FoCal 3 Released!

We’re delighted to announce the full, general availability release of Reikan FoCal 3!

Reikan FoCal 3

This release contains a lot of internal enhancements, bug fixes and usability improvements, laying the foundation for exciting new features, functionality and products due soon while also improving the usefulness of results presented within FoCal.

What’s New?

[If you’re not interested in the details and just want to grab the release download info is here]

New Naming

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 we 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. This information has been improved going forward, but for releases already “in the field” you will see the original naming of 3.0, 3.1 etc.]

Headline Features

  • 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, including time zone and daylight savings time settings where possible.
  • 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.
  • Integrated Documents/Target Images – the documents are now installed as part of FoCal and you can get easy access from the Help menu.
  • Updated Firmware Version checking – FoCal capability to let you know about new camera firmware releases 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 release.

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:

Camera Tools - Camera Time Sync panel in Reikan FoCal 3 Beta
Camera Time Synchronisation panel on the Camera Tools page

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:
Confirm World Time Settings message box
You can interact with the camera while this message is on screen

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 with multiple FoCal users 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.

Example of improved results display in Reikan FoCal 3 Beta
Summary Page showing the ratings of results with colours

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.
Example of improved comparison data information for an Aperture Sharpness test
An example of new Comparison Metrics in Aperture Sharpness

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 an image is taken with a huge amount of extra information is embedded within that image file – camera settings, copyright information, thumbnails, dust removal data, lighting measurements and much, much more.

Component Information for Reikan FoCal
The new Metadata Processor details are shown in the Component Information panel.

This information is extracted using the Metadata Processor within FoCal, for this release we’re using our own home-grown processor which is faster, more accurate for the needs of FoCal and opens the door for future plans.

Ideally you shouldn’t notice any significant difference – we’ve run automated testing on thousands of image files from a wide range of cameras to ensure the results with the new processor are as good or better than the previous version, but do let us know if you spot any issues!

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 release of firmware available for your camera as soon as we’ve confirmed that it works well with FoCal.

New Firmware Available information when the camera is connected.

Integrated Docs/Target Images

The documents supplied with the FoCal installation (the brief Manual, Testing Guide and Target Images) were always supplied within the ZIP file on Windows and the Disk Image (DMG) on Mac, but once the software was installed you had to return to the zip/dmg to re-read them and it’s not always easy to find old installation images!

We’ve now made things better by installing them alongside the software and making them available from the Help menu:

Documents are now available under the Help menu
Documentation is now available from the Help menu

This doesn’t change the installer for Mac (it’s still a DMG file), but for Windows we’ve been able to clean up the installer and now supply a single .EXE file. Run this, and the software and documents will be installed – just hit Launch at the end of the installer and head to the Help menu to access them.

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.

History "Selected Entry" panel, showing the new "Export" button on the bottom to allow export of a single test.
The new Export button is at the bottom of the Selected Entry panel

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 2021:

  • 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.
  • Fixes issues causing problems with adjusting AF Fine Tune on Nikon cameras with Wide/Tele adjustments and/or Teleconverters.
  • Help and Target documents are now integrated with the installation package and available from the Help menu.
  • Various improvements and fixes, including updates to the Time Synchronisation functionality offering more option in Settings and clearer, faster messages.
  • Fixes an occasional but annoying crash at the end of a Calibration
  • Fixes an issue where Raw mode was actually running with JPEG images
  • Improved the help and naming of the first chart shown in MultiTest – now called “Focus & Aperture Quality”
  • Fixed various issues around importing and loading history results data
  • Improvements to voice prompt initialisation on Mac to improve reliability
  • Improvements to user-assisted requests for restoring settings after a test has run
  • Improvements to Target Setup to be clear about previous test data being shown
  • Fixes to MultiTest on cameras which don’t support AF Adjustment.

Operating System Support

The following are supported Operating Systems:

Windows (64-bit)

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.

Mac

  • macOS Big Sur (11.x)
  • 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.

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!

Get Reikan FoCal 3

Download FoCal 3 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 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.

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