"FoCal" Software for Micro Adjusting Lenses Tried Out

Started Jan 4, 2012 | Discussions
mevbo
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"FoCal" Software for Micro Adjusting Lenses Tried Out
Jan 4, 2012

I got a license for the basic FoCal http://www.reikan.co.uk/focal/

(Semi Automatic) version of this software and tried it last night. I am running XP SP3 with a P4 3GHz processer and 2GB Ram.

It performed well. It did shut dow on my a few times, but that may have been my fault. The Pro version is supposed to do everything for you, but I kind of liked being able to tune my own. It took a little while to understand what I was looking at, but once I did, it was easy to use.

It took me about 2 hours to do 6 lenses on 2 bodies and I think I could do it quicker now that I understand how to use it better.

You set up the target, tether your camera, start the software. It walks you though centering the target and then you are off.

I had MA all my lenses on my own previously and started there. Some were on and some were off. What I really like about the software is that it is so easy to check different focal distances easily. For example, my 28-300L. I had just MA'd it to 300mm with a +8. When checking with the software, +8 was good at 300, but BAD at 28. I saw that +1 was really good at 300 and was still really good at 28 so I moved it to that setting.

I still need to do some shooting with all my lenses to see what the changes have done, but I am excited to try them.
Cost for this software was $21.72 US

I will reply once I have a chance to shoot a few frames with the new settings.

Thanks Rich Meston for the work on this!

Kevin

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riknash
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Re: "FoCal" Software for Micro Adjusting Lenses Tried Out
In reply to mevbo, Jan 4, 2012

mevbo wrote:

I got a license for the basic FoCal http://www.reikan.co.uk/focal/

(Semi Automatic) version of this software and tried it last night. I am running XP SP3 with a P4 3GHz processer and 2GB Ram.

It performed well. It did shut dow on my a few times, but that may have been my fault. The Pro version is supposed to do everything for you, but I kind of liked being able to tune my own. It took a little while to understand what I was looking at, but once I did, it was easy to use.

It took me about 2 hours to do 6 lenses on 2 bodies and I think I could do it quicker now that I understand how to use it better.

You set up the target, tether your camera, start the software. It walks you though centering the target and then you are off.

I had MA all my lenses on my own previously and started there. Some were on and some were off. What I really like about the software is that it is so easy to check different focal distances easily. For example, my 28-300L. I had just MA'd it to 300mm with a +8. When checking with the software, +8 was good at 300, but BAD at 28. I saw that +1 was really good at 300 and was still really good at 28 so I moved it to that setting.

I still need to do some shooting with all my lenses to see what the changes have done, but I am excited to try them.
Cost for this software was $21.72 US

I will reply once I have a chance to shoot a few frames with the new settings.

Thanks Rich Meston for the work on this!

Kevin

I'm curious to know if the application yields better results than someone using a simple 5 cent printed paper target laid out on the floor? Does it help determine if the lens is faulty and require servicing?

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balloonchasers
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Re: "FoCal" Software for Micro Adjusting Lenses Tried Out
In reply to mevbo, Jan 4, 2012

mevbo wrote:

I had just MA'd it to 300mm with a +8.

When checking with the software, +8 was good at 300, but BAD at 28.

I saw that +1 was really good at 300

I have been watching the progress of this software for some time and every now and then I will see comments that just don't make sense. How can a lens that shows +8 as being the right setting also show that +1 is the right setting for the same focal length? It is either one or the other. It can't be both.

When I taped a target up against a wall and shot at +1 and then +8 the difference was completly obvious.

Waiting on a 50D version to be released so I can dig into this program myself, but I can not see how the mixed results can be a good indication.

John
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mevbo
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Re: "FoCal" Software for Micro Adjusting Lenses Tried Out
In reply to riknash, Jan 5, 2012

riknash wrote:

mevbo wrote:

I got a license for the basic FoCal http://www.reikan.co.uk/focal/

(Semi Automatic) version of this software and tried it last night. I am running XP SP3 with a P4 3GHz processer and 2GB Ram.

It performed well. It did shut dow on my a few times, but that may have been my fault. The Pro version is supposed to do everything for you, but I kind of liked being able to tune my own. It took a little while to understand what I was looking at, but once I did, it was easy to use.

It took me about 2 hours to do 6 lenses on 2 bodies and I think I could do it quicker now that I understand how to use it better.

