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Thread: Helicon focus

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    Administrator, Instructor Guy Mancuso's Avatar
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    Helicon focus

    Jack has been talking with DonnyLo about his Helicaon Focus program. He was kind enough to give the beta to all the workshop members in Moab and we gave a demo on it and WOW this thing works really well. I did some shots today in Monument Valley today to see how it works. Basically you shoot several shots at different focal points.Than the software magically puts them in a focus blend and the results are really good. This was taken with my Phase 25 plus with a 80mm lens at F13 now there is no way to capture the DOF on a single exposure here. Here is the final result. Too tired at the moment to show all the crops but please trust me it is really good.
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

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    Administrator, Instructor Guy Mancuso's Avatar
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    Re: Helicon focus

    One more from today with a 80mm. Jack has some more samples also
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

    www.guymancusophotography.com

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    Super Duper
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    Re: Helicon focus

    I’ve been working with the CS4 layered focus on this trip only bad thing is that my images are way too large for my laptop so I’ll have to wait till I get home to process them.

    I highly recommend doing this as you get an image that is in focus from your toes to infinity.

    Is the program you mention a plug-in or standalone and is it 64bit?

    Great images.

    don
    Don Libby
    Iron Creek Photography
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    Administrator, Instructor Guy Mancuso's Avatar
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    Re: Helicon focus

    Don it is standalone and it is pretty fast actually. Not sure on 64 bit though
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

    www.guymancusophotography.com

  5. #5
    Howard Cubell
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    Re: Helicon focus

    Quote Originally Posted by Iron Creek View Post
    Ive been working with the CS4 layered focus on this trip only bad thing is that my images are way too large for my laptop so Ill have to wait till I get home to process them.

    I highly recommend doing this as you get an image that is in focus from your toes to infinity.

    Is the program you mention a plug-in or standalone and is it 64bit?

    Great images.

    don
    The focus blending feature in CS4 is useless. Adobe should be ashamed of its effort, given its resources. Helicon Focus, OTOH, works very well in many cases. It is a stand alone program, but unfortuanately the Mac version that I have does not return a 16 bit file with layers. There may be a newer version that does.

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    Re: Helicon focus

    The HY6 body I belive will automatically make up to 9 exposures automatically ( with auto focus lens) in order to facilitate impossible DOF situations..nice huh?

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    Sr. Administrator Jack's Avatar
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    Re: Helicon focus

    Note that Helicon focus just officially released version 4, and it *IS* multicore enabled, which is why it flies on our machines. In the top version, it is also 64 bit in Win. I can tell you it is fast on my Mac.

    http://www.heliconsoft.com/purchase.html

    Cheers,
    Jack
    home: www.getdpi.com

    "Perfection is not attainable. But if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence."

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    Administrator Bob's Avatar
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    Re: Helicon focus

    Quote Originally Posted by PeterA View Post
    The HY6 body I belive will automatically make up to 9 exposures automatically ( with auto focus lens) in order to facilitate impossible DOF situations..nice huh?
    Does it move the focus between exposures automatically?
    thanks
    -bob

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    Administrator, Instructor Guy Mancuso's Avatar
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    Re: Helicon focus

    The real trick here i found out is finding clear focusing points to focus on and do at least 4 shots. To me AF would be worthless since the AF on most systems is the center part of the image and you can't move the camera when doing these. Actually more focusing points are better and honestly it takes nothing to do in the field with manual focusing which is surely the best way since you can visually see what points you want and not much in the processing. In C1 make all adjustments to one image and copy them, apply them to the rest and process than bring them in Helicon program and hit ONE button than save the results.
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

    www.guymancusophotography.com

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    Sr. Administrator Jack's Avatar
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    Re: Helicon focus

    I can highly recommend this piece of software!

    Here is my version of the shot Guy showed above. Note I waited about three more minutes after Guy was done to get the last kiss of light on the bushes in mine (hehehehehe) -- BUT the light was falling fast and in the time it took me to get all 4 captures, the light on the bushes had gone in full shadow. However, since I grabbed the close focus frame first, it is the one blended in and thus the lightest of all 4 .

    Anyway, I'd normally recommend 6 or more frames for a landscape, but I had a time constraint so this is only 4 frames merged with Helicon using the default method B, 8/4 settings, then processed without any other work in Helicon -- and it is superb! Then I sent the file to CS4 where I quickly tweaked the final and did some minor dodge and burn for posting here. There was so much detail in this 1200 pixel jpeg, I had to dial compression down to 8 in CS4 to get the image under a 500k file size! (Usually in one of my 1200 pixel jpegs, a 10 will be around 500k, but the added detail from the blend keeps the size larger.)



    This image is sharp from my feet to the rock in the background. Here are some crops to show it better -- note that this reasonably priced piece of software (full version only $250) will probably eliminate my needs for a tilt lens or technical camera, saving me thousands of dollars in gear, and a lot less to carry in my bag!:





    Cheers,
    Jack
    home: www.getdpi.com

    "Perfection is not attainable. But if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence."

