Focus Stacking / Bracketing

Started Apr 11, 2012 | Discussions
JediLight
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Focus Stacking / Bracketing
Apr 11, 2012

Would anyone else like this feature? My target camera for this would be my D800, and I think this kind of camera would make sense to put this feature in as it is pitched at studio work. I would like the ability to automatically take a series of shots where the focus changed forwards or backwards by a user controlled amount.

I accept that the camera performing in camera stacking might be a step too far for the processor, however the ability to do focus bracketing must be a simple software issue as the camera is already making the various adjustments required for many other reasons.

For my D7000 I had been using the totally awesome, particularly for the dirt cheap price, controlmynikon software, doing it tethered. However it seems a shame that such an option is not available in camera to allow it to be done automatically, untethered.

Would anyone else care for this feature?

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Robin Casady
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Re: Focus Stacking / Bracketing
In reply to JediLight, Apr 11, 2012

JediLight wrote:

Would anyone else like this feature? My target camera for this would be my D800, and I think this kind of camera would make sense to put this feature in as it is pitched at studio work. I would like the ability to automatically take a series of shots where the focus changed forwards or backwards by a user controlled amount.

Not sure. It might take more time to program it into the camera than it does to do it yourself.

If done right, it could be useful. You could set the closest point by focusing on it, press a dedicated button, focus on the most distant object and hit the button again to set the range and initiate the bracking mode. Doing close focus and hitting the button twice would be from there to infinity.
The camera would calculate the required steps from the lens fl. and range.
You release the shutter and it does the sequence.

I would want it to do the shooting with mirror up.

I accept that the camera performing in camera stacking might be a step too far for the processor, however the ability to do focus bracketing must be a simple software issue as the camera is already making the various adjustments required for many other reasons.

By next model time, computers maybe powerful enough and RAM cheap enough.

For my D7000 I had been using the totally awesome, particularly for the dirt cheap price, controlmynikon software, doing it tethered. However it seems a shame that such an option is not available in camera to allow it to be done automatically, untethered.

Looks interesting, but no Mac version yet. I would be interested in a Mac version.
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JediLight
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Re: Focus Stacking / Bracketing
In reply to Robin Casady, Apr 11, 2012

Robin Casady wrote:

If done right, it could be useful. You could set the closest point by focusing on it, press a dedicated button, focus on the most distant object and hit the button again to set the range and initiate the bracketing mode. Doing close focus and hitting the button twice would be from there to infinity.
The camera would calculate the required steps from the lens fl. and range.
You release the shutter and it does the sequence.

I would want it to do the shooting with mirror up.

Now that would be a great implementation of it. I would be prepared to settle for the even simpler version akin to the existing exposure bracketing now (set the near focus point and the focus change per shot, the number of shots to take, then shoot). I don't know if there is a way to do any scripting for the OS in the camera, it feels like this would be very simple to implement....

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Morpho Hunter
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Doesn't the whole camera have to move for focus stacking?
In reply to JediLight, Apr 11, 2012

I.e. you set up a fixed (near) manual focus point and move the camera towards the subject, without changing focus, taking photos as you go along. Here's one I did of a rare butterfly some time ago - left to right = 3.3mm:

Full details here:

http://www.pbase.com/plusiotis/image/112672212/original

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Flashlight
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Re: Focus Stacking / Bracketing
In reply to JediLight, Apr 11, 2012

Helicon Focus works that way (see img), also available for the Mac. I think you can forget Nikon putting this into the camera. Possibly the best option is to create some device that turns the focus ring if you don't want to shoot tethered. Could be done with a Raspberry Pi or an Arduino.

The best way is to fix the lens on a bellows and only move the camera to prevent ghosted doubled images due to the change in the size of the projection on the sensor (see the highlight on the top of the rightmost bottle below):

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Philip

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Arretose
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Re: Focus Stacking / Bracketing
In reply to Flashlight, Apr 11, 2012

Where have you been? Don't you know that the D800 can already do this? Just turn on bracketing, use a tripod, and change your focus point after each shot for varied adjustments in focus.

; )

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Bobby Handal
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Re: Focus Stacking / Bracketing
In reply to Arretose, Apr 11, 2012

I don't think that bracketing puts the photos all together, I think that auto bracketing means that it saves all exposures individually so that you , in a separate software program, sandwich them together. I think you mean HDR mode that does put them together, however, it does it on one "mirror flip" so its not possible to change focus between the exposures.

I am sure that if manufacturers already implemented HDR, multiple exposures, etc. I am sure they could include also focus stacking.

Arretose wrote:

Where have you been? Don't you know that the D800 can already do this? Just turn on bracketing, use a tripod, and change your focus point after each shot for varied adjustments in focus.

; )

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JediLight
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Re: Focus Stacking / Bracketing
In reply to Bobby Handal, Apr 11, 2012

I am pretty sure Arretose was having a joke! ";)"

The stacking part (i.e. the aligning of the photos, balancing of exposure, merging of the areas with the most detail to make the stacked photo), I would definitely have done on the computer due to time, ever improving algorithms etc.

All I am after is doing the photos at progressively different focusses done automatically on the camera. It works so well when tethered getting controlmynikon to do it for me, that to get the camera to do it instead would be very useful untethered.

The advantage of not doing it manually is that it increases the chances of there being no movement between shots of the camera (which can happen if manually changing focus by hand). Also it allows for very slight consistent focus changes by the camera's computer which makes for a better stacked photo. The camera itself does not need to move, just the focus point.

The camera is of course always changing the focus point itself through autofocus, so it must be very very easy to write the script itself to do this x times, 5 mm a time etc.

Anyone know how to get hold of the SDK for the camera (I assume not released yet, but I assume Nikon to release under some kind of terms)?

If it can't be done in camera, then perhaps it would be possible to do it tethered to say an iphone/ipad or an Android phone or tablet - hence though tethered, highly portable. And, hey, that could be a way for a cheap cable release.....

Bobby Handal wrote:

I don't think that bracketing puts the photos all together, I think that auto bracketing means that it saves all exposures individually so that you , in a separate software program, sandwich them together. I think you mean HDR mode that does put them together, however, it does it on one "mirror flip" so its not possible to change focus between the exposures.

I am sure that if manufacturers already implemented HDR, multiple exposures, etc. I am sure they could include also focus stacking.

Arretose wrote:

Where have you been? Don't you know that the D800 can already do this? Just turn on bracketing, use a tripod, and change your focus point after each shot for varied adjustments in focus.

; )

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falconeyes
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Requested ages ago
In reply to JediLight, Apr 11, 2012

I don't know why it is not included in the firmware.

The two most useful modes:

1. Focus bracket for macro, with a delta determined by fractions of depth of field

2. Focus series for high resolution, with post-capture computation of contrast in the region of AF point (if not recomposed) and keeping/flagging the best of series. With delta determined by fractions of (known) AF accuracy times F-stop.

Focus has mechanical tolerances and would have to sweep from start to stop w/o inverting direction. So, it would have to front(back)focus first. But that shoudn't be a problem However, even then I am not sure if the focus motor can shift the focus plane by as little as 6 ┬Ám which would be a requirement.

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William Belvin
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Re: Doesn't the whole camera have to move for focus stacking?
In reply to Morpho Hunter, Apr 11, 2012

Most close-up/macro shooters do focus stacking by moving the camera on a rail since this way only one variable changes. Landscape photographers refocus the lenses on different parts of the scene, the camera doesnt move at all. Moving the cmaera is preferable but doesnt work for landscape shots.

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robertfel
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Re: Focus Stacking / Bracketing
In reply to JediLight, Apr 11, 2012

Sounds useful, but wouldn't work on my 85mm PC-E.

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