You set up the target, tether your camera, start the software. It walks you though centering the target and then you are off.

I had MA all my lenses on my own previously and started there. Some were on and some were off. What I really like about the software is that it is so easy to check different focal distances easily. For example, my 28-300L. I had just MA'd it to 300mm with a +8. When checking with the software, +8 was good at 300, but BAD at 28. I saw that +1 was really good at 300 and was still really good at 28 so I moved it to that setting.

I still need to do some shooting with all my lenses to see what the changes have done, but I am excited to try them.
Cost for this software was $21.72 US

I will reply once I have a chance to shoot a few frames with the new settings.

Thanks Rich Meston for the work on this!

Kevin

I'm curious to know if the application yields better results than someone using a simple 5 cent printed paper target laid out on the floor? Does it help determine if the lens is faulty and require servicing?

I've tried the $.05 paper trick and, if this works for you, great. I never had luck with it. I had used a good target on a retaining wall i n the past with much better luck. The nicest thing about the software is that the computer and the sensor don't get tired and give you a resolution peak feedback with is much easier to read than straining at a 3" screen of pics at 100% zoom.

I am still trying to shoot some real world shots to see how the alighment went. I will post once I do. I have a family shoot this weekend and should (Hopefully) be able to see the improvments then.

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mevbo
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Re: "FoCal" Software for Micro Adjusting Lenses Tried Out
In reply to balloonchasers, Jan 5, 2012

balloonchasers wrote:

mevbo wrote:

I had just MA'd it to 300mm with a +8.

When checking with the software, +8 was good at 300, but BAD at 28.

I saw that +1 was really good at 300

I have been watching the progress of this software for some time and every now and then I will see comments that just don't make sense. How can a lens that shows +8 as being the right setting also show that +1 is the right setting for the same focal length? It is either one or the other. It can't be both.

When I taped a target up against a wall and shot at +1 and then +8 the difference was completly obvious.

Waiting on a 50D version to be released so I can dig into this program myself, but I can not see how the mixed results can be a good indication.

John

I agree that it doesn't make sense, but on this lens it does. Everything in between +1 and +8 are lower. I can maybe get you some screenshots if you don't believe me.

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riknash
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Re: "FoCal" Software for Micro Adjusting Lenses Tried Out
In reply to mevbo, Jan 5, 2012

mevbo wrote:

I agree that it doesn't make sense, but on this lens it does. Everything in between +1 and +8 are lower. I can maybe get you some screenshots if you don't believe me.

OK, I'd like to see this weird MA lens too. It's defying logic or else it has something wrong mechanically causing some kind of focus backlash. How did you see that both +1 and +8 were both good at 300mm?

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riknash
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Re: "FoCal" Software for Micro Adjusting Lenses Tried Out
In reply to mevbo, Jan 5, 2012

mevbo wrote:

I am still trying to shoot some real world shots to see how the alighment went. I will post once I do. I have a family shoot this weekend and should (Hopefully) be able to see the improvments then.

Please let us know how you make out with the family shoot this weekend.

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mevbo
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Re: "FoCal" Software for Micro Adjusting Lenses Tried Out
In reply to riknash, Jan 6, 2012

Well, you are both right. Not sure what I was doing, but when I tried again last night, there was a big difference between the two. At 28, +1 was still much better, but after thinking about it, I need the critical focus more at the long end so I set back to +8.

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Scales USA
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Re: "FoCal" Software for Micro Adjusting Lenses Tried Out
In reply to mevbo, Jan 6, 2012

I started testing with the Pro version yesterday, and I was impressed, it does things that I just do not have time to do with the manual method. The "Pro" version lets you see a bell curve showing all the exposures made during the test, the "X" scale runs from MA -20 to +20, and the "Y" scale shows sharpness of focus.

Most of my lenses give a very broad bell curve, indicating that the focus is not always repeatable (we know that), but it varies a lot more than I thought. Fortunately, the top of the curve is very broad, so being off by a few points of MA really has little effect on sharpness. Some of the focus attempts are way off, enough to get a fuzzy image.

Its no wonder that its so difficult to get accurate results with my "Lens Align" tool.

I need to see if I can save those bell curves, but I think that feature is a future feature.

The focus repeatibility of the camera-lens combination is really nice to have. I will be testing on both my 7D and 5D MK II, so I can compare focus accuracy with the same lens between the two bodies.

