We’re pleased to announce the first beta release of FoCal 1.9 for both Windows and Mac.
Updates and Fixes
It’s been a long time coming because it’s been a huge amount of work, but we got there in the end! The focus of FoCal 1.9 has been on stability, reliability and consistency across both Windows and Mac platforms.
Although what you see looks very similar to FoCal 1.8, there are massive changes under the surface. We’ve made pretty much all of the user interface code common between Windows and Mac which means that most of the code gets tested twice as much as it did before! We’ve reworked lots of internal functions to keep the same operations but to be more robust in case anything goes wrong. And the whole use of the memory has been addressed which was causing some issues before, especially on the Mac.
The following is a high level list of most of the additions and fixes in this version of FoCal:
- Improvements in reliability of Raw image processing
- Fixes to focus point operation on D3x
- Big rework of the Manual Test architecture to improve on both Windows and Mac
- Manual Mode works with Raw image files (Canon and Nikon)
- Manual Mode works with shots taken at both ends of the zoom range
- Manual Mode parses filename to determine AF Microadjustment/Fine Tune if metadata is wrong/missing
- Improvements to reliability of defocus operation
- AFMA Change Test completely rewritten to be more reliable
- Adjustment to all Nikon focus points to be more accurate
- Better display of focus points on Target Setup
- Checks camera date/time on connection and warns if significantly different to computer time
- Checks for latest camera firmware version on connection and alerts if new firmware available
- Specific fixes for operation of Canon EOS-1D Mark III and 1Ds Mark III
- Selection of what the review panels show – typically best/worst/selected points as options
- Rework of Fully Automatic user interface
- Fixes to several report generation issues
- Improvements to Semi Automatic mode operation
- Speed and reliability improvements to Dust Analysis
- Big rework of memory handling to make FoCal use a lot less memory (which increases reliability)
- Rework of Mac specific user interface code for reliability
Here are a few highlights of the functionality improvements for FoCal 1.9:
Manual Mode Test Improvements
The Manual Mode has been reworked completely under the surface, and now that it’s common between Windows and Mac it’s easier to fix and improve things. FoCal 1.9 can process raw files from Canon and Nikon cameras and generate predictions exactly like using JPEG files.
You can also feed in files with shots at both ends of the focus range of a zoom lens – this will cause the test to produce 2 sets of results as shown below:
The Manual Mode test is available to all users of FoCal – Standard, Plus and Pro. With Pro, you get the extra features of reviewing the data, the chart display and the ability to save the full test data in a PDF report.
Target Setup Utility Improvements
The Target Setup utility has had a lot of under-the-hood stability improvements. The position and size of all the Nikon focus points has been modified to be more accurate, and we’ve also added the full AF display features to the Focus Point overlay as shown below for the Nikon D7000:
Fully Automatic Test Improvements
The Fully Automatic Calibration test now occupies one window for FoCal Pro, so you can see the chart and analysis information right there on the page as the test runs. You’ll also notice that the review panels are coloured green and red – this is a new feature to bring more consistency and flexibility to what you see in those windows. You can now choose from the list below which specific data you wish to review – on this test, you can see the image before the calibration, after the calibration or the image of the selected point on the chart. The coloured border lets you easily see which data you’re reviewing. This function also applies to the AF Consistency Test and the Aperture Sharpness test too.
What’s left to do before Release?
Hopefully not a lot in terms of functionality. Our testing for this release has been the most thorough we’ve ever performed on any release of FoCal. We’ve developed specific release tests to exercise some of the more complicated parts of FoCal, and we’ve tested with as many operating systems and camera combinations as possible.
One thing that is left to do is work on the Manual. In order to get this release out for testing, we’ve only made basic updates from the FoCal 1.8 manual so there are several sections which are not yet up to date. This also applies to the QuickStart guide and the Testing Guide too.
The following table shows what is working for this version of FoCal:
|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|
The following table shows what should be working for this version of FoCal:
|Operating System||Camera Manufacturer||Status|
|Windows XP||Canon only||Fully functional|
|Windows Vista||Canon & Nikon||Fully functional|
|Windows 7||Canon & Nikon||Fully functional|
|Windows 8||Canon & Nikon||Fully Functional|
What’s meant by Beta?
This beta software is almost ready for a “General Availability” release, but we want to get feedback from current users before making it a general availability release.
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.
MAC: 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.
WINDOWS: The software is available as a ZIP file, which contains the software, the target images and the 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.
You should download the Mono framework from www.fo-cal.co.uk/mono as this will obtain the correct version (2.10.9). Any other version WILL cause problems with FoCal.
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 are short guides available which help you through the installation, connection and first use of the software available for Windows and for Mac on the Document Downloads page.
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 or Windows Beta option as appropriate). 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.