A week ago, we released the first beta of FoCal fully automatic DSLR lens calibration software for Apple Mac computers, and we’ve had a lot of really good feedback so far. The first beta wasn’t functionally complete – there were some important things missing, and this post is a progress update on how the software is coming along.
All tests and tools are present and correct!
It’s only been a week, but we’re fast movers here at Reikan! You’ll notice from the screenshot above that there are now no more greyed out buttons – all tests are now fully implemented.
Semi Automatic AF Microadjustment Calibration Test
The semi automatic test has been added – this test uses a LiveView image to allow you to see how the sharpness of the image changes with different AF microadjustment settings on the camera, and in scrolling mode will even give real-time graphical updates when you drive the lens in either direction (either using the software or by manually turning the lens). This is quite a complex test, but it’s really powerful in validating the AF performance of the camera and the correct AF microadjustment settings.
Dust Analysis Test
The Dust Analysis test was added back in FoCal 1.4, and we’ve got it all up and running in the Mac version now too. This test takes a series of shots across the aperture range of a lens and analyses the images for dust, giving you a graphical view of how much dust there is on your sensor and which apertures may be affected by dust spots:
Sharp eyed readers will notice that the line flattens at 10 spots – this is actually a bug in the chart drawing code which still needs to be fixed. It’s little things like this that are left to do.
Improvements to the Chart display
The chart drawing has to be completely rewritten to work on the Mac, and we’re translating the same code back to the PC for FoCal 1.7 so you’ll get the same chart views on both platforms. As we developed the code in house, we’re no longer constrained to the supported features of whichever chart library was available, so we can add features over time which will help make FoCal clearer and even easier to use.
For instance, the aperture sharpness test indicates the approximate aperture where diffraction will start to affect the image quality (Diffraction Limited Aperture – DLA) with a red line and some text:
Report generation has been a royal pain on the Mac! We’ve had to think “outside the box” in order to get the functionality transferred across, and the generation of the reports is done is a completely different way to the PC (and we may well take this Mac method back over to the PC at a later date for consistency). The reports aren’t quite perfect yet, but they do contain all the information. There’s some formatting issues to resolve before we’re completely finished. One thing that people have been asking for is the ability to cut and paste charts from the report, and this will be present in the Mac PDF reports. Here’s an example shown in Preview:
There are a few additional preference options added, one of which I think will make a few people happy – you can now “mute” the information messages shown when you start a test (for example the warnings telling you to ensure you’re not using Spot AF and other things that can’t be checked by the software). This should make FoCal a bit more pleasant to use, but the messages are still shown by default so you get all the help needed to set up the tests when you first start using the software:
In order to get the Mac version of FoCal developed, we’ve had to revisit every piece of code, and in doing that we’ve corrected lots of little issues that were present in previous versions. We’ve corrected several things which could have slightly affected the reliability of the analysis as well as loads of minor fixes in other areas. What’s more, all the core code fixes will automatically make their way back into the Windows version, which means we can keep both Windows and OSX versions running together with no delays.
While we still can’t run on Mountain Lion yet (due to missing support from Canon – due early October), there appears to have been an issue with OSX 10.6 also which we think is now fixed. There have been some other fixes to stability and operation of FoCal with help from the feedback from all the testers.
So, where’s the new beta?
Unfortunately, there isn’t one yet. We were trying to get something out today, but there’s just not enough time. There are still a few more minor bugs to fix (e.g. the chart bug described above), documentation to update, installer packages to create etc before we can make the next beta available. The plan is to get a release out by the middle of next week, and as an added bonus we hope to get a Windows FoCal 1.7 beta out at the same time, with all the same improvements listed above.
We wanted to say a massive thank you to everyone who’s downloaded the first beta (which you can still get if you’re a FoCal Pro license holder from the LMS at www.fo-cal.co.uk/lms). Sorry if we haven’t replied to your contact, but we have read all the information sent through and it’s been instrumental in some of the fixes and improvements we’ve put in to this latest version.