After way longer than we had originally hoped, we’re delighted to bring you the first version of Reikan FoCal 2!
To give you an idea of what’s new in FoCal 2, here’s a few of the most important features:
- Compare your results with other FoCal users – with FoCal 2, you can now compare the results of your tests with the results from thousands of other FoCal users to see how your equipment is really performing.
- Review your previous tests – you can review the detailed results of previous tests you’ve run for comparison. This includes most of the tests you’ve run with FoCal 1 as well.
- Improved Reports – the reports are now more concise, grouping relevant information together and showing more information that matters.
- Faster Results – get accurate results in less time with the new analysis algorithms in FoCal 2.
- More Information – you can dig deeper into the performance of your camera and lens with the extra information such as Astigmatism Factor, as well as reviewing more details about each shot taken.
- User Interface Improvements – the user interface is easier to understand, with new tabbed windows, more logical operation and comprehensive keyboard control.
- Voice Prompts – FoCal 2 even talks to you! Calibrate any camera without needing to sit looking at the computer screen – any changes you might need to make at the camera are spoken out loud.
- Free Upgrade – When fully released, FoCal 2 will be a free upgrade for all holders of a FoCal 1 license, so there’s nothing more to pay to get all these new features!
First things first…
There are a few points that we need to make clear to start with:
You need a FoCal Pro license
One of the benefits of having a FoCal Pro license is access to early software. The first Test Releases of FoCal 2 will only be available to users with a license for FoCal Pro.
The first few Test Releases of FoCal 2 will be for Windows only. Developing for both Windows and Mac computers at the same time significantly slows the process, so we have chosen Windows to finalise most of the FoCal 2 functionality. We will be releasing a version of FoCal 2 for the Mac which will include a lot of Mac specific improvements, but for now the releases will be Windows only. You can, of course, run the Windows release on a Mac using a virtualisation environment such as Parallels.
What is a Test Release?
We’ve called these first version of FoCal 2 “Test Releases”. The functionality that is present should be robust, but there are some features that will be introduced over the course of the Test Releases and isn’t yet enabled. There’s a detailed reference manual which describes the new features in FoCal 2 which is supplied in the download package (or you can download it here)
FoCal 2 contains some really cool and exciting new features and we want you to be able to reap the benefits of this extra functionality. We’d also love to hear back from you about any suggestions you might have or reports of any bugs. We’ve made this as easy as possible with a “Send Feeback” button in the About window – this will take you to the right place to submit feedback:
How to get FoCal 2
See the bottom of this post for how to download FoCal 2.
FoCal Data Subscription
In 2012, we added an option to upload results data from your tests back to Reikan and we’ve used this data to build results models for thousands of combinations of cameras and lenses. This information is now delivered back to you in FoCal 2 via a FoCal Data Subscription.
The data is used to show you how your results compare to the typical performance of other users with the same camera and lens. So rather than just getting a bunch of numbers for your results for tests like the Aperture Sharpness or Autofocus Consistency, you’ll be able to see if your lens is a potentially bad or stellar copy!
A new feature in FoCal 2 is the ability to review the results of previous tests run on your computer. This applies to tests run with FoCal 1 as well as FoCal 2 so from the first time you run FoCal 2 you should find you have a populated history already on your computer.
When you choose a test from the list and double click, you get to see the results as if the test had just run in FoCal 2:
This will include as much information as possible, but may not include all the features available within FoCal 2. For example tests run for FoCal 1.9.5 and later will have populated Astigmatism Factor, but tests run before FoCal 1.9.5 will have no results for this specific metric.
We’ve improved the report format, reducing a lot of wasted space and grouping together information such as shots at the same settings. We also show before and after images together in the report now where relevant, as well as all the chart information.
The FoCal Main Window
The main FoCal window has been redesigned using tabs to better organise the functionality of the software. You’ll see the tab concept used throughout the software – clicking on any of the title (Information, Calibration, Tools or Analysis below) will show a new page of options.
There are a number of buttons which are disabled in this version. They will be introduced over the course of the next Test Releases.
Target Setup – What’s New?
The basic operation of the Target Setup utility is the same, but we’ve added a new focus quality indicator to help you find perfect focus before using tests like the Aperture Sharpness test. The graph shows you the quality achieved after autofocus or manual focus operations and lets you adjust for the best possible quality.
The buttons and charts are colour coded as follows:
- green is Phase Detect autofocus
- blue is Contrast Detect autofocus
- purple is FoCal autofocus
- orange shows the effect of a focus step towards the camera (Near)
- red shows the effect of a focus step away from the camera (Far)
- yellow takes another sample and adds to the chart
Fully Automatic Calibration – What’s New?
