Olympus In-camera Focus Stacking

Nigel

Mu-43 Rookie
Joined
Dec 1, 2016
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Ever since Olympus updated the firmware for in-camera focus stacking to allow selection of the number of images (EM1-2 ver 3.0) in a stack I have had the feeling the final composite image has not been as good as previously. I certainly get much better composites using the individual images acquired in Helicon Focus.

So I have investigated this using a test target photographed at an angle - see the sequential images posted here. This was set as an 8 image in-camera focus stack and going through the images one by one you can see the initial focus at 0 on the scale then 2 images closer and 5 images farther away as expected. The image marked 9 is the composite. You can see that the in-camera composite does not cover the depth of focus that should be possible from the individual images. The individual images have sharp focus regions ranging from -2 to + 5 on the scale but the composite is sharp only from -1 to +3.

I have repeated this test with 15 images selected and to my surprise the composite showed no more depth of focus (i.e. it was still -1 to +3) even though the individual images had sharp focus regions ranging from -5 to +10.

Do other Olympus owners find the same?

If anyone still is using firmware prior to the focus-stacking update (Ver 3.0) I would be very interested to know if you also find this effect.
 

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Bushboy

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Apr 22, 2018
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It looks to me like inadequate aperture has been used for those shots? Could you do this test again at different apertures? And post the results? Nice target you’ve got. I shot a focus stack yesterday, and the first stack was way off. I had to adjust the aperture and the diff to get the proper result. Lens used, subject size, aperture, distance to target, colour of your underwear, and differential, all need to be in alliance I find. But saying that, I always get a great result in camera quite easily.
 

Nigel

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Dec 1, 2016
Messages
21
It looks to me like inadequate aperture has been used for those shots? Could you do this test again at different apertures? And post the results? Nice target you’ve got. I shot a focus stack yesterday, and the first stack was way off. I had to adjust the aperture and the diff to get the proper result. Lens used, subject size, aperture, distance to target, colour of your underwear, and differential, all need to be in alliance I find. But saying that, I always get a great result in camera quite easily.
I don’t hint this is the problem as I used a diff of 3 which is narrow and you can see that each individual image overlaps - I believe the step size is varied according to the aperture used in any case. Also, there was no difference in the composite between 8 shots and 15. I am tempted to do a factory reset before trying again.
 

Nigel

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Joined
Dec 1, 2016
Messages
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I don’t hint this is the problem as I used a diff of 3 which is narrow and you can see that each individual image overlaps - I believe the step size is varied according to the aperture used in any case. Also, there was no difference in the composite between 8 shots and 15. I am tempted to do a factory reset before trying again.
Also Helicon Focus generates smooth stacks from the same images
 
Joined
Feb 4, 2020
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Location
Rocky Mountains, Colorado
Interesting. I haven't noticed anything like this on mine (EM1.2, f/w version 3.2). I just took this quick stack outside (12 frames, diff = 2). I've also included the final pre stacked frame #12 - and it is clear that it has also been included in the composite stacked version.

Stacked version
P4040753.JPG
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Frame #12
P4040752.JPG
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I have no doubt that 3-party s/w can likely improve on the in-camera results, if the frames are taken using a tripod. However almost all my stacks are taken handheld, and in my experience, stacking software (Workspace, Affinity) can't produce good stacks if the image isn't perfectly stable. This is where the in-camera stacking excels IMO, as it creates surprisingly good images even with some camera shake or subject movement.
 
Last edited:

Bushboy

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Apr 22, 2018
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All I have to do is, Increase the aperture and the differential until everything’s in focus.
Image no.9 is hardly an improvement on the others. If you have a stable camera select 15 images. Handheld select 8. I have never seen any real difference between images stacked in affinity or in camera. Both work fine.
Not that it is worth anything, but I always start with f 5.6 or 8 and differential of 5, and adjust if necessary. I would like to see your test at f11 differential 10... btw. what lens are you using?
 

Growltiger

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Mar 26, 2014
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UK
I see a significant problem with your test. Look at image 8 for example. There are fairly sharp areas in the far right of the image at positions 1 and 2. The camera is taking these into account too, not just the squares you are looking at. Repeat the tests without the objects on the right of the image.

When I did some tests I had the camera near the floor above a patterned carpet, there was nothing else in the images. I used a wide aperture and the results were exactly what they should be with 15 images (or 8).
 

Nigel

Mu-43 Rookie
Joined
Dec 1, 2016
Messages
21
I see a significant problem with your test. Look at image 8 for example. There are fairly sharp areas in the far right of the image at positions 1 and 2. The camera is taking these into account too, not just the squares you are looking at. Repeat the tests without the objects on the right of the image.

When I did some tests I had the camera near the floor above a patterned carpet, there was nothing else in the images. I used a wide aperture and the results were exactly what they should be with 15 images (or 8).
I have added the numbers to the images in the far right to make sure they uploaded in the right order - they are not on the originals.
 

Nigel

Mu-43 Rookie
Joined
Dec 1, 2016
Messages
21
OK. Problem solved. I have done some more tests. Firstly, I repeated the tests with my EM1-2 and the in-camera focus stacking worked fine. I factory reset my EM1-3 and tried again but the in-camera focus stacking was still not working correctly. So I updated my firmware (I had not updated as from V1.1 to V1.2 as the improvements were mainly for video and I don't have the 150-400 lens) and now the in-camera focus stacking is working!!
 

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