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EM-1 Focus Stacking

Discussion in 'Olympus Cameras' started by Massimo, Aug 27, 2016.

  1. Massimo

    Massimo Mu-43 Regular

    68
    Jul 10, 2016
    Hey there gentlemen. I'm grappling a little with Focus Stacking. I just set up my EM-1 for that functionality.
    I understand that on that mode the EM-1 will take 9 images, superimpose them and come up with a final image. On my first experiment my card showed 5 images. The first one super sharp, the remaining four blurry or not sharp at all. Does that mean the camera used 5 images to come up with the first super sharp one? Sorry for my confusion, thank you.
     
  2. wjiang

    wjiang Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    It's up to 9 frames but you can set it for fewer. You'll also always get the intermediate RAWs I believe, the final stack will be an additional JPEG.

    The stacking sequence starts with the focus set at where you select and progressively shifts focus to further away for each shot. You have to set the focus differential in the menus for the DoF range you need by trial-and-error, I suspect in your case it is set too large and so the difference between frames is too big to be useful for what you're shooting.
     
  3. Growltiger

    Growltiger Mu-43 Top Veteran

    642
    Mar 26, 2014
    UK
    No, that is not correct. I'll try to explain, it is complicated. There are two different but related features.

    What wjiang is talking about above is "focus bracketing", it works almost exactly as he says. You have to do the stacking in your computer, it is not done in the camera. Focus starts at the focus point and goes further away with each shot.

    What you are asking about is the feature called "focus stacking". It always takes exactly 8 frames, and then does the stacking in the camera to give you the 9th frame. The first frame is at the focus point, the next two are taken closer and the last five are taken further away. (This is not documented in the manual).

    If you got 5 images then you were not using focus stacking, you were using focus bracketing.

    You may find this page helpful: Master your Olympus: Using the Focus Stacking and Bracketing modes - Amateur Photographer

    I hope this helps clarify things.
     
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  4. wjiang

    wjiang Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Just goes to show... That stacking mode is a little bit too magic and undocumented... I've always had more luck with stacking the bracketed shots myself...
     
  5. Massimo

    Massimo Mu-43 Regular

    68
    Jul 10, 2016
    Thank you gentlemen for your time. What I have learned so far so the abyssal depth of my ignorance. So Focus Stacking is obviously not what I need since I do not do macro and I do not have the needed dedicated software. Unless I've been reading wrong, I was under the impression that one of those tasks was actually handled in-camera, so it must be Focus Bracketing. The goal here would be to shoot a number of images and pick the one with the best focus, am I correct? I guess this calls for some more experimentation and see if focus bracketing can be useful for general photography. Thanks again.
     
  6. Phocal

    Phocal Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 3, 2014
    You are off a bit.

    Focus Stacking (only available in the EM1) - Camera takes a series of photographs and combines them in camera to create a photograph with increased DoF. If you shoot RAW it will save all the RAW files, but the focus stacked image is a JPG. So you could actually take the RAW files and create your own stacked image using the appropriate software or just use the image the camera made which is the point behind focus stacking anyways.

    Focus Bracketing - Camera takes a series of images at different focus distances and you have to create the stack image with the applicable software.

    There is a place for it in other then macro. You can do landscape with the DoF of a ƒ22 shot which would be in the diffraction zone using say ƒ4.0 and stacking the image and in theory get a sharper image.
     
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  7. Massimo

    Massimo Mu-43 Regular

    68
    Jul 10, 2016
    Thank you Phocal, that makes a bit more sense to me. Obviously I misunderstood Growltiger's reply. I just experimented with Focus Differential and I see a few creative possibilities there.
    Thanks again for helping the ignorant.
     
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  8. Phocal

    Phocal Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 3, 2014
    No problem. I have not really played with it because I mostly shoot 4/3 lenses which cannot do focus bracketing. I keep saying I need to break out my 60mm macro and play with it, just have not gotten around to it.
     
  9. Growltiger

    Growltiger Mu-43 Top Veteran

    642
    Mar 26, 2014
    UK
    I think you understood the opposite of what I wrote. Focus stacking will do everything for you in the camera. Just set the focus differential. Try some experiments. I have used it handheld with success.
     
  10. PakkyT

    PakkyT Mu-43 Top Veteran

    764
    Jun 20, 2015
    New England
    Keeping in mind, for the original poster, that focus stacking (the one done in camera for you) is only available with a few supported lenses. If you do not have one of the lenses that works with stacking you won't be able to use that option. Bracketing, however, will work with other auto focus lenses but you have to do the final image on your computer.
     
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  11. Bill R

    Bill R Mu-43 Rookie

    17
    Feb 25, 2016
    I enjoy focus stacking; however, the Helicon Focus software is the only way for me. The attached sample was shot with OMD E-M5, 40-150mm, f2.8. 19 images were stacked. Cut Flowers 6133a sml.
     
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  12. mcrosa

    mcrosa Mu-43 Regular

    118
    Jun 26, 2013
    Miami, Florida
    Mike Crosa
    This is an awesome photograph! Blow that up to 16 x 20 and it is a sure seller.
     
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  13. Massimo

    Massimo Mu-43 Regular

    68
    Jul 10, 2016
    Impressive image.
     
  14. Growltiger

    Growltiger Mu-43 Top Veteran

    642
    Mar 26, 2014
    UK
    Very nice. There is no doubt that Focus Bracketing gives the most options, including any number of images to combine.
     
  15. Bill R

    Bill R Mu-43 Rookie

    17
    Feb 25, 2016
    Thank you mcrosa, Massimo and Growltger :)
     
  16. gbuck

    gbuck Mu-43 Rookie

    20
    Dec 9, 2012
    Hi. I am trying to get the focus stacking to work on my E-M1 and have followed the steps in the Amateur Photographer article, but the camera only takes one shot. I have tried the operation in RAW and LF, but the result is still the same - only one shot. Are there any other selections I need to make?
     
  17. Carbonman

    Carbonman Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jul 10, 2014
    Vancouver BC
    Graham
    Try gear D > Control Settings > P/A/S/M > [check] Live Control, [check] Live SCP.
     
  18. Bill R

    Bill R Mu-43 Rookie

    17
    Feb 25, 2016
    Hi Gbuck,
    I don't use any in-camera program. I set up my camera, mount it on a tripod (with remote), and then start my focusing from near to far. After each picture I manually focus (ever so slightly ) on the next object/layer and continue that process until I have everything sharp that I want sharp. I then post-process with Helicon. (I was not happy with PS or LR efforts.)

    My 'needle point' process replaces automated software, linking your camera to your computer, etc. to take the sequential shots for you. If I start needing to capture all points of interest on an insect (for example) that may require 100 or more images...then I may look into Remote software.

    (Word of caution...no stacking program likes any significant movement in any of the images.)

    Hope that helps!

    PS: I only shot RAW
     
  19. Growltiger

    Growltiger Mu-43 Top Veteran

    642
    Mar 26, 2014
    UK
    1. Are you quite sure, in Shooting Menu 2, you have Bracketing On, and within that Focus Bracketing On, and within that Focus Stacking on?
    2. Are you on the latest firmware?
    3. Try it with JPG or JPG+RAW.
    4. Make sure you are not using the flash.
     
  20. gbuck

    gbuck Mu-43 Rookie

    20
    Dec 9, 2012
    Thanks guys I have sorted it. I followed all of the steps and it suddenly started working so I must have been doing something wrong!! Incidentally, it takes the 9(8?) shots in 'quiet' mode. Is this normal?
    Thanks Bill R for your methodology. I'll give that a go.