FoCal 3.5 Beta 2 – Huge Wireless Module speedup, usability improvements and more

Reikan FoCal 3.5 Beta 2 is now available, and it brings even more goodness to FoCal!

Reikan FoCal 3.5 Beta 2 splash image of Longships Lighthouse at Land's End, Cornwall, UK

In this release, we’ve made huge improvements to the speed of the Wireless Camera Module, bringing overall test times much closer to a wired connection. We’ve made some improvements to the new Calibration Check tool, improved the user interface and fixed some important bugs too.

What’s New?

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

Headline Features

FoCal 3.5 Beta 2 builds on the new features introduced in the first beta, and brings further improvements:

For a recap of the operation, you can check out the FoCal 2020 overview video.

The Release Notes contain a comprehensive list of changes.

Thanks to those who tested FoCal 3.5 Beta 1

We’ve had some great feedback from users testing the first release of FoCal 3.5, many of the reports back have led directly to improvements and bug fixes so please do get in touch as it really does help to improve FoCal!

New Mirrorless-compatible Calibration Check

This release of FoCal brings fixes to the new Calibration Check tool, which is now compatible with mirrorless cameras, allowing you to reliably check the autofocus system performance of cameras such as the Nikon Z9.

The post for FoCal 3.5 Beta 1 contains lots of details on the big updates to this tool.

We would love for you to try out the new Calibration Check utility on your cameras, especially new mirrorless cameras like the Nikon Z-series, and let us know how you get on. We really value feedback from our customers and it helps drive our development, fix bugs and improve the functionality.

Big Wireless Camera Module Improvements

We first revealed the Wireless Camera Control Module back in December, and launched a beta programme a little later to get feedback from users.

While the module itself works well and has proven useful, several testers reported it being a little… slow. It does offer the very useful ability to control a camera at a distance, but the price paid is that a typical calibration on a high-megapixel camera like the Nikon Z7 could take close to 20 minutes.

With updates to both FoCal and the Wireless Camera Module firmware, we’ve managed to increase the transfer speed between the module and the camera by 6 times!

The result is that tests run over wireless are now much, much quicker, as shown in the table below:

TestOriginal Module FirmwareNew Module FirmwareUSB
Calibration Check11m15s3m20s1m39s
Autofocus Calibration19 minutes5m55s3m10s
AF Consistency5m45s1m52s59s
Aperture Sharpness7m36s2m27s1m10s
Multitest> 1 hour14m44s8m41s
Test times for Wireless Module and USB connection

Improved Restore Feedback

The Restore function introduced in the first FoCal 3.5 Beta release allows you to completely reset and restore a Wireless Camera Module.

While functional, it was a little lacking in feedback, so we’ve improved the operation so you can see that something useful is happening while restoring!

FoCal Wireless Camera Control Module Restoring button showing progress indication
Progress indication now shown in the Restoring… button

Country Mismatch Alert

Wi-Fi transmission is regulated by national bodies, and different countries allow transmission in various bands across the spectrum. To get the best from the Wireless Camera Module, it’s important to set the country correctly and FoCal will now warn you if there’s a mismatch between the country set within the Wireless Camera Module and the current country you’re in (based on your computer system settings).

When the Wireless Camera Module is reset and restored, it will default to the United States as the country. In the 2.4GHz band on which the module operates, this is the most restricted country, so there’s no risk of being non-compliant with local laws. However, you may be reducing the performance of the wireless communications if you don’t have the correct country set as the module may not be using all of the available wireless spectrum.

Wireless Module country mismatch alert
The Wireless Module warning when the country is not set correctly

Head to Help > Wireless Module and choose the Settings tab:

Reikan FoCal Wireless Module settings page
Wireless > Settings tab, where you can adjust the country

You can then change to the correct country. Note that you must click Apply Changes in order to actually make the change, otherwise it will not be actioned.

FoCal Wireless Module Country settings
Adjust the country, then choose Apply Changes

Reliability Improvements

There have been some general reliability and user experience improvements both within FoCal and the Wireless Module firmware:

  • Improvements to connection reliability
  • Better detection of the module by FoCal
  • Fixes to firmware update to allow quick over-the-air updates going forward

A note about updating the Wireless Module

The Wireless Module firmware has been moving forward rapidly, and this has meant that the communications protocol between FoCal and the module has changed. This means that the integrated Firmware Update process within FoCal will not work to update the module from previous versions.