The Fully Automatic calibration test has been significantly redesigned.
First of all, the new tabbed layout better organises the information presented to you during the test. The Settings tab lets you configure the test, while the Shot Info and Results tabs show information about individual shot measurements and the overall result of the test respectively. The Typical tab shows you the comparison of your results with the typical behaviour of your camera/lens model, and the History tab lets you review your previous results for comparison.
The calibration algorithm has been improved for both speed and accuracy, taking fewer shots to get a result. It’s also better at detecting when a result won’t be found (for example if there’s excessive vibration or light level changes during a test).
Rather than just a single chart, there are now a number of charts for reviewing the test information, each with an overlay of typical results where applicable:
- Lens Profile (1) – the sharpness across the AF Microadjustment / AF Fine Tune range
- Focus Consistency (2) – the consistency of focus for each tested point (requires the Test Point Consistency Level in the Settings to be set to something other than None)
- Astigmatism Factor (3) – a value showing how the horizontal and vertical sharpness compare
- ADS Difference (4) – the difference between your test data and the typical data for this camera/lens combination (requires a FoCal Data Subscription)
- Result Convergence (5) – how the result progressed as each shot was taken
With a FoCal Data Subscription, many of the charts will have the red/blue/green overlay as shown below. The blue area below shows the typical results from the FoCal Data, so you can see this lens is nicely within typical limits of behaviour.
The Typical tab shows a text interpretation of your data compared to the average data. This is still a bit experimental and we’ll be extending this functionality through the FoCal 2 test releases
The History tab shows you the results of other tests you’ve run with the same camera and lens, back even before you started using FoCal 2. With this information, you can quickly find out the best wide and telephoto values for your camera and see whether the results have changed over time.
Aperture Sharpness – What’s New?
Again, the look of the Aperture Sharpness test has been changed in the same was as the Fully Automatic calibration window:
There are a number of charts you can view:
- Aperture Sharpness Profile (1) – the sharpness across the AF Microadjustment / AF Fine Tune range
- Astigmatism Factor (2) – a value showing how the horizontal and vertical sharpness compare
- ADS Difference (3) – the difference between your test data and the typical data for this camera/lens combination (requires a FoCal Data Subscription)
Autofocus Consistency – What’s New?
The tabs are present in the AF Consistency test too, and operate in the same way as Fully Auto and Aperture Sharpness, bringing easier access and better organisation to the information. The AFMA Range option in this test has been removed and will be handed in a future version via a new dedicated AFMA Range test.
We’ve also added an option to measure the focus error for each point after the shot is taken (the focus error is the difference between the focus achieved by the camera autofocus and the best possible quality that could be achieved through manually focussing), and this information can then be displayed in the charts.
Even more charts for this test!
- Quality of Focus (1) – the sharpness across the AF Microadjustment / AF Fine Tune range
- Result Progression (2) – how the final result calculation has changed as the test has run
- Astigmatism Factor (3) – a value showing how the horizontal and vertical sharpness compare
- Absolute Focus Error (4) – the difference between the autofocus shot quality and the best possible quality
- Percentage Focus Error (5) – the difference between the autofocus shot quality and the best possible quality as a percentage
- Focus Position Error (6) – the autofocus position error in either lens drive motor units or AF Microadjustment units if the data is available.
And with the FoCal Data subscription, you can even quantify the approximate focus error in AF Microadjustment units! From the example below, we can see that the focus would be better offset by about 4 or 5 AF Microadjustment units on average, so it’s worth running the Fully Automatic calibration on this lens.
Camera Time Check
FoCal 2 will now inform you if the time of your camera clock is significantly different compared to the time on your PC. This can be very useful in catching daylight saving time changes and keeping your camera time correct.
How do I get FoCal 2?
FoCal 2 TR1 (Test Release 1) is available for FoCal Pro license holders running the Windows operating system (this can be on a PC or a Mac with a virtualisation environment such as Parallels).
FoCal 2 installs alongside FoCal 1 so once installed you can choose to start up either version at any time. The software installation for FoCal 2 is the same as previous versions, and the installation package contains the software, target images and a reference manual (also available here) which includes details of the different areas between FoCal 1 and FoCal 2. Any functionality that is the same in both versions is documented in the FoCal 1 manual.
You can download FoCal 2 TR1 by logging in to the LMS at lms.fo-cal.co.uk. If you are a FoCal Pro user, you will see a download link to the software.
84 comments on “Reikan FoCal 2 (Test Release 1) is here!”
Waiting impatiently for Mac version. Looks like an amazing upgrade.
I agree shame about the wait for the Mac version but hopefully any lessons learnt from the PC test will be fully ironed out before the Mac version arrives.
