Welcome to FoCal 2.9! This is the full, production ready and public release of FoCal 2.9. The culmination of over a year of development, bringing improvements to every aspect of Reikan FoCal.
Huge thank you to all users who have tried out the alpha and beta releases of FoCal 2.9 over the past few months. Your feedback and comments and testing have hugely helped improve FoCal 2.9 and made sure we have something users will enjoy!
FoCal came into existence 10 years ago, way back in 2009. Since the first public release in late 2011, we’ve added support for over 40 cameras and helped calibrate millions of cameras and lenses!
FoCal 2.9 is the latest and greatest release of what is still the only automatic autofocus calibration solution for DSLRs.
It’s taken longer than we hoped to get this release fully ready and we’ve gone ahead and “back-dated” the license requirement. We felt it was more fair to users if we back-date this release all the way back to 1st October 2018. This means you will have access to use FoCal 2.9 if you purchased FoCal or an Included Updates Period extension on or after 1st October 2017 .
New development framework
We’ve moved to a shiny new software development framework that offers much better long term support. The new framework is designed with portability and flexibility in mind and we’ve taken this opportunity to update a huge amount of the internal workings of FoCal. This change will allow future development to be quicker, easier, more flexible and more exciting, with new features and improvements added far more easily.
One of the key drivers for this new step is providing a native 64-bit architecture release of FoCal on macOS, the older framework just wouldn’t have allowed it (more on this below!).
The old framework was becoming fragile and development was held up with internal differences between Windows and Mac code. Things are now far more consistent between platforms, making development easier with even less room for errors or bugs to creep in.
New look to the UI
When you connect to a camera, FoCal now obtains much more information about the camera and shows this to you in the Camera/Lens Info panel
Camera control improvements
During the development of FoCal 2.9, we have reworked almost every aspect of the software. One area that has received a lot of attention is how cameras are controlled.
With FoCal 2.6.5 on Mac we completely changed the communication with Canon cameras, and now we bring this change to Windows too. This means faster, more reliable communications with more flexibility of what we can do with the cameras.
Improvements to both Canon and Nikon control mean that going forward we’ll be bringing some exciting new features!
64 bit macOS
One of the primary drivers for the rework in FoCal 2.9 was Apple’s requirement that all macOS apps should be 64-bit. Over the past few versions, macOS has been periodically letting you know…
This necessitated the change to a new, far more modern software framework for FoCal which brings a whole host of benefits.
Not only will the app run faster and be more compact on macOS, the common code base between Windows and Mac will also lead to improved reliability.
Support for the Nikon Z6/Z7 Mirrorless Cameras
Nikon’s exciting new mirrorless cameras – the Z6 and Z7 – have been supported in the beta builds of FoCal 2.9 and we now bring them to everyone with this general availability release of FoCal 2.9!
“But you don’t need to calibrate mirrorless cameras…?” – have a read of our Z7 investigation blog post to find out more.
Online Context-Sensitive Help
FoCal is simple and easy to use in one sense but there is a wealth of available information provided, explaining this in detail in an accessible way is tricky. The old manual was over 150 pages long(!)
Rather than expect users to wade through a huge manual we’ve changed the format, including the most important information that’s useful in a shorter PDF manual. Whenever you wish to explore an area in more detail you can quickly access context sensitive online help.
Hit the “?” key from lots of places within FoCal application itself to get information about the area you’re interested in.
Within tests, use the Chart Help link to dig into the details about the information you’re seeing.
The online help system is continuously evolving – if you find it helpful or can think of improvements to an area let us know. We want the documentation to be driven by users, providing the clearest and best information to help get the very best from FoCal. If you want to take a look now, the index page is here.
Software Update Channels
With the introduction of Update Channels, you can now choose to get notifications about pre-release software releases.
If you like things to be solid, leave this on Stable.
If you’re interested in trying out new features, switch to Beta (nearly ready), or Alpha (bleeding edge!) streams.
FoCal 2.9 development has made extensive use of Alpha and Beta versions. Users have benefited from gaining early access to improvements and new features and provides us valuable feedback helping to ensure we make the best possible software.
Lens Name Reporting
You’d think a camera would know exactly which lens it has attached… that’s not always the case! We’ve completely changed the way that FoCal recognises lenses, using several internal methods to reliably identify an attached lens. What’s more, if we’ve got it wrong there’s a way for users to quickly let us know and we’ll fix it!
History data saved with previous tests and calibrations contains raw lens information. By improving lens recognition we’ve also improved the accuracy of matching FoCal Comparison Data to your specific camera/lens combination.
FoCal had previously worked in a somewhat linear fashion – instructing the camera to take a shot, waiting for that image data to be available and then analysing the image before taking the next shot.
Overlapped Capture and Analysis significantly improves the times for tests by analysing images while at the same time allowing the camera to capture new images. Tests like Aperture Sharpness and Dust Analysis are considerably quicker, there is now very little difference in overall test time between raw and JPEG analysis.
macOS Mojave has introduced Dark Theme, FoCal takes note of how the OS is set up and reflects this within the FoCal user display.
We didn’t want to leave Windows out and have added a new lighter theme for Windows users. Changing between themes via Advanced preferences tab.
Review Result and Crop Images
In previous releases of FoCal, reviewing a test from the history database allowed the results to be seen but not the crop images as they were never saved.
In FoCal 2.9, all crop images are saved locally to your computer and you can review the complete set of results and save full PDF reports of historic tests:
Note that FoCal does NOT upload any of these images, they are stored locally on your computer but not shared.
What’s not new (some may say ‘missing’!)
There is some functionality not included within this FoCal 2.9 release. Rather than delay getting FoCal 2.9 out to users we held back on some features.
Multi-Point Focus Test is perhaps the most obvious test that’s not yet included, there will be a following update that restores this function. It’s not a fix but for users who need to run this test, keep FoCal 2.6 installed until we can provide this in a following update (it is possible to have both 2.6 and 2.9 installed at the same time).
Semi-Automatic Focus Calibration, this is a test that was scheduled to be removed and replaced with something better. Users found the old test difficult to use, in nearly every case it is far far better to stick with the normal automated calibration. We do have plans for something much better in an upcoming release
How do I get FoCal 2.9
Download FoCal 2.9 for Windows or macOS by logging in to the LMS at lms.fo-cal.co.uk. Once logged in, you will see a download link to the software.
This release is available to all FoCal users (FoCal Plus, Pro and Commercial/Non-Profit) who were within their Included Updates Period as of 1st October 2018. This means you can use the software if you purchased FoCal or an Included Updates Period extension on or after 1st October 2017.
If the above does not apply to you, you can purchase another 12 months by logging in to the LMS at lms.fo-cal.co.uk and going to the Included Updates Period section.
If you don’t own FoCal, you can purchase the software as a download or boxed product, as well as Focal Hard Targets from the store.
The installation package contains the software, target images and a reference manual (also available on the Documents Download page).
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