FoCal for Mac 1.7.0.246 Beta Released

We’re pleased to announce the release of a new FoCal for Mac build.  The headline feature of this build is the new QuickCal test, but there are lots of other improvements too.

Reikan FoCal QuickCal Test
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Updates and Fixes

The following is a list of the additions and fixes in this version of FoCal for Mac:

  • Addition of the QuickCal test
  • Addition of Peak-Focus Detection functionality
  • Addition of Contrast Detection mode in AF Consistency Test
  • Test data can now be saved in CSV format for further analysis
  • Addition of new chart autoscale functionality
  • QuickMode for Aperture Sharpness test (experimental)
  • Improvements to speed of standard Fully Automatic AF Microadjustment Calibration test.
  • Ability to completely disable defocus between shots
  • A slight adjustment to the FoCal Autofocus Mathematical Model to improve performance
  • More information during detection of Nikon cameras (indication that the camera has been “found” and is now being “opened”)
  • Improved Nikon focus control to reduce shutter usage and make analysis more accurate
  • Fix to Nikon control of image size

QuickCal Test

The big addition to this version is the new QuickCal test.  This uses a combination of a few known AF Microadustment/Fine Tune points and a quick method of capturing analysis data.  Combined with our mathematical model of autofocus operation, these give enough information to derive the best AF Microadjustment/Fine Tune setting for your camera.

The test is available for both FoCal Pro and FoCal Plus users (the above image shows the FoCal Pro screen – for FoCal Plus you don’t see the charts on the right side of the window).
There’s more information about the operation of the QuickCal test here, along with some examples of timing which show it’s about 70% faster than the standard Fully Automatic AF Microadjustment Calibration test.

Peak Focus Detection

In the previous version of FoCal we added a new option to the Preferences window which allowed you to capture a Contrast Detect focus (Live View focus) level to be displayed in the Fully Automatic test.  What we found after some experimentation is that the contrast detect focus function of cameras is not as good as you might expect, and the line drawn wasn’t of much use.  So we’ve developed an algorithm which actually hunts down the best focus and displays this!

Peak Focus Detection
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The option is in the Tests pane of the Preferences window (Determine Peak Focus if possible) and if enabled it will do this for the Fully Automatic AF Microadjustment Calibration test and the AF Consistency test.

Contrast Detection in AF Consistency Test

We’ve added the ability to select Contrast Detect focus in this test now, so you can see the difference in performance of phase detect (“Quick” AF) and contrast detect (“Live” AF) for yourself.  Combined with the peak detection described above, you can get a real feel for not only the consistency, but the focus accuracy of the different modes of your camera and lenses.

CSV Files

For the Fully Auto test, AF Consistency test and Aperture Sharpness test there is now an option to export the data as a CSV file.

This is available for FoCal Pro users when you choose Save Report on the test window.  The data is saved in an obvious format and can be used for further analysis in packages such as Microsoft Excel.

Chart Autoscale

In the first FoCal 1.7 build we introduced a new charting tool which started fairly basic but has grown to offer more functionality that we had in any previous FoCal version.  We’ve now just added the ability to change the scaling by clicking on the y-axis numbers (shown in the image below). 

Autoscale
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This allows you to switch between the data filling most of the height of the chart (which gives you a good idea of the comparitive values of the data), and the data starting at 0 (which gives you a better view of the real values of the data).  Although it’s shown for the AF Consistency test chart, it’s works for all charts throughout FoCal.

QuickMode for Aperture Sharpness test

This one’s a bit experimental and is mainly the result of the QuickCal development… We’ve added a new Quick Mode to the Aperture Sharpness test which runs the whole test in LiveView!  This means you can run the test in significantly less than half the time of the standard test: 

Aperture Sharpness QuickMode
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We’ve added some clever image processing  to cope with noise at the  smaller apertures and the results are generally as good as the standard test – at least for determination of best aperture and peak-to-wide ratios.

Support Status

The following table shows what should be working for this version of FoCal (1.7.0.246)

Operating System Camera Manufacturer Status
OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard) Canon & Nikon Fully functional
OS X 10.7 (Lion) Canon & Nikon Fully functional
OS X 10.8 (Mountain Lion) Canon & Nikon Fully functional

It’s still a beta?

Yes, although we hope to take the beta label off very soon.  Each new beta for FoCal 1.7 has added or fixed significant functionality, so each one is a big change from the last version and as such we don’t want to remove the beta label until things have settled.

Please remember though that as a beta version there may be functionality that doesn’t work on some systems, and indeed in some cases the software may not run at all.  Please let us know if this happens and we will investigate the problems.  As is hopefully apparent, we do provide regular and comprehensive updates to FoCal to fix issues and add new functionality.

How do I get it?

This version is available to all license holders (FoCal Standard, FoCal Plus and FoCal Pro).

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 OS X, containing the software itself, the target images and documentation in separate directories.

Installing on OS X (IMPORTANT!)

Please read the installation section of the manual if you don’t already have FoCal installed!  FoCal uses the Mono framework, and this must be installed before you use FoCal.  You only have to do this the very first time you install FoCal, so if you’re already using FoCal on your Mac then installation is just a case of copying FoCal to the Applications folder and running it.

Some versions of OS X give you a message and take you to the Mono download page, but most don’t give you much help – either a bouncing FoCal icon that quickly disappears, or an obscure “OS Error”.  If you get either of these issues, you can resolve them with the steps in Section 2 (Installation) of the FoCal Manual which is in the Documents folder when you mount the DMG image.

There’s a new brief QuickStart guide available here which helps you get started.

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.