Shame that there is still only MSC mode for the 1DX – I wish Canon would release the required library files – I know I have nagged them but I hope that Reikan continue to do so as well.
Please can you let us know when the Mac version will be available.
The first few Test Releases will be for Windows, but we’re working on the Mac framework updates at the moment and will have a Mac version of FoCal 2 out as soon as we can.
Having just bought the previous version of Focal it’s disappointing to see an update so soon. As with George I’m keen to upgrade as I’m having issues with Focal and my D810 (the software works much better with my old D300).
Mac version please!
I think you missed the FREE UPDATE part.
Hi Chris. The update to FoCal 2 is free of charge. We’re only supplying the initial test releases for Windows as this will significantly speed up our progress towards a final release, but when the Mac version is out it will be a free update for you.
Ah crap – sorry! Don’t you just hate it when people only scan a post!
Looking forward to the availability of the Mac version!
Any interesting News about 5DMKIII ???
We can’t change the AF Microadjustment from the computer on the 5D Mark III, but FoCal 2 does bring Voice Prompts along with the camera hotkey to make calibration of your camera really easy. All you have to do is run a Fully Automatic test, and the computer will speak out the change you need to make to the AF Microadjustment. Once you’ve made the change on the camera, you just need to action the hotkey (on the 5Dmk3 you need to half press the shutter button, then turn the top dial one click) and the test will continue. We think this is a great feature and really speeds up calibration on the 5Dmk3 compared to having to go back to the computer and check the screen each time you change the AFMA value.
Had me excited, but sadly no Mac version?
Jim – we’re working on the Windows version first as this will significantly speed up our development through the Test Releases. We’ll get the Mac version out as soon as we can.
Really Thanks for the Free upgrade 🙂
Hope the Mac version comes out soon!!!
Curious why you gave top precedence to the Windows version. I believe you’ll find most photographers here use a Mac. I’m glad to hear that a Mac version is at least to be soon in the works, but you might want to consider changing your strategy for the next go round.
Great software, looks like very useful updates, but we will all just have to wait for the Mac version in order to try it.
After the initial development of FoCal 2 on both Windows and Mac, we realised that a huge amount of time was being spent on the differences between the two platforms. So we decided to go through the Test Release process on a single platform, and our development speed on Windows is much quicker than on Mac. Therefore, we’re going to work through the Test Releases on Windows, then do a final port to Mac whilst simultaneously thoroughly updating the underlying Mac specific framework. We’d love to bring Mac support today, but it would have just slowed down our progress getting to the final release of FoCal 2.
I believe there are more Win installations than Mac’s around so no wonder.
I have to put up with Mac’s at work so I stick to Win at home for my photography.
I hope the strategy will remain as it is now 🙂
This looks very nice, and I’m looking forward to running this as soon as I get a chance. One thing I’d love to see is guidance on the best target distance to use for each lens/zoom.
Hi Mark. This is on the list for Test Release 2 – there will be quite a lot of functionality added to each test release as we progress to a final FoCal 2 release.
Thanks a lot from a Mac user…
We’re really sorry about not bringing a Mac version today, but we made a decision to make the first few Test Releases Windows only as it significantly speeds up our development process, and allows us to update the underlying framework for Mac while we’re working towards the final release of FoCal 2. We know there are lots of Mac users out there and we’ll get the Mac version out as soon as we possibly can.
“FoCal Data Subscription” is mentioned an aful lot in here – is this something we have to start paying for (subscribing)? Or is this just opting into sharing our data? I hope it’s just the latter…
Thanks! Can’t wait to try the new version!
Hi Brandon. You get 2 weeks of free access to the FoCal Data, but then you will purchase either a month (4 GBP) or year (12 GBP) subscription to continue accessing the data.
“You get 2 weeks of free access to the FoCal Data”
Is the data needed to use the software? I have not purchased and I’m waiting for Focal 2 release on Mac. thanks.
The data subscription allows comparison between your results and past results of the same lens/camera combinations from users around the world. You don’t need it at all to run FoCal, so if you turned off / didn’t use the data and went from FoCal V1 to V2 (free upgrade!) then you will still have all functionality you had before and a good number of other improvements 🙂
Do I understand that correctly. We – the user – send you our data that you then will sell to us (i.e. license)??
The data is gathered from FoCal users, FoCal aggregates that data and provides it. The data subscription cost is very low so we hope most users will see an advantage. An alternate plan could have been to charge for the V2 upgrade and hide the data cost in the upgrade price, this way users get to choose.
Sounds reasonable Dave!
Will the Nikon version ever be automated like the Canon version is?
Hi Don. Sadly the issue is with Nikon not allowing us to change the AF Fine Tune value on their cameras (the same situation exists for the Canon 5D Mark III, 1D X and 7D Mark II as well).
