FoCal 2 for Mac: Preview

We’ve been working really hard on the Mac version of FoCal 2, and while it’s not quite ready for release yet we wanted to show you how things are coming along.

FoCal 2 for Mac - Main Window
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What’s New

There are loads of new features over what was available in FoCal 1.  There’s more detail below, but here’s an idea of what’s coming:

  • New main FoCal window making it easier to navigate tests.
  • FoCal Data Subscription – compare your results with typical results from other FoCal users.
  • History – review your previous results, even those from FoCal 1.
  • File Mode – run calibration, aperture sharpness or focus consistency tests on files, even from cameras which can’t be controlled by FoCal.
  • Target Setup – improvements for getting the best focus before starting tests
  • Fully Automatic Calibration – lots of user interface and functionality improvements
  • Aperture Sharpness – lots of user interface and functionality improvements
  • AF Consistency – lots of user interface and functionality improvements
  • 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

We’ve been working very hard on “unifying the codebase” – what this means is that we’ve reduced the differences between the Windows and Mac version of FoCal, meaning there shouldn’t be delays between future Windows and Mac releases, even with big features added.

We’ve also updated the user interface on the Mac to bring some of the features from Windows (e.g. tinted buttons and panels), and added support for Mac features like Retina displays.

On top of this, there’s been a big focus on reliability and ease of use, we expect that FoCal 2 will be more stable for all users and easier to use.  We’re also hoping to make the installation easier – possibly even distributing through the App Store – but that depends on whether we can crack one particular problem we’re working on now.

Anyway, on to the details…

The Main FoCal Window

The main window has been redesigned to match the style of the Windows version of FoCal 2, with a tabbed layout to make access to the tools more intuitive:

FoCal 2 for Mac - Calibration Tab
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Like on the Windows version, some of the tools aren’t ready yet (e.g. Calibration Check) and aren’t enabled, but they will be soon.

FoCal 2 for Mac - Tools Tab
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FoCal Data Subscription

The FoCal Data Subscription gives you access to comparison data, meaning you can compare your results to typical results from other FoCal users.  Our database had hundreds of thousands of test results in, and we process this information and send it back to the FoCal application so you can see whether your setup is behaving in a typical manner.  This is more useful than absolute numbers – for instance, you might get a higher sharpness value from a $2000 Canon EF24-70mm f/2.8L Mark II than from a $100 Canon EF50mm f/1.8 lens, but by comparing with other users you might be able to see that you have a stellar copy of the cheap lens and a poor copy of the expensive lens!

FoCal 2 for Mac - FoCal Data Subscription

The information is shown in the Compare tabs for the individual tests, and as a coloured overlay on the charts within the tests – there’s more details in the specific test sections below.

History

You will be able to review the history results for all the tests you’ve run on your computer – even from FoCal 1!  You can review basic information about the test on the history window (shown below), and by clicking the Show Details button you can recreate the test window and look through all the details.  You’ll also be able to save reports and/or CSV information about previous tests.

FoCal 2 for Mac - History
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File Mode

FoCal 2 brings File Mode to the Fully Automatic calibration, Aperture Sharpness and Focus Consistency tests.  You can choose a set of files – even from cameras which can’t be controlled from FoCal – and run the images through the test.  You’ll get all the same results as if you had the camera connected to FoCal, including comparison with other users and being able to look at the results at a later date from the history.

FoCal 2 for Mac - File Mode
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Voice Prompts

The Voice Prompt functionality on FoCal 2 for Windows has been very well received.  Although it sounds a bit gimmicky, in combination with the camera hotkey it means you can completely calibrate any camera without even looking at the computer.  This is a very valuable feature for quick calibration of cameras which run in User Assisted Mode (most Nikon cameras and some later Canon cameras).

FoCal 2 for Mac - Preferences showing Voice Prompts
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Target Setup

The Target Setup utility has all the new FoCal 2 features added.  The Focus Controls panel allows you to run automatic or manual focus operations:

FoCal 2 for Mac - Target Setup
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For manual focus operations, the quality indicators are now shown.

FoCal 2 for Mac - Target Setup, Manual Tools
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To recap, the left-hand (larger) quality indicator shows the focus quality achieved over the last 20 operations.  The colour of the bar corresponds to the buttons of the operations (e.g. green is phase detect autofocus, blue is contrast detect, orange is manual near focus, red is manual far focus and yellow is a reading update with no change).  The right-hand indicator shows the current quality as compared to the previous results – in the example above the black bar on the right-hand indicator is right at the top giving confidence that the lens is focused very well on the target.

All the usual features – focus point display, target search and the histogram – are all still available.

