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Have you ever used Focus Stacking?

kombizz 13 601 1 United States
5 Oct 2011 7:17AM
I read a short article about Focus Stacking assistant for EOS cameras. Then I google it and found this article .
I have never worked with this method during my macro photography in the period of film cameras.
I wonder have you ever used this? If so, how do you use it? Also I wonder what would be the advantage of this method over other methods (if there are any)?

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keithh Plus
14 25.4k 33 Wallis And Futuna
5 Oct 2011 7:20AM
I did it some years ago with a programme by Helios (think) but CS5 now offers this amongst it's processing routines.

Invaluable if you want to shoot macro at 2.8 for an ultra smooth background but want some depth to the subject.
kombizz 13 601 1 United States
5 Oct 2011 7:22AM

Quote:I did it some years ago with a programme by Helios (think) but CS5 now offers this amongst it's processing routines.

Invaluable if you want to shoot macro at 2.8 for an ultra smooth background but want some depth to the subject.

How can I find this mini program (I suppose) in the CS5?
Boyd 14 11.2k 11 Wales
5 Oct 2011 7:22AM
Here's a tutorial on ePz - Focus stacking images .
5 Oct 2011 7:47AM
Think ill read up on this Guys ... at work so time short itll be later .. so il get back to you with thoughts later Grin
Overread 9 4.1k 19 England
5 Oct 2011 7:55AM
Helicon focus and Zerene Stacker are two of the top options for paid programs for focus stacking, whilst on the freeware front you've got CombineZP. Each one is a good option and there isn't a market leader, in addition each one works slightly differently so where one might fail the other might give a better or even perfect result.

Thus focus stacking is one area where, those keen on using the method, should really aim to purchase and learn to use the various options on the software side, if simply because a focus stack generally requires a fairly heavy investment in photos to start with.

As for the method I use it as and when I can; typically with insects I'll get a single "keeper" shot as the first frame before I stack stacking (since the bug might move away or the stack will fail). Thereafter its a case of moving the camera closer and closer by tiny amounts and each time taking a shot.
Ideally you do it with a focusing rail on a tripod, but a careful hand resting on something firm can do it handheld without too much trouble provided you are slow enough with movements (I also find an external battery pack to help flash recycling, which I often use for macro, really helps speed things up shot to shot).

From there its a case of loading the photos into the computer and running the stack. A few things to consider:

1) Exposure - you have to avoid clipping both the luminescene and colour channels; as most of the software will quickly addup the exposures and you'll get blowout on the final result (meaning you have to go back to each shot and process them even more). So if anything you' can afford a little underexposure to ensure no even close to right side of the histogram clipping.

2) Aperture and depth - if you shoot a stack at f2.8 and then put them all together where you have areas of your subject moving out of focus you'll get a very sharp line between the in-focus and out of focus parts. This looks strange so its a good move to vary your aperture; using smaller and smaller apertures as you near any point where there will be out of focus parts in the next possible shot (or at either end of the stack - ei start and finish, provided that there is detail outside of those points).
hobbo Plus
7 1.2k 2 England
5 Oct 2011 8:48AM
I have focus stacked very successfully via great tuition and guidance from the members on this specialist ...Macro & Micro Forum................one of the members is the developer of ...Zerene Stacker software..................there is also FREE stacking software available....it too works very well:

See here, then trawl the forums for very detailed advice about focus Stacking..... and browse the amazing photography:


I subscribe to four Photography forums ............all (including this one), have taught me all I know about proper Wink photography

MikeA 13 1.3k England
5 Oct 2011 8:49AM
It is quite useful for creating Video clips as well: http://www.vimeo.com/24188580 also some quite long ones under Focus Pull.
Overread 9 4.1k 19 England
5 Oct 2011 8:51AM
I really need to get into that site - had it recommend to me by a few other very good macro photographers and it seems to be one of those "holy grail" sites of info and people so certainly very worth a mention for the serious macro addicts Tongue

Mike that video is password protected
waineswitch 10 88 Scotland
5 Oct 2011 9:48AM
I've never heard of this technique, is it only useful for macro/close up, or is it something that could be used for landscape/bigger subjects? 'HDR for focus'? Would it have any real usefulness in landscape? or will small apperture do everything this would? On my tbreak, so not had time to think through implicaitons...
Overread 9 4.1k 19 England
5 Oct 2011 9:52AM
I've never used it for regular landscape work; however I know a few who have used it for framed landscape photos - that is one photo of a frame (like a window) and then another photo of the view through the frame itself - merged so that both frame and content through the frame are in focus.

I also know that a similar, but not totally the same and using different software (as far as I know) for stacking is used for astro-photography.

For landscape I'm not sure - if you can move the plane of focus without enlarging or reducing the photo (ie without changing the magnifiaction - ie focus) it should in theory work; though if you've got leaves or other mobile elements there is a good chance they'll blur between the shot boundaries.
keithh Plus
14 25.4k 33 Wallis And Futuna
5 Oct 2011 9:56AM
I've used on architectural and industrial. It is true that it will work on straight landscape but you need a pretty static subject if you don't want a deal of work in PS afterwards.
User_Removed 8 4.6k 1 Scotland
5 Oct 2011 1:20PM
I use CombineZP for this. It takes quite a bit of experimentation to get the increments and processes best suited to any particular subject type.

What I found useful was a wee rack and pinion tripod head (about 30 from eBay), so that I could move the camera back and forward with (almost) micrometer accuracy.
waineswitch 10 88 Scotland
5 Oct 2011 1:24PM
food for thought....thanks Smile
oldblokeh 7 1.2k United Kingdom
5 Oct 2011 1:49PM
Here's one I did on Sunday with Nikon D90, 105 mm Micro Nikkor and CombineZP. There are some minor processing artifacts, but I was pleased for a first attempt. Subject is an Astrantia flower head, about 2cm across.


I also just found ConnectMyNikon, which is a very low-cost $9.95 application which can make the captures very easy.

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