FoCal 2 does make it easier to calibrate these cameras though with the addition of Voice Prompts and the use of the camera hotkey. All you need to do is start a Fully Auto calibration then wait by your camera. When you need to change the AF Fine Tune value the computer will speak out instructions, then you just dial in the new value and hit the camera hotkey (AE-L/AF-L on most Nikon cameras – hold it until the computer says “Continuing”) and then the test will continue. This really does speed up the calibration, saving you having to interact with the computer at all.
Does this version support a more automated autofocus tuning for the 7d mark ii?
Hi Josh. The capabilities of FoCal to control the camera are the same as FoCal 1, but the addition of Voice Prompts along with the camera hotkey means calibration of the 7D Mark II is even easier. The computer will speak out the change you need to make, and you dial in the new AF Microadjustment value then use the camera hotkey (on the 7Dmk2 you half press the shutter button then turn the top dial one click) and the test will continue, so each change on the camera only takes a few seconds.
Thanks Rich for the new version. Looks great and am just testing some things now. Very glad that I have the pro version so my upgrade is free. This is a major change to an already great tool.
Is it possible to use my Mac license on a Windows VM? i.e. use my Mac license on my Windows 7 virtual machine until the Mac version is released. Or do I need to wait for the Mac version to be released?
Hi John. The licenses for FoCal are cross platform so there’s no problem at all using the license you have on Windows in a VM.
Program seems not to be working with Sigma 150-600mm sports. 150mm becomes 1500mm and 200mm becomes 2000mm where it was working fine in version 1.9.10
Thanks for letting us know. This has been added to our bug tracking list and we’ll investigate further.
I’m seeing the same issue with my EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM on a 5D3.
200mm becomes 2000mm and f/2.8 becomes f/28.0 in the report.
I’ve reported this on ticket #48.
Focal 2 looks to be a really good upgrade and I’m keen to try it as soon as possible. But I’ll have to wait as I now use Focal Pro on a MacBook. I have seen Rich’s reply to the “When Mac” question, so won’t ask again. At least it looks worth waiting for!
If there is a technical self-help site available, i would appreciate a link. i was unable to find technical FAQ information on the web site.
One of the things we’re addressing is more information on the website to help users get going with FoCal (likely a range of videos as well as more guided webpages for those getting started).
All the information is currently on the site but not always easy to find, the FAQ is at http://www.reikan.co.uk/focalweb/index.php/faqs/ and the FoCal documentation (including a version 2 specific document) is in the documents section at http://www.reikan.co.uk/focalweb/index.php/why/documents-to-download/
Thanks… unfortunately there is no information available to troubleshoot establishing a link to the camera. I’m using parallels on a mac and XP sees the Nikon D4 as a mountable entity (it asks me what program to use as a default), but FoCal does not consider it a valid camera. Stuck again…
Sadly running FoCal under Windows XP is not possible, it has mainly to do with the camera manufacturers pulling their support for the camera interface libraries from XP. Supported Windows are version 7 onwards see also http://www.reikan.co.uk/focalweb/index.php/why/requirements/
I managed to install Windows 7 on parallels on my mac. My first run through with the V2 release was smooth, and the results were more consistent. The AF data variability was lowered enough that one particularly problematic lens/camera combination now gave an “answer” to the mf adjustment. Obviously, I’m looking forward to more functionality and mac compatibility… Now lets see if I can get an answer for the TC2.0 combination, which eluded the v1.X version.
One of the questions that has come through the FoCal 2 Test Release Feedback form is some users are not familiar with the HotKey Function that works alongside “the nice text to speech lady” 🙂
To find out more about the Camera HotKey please see the manual at http://dl.fo-cal.co.uk/Docs/Manuals/FoCal_18.104.22.1686_Win.pdf – sections
23.3.3 Nikon Camera HotKey
23.4.3 Canon Camera HotKey
Please keep the feedback coming via the FoCal 2 Test Release Feedback form it’s great to know a lot of users are enjoying using V2 and all feedback will be useful.
Looking forward to the Mac version with the new features. Keep up the great work guys!
I just purchased V1 Pro to use with a Canon 7D2. Should I skip VI and just install V2?
Simple answer is you can install them both, they can both be installed at the same time and you can pick either to use. Starting out you just as well start with V1 but actually give both a go, any questions raise a support ticket (V2 specific tickets should be raised on the V2 feedback form so they will be seen by the right people).
If I read this correctly only users of focal pro can get the upgrade. I haven’t bought yet so I wondered if vers 2 will eventually filter down to focal plus.
