We’re delighted to announce the next public release of Reikan FoCal, FoCal 3 is now available in Beta!
This release contains a lot of internal improvements, laying the foundation for exciting new features, functionality and products due soon while also improving the usefulness of results you see now, fixing bugs and generally improving operation.
[If you’re not interested in the details and just want to grab the release download info is here]
FoCal naming followed a standard pattern for years… 1.0, 1.1, 1.2 through to 2.13. Last year, we made a huge change to the look and feel of FoCal, and felt a big name change would highlight this difference with FoCal 2020, followed soon after by FoCal 2021.
Feedback from users and the idea of “FoCal 2021 part 2” or some other addition to 2021… it starts getting confusing, we’ve reverted back to (almost) the original naming convention and here was are at FoCal 3!
[Note that internally this version is FoCal 3.2, so if you fire up FoCal and get a warning that you’re only licensed to use up to FoCal 3.1.x (the internal name for FoCal 2021) then you’ll need to grab another Included Updates Period from your FoCal account page. We will be making this much clearer in the next software release.]
- Camera Tools: Time Synchronisation – for years, FoCal has informed you if your camera clock doesn’t match your computer clock, but now with the click of a button you can set your camera to the right time.
- Improvements to Results Display – most results are now rated as poor, acceptable, good or excellent and displayed in colour to indicate this rating, making it much clearer to understand what’s good and what’s not so good with your gear.
- Improved Comparison Data – we’ve added extra metrics to show how your gear performs compared to other users in the areas of distortion, colour aberrations and image motion.
- New Metadata Processor – decoding of image metadata is now faster and more accurate with our native, integrated processor.
- Updated Firmware Version checking – FoCal capability to let you know about new firmware versions has been improved.
- Single test export from History – you can backup single tests – including all crop image data – to transfer between different machines.
- Other notable updates – there are various other important updates and bug fixes included in this version.
For a recap of the operation, you can check out the FoCal 2020 overview video.
The Release Notes contain a comprehensive list of changes.
Camera Tools: Time Synchronisation
Under the Camera menu, there’s a new option of Camera Tools. For now this offers an option to synchronise the camera time (there will be more functionality coming to this page in future releases).
If your camera time isn’t correct, you’ll be shown a warning then you connect to the camera. Head over to the Camera > Camera Tools page and hit the Sync Camera Time button to set the time on your camera:
Depending on the camera type, there are 3 slightly different ways the time will be set.
- For older Canon cameras, that do not support World Time (those from before around 2012), the time on the camera will be set to the local time on the computer.
- For newer Canon cameras (those past around 2012) that do support World Time, the local time will be set along with automatic setting of the time zone and the daylight savings time option to match the settings on your computer.
- For Nikon cameras, there is no way to control the World Time features (i.e. time zone and daylight savings time), so a message is shown as below:
As instructed, while this message is shown you should go to SETUP MENU > Time zone and date on the camera and confirm that the Time zone and Daylight saving time options are correct. Once this is done, hit OK in the FoCal message box and the time will be set.
After the time is set on any camera you’ll be shown a message to confirm, and again while the message is shown you’ll be able to use the menu system on the camera to confirm you’re happy with the settings.
Improvements to Results Display
Results in FoCal are usually a number indicating an absolute value for the measurement taken – for example Quality of Focus may return a value of 1233.6. But sometimes it’s not obvious what this number really means – is that a good value, or a bad value?
The FoCal Comparison Database compares your results to other people with the same equipment and indicates poor/acceptable/good ranges on charts with coloured regions, but up until this release we haven’t shown this sort of information for the numerical results.
The above image shows the way the results are now displayed. The Result Confidence value is shown in green as Excellent and this is pretty self explanatory. The Improvement is 7.9%, and again this is now shown green to indicate that it is a good result.
The Consistency of Focus value is shown as 97.9%, but in red, which indicates that this is a poor result. The database icon next to the value shows that the rating (poor, acceptable, good, excellent) is determined from the FoCal Comparison Database, so this value is poor when compared to other users.
