anybody out there using Reikan FoCal for lens fine tuning?
I would like to hear your opinions before I hit "buy" button.
The concept of having the objective measurements done by software rather than subjective visual assessment is more convincing for me, but I would like to make sure that the software works flawlessly with D800 and D4 before I purchase it.
Your replies will be appreciated.
#1. "RE: Reikan FoCal" | In response to Reply # 0jacsr Registered since 08th Apr 2006Sat 13-Oct-12 12:19 PM | edited Sat 13-Oct-12 12:20 PM by jacsr
>but I would like to make sure that the
>software works flawlessly with D800 and D4 before I purchase
You have to manually dial in the AF micro adjustment settings on the D800 and D4 since the software cannot fully control the cameras. You will have to go through the testing/adjustment process several times until you achieve repeatable/consistent results. This process became tedious for me. The other sticking point is that Reikan recommends that you try and setup the target at the distance your subject would normally be at. I shoot wildlife, fortunately I have a large back yard, unfortunately, all the variables that come with being outdoors came into play. It took me hours to get verifiable and consistent results and ultimately the software determined that my camera/lens combo was ok as is. I expect doing this in a controlled environment would be much faster.
I have written Reikan asking if they will have a fully auto version for all Nikon cameras. They informed me that after they complete the MAC version of Focal (very close) they will begin investigating the possibility of a fully auto version.
So I guess to answer your question above. The software will read your camera setting flawlessly, but everything else is left up to human interpretation and adjustment.
This was my experience, however, as always YMMV
#2. "RE: Reikan FoCal" | In response to Reply # 0mfphoto1 Registered since 29th Oct 2005Sat 13-Oct-12 02:46 PM
Having to dial in the adjustments is a lot easier than it sounds. It didn't take me long to do the test on my D800 and the lens I use the most. However it's is not something you're going to get done in a quick 15 min or so, it is going to take at the least 20 - 30 min or more per lens.
Here is a link to a really good discussion on FoCal
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#3. "RE: Reikan FoCal" | In response to Reply # 0Ferguson Nikonian since 19th Aug 2004Sat 13-Oct-12 04:51 PM
I have used it on all lenses on two cameras. It is a bit tedious but I vastly prefer it to doing it manually (including with something like Lens Align) as it is more objective. In particular you get a curve of how focus changes with different AF adjustments, you can see if it is relatively flat (i.e. your lens is pretty insensitive) or sharp (makes a huge difference). You can then take these curves from different focal lengths or distances and decide where a "happy medium" is for focus (or even if one is required versus doing nothing).
There is still something of an art to it, making sure you have a good test, bright light, good target, etc. Doing different runs on the same lens in different circumstances when you first get it will help you learn that, then it takes much less time later.
As to wildlife, etc. - despite it not saying you can in the instructions, if you get a high contrast, very stable target (i.e. not trees moving in the wind, but something like a telephone pole connector) you can "test" against a distant target, not the included specialized targets. You need to do so with constant light (clouds moving by will cause constrast differences shot to shot which might be read as focus changes), and something parallel to the focal plain, with good horizontal and vertical structure for contrast. But it works nicely.
To me this brought some science to a very fuzzy, otherwise vague area.
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#4. "RE: Reikan FoCal" | In response to Reply # 3klrbee25 Nikonian since 03rd Jun 2006Sun 14-Oct-12 02:43 PM
Since the Mac beta came out, I've been playing with it. The af fine tuning is a challenge I find. Since it's subject distance dependent, you need to test at a distance you usually shoot. Their included target is too small for any reasonable real-life distance for most lenses, so your description of using a distant high contrast object may be the way to go. It's just important for anyone considering the software to know the af tuning may not be the true benefit of the software.
I do particularly like being able to see what apertures my lenses perform best at. Overall I've found it to be a worthwhile program but it's not going to do miracles for anyone.
As for the indoor lighting issues to get well lit targets, I just bought a 1000 watt halogen flood worklight for $30 from home depot. We'll see if that gets my shutter speeds up. Trying to test my 70-200 indoors in decent light led to shutter speeds around 1/15s and blurry images from mirror slap. Lighting is key.
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#5. "RE: Reikan FoCal" | In response to Reply # 4Tue 16-Oct-12 02:26 PM | edited Tue 16-Oct-12 02:32 PM by Gromit44
>...... Since it's subject distance dependent, you need to test at a distance you usually shoot.
Alex - there's an interesting discussion on that here: http://www.whibalhost.com/forum/showthread.php?t=8884. In post 2, Michael (from LensAlign) says fine-tuning at 50x focal length is what Canon recommend as a 'general' adjustment and it should improve focus at most distances.
PS. Also, see post 4 point 4 in relation to target distances for 24-70mm lenses.
#6. "RE: Reikan FoCal" | In response to Reply # 4KnightPhoto Nikonian since 18th Dec 2006Wed 17-Oct-12 04:55 PM | edited Wed 17-Oct-12 04:57 PM by KnightPhoto
What's the colour temp of that Halogen light?
I am becoming more suspicious about low degree Kelvin AF Fine tuning (2000 - 3000 range) causing a mis-reading, so I'd like a bright continuous light source around daylight 5000 degree Kelvin temperature.
Hah, maybe I should tune my lens for Theatre under Theatre lights and daylight under daylight!
OK, let me lay it all out there - I want a self adjusting lens-camera system that is colour tempature aware, distance aware, and fully automatic and self-correcting at all zoom focal lengths and is sensitive to separate adjustments for each of the 51-point AF points I select and biases accordingly - all when I turn the on button on the camera
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#8. "RE: Reikan FoCal" | In response to Reply # 7Thu 18-Oct-12 07:46 AM
Had a session very recently with my D4 & D800E bolted to a 600mm f4 and 400mm f2.8 with the 3 teleconverters. It took most of the day...!! I used the Focal target mounted in a picture frame about 15 yards/45 feet from the camera; camera and lens in lounge, target in the front garden! A couple of quick observations...
1. With the 600mm and teleconverter, it takes a second or two for the set up to stabilise after taking a shot - medium size Gitzo & RRS BH-55.
2. Bright daylight worked best, anything less made results unrepeatable. No surprise really with the 600 set up.
Results for the 600mm with all teleconverters were consistent on both bodies, +2mm. I decided on a 'manual check', 'by eye' to confirm. I taped some paper to the back of a plastic ruler which I sat next to the target at about 30 deg to the horizontal. Using ViewNX2 on raws straight from the camera, tethered, I could see where focus was sharpest under the 'red square'. Make adjustments to fine tune on the camera, and sure enough the point of maximum sharpness moved accordingly. More lessons learnt...
1. My manual approach appears accurate and showed me how shallow depth of field is with the long range lenses using teleconverters - little more than a couple of inches!!
2. It confirmed my thinking, to stop down 1-2 stops with the teleconverters is really a must in the field - experience tells me this approach works very well with the 400mm x2 on a D7000.
3. Get out my big Gitzo and Wimbeley.
4. Sound technique (solid platform, stop down) with my long range setups is way more important than AF fine tune.
Bolting the 70-200VR2 on to the D4, Focal came back with +6. After a trip to the ice hockey I found most shots were poorly focussed. Another manual check... +2 was best. Okay, we're talking a couple of mm and I wonder how can it really make any difference? I don't know, but I think I do best when I keep testing simple, trust in my own judgement, and most of all - if it ain't broke then don't fix it.
All good fun!!!
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#9. "RE: Reikan FoCal" | In response to Reply # 8Thu 18-Oct-12 10:21 AM | edited Thu 18-Oct-12 10:22 AM by Gromit44
>Bolting the 70-200VR2 on to the D4, Focal came back with +6.
>After a trip to the ice hockey I found most shots were poorly
>focussed. Another manual check... +2 was best.
What focal length was the lens at when FoCal indicated +6?
#13. "RE: Reikan FoCal" | In response to Reply # 11piowoc Registered since 06th Aug 2007Thu 18-Oct-12 04:01 PM
I put this posting on D800 forum as well, but let me copy it here to make sure that anybody interested could read it:
I spent almost the whole morning testing both my D800 and D4 with Reikan FoCal Pro to see how different AF points perform and what is the variance between them.
The most interesting observation is that the average Quality of Focus (QoF) for any of D4 AF points is much higher (about 20%) than for D800, all other factors being the same (same lens, same target, same distance, etc.)
Another interesting finding is that the variance for QoF among 51 AF points in D4 is significantly lower (about 20% again) than in D800.
It seems that the AF points, which can almost always be relied on are the 9 central ones. The other AF points show much higher variance, depending on the lens, distance from the target and lighting.
In general it seems that the variance between 100% QoF for the best AF point and about 50% for the worst one is pretty common, regardless of the testing setup, which really surprised me, because I expected much more accuracy and consistency.
Anybody performed the same tests with Reikan FoCal Pro?
I would like to hear about your results.