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E-M5 Mk III focus stacking vs focus bracketing for close-ups

trailguru Avatar
trailguru 11 16 United Kingdom
15 Dec 2020 7:34PM
Upgrading from an E-M10 Mk II to an E-M5 Mk III I was curious to know just how well the in-camera focus stacking works vs manaul focus bracketing with close-ups. In short - not so well. This camera fixes the number of exposures to 8. Fine for landscape but focus close, say 75mm, and 8 exposures are too few. So I ran a test and, with a differenetial of 2 at f8, first with in-camera stacking (8 exposures) then with manual bracketing (16 exposures - reasonable for a close-up). The bracketed set, merged in Photoshop CS6 (old school I know) delivered a sharp band of focus nearly 2.5x that of the in-camera stack. For a 'control' I also merged the 8 exposures used by the in-camera stacking in CS6 and the result was a close match to the in-camera output. Conclusion - E-M5 Mk III in-camera focus stacking is no good for close-ups (and micro and macro). Use focus bracketing.

Fenfotos Avatar
Fenfotos 7 36 3 United Kingdom
16 Dec 2020 7:28PM
That's useful to know. I use an EM5 mark II and did not realize until the other day that it offered focus stacking (presumbably after I did an upgrade). I use focus bracketing almost exclusively for close ups, and, like you, I have found that more often than not, I need a lot more than 8. Also, like you, I have found they blend extremely well in Photoshop.

On a related topic, I have started using Olympus Capture and a tethered laptop for this kind of work. The advantage is that I find on the LCD it can be quite difficult to accurately pinpoint the closest focus point on the small screen, as I need to scroll around the image. On my laptop, the image is large enought to tell what is in focus while viewing the whole image.

DaveRyder Avatar
DaveRyder Plus
9 7.4k 23 United Kingdom
16 Dec 2020 7:46PM
Also upgraded from a 10ii to a 5iii and agree about focus stacking.
I use Affinity to stack/merge off camera.

lemmy Avatar
lemmy 16 2.9k United Kingdom
17 Dec 2020 7:09PM
The E-M1 Mark III has by 10 differential settings for spacing between frames and up to15 frames so a small improvement may be possible. Photoshop or similar will always be better, I think, simply because it has so much more processing power at its disposal and you can shoot so many more frames.

It's doing things like this where focus breathing can get in the way of best results too. I'd thought of getting a proper video/ movie lens but it had sold by the time I got up off the floor after seeing the prices.


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