Macro Focus Stacking

Started Apr 8, 2013 | Discussions thread
Duncan C
Veteran MemberPosts: 7,594
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Re: Macro Focus Stacking
In reply to rgolub, Apr 8, 2013

rgolub wrote:

Purists will tell you to use a focus rail instead of the focus ring.  It does make a difference at time - mostly with 'larger' shots (big flowers, more closeups than true macro) or if you rig the shot to use lots of slices.

What is better about moving the camera? Less optical changes to the image?

However, many times it's a toss up - the magnification change is very, very small with small camera movements and the software can compensate for it.  Moving a focus rail entails moving more mass (the entire camera / lens / rail) and so really requires a steady tripod.  That's not always possible outside of a studio.  Soft ground / snow / smaller tripod (because you are carrying one 5 miles in) makes it impossible to keep the system absolutely stable.

I just have a middle-of-the-road Manfrotto aluminum tripod with telescoping legs and and extendible center shaft. I had a pistol-grip head, but found it drooped, so I replaced it with a head with 3 axis adjustments and handles that I cinch down to lock it in place.

The pod and head aren't bargain basement gear, but it's also not a $1000 carbon fiber Gitzo pod, Kirk ball-head and plate, and Wimberly Sidekick either. Somehow I can't justify spending $2000 on  a tripod rig.

What kind of head do you recommend? I've asked for macro rails for my birthday, which is next month.

Also, can you talk about the Helicon workflow? Ideally, comparing it to PS?

Furthermore, moving the rail automatically is a much more involved process than moving the focus ring.  There is a device that puts a small motor on a focusing rail, but it's expensive and clumsy and needs a 12 volt battery.  I'm carrying enough in the field, thankyouverymuch, not to want to drag a car battery as well.

With an iPad mini and a , I've got a 600 gram device that does hands off focus stacking in the field with incredible results.

With an iPad mini and a comma? Huh? What word is missing there?

Just the jostling of the system as you manually turn the lens can cause image degradation.  Doing it hands off is much better from a number of angles.  Less movement, less mud on the clothes, less back strain from hunching down.  Using an automatic system by controlling the focus ring also allows you to create software that controls the rest of the camera simultaneously (like the Helicon Focus Andriod app and the CamRanger) - very slick.

Yup. I found the same thing. Is Helicon's mobile app Andriod only? I'm a Mac/iPhone/iPad user and developer.

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