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Image Stacking for Macro

Swissblad

Active member
I'll take the plunge and upload the 1st image for this new thread.
Nikon FX, Sigma 150mm Macro, Novoflex macro slider, Helicon Focus SW.
Image is composite of ≈35 - 40 single captures.
Taken a while ago, so some details are hazy.
I do recall wondering how this would work out, as the size and perspective appeared to be changing during the various captures....:toocool:

Serracenia Pitcher Plant Stack by SB Macro, on Flickr

Unfortunately I cannot repeat as my Helicon Focus license has expired.

Clicking on images reveals high res copy on Flickr.
 
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Swissblad

Active member
PS merged stack of 8 images - does not always work as well as Helicon Focus - but does not require additional SW.
Nikon D700, Sigma 150mm macro.

Dahlia Stack Merged 1 by SB Macro, on Flickr

Really have to love the colours of the D700 - my first Nikon FX - and I loved it....:thumbup:

Clicking on images reveals high res copy on Flickr.
 
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pegelli

Well-known member
Thanks for starting the thread and the nice examples Swissblad.

For people who haven't seen it here's the two posts in another thread that led to this separate thread:


I'm relatively new to focus stacking but I haven't found a method yet to always keep the size of the subject equal and avoid "shading" of certain areas in deeper/more complicated structures. If you move the camera on a macro rail (and don't change the focus on the lens) the subject size and perspective changes, if you change focus on the lens it changes the size of the subject (and sometimes also the perspective).
Theoretically there must be a way to move the camera and the focus of the lens together to achieve a pure constant size but as soon as you move the camera the perspective changes, so that problem doesn't go away.
I don't know if there is a method to avoid changing size and perspective at the same time, maybe with a tech cam and/or special lens but not with a "simple" full frame camera.
My experience is that using a long lens and macro rail gives the least problems in Helicon focus (the program I use) but since my camera has no automated focus stacking it might be that those results aren't looking as good in my case because I find that making reliable small steps of manual focus on the lens is much harder to do than reliably move a macro rail in small constant steps.

Sorry for this long story, don't want to derail this thread so if you (or others) want to discuss further or have any golden tips maybe we need to start a new thread discussing different focus stacking methods and the best way to capture the images.

This is for a sure a discussion worthy of its own thread. I've always found it very difficult to focus stack macro for this very reason, regardless of lens used -- at least back in the early days where I actually experimented with Helicon Focus... Most primes have to extend optically to focus closer -- this actually also increases the focal length of the lens and corresponding image magnification. I had a rail and attempted to use it a few times, and recall getting it to work once or twice, but seem to remember inconsistent results. IIRC, my best results were from a tele zoom with a diopter, since most zooms are internal focus and as such don't change focal as they focus closer -- or more accurately, they actually reduce focal length to focus closer lol. Regardless, if you have one where the the internal focal length reduction matches the focus extension, then image magnification remains reasonably constant as you shift focus.

It's now in the Nikon forum but since I don't have a Nikon camera I'm assuming this thread will be brand agnostic and only concentrate on different stacking techniques and programs. Otherwise I can't show examples here ;)
 

pegelli

Well-known member
Here's my first example, Sony A700 and Minolta 100/2.8 macro D

12 images shifted ~2 mm per step on a Novoflex macro rail and combined in Helicon focus at it's default setting (method B, radius 8, smoothing 4)



How do you guys determine the "steps" needed on the macro rail. My method at the moment is to take a dof calculator and take steps around 20 - 25% of the dof calculated. This seems to do the job but since I dreamed this up myself I'm sure there must be methods with a better basis.
 

Swissblad

Active member
Another way of getting sufficient frames for a stack in a rapid manner is to shoot a 4K (soon 8k) video - a 1 second burst is normally sufficient - and then merge these with Helicon Focus.
This is really helpful when photographing wild flowers outdoors.....as wind really is an issue.

Video tomato stack by SB Macro, on Flickr

I 1st came across this technique here.
 
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Jack

Sr. Administrator
Staff member
Folks, and especially Swissblad as you initiated, I am totally fine with this thread being here and being brand agnostic. But am also happy to move it to the image processing forum where it may be better suited? Your call, let me know!
 

Swissblad

Active member
Folks, and especially Swissblad as you initiated, I am totally fine with this thread being here and being brand agnostic. But am also happy to move it to the image processing forum where it may be better suited? Your call, let me know!
I'm easy Jack - but agree that it may be better suited to the image processing forum.

:toocool:
 

pegelli

Well-known member
Here's an example where I used the manual refocus method. I was out and about and didn't have my macro rail with me, so it was mainly born out of necessity.

However with magnified view it was relatively easy to move the focus plane over the hat of this fly agaric but with other subjects I have not been so lucky (and hence not successful).



Sony A7ii + Voigtländer APO Lanthar 65/2 macro, Helicon focus stack of 4 images at the default settings
 

pegelli

Well-known member
Another way of getting sufficient frames for a stack in a rapid manner is to shoot a 4K (soon 8k) video - a 1 second burst is normally sufficient - and then merge these with Helicon Focus.
This is really helpful when photographing wild flowers outdoors.....as wind really is an issue.

I 1st came across this technique here.
Thanks Swissblad, I need to check out this method as it seems to achieve good results, but I'm such a noob at Video that I first need to find out how that works :eek:
 

Swissblad

Active member
Thanks Swissblad, I need to check out this method as it seems to achieve good results, but I'm such a noob at Video that I first need to find out how that works :eek:
Hi Pieter,
like you, I'm not a video expert - the downside is limited resolution - until 8K becomes available - and lack of RAW - unless you know how to play with various video modes.

Have fun :thumbup:

Interesting to see the word "Paddestoelen" again - childhood memories.
 

Swissblad

Active member
Another attempt using PS to stack a series of 5-7 images.
Nikon D800 with Sigma 150mm macro.

Ophrys neglecta stack 2b by SB Macro, on Flickr


One of the lovely small orchids littering the country side of Sardinia in early spring - Ophrys tenthredinifera subsp. neglecta.

How I miss not being able to have gone this year!
 

pegelli

Well-known member
I like the orchid Swissblad, the way it pops out of the background looks very nice and detail is very good.


Here's an attempt in our garden today, a Rhodondendron in 14 steps of 5 mm.
If you look 1:1 of the stacked image you can see that the flower in front "shaded" some of the details right behind it (I see an unsharp halo around the outer petals). However at web presentation size it's hardly noticable.
I left the furthest flower out of the sequence on purpose with the idea that I wanted something slightly unsharp as a transition to the unsharp leaves and branches in the background. Looking in hindsight I probably should have taken more frames further back and only decide when stacking which frames to include or exclude.


A7Rii + M-Elmar 135/4 + 18 mm extension tube
 

Knorp

Well-known member
not perfect, but it's a start ... :rolleyes:



| gfx-50s | 45ex | gf50/3.5 | helicon focus - 15 steps @ f18 |
 

jotloob

Subscriber Member
Here a more technical thing . My "selfmade" minicubes . 60mm size .

SONY A7II + OLYMPUS OM Auto-Macro 3,5/50mm + HELICON FOCUS . 7 images stacked .

MINICUBE60.@@.RET.jpg
 

jotloob

Subscriber Member
Hi Sinuhe

You will find some details here . Have a look to Great Tripod & Head Thread

#155 #159 and #170 .

I hope this helps . Jürgen .
 
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