Yes, FoCal 2 Plus is on the horizon and will be a similar feature split as now between FoCal 1 Plus and FoCal 1 Pro so it will happen (and will also be a free upgrade for FoCal 1 users).
I have a mac license (Pro). Can I also download a Windows license
Yes, FoCal can be installed on more than one system (and indeed that can be a mix of Mac and Windows systems). If you get stuck please raise a support ticket 🙂
For the functions that work, in particular AF Microadjustment, can I trust the resulting values in Ver. 2 as they are different then the same tests in Ver. 1 or should they be considered Beta and taken with a grain of salt ?
Assume you know but Multipoint Focus and AF Consistancy didn’t function for me. I assumed these would be added in on subsequent releases.
Very much enjoying the new version.
Glad you are enjoying trying out version2 🙂
Some functions are not yet enabled (as you mentioned Multipoint Focus and AF Consistency) and more will start to become unlocked at we move through the test release versions. In terms of accuracy we expect AF Microadjustment function to pretty well be fully functional and in that sense it should be trustworthy. Any issues please do raise a ticket on the v2 / test release support contact page (which can be accessed via the “About” button in V2 and the website).
Currently, I use a 5d3. Thank you for 2.0. I started using it last week and I must say its much faster then 1.x. Also, I do notice I’m getting much more consistent results.
One thing I would like to suggest is that since with the 5d3, its not fully automatic, at the end of the calibration test, it would be nice if the software will allow you to click “yes or no” for the final microadjust value. For a couple of my lenses, the software suggested I set the final value at +4. However, since the last/final microadjust test was at +20, the setting stayed at +20 on the camera. A nice update would be that after the software determines the best value, all you do is click “ok or yes” and the software will change the value to that setting on the camera.
Glad you are enjoying FoCal 2.0 🙂
I understand what you’re saying about the end of the test and we will have another look at how it ends. One of the reasons behind why it happens like that is the calibration result we expect users to check the display (there’s more information than can realistically be presented via a spoken word interface). Things like quality of calibration and making sure the result looks sensible. We will have a think about what can be done, thank you for your feedback 🙂
Dear Rich & Dave,
Could you give us testers an idea when you expect to send out Test Release 2?
Also, could you give an explanation of the ‘states’ that our bug reports go through? – So far I’ve seen “Being processed” and “In Trac” as states on the 7 issues I’ve reported.
It’s nice to know users are keeping a keen interest in the test release(s) 🙂
The ticket states I would tend not to think about too much, the ‘in trac’ means we have transferred the issue to an internal database. Importantly just because we didn’t change the status of a ticket to ‘in trac’ doesn’t mean it is being ignored or has a higher or lower priority than a ticket that remains as “being processed”.
Now you mention about the ticket status I might go ahead and hide that information, it may likely confuse users. To put it another way we are only changing status on tickets in a semi-formal way rather than a rigorous or formal ticket state change (do not believe everything you read!) 🙂
The next test release is expected this month, I won’t be more precise at this stage but it will contain both fixes and some cool new features (to be announced!).
Thank you again for your interest, it is good to know users are keeping in touch and I can tell you from this side things are moving forwards 🙂
Thanks for giving an update on the progress.
Allow me to politely disagree about hiding the status of the bug reports. Letting the reporters know that something is happening is important to us testers. If you don’t update the status, we get the impression that nothing happens and that you probably don’t care about the reported issues. Not exactly how you keep your testers engaged.
Sorry, I typed a response the other day but it doesn’t appear to have been published(!)
Yep, I agree, feeding back is a good thing, we value all the information users can pass along about their experience with the test release.
The main way I hope users will have feedback in when the next test release is available and any issues they raised are fixed (soon!) 🙂
Am pleased for all Nikon/canon owners .. But with the ever expanding range of ‘professional/advanced’ cameras isn’t it about time you added support for other camera brands .. Before someone else does ??..
Like Fuji Olympus etc..
Thank you for your interest in FoCal.
You know we’d love to offer support for more cameras and it’s something we have and continue to investigate. With Nikon and Canon dSLRs we are able to control a lot of camera function from a computer which makes the calibration process very easy and accurate. Other camera manufacturers don’t provide the same control interface (ones that do are very limited) but we live in hope(!)
We do have some ideas, so while it won’t happen tomorrow it is something we are and continue to think about 😉
Just an observation that you can take or leave. You seem very adamant to removing any reported issues and now even their status. As a programmer for 35+ years I can say with full confidence that this is not a good practice. It will lead to duplication of issues reported, loss of interest by testers or at worst, distrust by your customers. It is much more advantageous to be upfront and honest about any shortcomings found, even those that can’t be easily fixed. Perhaps someone could find a workaround or fix that you didn’t see. No software is “perfect”. At any rate an open communication between you and your customers can only serve to benefit all involved.
