Anyone tried Reikan Focal?

Started Apr 28, 2012 | Discussions
Julian Vrieslander Senior Member • Posts: 1,069
Re: It is working very well for me with my D800

Thanks for the review. I too was unaware of the Reikan FoCal software.

I'm glad that you mentioned how AF Fine Tune settings can vary with changes to the focal length in a zoom lens. Some people who calibrate their lenses forget to look at this.

Lens calibration can also very with subject distance. The optimum AF Fine Tune setting at 5m might not be optimum at 100m. Does FoCal address this in any way?

Does FoCal address the issue of focus shift, the tendency of some lenses to change focus at different apertures?

I have limited experience with focus calibration. I tried it on my 24-70 and when I found that the best calibration depended on several other variables, I just gave up and turned off the AF Fine Tune feature. FoCal might make it easier to map out these variations. If the calibration values kept to a reasonably small range, then locking in an average value might produce an improvement. And, of course, for people who shoot in a studio, or often use the same lens and aperture settings, the calibration could make a useful difference. I've also read (but not verified myself) that the benefits of calibration are most significant for telephoto primes.

faterikcartman Contributing Member • Posts: 553
Re: It is working very well for me with my D800

Thank you Jedi. I've been thinking of springing for Imatest so I found this thread very interesting.

It is always a head trip on internet forums. One can go from great posts like yours to posts written by some guy who makes me think he's unwashed in a dirty bathrobe in his mother's basement drinking Mountain Dew and eating Entemans all night. Those types are in every forum and this is no exception. For example, someone posted a link and, it appears to me, they post the same link in threads regularly. It always catches my eye because if you read the link and look at the examples they never really appear to apply to the focus test being discussed. I don't want to name names so let's just say it rhymes with Leonard Shepherd

Anyway Jedi, thanks again. I will probably spring for it based on your review. I do note that when you buy the program from the regular purchase page you are to click all models for which you are going to use it and input their serial numbers. Whereas with Bailey's discount link it only provides for the input of one body's details -- and only Canon at that. Could you confirm multiple Nikon bodies shouldn't be a problem buying through the Bailey link?

Leonard Shepherd
Leonard Shepherd Forum Pro • Posts: 17,145
Re: It seems dubious

Bruce Bracken wrote:

The page you link to does not discuss autofocus targets. You have repeatedly linked to this page, and are now pulling your own interpretations out of thin air and trying to define good and bad autofocus targets based upon your own nonsensical interpretations.

Returning the insult - are you a photographic dope?
Please bear in mind I am a messenger, but with back up experience.

Nikon say small detail target similar to the ones in the link can sometimes cause misfocus - I think it is fair Nikon to say Nikon are right

My own usage of Nikon AF over 13 years has convinced me Nikon's advice to take care and not to 100% rely on targets similar to the ones in the link is right.

Which bodies with which lenses are most likely to have an accuracy issue with a particular type of target varies. Building up experience based on Nikon's guidance, rather than presuming anything on the web is 100% accurate can be a smart route to more accurate use of AF

-- hide signature --

Leonard Shepherd

Photography could be easier - if cameras and lenses came with an increase in skill button.

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SkyDreamer Regular Member • Posts: 267
Re: It is working very well for me with my D800

faterikcartman wrote:

Anyway Jedi, thanks again. I will probably spring for it based on your review. I do note that when you buy the program from the regular purchase page you are to click all models for which you are going to use it and input their serial numbers. Whereas with Bailey's discount link it only provides for the input of one body's details -- and only Canon at that. Could you confirm multiple Nikon bodies shouldn't be a problem buying through the Bailey link?

No problem, I did it yesterday. Purchased from Bailey's page with the discount (Pro version - 45 £), entered a Nikon D300 serial number, installed and used it. The body has been recognized immediately, just remember to switch on your camera the right mode on the USB connection menu ... not external disk, the other :).

Afaik one can register initially up to 5 bodies, and change/add serials on the same licence.

Cheers!

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Flashlight Veteran Member • Posts: 7,845
Re: It is working very well for me with my D800

JediLight wrote:

my 28-300mm had a range of adjustments per focal length ranging from -8 at 300mm to +3 at 28mm, hence I have set it at about -4 overall as the best compromise considering issues are going to be more noticable at the long end with the shallower DOF.

What you forget or do not realize is that an AF fine tune change has much more impact on a wide lens than on a tele lens.

-- hide signature --

Philip

CFynn Veteran Member • Posts: 5,224
Re: It is working very well for me with my D800

Julian Vrieslander wrote:

Does FoCal address the issue of focus shift, the tendency of some lenses to change focus at different apertures?

Software like this should have no problem determining the focus adjustment needed at different apertures - but I think the camera would need to allow different focus adjustments for different apertures for each lens for it to be useful.

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CFynn Veteran Member • Posts: 5,224
Re: It seems dubious

Leonard Shepherd wrote:

The AF target does not appear to be OK for consistent accurate focus according to Nikon's guidance in camera instruction books or at
https://nikoneurope-en.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/4585

Leonard

Can you suggest a better kind of target to use while adjusting the focus of your lenses with an application like this to get consistent results?

