We’re really excited to bring you the first version of Reikan FoCal 2 for Mac!
To give you an idea of what’s new in FoCal 2, here’s a few of the most important features:
- No Mono Framework Install – FoCal 2 for Mac is now a standalone application with no requirement to install any third party frameworks. Easier installation for users and it’s impossible to install an untested version of Mono!
- Digital Signing and Easy Install – FoCal 2 for Mac is now fully digitally signed (some versions of FoCal 1.x required changes to gatekeeper settings) and the install is graphically guided (just drag and drop from the DMG file!).
- Huge focus on reliability – A lot of the work on getting FoCal 2 for Mac ready has been in improving reliability and stability. Changes to the internal code structure, a new development tool chain and extensive pre-release testing (all tests passed with flying colours!),
- 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.
- File Mode – you can now capture your own files and feed them in for Automatic Calibration, Autofocus Consistency and Aperture Sharpness. This includes cameras and lenses that aren’t supported in tethered mode.
- 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.
- No need to select camera manufacturer – gone is the need to choose either Canon or Nikon – FoCal 2 can now seamlessly work with both manufacturers.
- 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.
We took the difficult decision to split development with FoCal 2, first with Windows (test release 1 and 2). This wasn’t the most popular decision and we understand why that is, what we can say is that we believe it will prove to be a good move for users. FoCal 2 Mac has benefited, we’ve been able to fully concentrate on the Mac specific functionality and made significant improvements in many areas that will benefit Mac users.
OS X 10.9 (Mavericks) or later
One of our goals with the Mac release of FoCal 2 was to make it the most stable and reliable version of FoCal possible. An updated development tool chain and extensive code restructuring means we have been able to make a lot of changes to how FoCal works internally. FoCal 2 Mac test release 3 is supported on OS X 10.9 (Mavericks) and OS X 10.10 (Yosemite). This has not been an easy decision and we didn’t make it lightly, we hope users will see it as a positive, enabling FoCal to move forward from a solid foundation as we move to offer support for El Capitan in future releases of FoCal. Less than 3% of FoCal Mac users are running OS X 10.8 (Mountain Lion) and we hope users will prefer a rock solid FoCal 2 running on Mavericks and Yosemite than something that’s potentially unstable running on Mountain Lion. Like all difficult decisions we definitely welcome user feedback! 🙂
What is a Test Release?
We’ve called these versions 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:
At the time of release, there is a known issue which may cause a slight delay the first time a report is created. The delay will depend on your system, but could be from 5 seconds to a few minutes (typically it will only be a few seconds), and for any subsequent reports created from the application there won’t be an extra delay. We are waiting for an (imminent) update to a third party library which will resolve this issue.
How to get FoCal 2
See the bottom of this post for how to download FoCal 2.
No need to install the Mono Framework
For FoCal 1 there was a need for users to install a third party framework called Mono. This involved downloading and installing files from another website before running FoCal and led to some confusion and unreliability as it wasn’t immediately clear which version should be used.
In FoCal 2, there’s no longer any need to do extra steps to install – just drag the FoCal application to your Applications folder.
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.
When FoCal runs in it’s normal “tethered mode”, the software takes control of the camera and makes it very easy for you to calibrate or analyse your equipment. Up until very recently however, Canon and Nikon are the only 2 major manufacturers which offer the tools and information to control their cameras from a computer.
In FoCal 1, if you wanted to determine an AF Microadjustment value for a camera that can’t be controlled by FoCal you could take shots yourself and use the Manual Mode test.
For FoCal 2 we’ve redesigned this functionality and now allow you to feed files you capture yourself into the Fully Automatic Calibration test, the Autofocus Consistency test and the Aperture Sharpness test. The tests run as if they were connected to a camera, allowing you to interact with the test as it runs and check out all the information available. Your results are also added to the history database so you can review them later.
So if you want to calibrate a Sony 70-400 using an LA-EA4 on a Sony A7 camera, or check out the aperture sharpness results for a completely manual vintage Zuiko Jupiter 8 lens, you can do it easily now with File Mode!
We’ve improved the report format and generation, 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.
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 Compare 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
- Historic Results (2) – shows how the current results compare to previous calibrations
- Focus Consistency (3) – 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 (4) – a value showing how the horizontal and vertical sharpness compare
- Result Convergence (5) – how the result progressed as each shot was taken
- Image Motion (6) – an indication of any movement of the image at the camera sensor as the test progresses
With a FoCal Data Subscription, many of the charts will have the red/blue/green overlay as shown below. Red is used to indicate poorer performance than typically seen from other users, blue is used to show similar performance, and green to show better performance.
The Compare 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)
- Image Motion (4) – an indication of any movement of the image at the camera sensor as the test progresses.
- Corner Brightness Profile (5) – an indication of how the image brightness at the corners changes across the aperture range.
Autofocus Consistency – What’s New?
The tabs are present in the Focus 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.
- Image Motion (7) – an indication of any movement of the image at the camera sensor as the test progresses.
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 computer. 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 TR3 (Test Release 3) is available for FoCal Pro license holders running the Mac OS X 10.9 (Mavericks) or 10.10 (Yosemite) operating systems.
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 during the Test Release phase.
You can download FoCal 2 TR3 by logging in to the LMS at lms.fo-cal.co.uk. As long as you have a FoCal Pro license, you will see a download link to the software.