Just my honest opinion…
I’m not sure we’re talking about the same thing regards the tickets. We aren’t as far as I’m aware removing or attempting to hide reported issues. There certainly are shortcomings with TR1, some are minor and a few are deeper but most (nearly all I think) are on track to be fixed in TR2 (second test release) due out soon.
The ticket status information as Kai mentioned is an internal ticket flag (not the ticket itself!). When we setup the test release ticket system I didn’t realise this internal flag was visible from the ticket raisers side. We haven’t been paying any real attention to what the internal flag is set to and that’s why most of the internal flags have not been changed (we are generally not using it as part of our internal tracking which I think could cause confusion).
I appreciate your thoughts and I agree, we definitely do value and need to show that we value user input! 🙂
Unless I’ve missed it somehow. There is no master list of reported issues and their status that can be viewed. This leads to duplication of reported issues and confusion as whats being worked on and whats still outstanding.
btw… It’s already a great product and I’d only like to see it become even better.
I get what you’re saying and I think we’d have more of a process and structure setup with the sorts of things you mention if this was something we did more often.
The number of tickets raised on TR1 has not been huge (under 100) and those which relate to software faults much less, with the amount of duplicated reports even lower.
TR2 is out now and most all of the faults are fixed (we think!) and there’s a list of fixes and changes for TR2 in the TR2 post at https://blog.reikanfocal.com/2015/05/reikan-focal-2-test-release-2-now-available/
I have a technical question that applies to 1.9.X and to TR1. I’ve thus far been pleased with how well TR1 is able to deal with body/lens combinations that were previously problematic.
Where does FoCal choose the optimum microfocus adjustment within the zone of focus? I see 1/3 in front and 2/3 behind the subject rule of thumb as being optimal. Where does the FoCal algorithm converge to while it seeks the best adjustment?
I ask because my latest adjustments seem to consistently place the subject near the rear of the zone. DOF calculations for the shots I was making suggest around 2 feet at a distance of ~100ft.
Glad you are enjoying the update (more to come soon!)
The zone of focus / depth of field question is a good one and one we can safely ignore, I’ll try and explain why below 🙂
DoF is really a constructed idea to do with what might be considered ‘acceptably sharp’, it comes about because of an observed relationship between the “point of best focus” (what’s actually in focus) and the optical properties of most common lens designs. In general as you say you can consider this focus zone to be around 1/3 in front of the point of best focus and 2/3 behind that, totally works as a rule of thumb and DoF is useful for things like hyperfocal distance.
“All” FoCal is doing is looking at a series of test images taken at different AFMA / AF fine tune values and working out which of those values will put the “point of best focus” directly on the target. There’s a little more to it than that, in the sense FoCal also deals with the vagaries of the AF system itself (the same AFMA value used in a series of shots doesn’t actually give exactly the same result each time!).
Given what FoCal is doing we can expect that the 1/3 in front and 2/3 behind relationship will hold true when we can align this “point of best focus” exactly on the subject.
That you are seeing something a little different, it might be worth considering the target distance. As an example (somewhat fictitious) say we have a 300mm lens, we could decide to calibrate it with a target distance of 4 meters and the result would be say +10. If we use the lens all the time at 4 meters we have the result we need and no more is required. However what can be the case is that calibrating at 10 meters that same lens could give us a result of +15. Our general advice is to calibrate with the subject distance in mind, that will give the best / most applicable calibration result 🙂
*I should add what we find is that this difference in calibration result w.r.t. target distance is most obvious at shorter distances. So for example, the difference between 4 and 6 meters might be 3 calibration units. Once you get out past say 8 meters there is very little difference in result between 8 meters and 50 meters (note I have made up these numbers, see also “What’s the correct distance to run tests at?” in the documents section as that explains further).
terrific explanation. Thanks for taking the time while you are working really really hard to get us a mac version of Focal 2 😉
There is a lot of cool stuff going on at the moment, I’m not going to preempt news of Mac FoCal 2 but I can say we are working hard and definitely making progress 🙂
Why is the test version only available to Pro accounts. Will it be available to the rest of us when its out of the test phase and if so whats your estimate on when it will be available.
It’s been a tradition with FoCal to offer test releases only to FoCal Pro users for quite some time (going back to very early releases). It’s a fringe benefit of owning FoCal Pro and more generally it helps move the development along quicker to have a reduced sub-set of users trialling the software who are generally more experienced (understand there will be a large number of very experienced FoCal users who use Plus and Standard and vice versa!).
