FoCal 2020 Beta 2 brings close to 200 fixes and improvements, introduces Remote Mode which allows you to use another device for control (eg an iPad), brings support for FoCal Plus, off-centre focus point analysis and more.
This release is very close to what will be the first full release of FoCal 2020 – please do give it whirl and send us some feedback as it really helps!
First things first – we want to again say a huge thank you to all those users who tried out the previous FoCal releases! We’ve had a great amount of feedback with lots of observations and suggestions for improvements and a lot of positive support.
If you did try out the Alpha or the previous Beta do give this new release a go, we’ve implemented a lot of the suggestions received and brought some great new features. We hope this release is both clearer and more intuitive to use and fixes issues you’ve raised.
[If you’re not interested in the details and just want to grab the release download info is here]
The changes since FoCal 2020 Beta 1 are generally about getting all the little bugs fixed ready for the final release, but we have fixed a few more major issues found and added some cool new features.
For a recap of the operation, you can check out the FoCal 2020 overview video.
The Release Notes contain the comprehensive list of around 200 fixes, here’s some of the headlines:
- FoCal Plus is now supported!
- We’ve added a new Remote Mode (more below…)
- Save Camera & Lens information as a PDF
- You can analyse off-centre focus points again
- Improved saving/restoring of the camera state, with better information as well.
A quick note about Nikon Z 5, Z 6, Z 7 and Z 50 cameras
In case you’re not aware, there’s a bug in the current firmware for Nikon Z series cameras which affects how AF Fine-Tune works on Z-mount lenses. See this blog post for more information.
FoCal Plus is back!
Support for FoCal Plus users is now added to FoCal 2020.
FoCal Plus is intended for people who want simple calibration without all the details or options, so FoCal Plus includes:
- Target Setup
- Calibration Check (new for FoCal 2020)
- Calibration (both tethered and file mode)
FoCal Plus doesn’t have a Details tab for tests, so you won’t be overloaded with extra information. With the focus purely on calibration results, there’s no typical comparison, report saving or raw processing, and file mode is limited to only those cameras which are supported for tethering.
We’re pretty excited about this one…
You can now run the FoCal user interface on another device, e.g. a tablet!
The functionality is in Beta, but we think it could be really useful so have released it today. We’ve been using it in the lab for our testing and it’s great being able to use the touch screen of an iPad to control and review results.
The camera is still connected to your main PC or Mac, but you’ll be able to control everything from the remote device.
How do I use it?
To enable Remote Mode, head to the Settings page, go to the FoCal Pro Settings panel and at the bottom there’s Enable Remote UI:
Switch this on, quit FoCal and restart and you’ll be greeted with the simple Remote Mode page:
Then open up a browser (we’ve tested with Chrome and Safari), and head to the address of the main PC/Mac with the port number added as shown in the instructions, e.g. if the PC address was 192.168.1.5, then in the browser address enter:
And you should then see the FoCal user interface, ready to go:
You can connect with any device that has a browser, but the user interface is currently optimised for bigger screens like desktops and tablets – we will work on support for smaller devices in future releases. You can connect with a phone as shown below, but you might get in a bit of a muddle during testing!
Stopping Remote Mode
To end Remote Mode and go back to normal operation, just hit the big red Disable Remote Mode button in the middle of the window running on the PC or Mac. This will disable the setting and quit FoCal – next time you start it’ll run normally.
Or on the remote device, you can head to Settings > FoCal Pro Settings and untick the Enable Remote UI option and then restart FoCal.
Off-Centre Focus Points
Being able to use tests on focus points other than the centre one has been available in FoCal for quite some time, but hadn’t really been given much love since FoCal 2.9. It was disabled in the first couple of releases of FoCal 2020, but we’ve re-enabled it after testing this time.
To use, you just tick the Allow Non-Center Focus Point option in the settings.
With this option enabled, you’ll be able to set the focus point on your camera to something other than the center, and confirm the correct positioning with Target Setup:
FoCal will then allow the tests to run, shifting the analysis point to be over your selected focus point:
Camera/Lens Information Report
You can now save a PDF report with details about the connected camera and lens from the Camera & Lens Details panel. To do so, just click the Save Report icon, choose a filename and the report will be created.
Improved Settings Save/Restore
Before FoCal runs a test, it grabs a snapshot of the state of the settings in your camera, so it can all be restored at the end back to how you had it.
