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what's stacking?

jeanmarie 8 12 England
13 Jun 2009 4:56PM
I've seen some amazing images that were stacked. What does it mean exactly?

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justin c 13 4.9k 36 England
13 Jun 2009 5:02PM
You take a series of images adjusting the focus point slightly for each one. You then use software to combine all the images into one.
It's useful with macro photography, for instance. Combining several images in this way will result in far greater depth of field than what could be obtained from a single image.

jeanmarie 8 12 England
13 Jun 2009 5:06PM
thank you for that justin. There was me thinking it could have something to do with stacking different filters on a lens! Cheers.
Simon_Palmer 11 759 11 United Kingdom
13 Jun 2009 5:08PM
There will be those along in a minute that say one shot is all you need.... Ignore them thay just old, silly and set in their ways Wink

Stacking is a fantastic way of maximising sharp focus throughout the image front to back and as Justin rightly says is very advantageous in Macro photography but not strictly limited to.

Google ComineZM and/or focus stacking for more info.
Overread 9 4.1k 19 England
13 Jun 2009 5:12PM
The idea is mostly (though not exclusivly) used in macro work where one cannot always get a depth of field great enough to get the full insect/flower/subject in focus in a single exposure - and where also smaller apertures (smaller than f16) would start to soften due to diffraction taking place.
As a result what you can do with digital images (or scanned film slides) is to take a series of shots moving the point of focus for each shot - so that in the end you have a series of shots which have covered the whole subect in focus. Then you can either maunally combine them with layermasks (very boring and takes a heck of a long time) or you can use a program like Combine ZM to stack the images into a single shot.

You do need some gear and conditions standards though - idealy:

Subject - your subject is static and won't move though its own motion or through something like wind - this is key as if the subject or camera move you can't line the shots up.

Camera - needs to be on a stable and solid tripod and you also need a focusing rail (I prefer the novoflex design which can cheaply be bought on ebay - just search for focusing rails - the manfrotto I don't like though I use it at the moment)

Method - setup the shot and frame and take the first shot - then move the camera a tiny bit closer (its best to keep the focus fixed) and take the next shot. repeat till you have covered the whole of the subject - note be carefull to watch for legs and other parts which might be closer to the lens than the head - take note of them and get them in shot - otherwise you will likley miss them out if you start from the head.

Then you process all the images in RAW (if you took them in RAW) to the exact same settings - each shot must be as similar as possible. (often its best to use manual flash power though my recent attempts have shown a good result with ETTL). Then with each shot in a readable image format (I used JPEG) use a combining programe to stack them - this has its own controls and such though for starters - start new and then stack the image.

I have used combine ZM though it appears there is a newer version ZP on the download now - its free

ZM/ZP news page and downloads
jeanmarie 8 12 England
13 Jun 2009 5:15PM
Alex, thank you so very much for all that info. I'm keeping it for reference. jeanette
Overread 9 4.1k 19 England
13 Jun 2009 5:27PM
there is also a little bit more info (and an example) here:

I'm not vote hunting -- really I am not ---

honestly! Wink
discreetphoton 12 3.5k 20 United Kingdom
13 Jun 2009 9:27PM

Quote:needs to be on a stable and solid tripod and you also need a focusing rail

To both parts of that statement, not always. A tripod will certainly help, but is not always practical. And sometimes a focusing rail will cause problems by introducing movement.
Sometimes machine-gunning a few shots with a rocking motion is all that's needed. Other times, you can just shoot carefully with the camera on the deck.
Overread 9 4.1k 19 England
13 Jun 2009 9:30PM
true I have machinegunned shots - but its far trickier I find - you need a more certain sort of setup ie one wheryou have a place to rest yourself against to ensure as smooth a movement as possible. Also flash for such shooting can be risky - I have done such and lost frames as the recycle starts to get longer - thankfully it didn't break the shot, but its an important factor to bare in mind.
Paul Morgan 16 18.7k 6 England
13 Jun 2009 9:48PM

Quote:needs to be on a stable and solid tripod and you also need a focusing rail

A focusing rail`s not needed, I tripod really helps though.

Got a couple here in the versions, all I used was a 3G

Petes Video just about explains it all
User_Removed 13 17.9k 8 Norway
14 Jun 2009 10:02AM
Paul - you have a link problem there. Wanna get one of the Mods to sort it..??

(Sent you a PM)

Paul Morgan 16 18.7k 6 England
14 Jun 2009 11:21AM
I`ll try it again Smile

focus stacking

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