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Do you focus stack ?

Discussion in 'Image Processing' started by f6cvalkyrie, May 31, 2011.

  1. f6cvalkyrie

    f6cvalkyrie Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 12, 2010
    Brussels, Belgium
    Don't know about you, but I find it a useful technique when you're in need of extra depth of field, and you don't want to or can't further close the diaphragm.

    Let me showcase this shooting of a damselfly.

    I wanted to have the insect in sharp focus from head to tail. But it was not possible (due to garden layout) to setup the camera perpendicular to the damselfly alignment. So, basically, the tail was a bit closer to camera than the head.

    And it was not possible to compensate for that difference by closing the diaphragm, because it would have needed f22 or even more, which meant that I run into loss of sharpness because of diffraction.

    So, I shot 3 pics at f11, one focused on the head, one focused on the center of the wings, and one on the tail-end.

    And then, I gave them a run through CombineZM, a software that you can download here :

    CombineZM News

    Basically, the software chooses the sharp portions of each image, and joins them into one pic.

    This is the end result :

    Camera : G1
    Lens : Micro-Nikkor 200/4 @ f11

    The same technique can be applied to other subjects, like landscape, urban, ...

    Although some specialists claim that they can shoot handheld and later focus stack, I always use a tripod !

    Have a nice evening,
    • Like Like x 6
  2. Gwendal

    Gwendal Mu-43 Veteran

    Jun 6, 2010
    Never heard of that technique before, but it sure looks like something useful - thanks a lot !
    • Like Like x 1
  3. Hikari

    Hikari Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 26, 2010
    We focus stack on our microscopes all the time. The technique has been around for a long time. Helicon Focus is another application that is popular.
    • Like Like x 2
  4. Alanroseman

    Alanroseman Super Moderator Emeritus

    Dec 21, 2010
    New England
    Looks like a Windows only application....
    • Like Like x 1
  5. f6cvalkyrie

    f6cvalkyrie Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 12, 2010
    Brussels, Belgium
  6. Alanroseman

    Alanroseman Super Moderator Emeritus

    Dec 21, 2010
    New England
    Hi Rafael,

    I assumed the application Hikari posted would be Mac / Unix friendly.

    Thought I'd mention it and see what you had in mind for alternatives for the Mac users here.

    Cheers, Alan
    • Like Like x 1
  7. sprinke

    sprinke Mu-43 All-Pro

    Apr 5, 2011
    Pasadena, CA
    I've heard of this (and seen some amazing applications of it) but never tried it myself. Thanks for the software links.
    • Like Like x 1
  8. There is a good tutorial on focus stacking at Cambridge in Colour - Photography Tutorials & Learning Community. I've used their methods in Photoshop with some success. I'll have to have look at CombineZM's tool and see if that is better.

    Nice photo of the damsel fly. How did you get it to stay put while you made your shots?
    • Like Like x 1
  9. f6cvalkyrie

    f6cvalkyrie Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 12, 2010
    Brussels, Belgium
  10. OK. So the technical back end part I think I can figure out. Now, tell me how you get a bug to hold still while you set up your tripod, mount the camera, focus, and take 3 or 4 shots before it flys away. Or how do you hold a flower still when it's the slightest bit windy.

    My best focus stack is a photo of a stone wall. THAT I could handle.:rolleyes: 
  11. f6cvalkyrie

    f6cvalkyrie Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 12, 2010
    Brussels, Belgium
    Well, boatman, damselflies do not fly much when it's cold. Actually, my one has been sitting still from 15.06Hr till 15.12Hr this afternoon.

    Furthermore, you may have noticed that I'm using a 200mm macrolens (equivalent 400mm on the G1), which gives me enough distance not to disturb the insect myself.

    In fact, during the shoot, I made a second one. Just minutes later, the damselfly had hardly moved. But I moved the tripod, reframed and shot another 3 pics, which lead to this focus stacked pic :


    In fact, the minimal change of focus is done in just a few seconds. The magnifying focus aid is a great useful feature for that !

    C U
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