FoCal 2020 Beta 2: Remote Mode, FoCal Plus and more

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.

FoCal 2020 Beta 2

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!

Thank you!

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.

What’s New?

[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:

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.

Remote Mode

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:

FoCal Remote Mode option
Enable Remote UI is what you need to tick

Switch this on, quit FoCal and restart and you’ll be greeted with the simple Remote Mode page:

Reikan FoCal running in Remote Mode
FoCal running in Remote Mode

At this point, you’ll want to connect your remote device. You’ll need the IP address or network name of your main machine in order to connect (check here for help on Windows or Mac)

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:

192.168.1.5:5506

And you should then see the FoCal user interface, ready to go:

Reikan FoCal user interface on an iPad
FoCal user interface on an iPad

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!

Reikan FoCal user interface on an iPhone
The FoCal user interface on an iPhone

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.

Reikan FoCal option to enable Off Centre Focus Point testing

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 Target Setup showing off centre focus point
Target Setup with off centre focus point

FoCal will then allow the tests to run, shifting the analysis point to be over your selected focus point:

Reikan FoCal Shot Info showing off centre focus point
Shot information showing the analysed area and the focus points

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.

Save Camera and Lens Information report icon
Hit the Save Report icon to save the Camera and Lens information as a PDF

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Reikan FoCal identifying Phase Detect and Dual Pixel autofocus
Live View focus type is now shown correctly (highlighted areas)

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:

Reikan FoCal calibrating autofocus on Nikon D780 in Viewfiner and Live View mode
FoCal can now calibrate Viewfinder and Live View for cameras that support both

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.

Other Changes

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!)

Reikan FoCal File Mode support for Fuji X100 series
The Fuji X100 series have been added for file mode (note that the Not Supported refers to focus calibration, and the right hand “X” means it’s file mode only)

The MultiTest settings have been exteded to allow selection of focus adjustment range too.

Reikan FoCal allows selection of range for focus tuning values in MultiTest
MultiTest allows you to specify a range of calibration values

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

  • Windows 10
  • Windows 8.1
  • Windows Server 2012
  • Windows 7
  • Windows Server 2008 R2_SP1

Mac

  • macOS Big Sur will be supported
  • macOS Catalina (10.15)
  • macOS Mojave (10.14)
  • macOS High Sierra (10.13)
  • macOS Sierra (10.12)

More details…

There are more details in the changelog on the release notes for this release.

Giving Feedback

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:

Reikan FoCal Send Feedback option
Please use the Send Feedback button to give us feedback about pre-release versions

Thank you!

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.

Find us on Social Media

We regularly post news and updates on social media. You can keep updated, connect and follow us via:

4 comments on “FoCal 2020 Beta 2: Remote Mode, FoCal Plus and more

    • Hi Michael,

      Thank you for your interest in FoCal 🙂

      Adding Sony support definitely on the list, it won’t make it for the first release of FoCal 2020 but it is something we are looking to provide in a following release.

      Timeline is uncertain (changes for FoCal 2020 are the main focus currently) but if you’re not already you can join the newsletter to get an email as soon as we have an update.

      Best Regards,
      Dave

      Reply
  • Settimo Lo Nigro says:

    Buona sera.
    Uso “Focal Pro 2.13” per la mia Nikon D750 da poco tempo e ne sono molto contento, perché finalmente ho potuto correggere il mio Nikkor 24/70 mm f/2.8 da un fastidiosissimo front focus.
    L’unico problema per me è il fatto che il software sia totalmente in lingua inglese. Se ci fosse infatti la possibilità di poterlo tradurre in altre lingue, come per esempio l’italiano, sarebbe veramente grandioso.
    Per il resto lo trovo un programma molto utile e professionale.
    Complimenti
    Saluti

    Reply
    • Hi Settimo,

      Glad you are enjoying using FoCal and thank you for your kind words 🙂

      Currently all the documentation is online in web pages which means those web pages can be translated to other languages, for example translated to Italian.

      When (or whether) we can add translated text within the software itself. Other language support is something we’ve considered and there are changes in the new FoCal 2020 release that means adding additional languages would make the process easier. We’ll keep reviewing what might be possible and we thank you for your feedback.

      Best Regards,
      Dave

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *