can make a very big difference in the quality of your shots!

Photo credits (in order of appearance):
- “The Old Workhorse” by Sam Agnew on Flickr Creative Commons.
- “Body (Back)” by Sikachu on Flickr Creative Commons.

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