FoCal 2 for Mac - Target Setup
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Fully Automatic Calibration

The Fully Automatic calibration tool has been fully updated to match the Windows features for FoCal 2.

Tabbed information panels for settings, individual shot information, overall test results, comparison with other users (if you have a FoCal Data Subscription) and information about your test history.

FoCal 2 for Mac - Fully Auto Calibration
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Typical comparison data is shown on the charts with the green/blue/red areas indicating how your camera and lens compare to the typical results of other users.

FoCal 2 for Mac - Fully Auto Calibration, Data Comparison
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And information about the comparison is shown in the Compare tab:

FoCal 2 for Mac - Fully Auto Calibration, Typical Comparison tab

By monitoring how the results are converging, calibrations run quicker as FoCal can stop the calibration when the results are unlikely to change.

FoCal 2 for Mac - Fully Auto Calibration - Faster Calibration through Result Convergence
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You can also compare your results for this test with the results of previous tests you’ve run on this camera and lens:

FoCal 2 for Mac - Fully Auto Calibration, History
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Aperture Sharpness

The Aperture Sharpness test has been updated to being the information tabs, file mode, multiple graphs and comparison with other users.

FoCal 2 for Mac - Aperture Sharpness
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AF Consistency

The AF Consistency test has also been updated to being the information tabs, file mode, multiple graphs and comparison with other users.

FoCal 2 for Mac - Autofocus Consistency
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What’s Next

As you can see, there’s been a lot of work going in to FoCal 2 on the Mac.  We still have more to do! If everything goes well, we are hoping to release a Test Release of FoCal 2 for the Mac around the end of this month, so not long to wait now.  We can’t wait to get this out to you and let you play with all the new features!

15 comments on “FoCal 2 for Mac: Preview

    • Hi Nick,

      A lot of work has gone (and is going) into FoCal V2 and especially on Mac, there’s a lot we want to do and for users to see some really cool improvements.

      One of the things we want to do is remove the need for users to install Mono and while I can’t guarantee that will happen for the first test release it is very much on the plan to happen 🙂

      Best Regards,
      Dave

      Reply
  • This is the update I have been waiting for, carn’t wait! Can you tell us when an update comes out that will include the new Canon 5D3s and R?

    Reply
    • Hi Jon,

      We hope users are looking forward to this update, it’s a big one and a lot of work is going into this. The development team is making a lot of really great progress! 🙂

      We will be adding EOS 5DS / EOS 5DS R camera support for FoCal, the question is when. Currently we’re working on FoCal 2 for Mac and while the code changes for new cameras don’t tend to be massively time consuming once the changes are made we need acess to the camera(s) for testing to make sure that FoCal works as expected.

      I can’t give an exact time frame but most likely sometime around the end of this month when the developers will get time to update the 1.x code and get hold of the EOS 5DS / EOS 5DS R to test with (the plan is to try and get the FoCal 2.x Mac test release out first as that is what most users are asking about almost daily!).

      Best Regards,
      Dave

      Reply
  • I am happy to see Focal being improved, especially jumping from the old mono release.
    However, how is the integration of Nikon’s camera line going. Since Nikon has an official SDK for their cameras, I am hoping for a more automated support. Any news on that?

    Keep up the good work,

    Ronny

    Reply
    • Hi Ronny,

      Lots of good things are happening at the moment 🙂

      We can’t share what’s going on every day (I think most people would quickly get bored) but good progress is being made and while it’s not quite ready for release it’s looking really good (that’s not the same as promising perfection for the ‘test release’!).

      FoCal uses the interface software available from the camera manufacturers, that’s really the root cause for “Assisted Mode” on certain cameras (it’s not a Nikon/Canon thing it affects both depending on the camera).

      This is something pre-written but should hopefully explain the situation:

      The control of the AF micro adjustment setting on certain cameras is not possible from a computer. The features that can be controlled are dictated by the camera manufacturer, they decide which adjustments to the camera can be made programmatically.

      What this means in reality is that FoCal does the calibration (determining which and how many AF fine tune points are need to be tested to obtain a calibration result) and other things like setting mirror lockup and defocusing between each test shot. It also analyses each image for sharpness / detail and plots it on a graph to determine the best AF fine tune value. During this process a number of AF fine tune adjustments need to be set on the camera and they have to be input by the user (so it’s “user assisted” in that sense).

      What we’ve done for version 2 of FoCal is several things to make this user assisted part of the process easier (with voice prompts and the camera HotKey functionality) and also require less steps of AFMA adjustment to gain a high level of accuracy for the calibration. The result is that the process is fully automatic (i.e. the exact same calibration we can run on “hands free” cameras) but some user assistance to input the AF micro adjust values is required.