The planned date for full rollout of FoCal 2.0 to all FoCal users / full release is a moving target as during development we are learning about any potential issues. We will be emailing all users with release news, you can also follow FoCal on Facebook 🙂
I am a new purchaser of FoCal and I need to be able to run FoCal in my basement. I have read the most recent manual with it’s description of the lighting needed and what to avoid.
Is there anything you can point me to on Amazon that you can recommend or think should work well. A link would be most appreciated. I’ll use that to examine other items in the same category.
I’m sure others would appreciate such a link as a starting place as well.
Thank you for your recent purchase. The type of lighting is not super critical, even a standard desk lamp close to the target would be fine. Tungsten / halogen / LED panel, really all good. Most LED panels these days don’t “flicker” which is the only thing to avoid.
Thanks for responding to my question about appropriate light sources so quickly.
I would like to add some notes/recommendations here with regard to my very recent experience with getting FoCal up and working as I had hoped it would. I finally got there, but I had to learn things the hard way to do so.
The first has to do with the subject of Live View. Being unfamiliar with tethered computers in combination with my D750, I was expecting Live View to work on my D750 after I plugged in the USB cable. I wasted a lot of time trying to figure out why the camera said it “was unavailable” in the presen configuration. The FoCal users manual keeps talking about Live View, but it is the Live View image FoCal downloads via the USB cable from the PC it is referring to not what is normally to be found on the camera and that is not made clear by the users manual. At first, I thought I had a camera setting conflict and I was trying hard to resolve a problem that didn’t exist before I activated FoCal for the first time. Finally, after doing a lot of web searching and not finding much of anything I decided to give FoCal a try even if I couldn’t get Live View working on my camera with the USB plugged in. Of course, FoCal worked just fine without Live View being available directly on the camera’s monitor. The point is, it would be nice to mention in the manual not to expect Live View to be available on the camera when it is tethered via a USB cable and FoCal is controlling the camera.
The second point has to do with the “Preferences” settings for a test. I read the user’s manual and I believe I have a very heavy and stable tripod that I used for macro photography so I left the default setting “Test Validation” as the selection in the “Tests” tab of the “Preferences” window. That was a mistake. (“Preferences” is selectable on the initial window that appears when FoCal is activated.) My tripod may be stable even with the 10 pounds of extra weight I hang on it but it wasn’t enough for FoCal’s calibration software. [If you do have a hanging weight on your tripod don’t let the weight become a pendulum as mine did. The camera will feel the vibrations caused by its swaying.] I think the default setting should be “Target Validation with Optimization” & not simply ‘Target Validation.” When I selected “Target Validtion” as the option for test validation and started the calibration mode after focusing the camera using Target Setup’s focusing options window, the message I would get said to the effect “Test target validated, but cannot find target in image.” That problem went away and the test would run successfully to completion once I selected “Target Optimization.” That cannot-find-the-target message would have been a great place to also suggest “Try setting Target Optimization in the “Preferences” “Test” tab.” You can say you warned me about this being a possible problem in the users manual and you did, but I’m a novice with regard to FoCal and I assumed you would set the best defaults for someone just starting with the product.
A third point of confusion I had was: without zooming I would have red X’s on the FoCal real-time (Live View) lens image. My (your) test target was more than 3 meters away with my 50mm lens. It had to be to make it fit properly into the Test Target window as required. Once I had the target set up properly using the zoom feature and got the green check on the zoomed image, the red X was still there on the un-zoomed image. I initially thought that was a problem and set out to resolve it. If there was something in the users manual that said not to worry about the red X on the not-zoomed image would have been very helpful, e.g., – Ignore red X on the un-zoomed image if the zoomed image has a green check.
Four, once in FoCal when you have finished an individual test, people need to know they should probably re-focus the camera if they desire to make a manual lens change such as on a zoom telephoto lens from say 28mm to 105mm and you want to continue with the testing at the new lens focal length. What they really need to know is that the way to do that is with the focusing-options-display available when you are in the “Target Setup” window; click the so labeled box to get the focusing-options display. There are three focusing options in that display window to choose from: one from FoCal and two that are native to the camera or facsimiles thereof. Best I can tell, this is the only means to focus or re-focus your lens on the test target should you need to before starting a new test without exiting FoCal or should you have the need to continue with an on-going test to correct the test set-up.
Five, I did have some lighting problems that caused target-not-found issues. I was using a 500 watt halogen lamp and shining it directly on the target (at a slant) from about 4 feet away. The target looked fine to my eyeballs, but the Live View image of the target was very washed/blown out. I resolved this by turning the halogen light so that it would not shine directly on the target. Side reflections from the light’s hood was enough to do the trick. A 100 watt, old style, incandescent bulb parked closer to the target with a desk lamp hood around it also worked; and then, ah ha, I discovered where those orangey looking targets in your user manual were coming from. So too much light on the target can be a bad thing; the camera sensor apparently gets overwhelmed by the reflections it makes. I do want to try some “daylight normalized” bulbs in a desk lamp to see what they will do. I’ll have that opportunity pretty soon.