This functionality has been mostly reliable, but there have been the occasional report of users finding their camera is left with mirror lockup enabled, or switched to JPEG mode from Raw after using FoCal.
We’ve improved the situation in three ways:
- We found a situation where the settings woudln’t be restored after a warning message was showing during the start of a test and fixed this.
- We take a snapshot of the settings when you connect the camera, and compare the settings after each test runs. If there are any differences found, you’ll be told what’s changed and where possible what the original and current values are.
- We’ve also added a message to the end of tests run with User Assisted Mode camera to make sure you don’t forget to restore the focus adjustment value back to the original if it’s been changed during the test.
With these extra features in place, we think that in normal operation you’ll always know if any settings have changed.
(For some Nikon cameras, saving the settings can take a few seconds so don’t be alarmed if FoCal pauses for a short time at the start and end of tests while showing Saving Camera State in the status bar)
Note: If FoCal quits or the camera disconnects for some unexpected reason (e.g. the battery goes flat), you’ll need to reconnect the camera to FoCal to restore the settings.
Live View Focus Detection
Up until this release, FoCal has always used the term Contrast Detect Autofocus (CDAF) to refer to live view focusing. While this is correct for the majority of current DSLRs, with support for mirrorless cameras added it’s no longer quite the right term to use.
We’ve updated the naming and where possible show the real mode the camera was using. The general catch-all term of Live View Autofocus (LVAF) is used when we don’t know for definite which mode the camera will run in, but when we do the information will show Contrast Detect, Phase Detect, Hybrid, Dual Pixel AF etc. where appropriate.
Live View Focus Calibration
Following on from this, FoCal also lets you choose the AF method to calibrate if your camera supports more than one method, e.g. the Nikon D780:
In the settings for Calibration, you can choose Phase Detect or Live View for calibration. The example above shows that with the Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 lens, the viewfinder (Phase Detect) AF Fine-Tune is -3, but for Live View the AF Fine-Tune should be +3.
We’ve made some internal improvements to the control of Nikon cameras which speeds up some of the tests, and also automated switching auto exposure mode, metering mode etc where it wasn’t previously automatic.
We’ve added support for the X100 variants (X100, X100S, X100T, X100F and X100V) to FoCal for File Mode analysis, so you can check autofocus consistency, aperture sharpness and dust analysis (which should be clear for fixed lens cameras!)
The MultiTest settings have been exteded to allow selection of focus adjustment range too.
Operating System Support
The updates to our development tools and certain components we’re using mean we’ve bumped up the requirements for Operating System versions over FoCal 2.x releases.
The following are supported Operating Systems:
- Windows 10
- Windows 8.1
- Windows Server 2012
- Windows 7
- Windows Server 2008 R2_SP1
- macOS Big Sur will be supported
- macOS Catalina (10.15)
- macOS Mojave (10.14)
- macOS High Sierra (10.13)
- macOS Sierra (10.12)
There are more details in the changelog on the release notes for this release.
We would love you to try out this new release of FoCal and let us know what you think – good and bad. It’s feedback from users that help make each release better than the last. Lots of the functionality in FoCal 2020 is implemented on suggestions from users – don’t be afraid to propose improvements and new ideas!
If you have any feedback, please use the Send Feedback button in the Help > Help menu (Note: this has been fixed for Mac in the Beta release of FoCal 2020). This will open a dedicated contact form so we can make sure we capture all your feedback:
Thank you to all our users past and present who’ve used FoCal for their calibrations. An extra special thank you to everyone who’s got in touch with feedback, a lot changes are driven directly from what you tell us!
How do I get FoCal 2020 Beta 2
Download FoCal 2020 Beta 2 for Windows or macOS by logging in to the account system via lms.fo-cal.co.uk. Once logged in, you will see a download link to the software.
FoCal 2020 Beta 2 is available to all users that are within their Included Updates Period as of 17th August 2020. You can get the software as below:
- By logging in to the FoCal Account system via lms.fo-cal.co.uk. Near the top you’ll see “Click here to Show or Hide Pre-Release Downloads” – click to view the available downloads.
If the above does not apply to you, you can purchase 12 months of updates by logging in to the account system via lms.fo-cal.co.uk and going to the Included Updates Period section.
If you’re not yet a FoCal user, you can purchase the software as a download or boxed product, as well as Focal Hard Targets from the FoCal Online Store.
It’s worth just checking the pre-release software FAQ to make sure you understand the type of software you’re getting.
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