      What we’d love to do is to is to persuade the camera manufacturer to implement the function in their software so we can use it to automatically change the AFMA value, we haven’t given up and actually have some ideas on how we can go about this. When/if that might occur we can’t put a time frame on but we don’t rule it out, at this point we’ll do everything we can to make the “user assisted” case as easy as possible.

      Best Regards,
      Dave

      Reply
    • Hi Felipe,

      System requirements for FoCal V2 is a good question, the new build environment might well mean that a newer version of Mac OSX is required for FoCal V2 than for FoCal V1, more details to follow! 🙂

      (note FoCal V1 works Mac OSX all the way back to 10.7 and this could well change with FoCal V2)

      Best Regards,
      Dave

      Reply
  • End of May was FoCal 2 available for Windows. Two months later no change for Mac users who paid the same amount of money but are clearly treated as second class customers.

    I don not understand why you’re coupling new cameras to the new release? One new thing at a time, and this better should be well done. I know there’s a lot of work to do – I know that because on my Mac FoCal 1.9 still crashes or is behaving weird when I want to save the report of an adjustment. Also very often the accuracy is on the weaker side of things. I rerun some adjustments using lensAlign with better (though not perfect) results than Focal, but probably my printed target is not up to standard needs.

    However, before I spend more money on your products (buying targets) I first want to see not only promises but also a delivery and a clear improvement to the current version – no, forgot: I wiped the current version from my disk, it crashes more and harder than the former one and I don’t have the camera it was made for.

    Reply
  • Hi Joachim,

    I can understand the frustration, in an ideal world the new development work for FoCal V2 would be concurrent on both platforms. We tried it and it didn’t work. This split process will, counterintuitively perhaps, deliver a better Focal V2 and sooner on both platforms.

    The FoCal V2 Mac (test release 3) will be released as soon as next week (all being well) and one of the things we have specifically concentrated on is stability. It’s been an issue for some Mac users and we want the Mac release to be super stable. The change of recommended Mono version for FoCal 1.x (specifically to change to 3.12.1) has been a useful stop gap but there’s a lot more changes in Mac V2 than a simple update of Mono.

    If you’re not using Mono 3.12.1 yet with FoCal 1.x then it’s worth updating (see also http://www.fo-cal.co.uk/mono ) as that has helped Mac users who were seeing stability problems. With FoCal 2 on Mac the need to install Mono framework has been completely removed.

    As above, we really expect FoCal V2 to be a big improvement in many areas (stability being just one) and while the wait is longer than we might have liked we hope users will let us know their thoughts when they get to try it (very soon now!).

    Best Regards,
    Dave

    Reply
    • Hi Dave,

      I must say it was worth the wait. Haven’t tried all of it, but first impressions are simply brilliant! It feels very, very stable and it looks much better than before. Will try more this weekend. So far no complications and you clearly cared about a lot of details. Thank you very, very much.

      Usually after posts in this tone follows half a dozen feature requests. Sorry to disappoint you 😉 There’s more in it than I was hoping for, but the best part are speed, reliabilty and design. And the funniest part is a german voice (on my Mac) reading the English voice over 😀

      Reply
      • Hi Joachim,

        Thank you for your positive comments, it’s great to hear from users and gain confidence we are moving in a good direction. Version 2 is looking really good and great news you are seeing good improvements 🙂

        A lot of changes (both ‘under the hood’ and with the user interface) and a rigorous testing schedule prior to release. We wanted to give users something really cool and very stable and it looks like we are much closer to that now.

        Version 2 Mac will give us a good foundation. There are more things we want to do, both to make FoCal easier to use and more intuitive (especially for those getting started) as well as new features that provide greater insight to individual lens/AF system performance.

        We’re excited about what might be possible in the future and FoCal V2 Mac will give us a great place to begin 😉

        Best Regards,
        Dave

        Reply
  • I am very disappointed with the fact that this is only available for Pro users.

    Given by the stability of 1.x release on newer versions of OSX everybody on Mac should get non-mono version of the software straight away.

    FYI – the software is crashing frequently on different Mac computers.

    Reply
    • Hi mpe,

      FoCal 1.x should in general be stable for Mac users, where we have seen issues it’s often related to the version of Mono (recommended version is 3.12.1).

      One of the improvements with FoCal 2 is that users don’t need to install Mono at all which will cut out a lot of potential problems. Please raise a support ticket if you’re have problems with 1.x and we can very likely help. The rollout for FoCal 2 for Plus users will happen once the test release phase is complete.

      Best Regards,
      Dave

      Reply

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