1. Welcome to Photography Forum. Our photography community!

    Photography-forum is dedicated to those who have passion, desire and love of photography and want to improve their photographic technique. It doesn't matter what you photograph, landscapes, weddings, portraits or your photographic experience, it's about learning and loving what we do. Photography!

    If you want learn and expand your photography skills then there is one place to do it Photography Forum !!!

    You are viewing photography-forum as a guest which gives you limited access to view most forums and enjoy other features. By joining our free community you will be able to post photographs for critique, join in the monthly photography competitions, respond to polls, upload content and enjoy many other special features. Registration is fast, simple and absolutely free so please join Photography Forum.

    If you have any problems please contact us.

    The Photography-Forum Team
    Dismiss Notice
  2. PLEASE SEE RULES BEFORE POSTING LINKS
    Click here to see Forum Rules

Reikan FoCal 1.6 lens calibration software (using Nikon)

Discussion in 'Software Reviews Forum' started by SeanNeedham, Oct 31, 2012.

  1. SeanNeedham

    SeanNeedham Ol' Sparky Honorary Life Member

    Messages:
    33,515
    Edit my images ?:
    Yes (recommended)
    Product Location and Overview

    This is a test review of Reikan Software's FoCal lens calibration software. http://www.reikan.co.uk/focalweb/
    Version : FoCal 1.6, Windows
    Camera Tested With : Nikon D300
    Lenses Tested With : Sigma 10-20 4-5.6, Sigma 17-70 2.8 - 4.5, Sigma 70-200 F:/2.8

    Background

    I've been watching this software for a while, since I found it on a Canon forum a while back and it struck me as one of them bits of 'cool' software that would make a dedicated photographer's life a lot easier. At the time I was a bit disillusioned with it as it was only the Canon version available. This is down to the difference in camera SDK, and that the whole Nikon level would be a different beast entirely to programme on to the software.
    Instead, I kept my eye on it, as I thought it an interesting project and from there to now, there has been a lot of work from then and now, and I've been curious to see what it will do.
    When Tenchy gets a bit of time, he's going to have a look through the Canon aspect of it, as I could have used the work 5Dii, but as I don't know the camera and lenses that well, I wouldn't be able to make an informed decision based on what I'm seeing from it; whereas with my own equipment I can.

    Initial Thoughts

    The registration process is straight forward, and very easy. You go to the website, enter the e-mail you signed up with, the registration key which is supplied to you, then you enter your camera(s) serial number(s) (up to a maximum of 5), and then you get the generated license key and there you go, that only needs copying in to the software.

    Generally on both platforms the installation is very straightforward, but on the Mac it requires you to have the Mono framework in place (which it will tell you about and guide you through) and then on Windows, the Net Framework. Neither are major kickers to get going, as both come in precompiled binaries and install from a double click package, with Net Framework installing at programme install time automatically if you haven't got it all ready. I remember when a lot of things like Mono on the Mac were command line only type affairs and would make the most determined user balk.

    Perusing the manual, the only thing that struck me as being a bit obtuse, was I couldn't find which of the calibration charts to print out, perhaps it's in there and I've not seen it, but in the calibration charts folder there are both the PNG and the PDF extensions for files that are quite similar. So off the PDF went to the printer (aka, other half's office, with the industrial laser and 120gms paper, as the bog paper on the inkjet could make things a little soft around the edges, as Tenchy found with calibrating last time!).

    In reading the notes, there are only a specific amount of cameras that are supported, so if you are reading this and thinking that it may be a worthwhile investment, make sure your camera is supported first http://www.reikan.co.uk/focalweb/index.php/why/requirements/.
    Given the choked nature of what Nikon and Canon do to their cameras, in use you may have to change your USB connectivity settings to MSC mode before plugging the camera in to the computer and firing up the programme. Sadly this is something that is not under Reikan's control, and is down to the way that the firmware/software interface frameworks are implemented by Canon and Nikon.