I'll write up a report when I'm finished.

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Ronald Keller
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Re: "FoCal" Software for Micro Adjusting Lenses Tried Out
In reply to Scales USA, Jan 7, 2012

Looking forward to your report...

Ronald

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mevbo
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Re: "FoCal" Software for Micro Adjusting Lenses Tried Out
In reply to Ronald Keller, Jan 7, 2012

Well I just shot a few clicks of my son in the back yard. Glad I did before going to my shoot. My zooms did fine, if not better with the setting I found from the FoCal, but my primes didn't. This may totally be my fault! I need to reread the directions and make sure I didn't do the testing wrong. My 85LII and my 35L were visibly sharper with the settings I had done previously wide open. I will play with it some more tonight and see what I find.

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mevbo
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Re: "FoCal" Software for Micro Adjusting Lenses Tried Out
In reply to mevbo, Jan 9, 2012

Redid my primes today and found settings much closer to where my original ones were. Not really sure what I was doing wrong, but will shoot with them a little tomorrow. Overall I am happy with the software. I don't know that I would like the automatic version as I go to infinite or close in between each MA point to fine tune and know for sure what I am getting for the setting. This seems to give the most consistant results.

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riknash
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Re: "FoCal" Software for Micro Adjusting Lenses Tried Out
In reply to mevbo, Jan 9, 2012

mevbo wrote:

Redid my primes today and found settings much closer to where my original ones were. Not really sure what I was doing wrong, but will shoot with them a little tomorrow. Overall I am happy with the software. I don't know that I would like the automatic version as I go to infinite or close in between each MA point to fine tune and know for sure what I am getting for the setting. This seems to give the most consistant results.

So it seems that this new FoCal software method in theory should work well but at least twice in this thread we observe inconsistent results. I'm not blaming the software, just making this observation as it seems to be consistent with my cheap $0.05 paper target results where setting the MFA based upon some indoor lighting condition results in erroneous settings for the real world photos outdoors.

My absolute best MFA session was with a rough-legged hawk sitting on a pole. I tweaked away for at least 30 minutes and found the most absolute best sweet offset for the lens with that bird sitting on a pole.

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BigBen08
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Re: "FoCal" Software for Micro Adjusting Lenses Tried Out
In reply to riknash, Jan 9, 2012

riknash wrote:

My absolute best MFA session was with a rough-legged hawk sitting on a pole. I tweaked away for at least 30 minutes and found the most absolute best sweet offset for the lens with that bird sitting on a pole.

I'm with you on this. After spending many hours MFAing my 300mm I discovered that settings varied with distance to subject and, to a lesser extent, the contrast of the subject. Now I take test shots of every day objects - street signs, buildings, parked cars, etc, to determine the proper MFA setting.

But the OP's software does seem interesting.

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Missouri Photographer
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Re: "FoCal" Software for Micro Adjusting Lenses Tried Out
In reply to BigBen08, Jan 16, 2012

I tried this software yesterday on a lens I knew was pretty much dead on and one I knew was avery much a problem. The results were encouraging, but everyone has to remember a lot of facturers can affect focus even from day to day.

The good lens checked +2 and then +1 after the correction of a couple of errors on my part. The known bad lens finally settled at +12; however, the graph of the focus attempts clearly showed this lens has problems big time. This testing was done indoors.

Moving outdoors for addtional testing, I could not successfully complete testing on a 300 F4L because of strong winds in our area yesterday, at least not without getting warning messages. The result I did get was consistent with what I expected, but the behavior pattern put the result somewhat in question. The documentation warns of this issue.

I found the author responsive to questions I had prior to the purchase. His turn around time was consistent with the time differences between myself and the author.

Until I adjust the lens under ideal circumstanmces and then field test, I cannot state a conclusive opinion on the software other than it looks encouraging.

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mevbo
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Just got the first REV. Supports 1Ds Mark III and 50D now
In reply to mevbo, Jan 17, 2012

Here are the updates:

Addition of support for the Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III and Canon EOS 50D.

  • Addition of a new Manual Mode which allows you to analyse images you take yourself, and this works with Canon and Nikon cameras.

  • PDF Report generating capability from the Fully Automatic test and Manual Mode tests in FoCal Pro.

  • Bug fixes and minor improvements.

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