At the link you provided, what Nikon warns against is:

  • little or no contrast between the subject and the background ~ no problem there since the target has plenty of contrast.

  • areas of sharply contrasting brightness ~ no problem if your target is evenly lit.

  • objects at different distances from the camera ~ no problem with a flat target if the camera is lined up parallel to it - and the software helps you with that.

  • the main subject in the focus brackets being relatively small, such as a person standing in front of a distant background ~ the target is relatively large at the distance suggested for focus adjustment and, if it is taped to a wall, there is no question of a distant background.

  • a subject dominated by regular geometric patterns, like a row of windows in a skyscraper. ~ you might say the target has geometric patterns - but in this case they are irregular, certainly nothing like a row of windows in a skyscraper.

  • When the main subject contains lots of fine details, such as a field covered in flowers, autofocus may be difficult to obtain. ~ in the example Nikon gives ( "a field of flowers" ) there are many similar objects at varying distances from the camera and no prominent subject amongst them. If the camera is in something like auto area AF mode then naturally it may have difficulty determining the subject. But you are hardly going to be using a mode like that on this target while adjusting the focus for your lenses. So where's the problem?

In fact the target provided should be easy for any autofocus system to deal with at the recommended distance and in reasonable light.

If any DSLR had an autofocus system that had problems focusing on a target like the one provided with this software - that autofocus system would be seriously flawed. Fortunately the autofocus systems in Nikon cameras are not.

If you have any doubts, then with some graphics software on your computer you could easily produce a similar target; print it out on any printer; tape it to the wall; place your camera on a tripod, carefully line it up with the target; take a few shots, refocusing between each one; and see if you get consistent focus results.

regards

  • C

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CFynn Veteran Member • Posts: 5,224
Re: Anyone tried Reikan Focal?

Just a Photographer wrote:

Would be even better if Nikon added the support for microadjustment for zoom lenses with their next firmware updates. The new Canon 1D X already comes with this support.

Would like to see that feature on my D800 too.

Yes Nikon need to add support for adjusting zoom lenses at three or four different focal lengths (I think Canon currently allows for two). Support for different adjustments at different apertures would also be handy for lenses with noticeable focus-shift.

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JediLight Forum Member • Posts: 98
Re: It is working very well for me with my D800

Julian Vrieslander wrote:

Thanks for the review. I too was unaware of the Reikan FoCal software.

I'm glad that you mentioned how AF Fine Tune settings can vary with changes to the focal length in a zoom lens. Some people who calibrate their lenses forget to look at this.

Lens calibration can also very with subject distance. The optimum AF Fine Tune setting at 5m might not be optimum at 100m. Does FoCal address this in any way?

It does only in that you can test with confidence at different target differences, find the AF fine tune optimum and then make your own decision as to how you want to proceed.

Does FoCal address the issue of focus shift, the tendency of some lenses to change focus at different apertures?

Again, as per above, you have the opportunity to test at different appertures and see the impact and decide what to do

I have limited experience with focus calibration. I tried it on my 24-70 and when I found that the best calibration depended on several other variables, I just gave up and turned off the AF Fine Tune feature. FoCal might make it easier to map out these variations. If the calibration values kept to a reasonably small range, then locking in an average value might produce an improvement. And, of course, for people who shoot in a studio, or often use the same lens and aperture settings, the calibration could make a useful difference. I've also read (but not verified myself) that the benefits of calibration are most significant for telephoto primes.

On your last point, I believe this will be due to the narrower depth of field making it more important to get focus bang on.

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JediLight Forum Member • Posts: 98
Re: It is working very well for me with my D800

faterikcartman wrote:

Thank you Jedi. I've been thinking of springing for Imatest so I found this thread very interesting.

Could you confirm multiple Nikon bodies shouldn't be a problem buying through the Bailey link?

It worked fine - I listed a couple of serial numbers. There is an automated option to add more at a later date. I am GUESSING that the tick boxes on the normal purchasing page are for market research only as opposed to any difference in download. Thanks for your comments.

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JediLight Forum Member • Posts: 98
Re: It is working very well for me with my D800

Flashlight wrote:

What you forget or do not realize is that an AF fine tune change has much more impact on a wide lens than on a tele lens.

Thanks for this - this is the exact opposite of what I understood. Also, most testing technologies tend to recommend that you favour the AF adjustment on the long end. Am I missing something?

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JediLight Forum Member • Posts: 98
Re: It seems dubious

Thanks C,

I think that pretty conclusively points to the target being acceptable by Nikon's standard. Also, key about the Reikan process is that even if the target was causing issues, it would likely not matter as the software is testing the RELATIVE performance of AF fine tuning across different AF settings - and pointing to the best setting. Hence the statistical process has the extra advantage of smoothing over any target issues.

CFynn wrote:

Leonard Shepherd wrote:

The AF target does not appear to be OK for consistent accurate focus according to Nikon's guidance in camera instruction books or at
https://nikoneurope-en.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/4585

Leonard

Can you suggest a better kind of target to use while adjusting the focus of your lenses with an application like this to get consistent results?

