Helicon Remote and Nikon

Started Sep 2, 2013 | Discussions
davidevans1
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Helicon Remote and Nikon
Sep 2, 2013

I've just been following another thread where Helicon Focus is mentioned.
Looking at the Helicon Soft website, presumably you need Helicon Remote if you want to control the focusing on a Nikon D800?
To use Helicon Remote you need an Android device with a USB (so iPad is no good)?
If you were getting an Android device specifically for this purpose, so wanted something relatively small and light (to carry and on the wallet), which would you suggest please?
I'm thinking of trying focus stacking via camera to start, rather than buying an electronic focusing rail.
Thanks
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David

_sem_
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Re: Helicon Remote and Nikon
In reply to davidevans1, Sep 2, 2013

davidevans1 wrote:

I've just been following another thread where Helicon Focus is mentioned.
Looking at the Helicon Soft website, presumably you need Helicon Remote if you want to control the focusing on a Nikon D800?
To use Helicon Remote you need an Android device with a USB (so iPad is no good)?
If you were getting an Android device specifically for this purpose, so wanted something relatively small and light (to carry and on the wallet), which would you suggest please?
I'm thinking of trying focus stacking via camera to start, rather than buying an electronic focusing rail.

I think DSLR Dashboard should also work on Android. You need a device that supports "USB host" (USB On-The-Go) which is not something that can be taken for granted among Android devices. And a suitable OTG cable for your device.

I've tried with the Galaxy S2, which should work, but had connection issues. And, due to the screen size, tablets are better suited.

I don't know about iPad.

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Cliff Fujii
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Re: Helicon Remote and Nikon
In reply to _sem_, Sep 2, 2013

I use Helicon with a MS Surface Pro (windows 8).  I've seen it used with a and a Windows Notebook and a MacBook.  You plug the USB port of the laptop into the USB port in the Camera (with me it is the Nikon D800 and the D600).  When you run Helicon, it recognizes your camera.  Focus stacking using Helicon works after a fashion but it can not get the precise control that using an automatic rail (StackShot) will get you.  Using Helicon is a cheap way to find out if you really like macro-photography.  After you decide you want to continue, you might look into a StackShot or some sort of macro-rail.

The only issue I had with Helicon is that its very picky with exposure.  Zerene is not so picky but it doesn't process RAW images like Helicon.  I mostly use Photoshop CS6 to do focus stacking but I will purchase Helicon or Zerene to do the complicated jobs.

Since I only use Helicon Focus for merging, I don't really need Helicon Remote.  My Helicon workflow starts with finding the starting and ending point of the focus stack.  Then I use a DOF calculator to determine what my depth of field (circle of confusion of 0.005mm).  I setup the camera and plug this  information into the StackShot controller and start my focus stacking.  When it's done, I load it into Helicon and perform the merging.  My laptop is powerful enough so I can use RAW files.  If yours is not, try to create a focus stack using RAW+JPG and process the JPG files.  If the stacked image looks OK, you can repeat this using your RAW files.

According to the Helicon web site, they support both Android and IOS also.  Both Zerene and Helicon are available on a trial basis.  Zerene is cheaper but Helicon can do more.  Try then both and see for yourself.  I think I'm leaning towards Zerene because I like the results more.

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Cliff

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davidevans1
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Re: Helicon Remote and Nikon
In reply to Cliff Fujii, Sep 2, 2013

Cliff

So StackShot can be used in the field without any need for a tablet or notebook?

Is it heavy and bulky, or light and compact?

I can see the components in the StackShot Macro Rail package but can't see an indication of weight.

It looks like a battery is an additional $150, so as you say, you need to know you are going to get nto this sort of photography.

Thanks.

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David

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Cliff Fujii
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Re: Helicon Remote and Nikon
In reply to davidevans1, Sep 3, 2013

Yes, you need a good DOF calculator (I use VWDOF which is a windows calculator) and I use a Microsoft Surface Pro running Nikon Camera Control Pro 2 with a USB cable attached to the D800.  You can use any calculator that allows you to set the Circle of Confusion size (the ideal is the distance between two photo sites, I use 0.005mm), focal length of the lens, distance to the subject, and f/stop.  The StackShot comes with a controller that has an optional battery.  You will need a tablet or notebook to process the focus stack.

I don't think it's heavy and bulky, it is a macro rail with a stepper motor at the end.  It's not cheap and if you are into macro photography, it will do a great job.  Just remember the lighting should not move with the lens so no ring lights.  The StackShot (with the RRS lever clamp) weighs 1208g.  This thing looks tough.  It has stainless steel rails and screw adjustors.  It looks like the rest of the system is made out of aluminum.  It also has a Arca Swiss compatible bottom plate so that it will fit the FlipLock plate that is attached to my Arca Swiss D4 head.  I have the recommended setup that the StackShot site lists.

What you can do is to use Helicon Focus/Remote and try to see if you really like Macro photography.  Then graduate to an RRS Macro Rail (just to try out manual stacking).  If you still like the tedium of macro photography, then you can use the RRS Macro Rail as the horizontal adjustment and get a StackShot (for focus stacking) with the proper cable for your camera.  The way this works is after you input the start and end points of your stack, the system will reset to the start position and take photographs (according to the information you have put into the controller) You notice that nothing is thrown away (unless you purchase a lifetime of Helicon Remote).  I am using Zerene because I think that it does a better job at stack merging.  I have both Helicon and Zerene on trial but before that, I used Photoshop CS6 to merge the stacks.  The only problem with Photoshop is that it's difficult to discover what image in the stack needs retouching.

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Cliff

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davidevans1
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Re: Helicon Remote and Nikon
In reply to Cliff Fujii, Sep 3, 2013

Thanks Cliff

This gets complicated! When I think about it further, if doing a set up outside, I presumably need to be somewhere where it's feasible to set up some sort of tent also, or the slightest wind or movement wrecks everything. I'm wanting to do plants rather than non moving objects such as rocks.  This isn't going to work for where I had in mind taking shots.

However I will try Helicon Focus and maybe Helicon Remote indoors and see how it works out. That  looks interesting as a starting point.

Thanks again.

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David

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Cliff Fujii
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Re: Helicon Remote and Nikon
In reply to davidevans1, Sep 3, 2013

It all depends on the circumstances.  You can setup wind breaks if there is not much air movement.  You can dig up the plant and pot if for the shoot or if necessary, cut the bloom off of the plant and use a clamp to secure it.  I actually prefer to use my orchid enclosure to take photographs.  No wind, even lighting, and controlled environment.

Remember, the goal is to not spend money unless you have to.  Take advantage of the trial period that the software offers.  Write down a plan on how you are going to evaluate the equipment.  Make the same exposures with Helicon, Zerene, and Photoshop if you want to do an apples to apples comparison.  Go to trader Joe's and purchase an orchid that you would like to shoot.  If you don't have an orchid enclosure, don't live in California or Florida, or have a brown thumb, plan for your orchid to last three to six months.  Just water it once a week (soak it).  If you are lucky, your blooms will last about two to three months.  I like the petite orchids because they are inexpensive and interesting to look at.

Good shooting!

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Cliff

 Cliff Fujii's gear list:Cliff Fujii's gear list
Nikon Df Nikon 1 V3 Nikon D810 Nikon AF-S Nikkor 16-35mm f/4G ED VR Nikon AF-S Micro-Nikkor 60mm f/2.8G ED +47 more
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