    The initial option that struck me that really made me think was not the target setup, or the camera settings, of AF consistency or Dust Analysis, but the Aperture Sharpness... This to me make me stop a second and have a look, because one thing I hear a lot on the board, and also in the real world is "What is the best aperture for this lens?", and that's one of them questions with the answer of "How long is a piece of string?"
    For example, I own a Sigma 10-20 4-5.6, and this is a cracking bit of glass for ultra wide stuff and whilst not one of my main working lenses, it does show some interesting things... Like on my D300 it is sharper at F:/13 than F:/8, but on my D200, it's sharper at F:/8, but on the office D300 (which being the same camera as what I use, you'd expect the same), shows slightly better sharpness at F:/11, as not all cameras even off the same production line for the same model are equal and different things like sensors, low pass filters, pixel density, even down to general wear and tear of the camera can affect the sharpness... Also the other that I find that affects my lenses, and the reason I calibrate a couple of times a year is the change in season, as the temperatures out doors (and where most of my camera use is), will either make bits contract or expand, and what could be a nicely playing system at 24C, will not be playing nice at 40C (or minus 10C)! I'll be coming back to that one later, as if you are serious about your stuff, and a few faces spring to mind whilst writing this, then I can see this software being useful for folk just for that purpose alone!

    Setting up the system to do tests on could be a bit tricky on a desktop system, as if your best spot of lighting is quite away from the computer, then it could mean that you need to move the whole system so your USB cable reaches, or better still use a laptop and a mains extension cable. The manual says that clean daylight is the best for testing, but chance would be a fine thing without 'natural modifiers' (clouds) getting in the way of the process, so for me, I'm using the corridor that runs through the centre of my apartment with lamps bounced off walls, ceiling and reflectors to fill it up full of 'clean' light. This way I'll have enough space to work with things like the 70-200 as well. Using fluorescent light, or other lights that pulse (mains LED are one) then your results could be skewed up because they are dirty light and strobe at up to 60 times a second depending on the flavour of electricity they eat.

    Mounting up the camera.

    This should be obvious to most folk, but one of the most important things to this is mounting up the camera. For this, a solid tripod base is what you are needing. Anything that drifts could skew your results, or a pod that is prone to vibration could as well.

    In Use (Nikon)

    The software is pretty straightforward, but instead of just diving in and clicking stuff, it's a very, very good idea to make a pot of tea, and sit down with the manual for a couple of hours; especially if you've not done this before... And then start planning what order you are going to do your lenses in, what the lighting is like and most importantly if you are going to get hassled by the significant other, random children, animals, phone calls or in-laws...

    Interface wise, it is clean, fairly straightforward, and not too hard to get your head around with a bit of time spent looking in to it and referring to the instructions.

    With the screen up in front of me and using the automatic testing, I tested each lens three times, and first off I have to say that for whatever reason and changing the position, distance, etc, the software was not showing any love to my 10-20mm Sigma, but that's not really much of a problem though as when that's on the camera, it's usually under eyeball anyway.

    On the other lenses, running them three times apiece brought up some interesting but not overly surprising results, as my usual calibration method of long ruler and eyeball were out by 2 points on the 70-200 at 'field operating length' (which to me is anywhere between 3 and 10m given the nature of the job). The 17-70, that was more or less to what I knew it to be. As I tested the lenses three times, the results were worked out on the average of the results from FoCal, which were identical on the first two tests, and then slightly different (one over on the 70-200, one under on the 17-70) on the latter test where I changed the lighting position of the focal chart, and the position of the camera in relation to where the chart was... So given these results, I'd say they are pretty accurate if you follow the guidelines in the instruction manual.

    With running the sharpness tests on the lenses, they told me nothing what I already didn't know about them, as I'd got an idea of the general sharpness from use; but good to confirm what I knew (and would be great for someone who needed to know what performed best for them).

    All the tests were done in the full auto mode, with manual intervention for adding in the AF fine tune (as the software can't interface automatically with the Nikon AF tune system) so I'll probably have a look at the weekend.
     