At the link you provided, what Nikon warns against is:

  • little or no contrast between the subject and the background ~ no problem there since the target has plenty of contrast.

  • areas of sharply contrasting brightness ~ no problem if your target is evenly lit.

  • objects at different distances from the camera ~ no problem with a flat target if the camera is lined up parallel to it - and the software helps you with that.

  • the main subject in the focus brackets being relatively small, such as a person standing in front of a distant background ~ the target is relatively large at the distance suggested for focus adjustment and, if it is taped to a wall, there is no question of a distant background.

  • a subject dominated by regular geometric patterns, like a row of windows in a skyscraper. ~ you might say the target has geometric patterns - but in this case they are irregular, certainly nothing like a row of windows in a skyscraper.

  • When the main subject contains lots of fine details, such as a field covered in flowers, autofocus may be difficult to obtain. ~ in the example Nikon gives ( "a field of flowers" ) there are many similar objects at varying distances from the camera and no prominent subject amongst them. If the camera is in something like auto area AF mode then naturally it may have difficulty determining the subject. But you are hardly going to be using a mode like that on this target while adjusting the focus for your lenses. So where's the problem?

In fact the target provided should be easy for any autofocus system to deal with at the recommended distance and in reasonable light.

If any DSLR had an autofocus system that had problems focusing on a target like the one provided with this software - that autofocus system would be seriously flawed. Fortunately the autofocus systems in Nikon cameras are not.

If you have any doubts, then with some graphics software on your computer you could easily produce a similar target; print it out on any printer; tape it to the wall; place your camera on a tripod, carefully line it up with the target; take a few shots, refocusing between each one; and see if you get consistent focus results.

regards

  • C

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m_appeal Veteran Member • Posts: 3,434
Re: It is working very well for me with my D800

The automatic mode wasn't giving me consistent results with the lens...

JediLight Forum Member • Posts: 98
Re: It is working very well for me with my D800

m_appeal wrote:

The automatic mode wasn't giving me consistent results with the lens...

what was your distance to your target / focal length of lens?

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Bruce Bracken
Bruce Bracken Regular Member • Posts: 313
No D4 support?

Supports the D800, but not the D4?

JediLight Forum Member • Posts: 98
Re: No D4 support?

Bruce Bracken wrote:

Supports the D800, but not the D4?

The user guide says:

-- hide signature --

Nikon D4 (Enabled but experimental in FoCal 1.4)

The D3, D3x and D4 are listed above as “experimental”. This means that all support has been added, and the implementation follows the Nikon guidelines and is matched to similar camera bodies. But the functionality has not yet been validated on these cameras, so there may be some tests which do not work correctly.

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SkyDreamer Regular Member • Posts: 267
Re: Anyone tried Reikan Focal?

After purchasing FoCal I used it on my D300 + Nikon 85 f/1.8 AF D. It worked as a breeze, with very limited manual intervention despite the "Manual mode" imposed by Nikon's firmware limitations.

I could appreciate in the end a full pdf report with the "after" and "before" images of the target - for the record the lens required a -6 adjustment. Everything was done in about 10 minutes, and just because it was my first trial. Amazing software, really very simple to use, and to my eyes is very accurate also.

Highly recommended!

Cheers!

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falconeyes
falconeyes Senior Member • Posts: 1,602
Re: Anyone tried Reikan Focal?

jplatanou wrote:

Has anyone tried the Reikan calibration software? Is it any good? The latest version supports the D800.

I purchased and I am using it.

I recommend it while I don't recommend the LensAlign approach. It is the second best method for AF calibration right after doing a full blown lab test with resolution measurements. And of course, the best method for the bulk of users.

It works under VMWare on a Mac.

I am currently in contact with the author discussing ideas for improvement. This s a safe bet I like his work

Just a note though ... The method is best but it isn't fool proof.

E.g., you'll see different results depending on color temperature, subject distance, focal length and aperture (for lenses with spherical aberration). So, be advised to test a variation of situations and opt for some averaged compromise. Only FoCal is accurate enough to do this.

Moreover and esp. with a D800E, the method doesn't work well with some sharpening parameters. E.g., with default parameters, both FoCal and the naked eye see no difference when adding or subtracting 5 from the optimum fine tune value. Less sharpening makes Focal more responsive but too little sharpening makes it fail. YMMV.

Note: I am going to write a blog article about FoCal. And the author has sime interesting ideas for the future ( and a Mac version ). It may be a good idea to invest into this software to keep it rolling ...

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2wheel Regular Member • Posts: 389
Re: Anyone tried Reikan Focal?

Bookmarked. Thanks for the info guys.

-- hide signature --
m_appeal Veteran Member • Posts: 3,434
Doesn't work well for me

Couldn't get through a single test without the software telling me it is getting inconsistent results. This is in broad daylight on a tripod (yes, not an expensive tripod, but how bad can it be if shutter speeds are exceeding the 1/focal length)

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