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    Re: Helicon focus

    Thats how I read the manual. Dont have the camera yet to confirm but will do so in due course.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob View Post
    Does it move the focus between exposures automatically?
    thanks
    -bob

  12. #12
    ddk
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    Re: Helicon focus

    Jack, Guy, my hat off to both of you! Running a workshop, testing, learning and still have time to post so much, the children must be well behaved! Thank you for sharing all this with us.

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    Re: Helicon focus

    Quote Originally Posted by Guy Mancuso View Post
    The real trick here i found out is finding clear focusing points to focus on and do at least 4 shots. To me AF would be worthless since the AF on most systems is the center part of the image and you can't move the camera when doing these. Actually more focusing points are better and honestly it takes nothing to do in the field with manual focusing which is surely the best way since you can visually see what points you want and not much in the processing. In C1 make all adjustments to one image and copy them, apply them to the rest and process than bring them in Helicon program and hit ONE button than save the results.
    Apparently, the premise behind the auto focus bracketing is that the camera makes a set of exposures based on where the OOF limits are in each plane of focus accordingly. Thus a stepped series of exposures is delivered optiising the scene as a whole.

    The 'cost' is you need an autofocus lens. I dont think I will ever bother with these lenses. Perhaps someone who is a current user of the Hy6 and has an autofocus lens may like to chime in.

    Nevertheless - Helicon Focus seems to be a great piece of software - that clear from the examples above.

    For my intended use - I am more interested in much closer focus bracketing than landscape work. It may very well deliver the type of file previously confined to the rarified world of multi shots backs.

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    Administrator, Instructor Guy Mancuso's Avatar
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    Re: Helicon focus

    Thanks David , here is one more I did that looks pretty darn good. This one again is 4 shots. This is a 150 lens which has very little DOF even stopped way down. This is where I see some real value is the use of the longer glass when you do want to carry the DOF through the image.
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

    www.guymancusophotography.com

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    Re: Helicon focus

    guy...that last one with the branches against the darker background really smacks you with the "focus" range. gotta love Helicon, eh?

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    Administrator, Instructor Guy Mancuso's Avatar
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    Re: Helicon focus

    It's pretty darn cool. Opens up a few doors that you could not do before
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

    www.guymancusophotography.com

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    Re: Helicon focus

    Quote Originally Posted by Guy Mancuso View Post
    Thanks David , here is one more I did that looks pretty darn good. This one again is 4 shots. This is a 150 lens which has very little DOF even stopped way down. This is where I see some real value is the use of the longer glass when you do want to carry the DOF through the image.
    OK, I was going to ask why not set the lens to hyperfocal, but the above answers it. Still, it would be interesting to see results with a wider angle lens, comparing this technique to the hyperfocal technique.

    My a900 is still on order, so it will be a while before I can try it myself -- it's not worth trying on my 5MP P&S.

    I assume that the current version plays nice with a900 RAWs?

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    Sr. Administrator Jack's Avatar
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    Re: Helicon focus

    Hi Dave,

    Welcome to the forum!

    With longer lenses you lose DoF and this is where Helicon comes in handy. Depending on how large you print, hyperfocal may work adequately most of the time with a 50mm lens, would probably work most of the time with a 28 or shorter lens, and then probably rarely work for you with a 150mm lens... So longer lenses is where HF comes in handy

    Cheers,
    Jack
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    "Perfection is not attainable. But if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence."

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    Re: Helicon focus

    Not meaning to hijack, but hi, Jack.

    Thanks for the welcome! I thought of posting an intro or if that's appropriate here. Sunset Bar? Sony Forum(a900 in transit)? Here?

    /hijack

    Anyway, yeah, as soon as I saw the 150mm focal length mentioned, I "got it". On re-reading it seems we're talking about MF here so I guess the 80/150mm lenses mentioned are about 45/85mm equivalent 35mm lenses. Still a DOF issue, I see.

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    Re: Helicon focus

    Just saw this from the other thread.

    I think the advantage of using Hy6 auto-bracketing focus is:

    1. You don't have to touch the camera on the tripod so less chance of unintentional movement between shots.

    2. Shots are taken considerably faster so less chance of movement in the scene.

    You can specify how many shots are taken, and I believe, not sure and don't have the manual with me, you can set the near and far focus limits.

    I haven't used it except a little test, but it seems like it would be very useful for Helicon.

    Best,

    Mitchell

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    Re: Helicon focus

    Wow, thread from the dead. In the time interval since I last posted in this thread, I tried HF with some macro shots. This one ended up being a 28MB JPEG(24.6MP) at 100% quality:



    HF also allows you to generate a 3D map so you can see the planes of focus to determine whether you used even steps:

    α900+VG|F20|2xF58|16-35,24-70,135Z|STF|70-400G|50,85 1.4|16,20,28,100M,80-200APO f/2.8|28-135|500f/8|1x-3xMacro|2xMFC-1000|Tiltall+RRS, Bellows, etc.

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