  2. SeanNeedham

    SeanNeedham Ol' Sparky Honorary Life Member

    Messages:
    33,515
    Edit my images ?:
    Yes (recommended)
    Summing Up (Nikon)

    In use this software isn't for someone who thinks it's a magic pill, where you just plug in your camera, and boom, it's done... It requires time to read up on, it requires patience to work with, so if you can build an Ikea flatpack, and not have any bits left over, or have to resort to the percussive tools, you'd be ok with this.

    I was really surprised how it nailed the accuracy, as I'm generally wary of technological tools, preferring to trust my own judgement and instinct on things, but this did pleasantly surprise me.

    I think that there is some room for improvement, but in anything there is... I would like to see a larger target view in the semi-auto mode, and I would prefer to see things like the aperture, iso, and white balance adjustments in the testing screen instead of being in the settings menu, but that's probably me being picky!

    Scoring

    Software function : 5/5, it does exactly what it's designed to, and that's calibrate your lenses without having to monkey around focussing charts up manually.

    Ease of Use : 3.5/5, it's not a piece of software for the click, bang, need it right now type of person, it requires patience, common sense, methodology and plenty of reading the manual.

    Would I recommend this to a friend? Yes I would... Actually, before I dug in to this test, a few of my friends who are also in the industry asked me for a copy of the review of this to see if it's worth them purchasing or getting their department to purchase.

    Price... Well, as I got the software as a demonstration for testing through the forum here, I would say for the pro level, if I was to pay £70 for it, then that would be cash well spent, as just keeping the AF Fine Tune in check would mean I would come back with a few more sharp (possibly sellable) images at the end of the day and it would soon pay for itself. (Which I may well do, if the other half doesn't take christmas present hint!)

    From the Nikon camp, a big, big thumbs up from me with a score of 4.5/5
     
    ed taylor, Carmen and Roger S like this.
  3. Garry Spight

    Garry Spight Always on

    Messages:
    8,637
    Edit my images ?:
    Yes (recommended)
    Is there a canon one I hear?
     
  4. SeanNeedham

    SeanNeedham Ol' Sparky Honorary Life Member

    Messages:
    33,515
    Edit my images ?:
    Yes (recommended)
    Yeah, Tenchy is going to have a look at that when he gets time, as I said above I'm not 100% sure of the works 5Dii and lenses so I wouldn't be able to objectively test that.
     
  5. Garry Spight

    Garry Spight Always on

    Messages:
    8,637
    Edit my images ?:
    Yes (recommended)
    Jesus I will be 96 when steve had time !
     
  6. SeanNeedham

    SeanNeedham Ol' Sparky Honorary Life Member

    Messages:
    33,515
    Edit my images ?:
    Yes (recommended)
    It's the same software, just runs on a different camera, that's all! In practise it's more or less the same, but I think the Canon SDK will do the whole lot automatically instead of having to manually input off of the AF-tune menu on the Nikon
     
  7. tenchy

    tenchy Rain maker Administrator

    Messages:
    206,325
    Edit my images ?:
    Yes (recommended)
    :bum1:

    :)

    Sean will nudge me for progress...
    Besides, I took less than a day to test the new 622 triggers!! :)
     
  8. Garry Spight

    Garry Spight Always on

    Messages:
    8,637
    Edit my images ?:
    Yes (recommended)
    You can send it this way steve I will test it on a 7d
     
  9. Activ8

    Activ8 I made the 1,000,000 th post

    Messages:
    4,668
    Edit my images ?:
    Yes (recommended)
    I use this software on the 5Dii's and 7D's I had and it works well... I have the top version that can do everything automatically then gives you a report showing you the differences at each micro adjustment. You can't share the software as the software is registered to up to two bodies although you can easily swap body serial number online if you change cameras on a regular basis.