Where FoCal Comparison Database information is not available for your camera/lens combination (or you’re not using FoCal Pro), there will be no database icon and the rating will be determined using a general range of values determined for all cameras/lenses.
We hope that this colouring of results will make information clearer in it’s real-world meaning, and guide you to investigate appropriate metrics with the charts and numerical results from FoCal.
Improved Comparison Data
We’ve extended the comparison data to include information about:
- Distortion (Astigmatism Factor),
- Colour (Red, Green and Blue ratio results)
- Image motion
By comparing these extra metrics with other FoCal users, you can see more detail on how your gear compares, for instance:
- A higher value of Astigmatism Factor can indicate misalignment of lens elements, especially if seen at the same time as a low value for overall image quality.
- Poor red/green/blue comparison data can indicate a higher likelihood of various chromatic aberrations being noticeable with your lens, which may indicate a poorer quality copy of your lens
- High image motion could indicate issues with the focus drive mechanics of the lens, or lens element position if the motion is large during an aperture-based test with no re-focusing.
The image above shows the database icon beside the entries for Astigmatism Factor, Red-Blue Ratio, Red:Green, Blue:Green and Image Motion, and combined with the improved results display, you can now clearly see that these measurements are either acceptable or good (green) when compared to other users, so you can be confident that this is a decent copy of the Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L USM lens.
New Metadata Processor
When a photo is taken with a camera, a huge amount of extra information is embedded within the image file – camera settings, copyright information, thumbnails, dust removal data, lighting measurements and much, much more.
This information is extracted using the a Metadata Processor within FoCal, and for this version we’re using our own home-grown processor which is faster and more accurate for the needs of FoCal, and better suits our plans going forward.
Ideally you shouldn’t notice any significant difference, but we are considering this processor in a “beta” state for now until it’s given some wider testing, so would appreciate any feedback if you see any camera settings reported incorrectly by FoCal.
Updated Camera Firmware Version checking
FoCal has always been able to tell you if your camera firmware is not the latest version, but it relied on our online database which was manually edited – and not all that often. We’ve automated the gathering of information for firmware versions that are compatible with FoCal and now update the list far more often, so you should get a notification if there’s a new version of firmware available for your camera as soon as we’ve confirmed that it works well with FoCal.
Single test export from History
You can now export an archive of all the results and crop images for a single test from the History page in FoCal. From the History page, click once on any test to show the Selected Entry panel at the bottom of the window, and then hit the Export button to save the test results.
To import the results on a different machine, on the History page choose the Settings tab and choose Import History Database. This will add the test into your history on this machine.
Other Notable Changes
We’ve fixed a lot of minor bugs and improved various areas in the software since FoCal 2020:
- Fixed a rare crash that could happen at the end of a test on Mac computers
- Fixed an issue where alerts shown within FoCal would appear out of sync
- Stop being able to move away from Target Setup when the test is running – this makes more logical sense for this particular tool and improves usability
- History is tidier – hide options to choose a camera/lens that has no results associated with it!
- Removed requirement to restart FoCal when changing licenses, clearing preferences etc.
Operating System Support
The following are supported Operating Systems:
- Windows 10
- Windows 8.1
- Windows 7 should work, Microsoft ended support in January 2020 and we do limited testing on Windows 7.
Windows 11 – we don’t expect any issues with FoCal running on Windows 11, and will be testing with developer releases from Microsoft as they become available closer to public Windows 11 release.
- macOS Big Sur (11.x)
- 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 helps make each release better than the last. Lots of the functionality in FoCal is implemented following 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. 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!
Get Reikan FoCal 3 Beta
Download FoCal 3 Beta 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 3 Beta is available to all users that are within their Included Updates Period as of 26th July 2021. 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 “Pre-Release Downloads” – the new release is in that section.
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.
Reikan FoCal on Social Media
We regularly post news and updates on social media. You can keep updated, connect and follow us via: