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Author Topic: My Review of the Reikan Focal Pro Lens Microadjustment System  (Read 34251 times)
bobkeenan
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« on: May 29, 2012, 12:05:38 AM »
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I like my shots to be sharp.  When I put a focus point on a target I want and expect to have it be in focus.  So over the past couple of years I have tried a number of methods.

I wrote a post in my blog, about a year and half ago, talking about all of the ones I tried.  You can see it here:

http://www.bobkeenanphoto.com/micro-adjustment-auto-focus-on-lenses-review-and-tutorial/

I really liked the LensAlign system.  I still do but then I came across the Reikan FoCal system.  I bought the Pro version and wow it is neat.   I believe it provides a much more reliable MA adjustment.  So I wrote a new blog about it, comparing it to the LensAlign system, discussing pros/cons, and providing some tips fro getting a good calibration on the FoCal system.  It can be found here:

http://www.bobkeenanphoto.com/a-new-way-to-microadjust-dslr-lenses-focal-by-reikan/
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Bob Keenan
Ellis Vener
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« Reply #1 on: May 29, 2012, 12:29:58 AM »
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Based on your review, I'll pass.
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Ellis Vener
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bobkeenan
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« Reply #2 on: May 29, 2012, 12:32:54 AM »
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That was fast.

Why the pass...  I am just curious.
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Bob Keenan
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« Reply #3 on: May 29, 2012, 08:39:28 AM »
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Based on your review, I'll pass.

Regardless of the review....I would suggest you give Focal a look, Ellis.

It is quite an advance for camera/lens combo "tuning" (AFMA). Not only will it take judgement (usually poor) out of the adjustment process, it will also give you a good idea of the consistency of he combo...plus other analysis.

John
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John
Ellis Vener
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« Reply #4 on: May 30, 2012, 07:55:15 AM »
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Beyond making sure your camera is focusing where you think it should be focusing, can any of those analysis tools actually make you a better photographer or make your photographers better in any meaningful way? People spend far too much time measurbating already and then arguing about their findings as it is.

Make pictures, not measurements.
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Ellis Vener
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BartvanderWolf
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« Reply #5 on: May 30, 2012, 09:07:14 AM »
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Beyond making sure your camera is focusing where you think it should be focusing, can any of those analysis tools actually make you a better photographer or make your photographers better in any meaningful way?

Hi Ellis,

I don't recall anyone claiming to having become a better photographer due to these tools. They probably got more successful though, with fewer out-of-focus shots ...

Another benefit might be that one gets to be the master over one's equipment (by improved understanding of its operation and its limitations), instead of the other way around. To put it another way, I can assure you that such tools have never hurt the quality of my photography, on the contrary.

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People spend far too much time measurbating already and then arguing about their findings as it is.

Too much? Only if it negatively impacts the output. Arguing? Isn't that what this discussion forum is about, exchanging arguments and info?

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Make pictures, not measurements.

(Let other people) take measurements, and make better images ... Wink

Cheers,
Bart
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Ellis Vener
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« Reply #6 on: May 30, 2012, 11:34:03 AM »
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I think a photographer's time is generally better spent making themselves aware of  the interaction of color and light, framing and composition, working on seeing life , and their shooting technique as opposed to dwelling on the aspects this program seems to measure. Between two photographs of equal power the more technically refined photograph may be technically better but a technical quality is only worthwhile if it backs up a photograph  that is emotionally expressive, expresses a strong idea, and a strong aesthetic sensibility behind it. This is true for all of the arts, not just photography.

I've seen musicians, painters, and writers - as well as photographers - all get tangled up in the seductive mechanics of craft and lose sight of the bigger thing they are trying to get done. I am not immune to this myself. But I'd rather make something a little ragged and right than perfect and dull. Of course if you can get your art technically perfect and with expressing great feeling, embodying a powerful idea, and beautiful that is an unstoppable combination: Coppola's "The Godfather Part II" for example.
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Ellis Vener
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torger
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« Reply #7 on: May 30, 2012, 12:10:54 PM »
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As the famous Ansel Adams quote goes: "There is nothing worse than a sharp image of a fuzzy concept."

That's for the viewer.

For me, the photographer, I'd actually say "There is nothing worse than a fuzzy image of a sharp concept". The angst if I did not nail the picture due to poor technique or equipment when it was before my eyes is huge. You don't always get a second chance...

;-)
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Ellis Vener
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« Reply #8 on: May 30, 2012, 12:35:58 PM »
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You never get a second chance. never, ever.
But see Robert Capa's photographs of the D-Day landings  as well as more than a little of Henri Cartier-Bresson's work as an antidote to thinking that '"There is nothing worse than a fuzzy image of a sharp concept"

Technique is the cart, it isn't the horse.

Put the viewer first.

And if you think you're making pictures  too flawed for you to live with,  toss them.
« Last Edit: May 30, 2012, 01:12:22 PM by Ellis Vener » Logged

Ellis Vener
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henrikfoto
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« Reply #9 on: May 30, 2012, 01:40:50 PM »
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Thank you, Bob! I like your review! I will get this program as soon as it's ready for mac.
What's there to loose? With all lenses adjusted this can only be positive. I see no reason not
to take a few hours to get it all optimised?

Henrik
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Colorado David
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« Reply #10 on: May 30, 2012, 01:43:46 PM »
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I think there is a middle ground here.  I haven't looked at the product or review in the original post.  But, I don't think there's any reason not to strive to have your equipment dialed in the best you can as long as it doesn't become the goal rather than the means to the goal.  I used to know a guy who had a wonderful woodworking shop.  It was equipped with the very best machinery and hand tools you could hope to acquire.  The problem was that he never built anything, he simply put together the best shop you could have.  It took me a while to figure out that his hobby was the shop instead of woodworking.  Don't go down that road.
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torger
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« Reply #11 on: May 30, 2012, 01:51:51 PM »
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It was meant as a joke, but a bit serious too (I did not get a MF tech camera to waste all resolution on poor technique or decentered lenses). I just think the "go make pictures" comment is so cliché and unnecessary. Just let people do what they want, I don't care if someone's hobby is shooting brick walls. If it makes him/her happy, fine.
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Wayne Fox
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« Reply #12 on: May 30, 2012, 02:33:36 PM »
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It was meant as a joke, but a bit serious too (I did not get a MF tech camera to waste all resolution on poor technique or decentered lenses). I just think the "go make pictures" comment is so cliché and unnecessary. Just let people do what they want, I don't care if someone's hobby is shooting brick walls. If it makes him/her happy, fine.
I would agree.  The problem about making pictures is there is also a craft which should be mastered, and getting images sharp is an important part of that (when one wants them sharp).

We do lens alignments here at the shop, and 75% of the bodies that are brought in have a problem.  It normally isn't a lens thing, it's a sensor plane thing.  We can put the same lens on 3 different bodies and will get 3 completely unrelated results ... one body front focus, one back focuses, one pretty good.

The fact is manufacturing tolerances aren't that tight, and as camera sensors have improved, those flaws become apparent.  You do your art a disservice if you fail to insure your equipment isn't performing at it's optimum.

Regarding FoCAL, we had an customer buy it and brought in results. I was impressed, and certainly appears easier and less prone to user error than other systems.
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BartvanderWolf
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« Reply #13 on: May 30, 2012, 02:38:18 PM »
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Just let people do what they want, I don't care if someone's hobby is shooting brick walls. If it makes him/her happy, fine.

And not all brick walls are alike:



At least the focus was exactly where I wanted it, with some tilt/swing added.

Cheers,
Bart
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Ellis Vener
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« Reply #14 on: May 30, 2012, 04:18:52 PM »
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To be perfectly clear: I am not advocating not adjusting your camera's focusing mechanisms to perform optimally.
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Ellis Vener
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Peter Le
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« Reply #15 on: May 30, 2012, 09:59:58 PM »
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To be perfectly clear: I am not advocating not adjusting your camera's focusing mechanisms to perform optimally.
     So what you were just ranting ? I didn't think you were a ranter Ellis......altough I agree with what you said. I like this system....I don't like teching out .... with this system I can just let it do it's thing and then go about my businessess making pictures.
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Ellis Vener
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« Reply #16 on: May 31, 2012, 08:09:31 AM »
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No.

My objections  Does  this system have a method of ensuring your camera is square to the target?

If it does, great. If not it is a no go.

The  initial review I responded to says no hardware is needed beyond maybe a tripod. But you need a printer or access to one to print the target.

Another member of this thread said to look at the other things this software can do. Okay great: what exactly will do with that data?

The thread starter failed to mention that you are required to register your cameras including serial numbers with the software maker. Why? I see no compelling technical reason they need that information. What are they going to do with it? Who will have access to it? Why is he collecting that information? It might help his business model but there is no value in that for me.

I absolutely believe that tuning a camera's AF performance to specific lenses is critical. I do not believe this is the right product for doing that.

I'd like to see a more critical evaluation of the product before spending money on it. No tool is perfect.
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Ellis Vener
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jrsforums
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« Reply #17 on: May 31, 2012, 10:59:31 AM »
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No.

My objections  Does  this system have a method of ensuring your camera is square to the target?

If it does, great. If not it is a no go.

Yes, I believe extensive testing is done.  If you need more detail send a not to the author.
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The  initial review I responded to says no hardware is needed beyond maybe a tripod. But you need a printer or access to one to print the target.

You can order a target from Reikan for a nominal fee or send out to a printing service.

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Another member of this thread said to look at the other things this software can do. Okay great: what exactly will do with that data?

Pretty easy to find:  http://www.reikan.co.uk/focal/focal.html  I think you would know what to do with it...or, at least, others on this forum.

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The thread starter failed to mention that you are required to register your cameras including serial numbers with the software maker. Why? I see no compelling technical reason they need that information. What are they going to do with it? Who will have access to it? Why is he collecting that information? It might help his business model but there is no value in that for me.

Haven't you ever heard of license restrictions?  Many PC programs automatically read the ID of the PC to restrict reregistering on more than one PC.  Reikan allows 5 cameras.  I am sure, if needed, you could drop old cameras and add new, as required.
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I absolutely believe that tuning a camera's AF performance to specific lenses is critical. I do not believe this is the right product for doing that.

Frankly, I am shocked that a person, such as yourself, would take such a negative stance on a product without doing and due dilligence in learning evean a bit about it.  If I didn't (hope I) knew better, I would suspect a vested interest.

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I'd like to see a more critical evaluation of the product before spending money on it. No tool is perfect.

Not hard to find....Google can be your friend...

http://blog.martinbaileyphotography.com/2012/02/06/podcast-321-lens-calibration-and-microadjustment-with-focal/

http://www.rohicks.com/2012/photography/reikan-focal-review-automatic-af-micro-adjustment-software/

http://blog.natureimages.info/2012/03/29/a-review-of-reikan-focal-automatic-af-micro-adjustment-software/

...of course....maybe not "critical" enough, particularly if one starts out with a negative atititude on dioing anything like this in the first place.  For the rest of us, I don't think ~$60. (after discounts) is much to get the best out of 1000s or $$$s of gear.
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John
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« Reply #18 on: May 31, 2012, 01:02:26 PM »
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JRS:
Thank you for your detailed response.

I have no vested interests regarding this or another company's products.

I know what to do with this kind of analytic data.

The licensing restriction to 5 cameras is , from a user's PoV, dumb. As is the need for them to have my cameras seria lnumbers. there is no way to justify it. YoIf they want to register what computers I use it on that is one thing, but for the individual camera serial numbers? C'mon. And if they want to go down that path why not lens serial numbers too? 

Regarding price: FoCal Pro is listed as £69.95 - which currently is US $107.86

As to being "negative" - I think "skeptical" is a better description of my state of mind when I am considering a purchase, especially when there is a big promise involved. I take the same stance for every product I look in the gadget world and each week I feel like I have to get more skeptical.
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Ellis Vener
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« Reply #19 on: May 31, 2012, 01:19:05 PM »
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I have now read Wayne Fox's assessment. I trust Mr. Fox so I will be happy to give FoCal an honest evaluation - but I want them to drop the onerous camera registration scheme first. They really do not need to impose that burden on their customers. I am happy to let them limit me to which computers I use it on - that kind of registration and licensing makes sense.
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Ellis Vener
http://www.ellisvener.com
Creating photographs for advertising, corporate and industrial clients since 1984.
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