    Is it worth it... It is no better than if to took the time to do it yourself but it will get you 95%+ of the way there in a fraction of the time and it is a cool tool if you have a lot of lenses.
     
    SeanNeedham likes this.
  10. chaz

    chaz Always on Honorary Life Member

    Messages:
    22,216
    Edit my images ?:
    Yes (recommended)
    I would be interested in the expansion/contraction issues in changing temperatures and how they would affect this calibration tool.
     
  11. SeanNeedham

    SeanNeedham Ol' Sparky Honorary Life Member

    Messages:
    33,515
    Edit my images ?:
    Yes (recommended)
    I'd like to test the calibration tool on a hot day out of doors when something like the 70-200 has been left in the heat for a few hours, but that'll be next summer now.

    In use, I find the AF accuracy and the focussing goes right out the window especially if the lenses have been in the heat for quite a while (more pronounced on the longer ones), as things expand and creep out of place (in winter, the opposite is true as they get cooler and contract). I really notice it in summer, if I'm on a long-dayer. First thing in the morning, and then when it cools at night, the accuracy is about usual accuracy (factoring in the me factor), but during the day when it's hot, the lens barrel absorbs heat and things start expanding inside... And whilst that tightens the focus ring nicely on the long one, it also makes it that things are slightly out of whack when it comes to other things.

    Heat is also the reason why an infinite focus stop on a lens is not a defined mark like other measurements, but a line with infinity being somewhere in that because of it changing with the temperature.

    Bit more here - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Infinity_focus
    And thermal expansion - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thermal_expansion
     
  12. chaz

    chaz Always on Honorary Life Member

    Messages:
    22,216
    Edit my images ?:
    Yes (recommended)
    I wonder if my 70-200L should have a dark jacket on in winter to stop heat loss through reflection :)
     
  13. SeanNeedham

    SeanNeedham Ol' Sparky Honorary Life Member

    Messages:
    33,515
    Edit my images ?:
    Yes (recommended)
    Maybe you should paint some colour on it in case you drop it in the snow and can't find it!

    I don't think, unless you worked in extreme 'out there' temps like I do here, that it'd be as noticeable to most folk.
     
  14. biglee33

    biglee33 Always on

    Messages:
    2,322
    Edit my images ?:
    Yes (recommended)
    having seen the software in use ive seen its value. We tested all my lenses with my 5dmk3, had to manually change the macrofocus but it wasn't a big deal. My work lens was as close to bang on as I thought, my 70-200 was as way out as I thought, never used to be to bad so think its had a knock and has gone to cps for proper checks, but this software did so many tests that at least I knew it was out and not correctable.
    My macro was out a little, the big wow was the 50mm 1.4, I already thought it was good, but it was out a little and is now a little cracker. the difference was a shock.
    I really enjoyed my trip to see david and get it sorted and talk shop too. Although, now ive seen and held the 1dx, my camera looks like a 300d in comparison lol
     
  15. Garry Spight

    Garry Spight Always on

    Messages:
    8,637
    Edit my images ?:
    Yes (recommended)
    I have to say. I have been having issues with this software. With it crashing as discussed in another thread.

    The last crash I used it on couldn't restore the camera so was doing all kind of weird stuff. Mirror locked up etc all settings lost.

    Contacted them a while ago regarding this issue. We couldn't resolve it and decided on a refund.

    This was 3 weeks ago still no refund I nudged them about it at start of last week and was told it was in the que.

    Now it's a week later and still nothing. I have to say customer service is dam right awful.
     
  16. biglee33

    biglee33 Always on

    Messages:
    2,322
    Edit my images ?:
    Yes (recommended)
    its is yeah, this was pro version., when I tried it at home if it wasn't bright enough or camera moved it crashed,. this was on pc, on mac it was smooth. prob doesn't like pcs
     
  17. Garry Spight

    Garry Spight Always on

    Messages:
    8,637
    Edit my images ?:
    Yes (recommended)
    Just wanted to vent my anger with this company. I brought the pro version which I had major issues with it crashing. Spoke to them via email they promised a refund which I was happy with as we couldn't work out the problem with.

    So this was agreed that a refund was the way forward.

    A week passed and no refund. So I contacted them regarding it and they sent me a email saying we can see your refund its in the que.

    I replied saying thank you look forward to receiving it.

    Another week passed no refund. So emailed again. This time no reply. I have sent them 6 emails now regarding this matter over the past 4 weeks. Not one reply.

    Now this is not on the customer service is appalling. It has now got to the stage where I have had to contact PayPal regarding this matter.

    I have all the emails regarding the refund so shouldn't have a problem with the refund. But I'm horrified by the company as a whole for not updating me with what is going on

    So for anyone thinking of buying this my advice stay away as the customer service is shocking if you have a problem.

    Whilst the software may be good if it works the company is let down by its staff and the fact they can't even answer any of the 6 emails I have sent them.
     
  18. Carmen

    Carmen Forum Geek :) Honorary Life Member

    Messages:
    26,059
    Edit my images ?:
    Yes (recommended)
    Not good at all!! Did you pay by credit card or paypal? If so you might be able to start a dispute/claim there.
     
  19. Garry Spight

    Garry Spight Always on

    Messages:
    8,637
    Edit my images ?:
    Yes (recommended)
    It's not on at all Carmen. I paid by PayPal. I opened a dispute with them today. Need to send all the emails confirming a refund to them. So PayPal can view them.

    I'm sure they will sort the issue out. I'm angry with the company for having such a poor lack of customer service tho.

    The fact the can ignore so many emails which I know they have received is beyond me.

    That isn't the way to do business at all I was happy to try again once they updated they version of software to see if it worked. But now I wouldn't touch them with a barge pole.

    So they have well and truly lost my business now
     
  20. Carmen

    Carmen Forum Geek :) Honorary Life Member

    Messages:
    26,059
    Edit my images ?:
    Yes (recommended)
    No it's not a way to do business and you know I can sympathise with this kind of treatment...LOL Yours is a rather higher value item than mine as well.
     
  21. Garry Spight

    Garry Spight Always on

    Messages:
    8,637
    Edit my images ?:
    Yes (recommended)
    I remember what happened with your bulb and fully agree. If there had been contact with them I could understand. I even offered to work with them and trial a beta as was interested in the software. Would of been happy to pay for a working version as for the one lens it worked on was great results. But to cause the grief of the camera locking up and then having to reset all the settings manually the other 9 out of 10 times was a joke.

    The money isn't so much an issue. I have wasted a lot more in the past. It the fact they stopped all contact and the fact there is no phone support or number to contact them really gets me.

    Shame about it cause a few have reviewed how good it was but they have ruined any kind of review I have seen by this act of customer service.
     
  22. Carmen

    Carmen Forum Geek :) Honorary Life Member

    Messages:
    26,059
    Edit my images ?:
    Yes (recommended)
    Yeah same for me the item itself and the money didn't bother me it was the way I was treated... enough to put me completely off buying from them again.
     
  23. Garry Spight

    Garry Spight Always on

    Messages:
    8,637
    Edit my images ?:
    Yes (recommended)
    Exactly. It like the company doesn't care. In this day and age. Customer service is key.

    It's the main reason people buy a product.

    I always deal with helpful companies again and again. Just goes to show that money is the top of their list
     
  24. Activ8

    Activ8 I made the 1,000,000 th post

    Messages:
    4,668
    Edit my images ?:
    Yes (recommended)
    Whilst I have not had a problem with the mac version of the pro software and rate it highly... This is rubbish customer service!
     
  25. Garry Spight

    Garry Spight Always on

    Messages:
    8,637
    Edit my images ?:
    Yes (recommended)
    I know! It was on your recommendation I brought it. So I hold you responsible for it!

    Like I said on reviews and paper looked an amazing bit of kit. However it has got to the stage where I wish I hadn't crossed paths with them
     

Share This Page