Reikan FoCal: Nikon Z9 Review & Analysis

Playing Around

Once support for the Z9 was added to the FoCal software, it was time to give the camera a bit of a bash. And what better place than the down at Durdle Door in Dorset, part of the Jurassic Coast UNESCO World Heritage Site!

Durdle Door in Dorset
Durdle Door

I loaded up a pack with a few cameras including the Z9, 2 tripods a few computers and some other bits and pieces just to make sure it was unpleasantly heavy and headed off from the car park down the steep slope and steps to the beach.

First things first – camera calibration time! This wasn’t strictly necessary as I’d already calibrated the camera and lenses before leaving, but I wanted to show that calibration is possible in the field. Now this was a far from perfect scenario in which to perform a calibration – the beach was pebbly and soft so tripod legs sunk and the wind was strong and gusty, on a couple of occasions knocking the tripod holding the target over until I moved location!

Calibration Setup with the Nikon Z9 and Reikan FoCal
First attempt at calibration in the wind!

But what I would say is that FoCal worked admirably. I ran each calibration a couple of times in order to check that the results were consistent, and despite the conditions I was getting perfect repeatability.

Calibration setup for the Z9 with Reikan FoCal and Durdle Door in the background
The tripod was more stable this way round, and the view prettier

With the basics out the way, I wanted to play with some “toys”. First up, the FoCal Wireless Camera Module. Due to the way the module works, once the FoCal software can support a camera, it will be implicitly supported remotely, so I connected to the Z9.

The FoCal Wireless Control Module connected to the Nikon Z9
The FoCal Wireless Camera Control Module in use with the Z9

Despite being a beta product at the moment, the module worked flawlessly. Here’s a screenshot of the Target Setup utility in FoCal, with the live feed showing me out by the target – I was using the feed to move the target tripod to make sure the arch of Durdle Door was in the shot. (Note that I hadn’t actually hit the Refresh button to update the Environment Check Results, hence the warnings next to Target Placement and Target Distance despite it being well aligned).

Screenshot of remote live view feed using the wireless control module
Using wireless Live View feed to adjust the target position

The last thing to play with was definitely “winging it” – could I run a few calibration with a development version of FoCal on an iPad? The answer turns out to be yes! Again, not a single issue at all. Let us know in the comments if an iPad/iPhone version of FoCal is something you’d like to see…

Reikan FoCal running on an iPad
FoCal on an iPad

After packing the FoCal related gear away, I captured a few shots of the local area.

Photo of waves crashing into a rock
Waves crashing into The Bull
Photo of hills in Dorset
The Jurassic Roller-coaster
Photo of Stair Hole in Dorset
Stair Hole

Last thing to mention on this page is the Target Holder used on the tripod during testing above. There’s a better photo below. These are little 3D printed holders for the FoCal hard targets which can be mounted on a tripod. Let us know if this is something you’d be interested in.

Reikan FoCal Target Holder/Tripod Mount holding a target
FoCal Target Holder/Tripod Mount

3 comments on “Reikan FoCal: Nikon Z9 Review & Analysis

  • Really enjoyed the hands-on review guys, VR differences between Nikon Z9 and Z7 are interesting, still using focal for calibrating my Z6 🙂

    Keep up the great work!

    Reply
  • Thanks for the review — I FoCal’d 22 lenses on my first Z9 and found that there was some improvement by using AF-fine tune particularly on F-mount lenses with the FTZII adapter.
    To be honest the 7 Z-mount lenses I tested were almost spot on (within +/- 1).
    But my F-mount SuperTeles all “could” benefit from tiny adjustments of +2-+3.
    Whereas within one exception the shorter primes and zooms were help by -2 to -3. The AF-S 35mm/1.4G needed -5.
    I will test my 2nd Z9 and repeat the tests with my 2 FTZIIs and with Z-TC14, Z-TC20 and the F-mount three TC’s as well. This will identify if any of my collection are “poor” examples that need work — quite possibly the 35mm is such.
    The NPS rep I deal with said there is no need to AF-fine tune on a Z-body — well the facts are that if there are improvements available why not take them AND surely Nikon’s product development team had a reason for including AF-fine tune in the Z9.

    Reply
    • Thanks Andy for your feedback and sharing your experience.

      I would tend to agree with your reasoning, why is it there is if does nothing? 🙂

      Also, that’s what we tend to see, native Z lenses typically need little or nothing in the way of adjustment (unless the lens or camera has issues) but adapted F mount on Z cameras will benefit in more cases.

      Best Regards,
      Dave

      Reply

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