I hope this is a help to others as they approach FoCal for the first time. It’s hard for those who are close to the product to anticipate the rabbit trails those who are new to it might take. Once you know how something works, of course, it is easy and intuitively obvious to the most casual observer.
Thank you for taking the time to provide feedback, it is useful and serves as a good reminder for improvements we need to make, especially for those getting started.
One of the things we think will help getting started is video showing the steps and process, for example the YouTube: FoCal “User Assisted Mode” Calibration video linked from the supported cameras page. 3rd party videos / more information ‘out there’ can also help e.g. https://youtu.be/nLqJNP5BA78
The trick is to provide the right information at the right time as well as tweaking the software to be more intuitive. FoCal 2 is a step in the right direction but there is more we’d like to do, particularly around ‘target setup’.
We recently updated the FAQ to try and explain better the relationship between zoom button and the green tick, see Why do I not get a green tick using the Target Setup utility? but as said this is an area we want to do more to help new users.
Thanks again for taking the time to give feedback, we very much value it 🙂
Prior to buying FoCal2 I had looked at the videos, downloaded and read the users manual and gone through a whole bunch of forums and FoCal 2 reviews. Nevertheless, one cannot absorb everything in one pass. So I have been constantly rereading the users guide and I have revisited the videos.
I’ll see if I can better explain the point of confusion I had and still have with focusing using Target Setup with Focusing Options enabled. I get the Green Check on the Found Target when I zoom in. When I zoom out it turns to a red check.
I have acquired this Pavlovian way of dealing with multiple layers of windows as one goes deeper in a process. I am very inclined once I have reached bottom and finished what needed to be done there to then work my way back up the chain until I get to the window where I began down the chain. In this case I was in the Calibration window and selected the Target Setup option in the target setup window I selected “Show Focus Controls.” I then selected the “FoCal Autofocus” option. Once that completed I went back to the Target Setup window and selected “Target Search.” I then got a Green Check mark and a red border. Now here is where the confusion begins: since I had selected Zoom-in before doing the autofocus I went back and selected the zoom-out to put things back as I found them before returning to the Calibration window. When I unzoomed I got the dreaded Red X again. Now I was assuming that the software would not attempt to refocus and find the target again since it knew I had focus and a found target when I zoomed out. If it did “refocus” and try to “find the target” again which it appears it may have them I may have messed up the correct focus I had just established. Once the target was found in the zoomed image I probably should have clicked “Stop” on the Target Setup screen immediately and returned to the Calibration window and proceeded to do the test. Which is the correct thing to do?
So what did I do to the focus when I clicked the un-zoom button after having found the target and gotten the Green Check? If that messed things up a warning in the users guide to not “Zoom Out” after finding the target and immediately hit “Stop” would have been helpful to me.
By the way, I found that placement of the light source(s)can make a great difference in the quality of the results. I started to understand that when I was first using a 500 watt halogen work light. If I shined the light directly on the hard test target it washed it out on the camera sensor, but if I worked with an indirect reflection or backed the light up substantially the target would be found. That result was repeated when I switched to a single 900 watt softbox at 5500 K. By backing up that light and again working with a reflection from inside the softbox I got a far superior reading of my cameras performance than I was getting with my camera up close and more directly focused on the target. I’m going to add a second 900 watt softbox 5500K and use one on right and the other on left with the axis of focus being something like 30 degrees off target such that there will be no direct light on the target image and see what happens.
Readers beware, being a novice at both lens calibration and using FoCal 2 some of my working hypotheses may well be off target. There is just too much that I do not know at this time. It’s easy to blame the wrong thing for the problem when one is ignorant about the subject. (Ignorance is curable, by the way.)
Thanks for the additional information, I understand the confusion and the Target Setup user flow is an area we want to improve. Like anything once you understand the process it’s easy to believe everyone also understands what is required (we know that is not the case!).
The “Focus Controls” actually don’t need to be used at all for a normal focus calibration, they are only used for tests like Aperture Sharpness. Again this is an area where the user interface should offer more guidance and suggest a work flow to make the process easier.
Target lighting, main trick I think is ensure there’s a good amount of light on the target. I generally suggest to aim for a shutter speed of at least 1/125 sec or faster. Also the target should have plenty of contrast when viewed from the camera, so reflections of the light source on the target design can cause issues (generally print the target on low reflectance paper will help).
Ignorance is curable. I hope so as I love to learn 🙂