In order to update, you will need to Reset & Restore. From the Help > Wireless Module page, choose Restore and follow the instructions on the page.

Wireless Module Availability

To date, the Wireless Module has been in the hands of our beta testers, but we’re preparing a batch with the latest firmware and speed improvements, available on the FoCal Store very soon. A limited number will be available at a reduced price as we’re still finishing off the development – there’s more speed improvements and more functionality unlocked over the coming months!

We’ll send information out via email and post on our social media channels when the modules are available. You can register specific interest in the Wireless Camera Control Module on this page, but we will also send out information to the general mailing list.

Important reliability fixes on macOS

We’ve found an fixed an annoying bug that could cause reliability issues on recent versions of macOS (12.3 and onwards).

Apple made an undocumented change in macOS 12.3 which broke the way FoCal displays the user interface – we quickly fixed this in FoCal 3.2 Maintenance Release 1.

But there were some subtle consequences of the change that led to occasional unreliability on macOS since version 12.3, manifesting as FoCal appearing to stop updating even though tests and operations are still running.

It’s been a pain to find, but we’ve identified and fixed the issue now so there won’t be any more hangs of the user interface on macOS.

User Interface enhancements and fixes

FoCal 3.5 Beta 2 brings further enhancements to the usability and functionality:

Battery level & Raw indication on camera card

Two icons have been added to the Camera Card, shown on the top bar of FoCal when a camera is opened.

You can now quickly see the state of the camera battery, as well as an indication of whether Raw mode is enabled for tests.

New Camera Card showing Raw and Battery Level icons
The new Raw and Battery icons in the Camera Card

Fixed issue with history windows of same type

There’s been a long-standing issue within FoCal where if you opened several history entries of the same test type (e.g. multiple Calibration Check tests as shown below), then clicking between them would not change to the selected test. This bug has now been fixed.

History menu showing list of tests
You can now switch between tests of the same type from the History menu

Calibration Check report shows right data

The recent updates to Calibration Check meant that for the previous version of FoCal (3.5 Beta 1), the report would not show the correct results under some conditions. The report has been modified to show data in the appropriate way now.

Example of new Reikan FoCal Calibration Check report
New Calibration Check report

Fixes to chart scaling

You can adjust the scaling of the charts to see more detail in the data by clicking the numbers on the y-axis of the chart. This was introduced in the previous release, but we’ve fixed some bugs.

Chart data shown with default scaling
Chart default scale
Chart data shown with scaling to show detail in the data
Chart scaled to data (same results)

“Back to Test” button much clearer in Target Setup

From each test, you can jump to Target Setup by clicking links within the explanation text, or using the Target Setup button on the bottom bar.

The button at the bottom of the Target Setup window which returned you to the test you came from was always a bit subtle and we had several queries raised about it’s purpose. It’s been made a lot clearer now:

New Back to Test button
“Back to test” button is a lot clearer now

Test Focal Length added to Test Overview information

The Test Overview panel shows details about the test, but was missing the focal length at which the test was run, so this has been added.

FoCal Test Overview card showing new Focal length entry
Focal Length added to Test Overview

History Table improvements

Previously, a history entry with crop images available to review was shown with green text, and this meant that the colour of the Summary text was always green. We’ve changed the look so that entries with crops available are shown with a blue background, so the colour indicating the status of the result in the Summary column can be seen.

Reikan FoCal history table showing blue entries where crop data is present
History table rows are now blue when crop images are available

Camera Control Improvements

We’ve made various improvements to the control of cameras in this version:

  • Live View startup on Nikon
  • Improved speed of some live view operations
  • Removed unnecessary warnings

Operating System Support

The following are supported Operating Systems:

Windows (64-bit)

Mac

  • macOS Monterey (12.x)
  • 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.

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 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:

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!

Get Reikan FoCal 3.5 Beta 2

Download FoCal 3.5 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 3.5 Beta 2 is available to all users that are within their Included Updates Period as of 26th May 2022. You can get the software as below:

  • By logging in to the FoCal Account system via lms.fo-cal.co.uk.
  • Go to the About > Update Check option in the software. From here you can hit the Download button to get the software.

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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