FoCal for Windows 1.7 General Availability Release

We’re pleased to announce the release of FoCal for Windows 1.7 – this is a General Availability release (no longer a beta) so represents a stable upgrade from FoCal 1.6.

Reikan FoCal for Windows 1.7

There are so many changes from FoCal 1.6 it’s difficult to know where to start!  This post presents a few key highlights just below, and then gives more details and lots of screenshots at the bottom of the post.

FoCal 1.7 Highlights

FoCal 1.6 was released on August 17th 2012, so it’s been over 4 months since the last general availability release of FoCal.  Here are some of the key improvements brought in FoCal 1.7:

New Camera Support

FoCal 1.7 brings support for the Canon 6D and the Nikon D600 cameras.

The Canon 6D is fully controlled by FoCal (unlike the recent Canon cameras – the 5D Mark III and 1D X), so you really can calibrate with one button press!

QuickCal Test

The QuickCal test 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 (see this blog post for more information).  So we’ve developed an algorithm which actually hunts down the best focus and displays this!

Fully Validated test data and Ignorable points

The Fully Automatic AF Microadjustment test has always had a special validation algorithm which determines the most likely real-world focus achieved by the AF system  in as few shots as possible.  This same algorithm has now been extended into both the Manual Mode test and the AF Consistency test (when used in AFMA Range mode), which will give better predictions in both of those tests.

The Manual Mode test has had a feature where data points could be “ignored” – i.e. removed from the final calculation – so if there are obvious bad points you can remove them to get a better result.  Well, this feature has now been added to both the Fully Auto test and the Focus Consistency test (when run in AFMA Range mode):

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Right clicking a point will make it lose it’s colour and it will then be ignored – the result will be immediately recalculated and you can see what effect each point has on the calculation:

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Camera HotKey

Some cameras have to be used in MSC (Manual Setting Change) mode, meaning for any changes in AF Microadjustment or AF Fine Tune, you are told to change the value on the camera.  This is only an issue for the Fully Automatic AF Microadjustment test, and FoCal has always been quite efficient to use even in MSC mode.

We’ve just improved this by enabling a camera HotKey – this means there’s a specific button on the camera you can press which tells FoCal you’ve entered the correct value, so there’s no need to keep jumping back and forth between the camera and the computer.

File Camera (Experimental Feature)

The new File Camera feature offers two different modes of operation: Tethered and Precaptured File mode.

In Tethered mode you can connect a camera not supported by FoCal to the computer and run tests – FoCal will monitor a folder and grab the files as necessary, as well as telling you how to change the camera settings as the test runs to get the next shot.  You can even use an Eye-Fi card to run remotely!

In Precaptured File mode, you take a series of shots and then run them through the FoCal tests – much like the Manual Mode test, but offering the ability to run more than just AF Microadjustment Calibration.

 

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FoCal 1.7 Development Betas

For lots more information about how FoCal 1.7 development progressed and detailed information about the new features, you can see the following beta release posts:

September: Reikan FoCal for Windows 1.7 Beta now available

November: New FoCal for Windows release with lots of improvements

December: Reikan FoCal for Windows 1.7.0.247 Beta Released

Changes since the last beta

If you’ve been using the FoCal for Windows betas, then this release brings the following changes from FoCal 1.7.0.247:

  • Canon 6D support
  • Peak determination at start of Aperture Sharpness test
  • Improvements to the Diffraction Limited Aperture calculation (Aperture Sharpness test)
  • Peak focus determination is can now be Live or Predicted – see manual for details
  • Addition of extensive Keyboard Shortcuts
  • Nikon lens name now correctly reported once test has run
  • Fixes to some crashes when charts were clicked
  • Fixes to the AF Consistency Report table

How to Get FoCal 1.7

If you already have a license for FoCal, this is a FREE upgrade which can be obtained by going to the License Management System, logging in and you will find the download links at the bottom of the page. Note that you do not need to update your license.

If you’re interested in FoCal, click here to find out how to get the latest version of FoCal, or upgrade your version to Plus or Pro for extra features.

Details of new features since FoCal 1.6

This is not an exhaustive list, but gives a more detail about the changes since FoCal 1.6.  There are screenshots of the new features at the bottom of this post.

New Features

  • Canon 6D support
  • Nikon D600 support
  • A new chart control with several new features
  • Improved report saving – add notes, remove serial number, save as CSV etc
  • File Camera – allows tethered/Eye-Fi control or analysis of pre-captured files
  • Addition of the QuickCal test – 70% quicker than FullyAuto and only 2 or 3 AF Microadjustment changes needed!
  • Addition of Peak-Focus Detection functionality to find the best QoF for your setup
  • QuickMode for Aperture Sharpness test to get results quicker
  • Aperture sharpness Peak detection on startup to get the most accurate results every time
  • Keyboard shortcuts for ease of control

Improvements

  • Compensation for small light level changes to give more accurate analysis results
  • Improvements to Manual Mode analysis results
  • Manual Mode: Can now handle multiple points per AFMA/AFFT value, including validation and ignoring points
  • A change to the analysis algorithm to give more valid results for a data single point
  • Copyable chart images in the reports (a change requested by several users from FoCal 1.5)
  • Addition of new chart autoscale functionality to represent the data in 2 different scales
  • Validated and ignorable points on the AF Consistency test
  • Camera hotkey – press a button on the camera to accept MSC change
  • MPFT improvements – new defaults and bad analysis detection
  • Addition of Contrast Detection mode in AF Consistency Test
  • Test data can now be saved in CSV format for further analysis
  • Improvements to speed of standard Fully Automatic AF Microadjustment Calibration test.
  • Ability to completely disable defocus between shots
  • Diffraction Limited Aperture calculation improvements
  • The ability to hide test information messages to reduce screen clutter and interruptions
  • Updates to some warnings in Target Setup to make it more obvious what they mean
  • Markers on the AF Microadjustment charts to show where shots have been taken
  • Target Setup improvements – addition of a histogram and clearer information
  • Improved Nikon focus control to reduce shutter usage and make analysis more accurate

Notable Fixes

  • A change to the way the Canon 5Dmk3 and 1DX licensing is handled to improve reliability
  • A fix to the autofocus performance validation (used for the fully automatic AF microadjustment test)
  • Nikon lens information properly reported once test has started
  • A slight adjustment to the FoCal Autofocus Mathematical Model to improve performance
  • Removal of AF Microadjustment based defocus methods as these are outdated and inappropriate for FoCal
  • Fix to Nikon control of image size
  • Fix to some report information for the AF Consistency test
  • AF consistency report fixes

The following are a set of screen shots showing features of the latest version:

One comment on “FoCal for Windows 1.7 General Availability Release

  • What a great software package.
    I purchased the PRO version several weeks ago and has already changed my thought process on exposure settings with different camera/lens combinations..

    What would really help me and others is if you had a forum!

    Reply

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