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Thread: Focusing stacking

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    Senior Member Ed Hurst's Avatar
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    Focusing stacking

    Hello all,

    What's the consensus on what is the best software for focus stacking?

    All advice, as always, much appreciated!

    Ed

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    Re: Focusing stacking

    I have used Helicon, CombineZF and Photoshop. For straight on pics, where the subject's plane of focus is not at an oblique to the lens, in my application...the dial of a watch straight on...with the image stacks dial, applique indicators, hands, tip of hand pivot, bezel, then I find CS4 does a good job.

    Where the subject is at an angle...say the dial is flat on the table top, and lens about 45deg to the dial, if I want to stack images from front...ie bottom of dial at 6...to the back...top of the dial at 12, then CombineZF is better.

    I find Helicon is roughly similar...having tried only the free trial version, so elected to stay with the free CombineZF. But a good friend who also shoots watches in Germany uses Helicon in his studio with good results.

    I feel the steps to move the focus position more critical...I use a Manfrotto macro focussing rail, moving about half a turn of the screw. For my application, this is adequate...my aforementioned friend mounts his camera on an old Sinar P which he bought when he was a student.

    But I think the more elegant solution is to use a special, computer driven rail made by these fellows - http://www.cognisys-inc.com/stackshot/stackshot.php- surprisingly, they are actually cheaper than the manual RRS macro rail.

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    Senior Member Quentin_Bargate's Avatar
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    Re: Focusing stacking

    The Cognisys Stackshot device looks great, if it can be used with a hasselblad...
    Quentin Bargate
    Director of Bargate Murray, Law Firm of the Year 2012 - 2017, ”leading individual”, Chambers HNW guide, 2017, Photographer

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    Senior Member Ed Hurst's Avatar
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    Re: Focusing stacking

    I have already taken a sequence of shots (of a landscape scene with foreground and distant areas of interest) simply by manually adjusting the focusing ring, so my initial need is software to help combine them into a single image (not hardware to help me with taking such sequences of shots - though the device looks interesting). If the close and distant areas were distinct, I might have attempted it by hand in PS using layer masks, but in this case, close objects (e.g. a tree with intricate foliage) are mixed up with distant background in complicated ways - so doing it by hand would be a massive job. I'm prepared to invest in a package that will make this automatic if it works well - especially as I am expecting to need it quite a bit in the future.

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    Sr. Administrator Jack's Avatar
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    Re: Focusing stacking

    Give Helicon a test drive --
    Jack
    home: www.getdpi.com

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

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    Administrator, Instructor Guy Mancuso's Avatar
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    Re: Focusing stacking

    I'm with Jack on Helicon. Had great success with it and we actually have a mini review on it somewhere here on the site

    Found it http://forum.getdpi.com/forum/showth...=helicon+focus
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

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    Re: Focusing stacking

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Flesher View Post
    Give Helicon a test drive --

    +1!
    Bill

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    Re: Focusing stacking

    Quote Originally Posted by Quentin_Bargate View Post
    The Cognisys Stackshot device looks great, if it can be used with a hasselblad...
    I just asked, and got a reply very quickly:

    http://www.cognisys-inc.com/catalog/...products_id=70

    Be still my beating wallet The gear slut monster is stirring.
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    Senior Member Ed Hurst's Avatar
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    Re: Focusing stacking

    Thank you all for your most excellent advice. I tried Helicon and it did a very good job. Not perfect, it has to be said - certain areas of tree branches (close to me but set against a distant background) were rendered rather fuzzy, perhaps due to slight movement between the shots (though not within any one shot as I used a fast shutter speed for each of the shots). No doubt I could correct this by hand, but then it's avoiding having to do such things that prompted me to want this software in the first place :-)

    Anyway, it's 95% as good as I could have done by hand (and, in some respects, better) for about 0.01% of the time input. A good deal I would say!

  10. #10
    Sr. Administrator Jack's Avatar
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    Re: Focusing stacking

    You know you can edit the masks for each layer in Helicon, right? Also, changing the radius and smoothing can make significant differences. I'd suggest trying smaller and larger by factors of 2.
    Jack
    home: www.getdpi.com

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

  11. #11
    Senior Member Ed Hurst's Avatar
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    Re: Focusing stacking

    Thanks Jack - I knew that was possible, but haven't so far worked out the finer points. I'll look into it further.

    Ed

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