FoCal 1.7 Beta 4 – Snow Leopard, Nikon on OSX and more!

What a week or two! As explained here, we decided to start work on the Nikon support for FoCal Mac early as the general operation of the software on  OS X was working nicely.  It actually went considerably quicker than we expected until it came to ironing out a little issue we noticed with connecting cameras.

FoCal 1.7 Beta 4 - Snow Leopard and Nikon on OSX
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This little irritation has turned out to be a big irritation, and has wasted an awful lot of time.  We still don’t have a definite fix for it, but we’re releasing anyway for a number of reasons.  First, this new version should work now on OS X 10.6, offering both Canon and Nikon functionality to Snow Leopard users.  Secondly, the issue with Nikon is only to do with initial connection.  Once connected, everything works just as it should, and you can run all the tests and calibrate your camera.  And thirdly, there are general improvements and fixes which apply to Windows as well.

What’s New?

As said above, this release brings:

  • Snow Leopard (OS X 10.6) support,
  • Nikon support on the Mac (all support OS X versions), but see the details below, and
  • lots of smaller general improvements and bug fixes which apply to both Mac and Windows, and
  • this version can be used by ALL license holders, not just FoCal Pro users.

What do you mean by Beta?

Remember, this is still a beta!  This is NOT the final version of the software.  We do hope that it’s very usable and doesn’t show any significant bugs.  We are releasing this version so that people can try out FoCal and give us feedback, so we can improve the software.  The software will run for a limited time – there will be a new release available before expiration of this version (either a new beta or the final release).

Connection Issue (Nikon)

As explained above, there is an issue when connecting to Nikon cameras.  It does not appear to be dependent on operating system version (we have had success and failure on the same machines running OS X 10.6, 10.7 and 10.8), so we don’t yet know exactly what is causing this problem but are investigating it currently.

We have chosen to release this software because when the camera is detected by FoCal, everything will run without issue. The problem is only during the detection on some machines.

We currently recommend the following start up procedure for Nikon cameras on Mac OSX:

  • If the option is available ensure the camera is in PTP mode (this is an option in the SETUP menu on the D3, D3s, D3x, D300, D300s and D700).
  • Remove memory cards from the camera.
  • Ensure the camera is OFF and FoCal is NOT running. Also make sure that no other software is running that may communicate with cameras (e.g. iPhoto).
  • Connect the camera to the USB port of the Mac.
  • Power on the camera.
  • Start FoCal.
  • Wait a few seconds after the Test screen is shown, then click Refresh.

Note that we recommend removing memory cards from the camera as the camera can take some time to build information about all files on the cards and if there are a lot of files this can cause a long delay during connection (not a failure, but the delay can extend to over 1 minute with a moderately full 32GB memory card in the camera!).

Ideally, the camera will be detected within 1-2 seconds. It may, however, take up to 30 seconds before either the camera is detected or the indicator stops and the camera is not detected at all, so please be patient.  If the camera is not detected, it is recommended that you retry the above procedure from the beginning, including disconnecting and switching the camera off.

Sometimes if the camera cannot be detected after a number of retires, you can try the following:

  • Start iPhoto and establish a connection to the camera to view the files.  You may need to switch the camera off and on again to trigger this.  Then close iPhoto and try FoCal again.
  • Reboot the machine with the camera disconnected and retry once it has booted.

This issue is very annoying for us and we are working hard to find a resolution.  For the technically minded among you, the problem is caused by a lost or ignored PTP message, but we’re not sure if it’s related to our interface code or an interaction with OS X itself as the operating system can be quite keen to exclusively grab any camera as soon as possible.  USB protocol analysis is not something we’re shy of though, so we’re confident we’ll resolve this problem.

Operating System Support (Canon)

Canon still haven’t released the support files required for OS X 10.8, so we have included both the latest and the previous version of the Canon interface files within the application.  The software will detect which operating system version you are running and automatically choose the appropriate version.

As stated above, there is no support for the 5D Mark III or 1D X when using the older interface files, so the following camera support is available:

OS X Version Supported Cameras
OS X 10.6.x FoCal will use the latest Canon files, so there should be support for ALL Canon cameras.
OS X 10.7.0 to 10.7.4 FoCal will use the latest Canon files, so there is support for ALL Canon cameras.
OS X 10.7.5 FoCal will use the older interface files, so there is support for all Canon cameras except the 5D Mark III and 1D X
OS X 10.8.x FoCal will use the older interface files, so there is support for all Canon cameras except the 5D Mark III and 1D X

Please remember this is an interim solution which should hopefully be replaced with a fully working solution for OS X 10.7.5 and OS X 10.8 within the next few weeks – as soon as Canon release the necessary software.

Snow Leopard Support

With Snow Leopard, it is critical that you install the Mono framework before running FoCal otherwise it will just start and immediately stop.  When run on later operating systems, FoCal will tell you it needs to download the framework, but unfortunately for Snow Leopard it doesn’t.  There are instructions and screenshots of what you need to download in the manual (which is included in the DMG download in the Documents folder).  Please check this out before installing.

Are there any known problems?

There is a connection issue with Nikon cameras (see the section above).  Often, it will connect without issue.  Sometimes, however, FoCal will not detect the camera and you may have to retry a number of times.  Once connected, everything should work correctly.

At present, the Canon interface files don’t work on Mountain Lion (OS X 10.8), so you need Lion (10.7) to run FoCal.  The Canon website indicates that they will support Mountain Lion in early October, and we think that there won’t be any change needed to FoCal in order to run.

On a minor point – the “Linear Chart” display in the Manual Mode test doesn’t operate at the moment, but we’ll fix this before final release.

How do I get it?

All other beta versions we have released have been purely for FoCal Pro users, but from now until we formally release FoCal for Mac we will be releasing the beta’s for ALL license holders.

You can download it from the License Management System – you’ll see the link to the download near the bottom of the page once you log in.

The software is available as a disk image (DMG) file for OSX or a Zip file for Windows, and contains the target images and documentation.  Note that the manual  for OS X is an early release – it’s OS X specific but there are still some screenshots of the Windows version and some of the text may be slightly incorrect, but it contains all the information you need to use FoCal and we’ll be improving it along with the software over the next few weeks.

What can I do to help?

Please download the software and give it a go.  Let us know how you get on:

  • If you spot any errors, please let us know
  • If you can make the software misbehave, let us know what steps you take to make it happen
  • If it works perfectly we’d love to hear too (good news it always nice!!)

You can contact us through the contact form (please use the Mac Beta option) or by emailing beta@fo-cal.co.uk.  There’s likely to be quite a high volume of emails, so we can’t reply to everyone but every bit of information we receive will be read and used to make FoCal better, so please let us know how you get on.