Macro Focus Stacking

Started Apr 8, 2013 | Discussions thread
(unknown member) Forum Pro • Posts: 19,115
Re: A first try using Helicon Focus

Duncan C wrote:


Duncan C wrote:

I just downloaded a trial of Helicon Focus, and it certainly makes the process simple.

However, I see some of the same artifacts that I see with PS CS 6's merge layers command. It has areas where it selected pixels from the wrong layer, creating "blurry bits" that don't belong.

They are stack smoothies

I mention those in my stacking blog:

Focus Stacking

Here's another example of this:

(excerpt from my blog)

It is worth noting though - that it's important to make sure that each separate shot is "spaced" the same amount apart to ensure the best quality final stack. For example, let's say that I want to capture a total DOF of 10mm in ten images at a ratio of 1:1 using f/16, then in theory each shot should be taken 1mm apart (ie: forward or backward) on the rail to avoid what I call "the smoothies" which are regions of the image that after being blended show no detail...which has occurred because the frame overlap capture was not sufficient enough and hence some areas were not in focus.

This is why I still shoot at f/22 when I'm doing a macro 1:1 stack...because the DOF is so small...and one requires a certain amount of frame overlap to ensure that image detail in not lost.

Hope this helps,


"No problem can be solved at the level of consciousness which created it" - Albert Einstein

I used Nikon Camera Control and focus fine-tuning, so I am absolutely positive that my focus spacing is even. I also don't believe that it is an issue of my steps being too great, since I got sharply focused pixels from Photoshop for some of the areas that came out blurry from Helicon Focus.

In PS, I can go back after the fact and adjust the layer masks that select the parts of each image to combine. It's tedious, but gives me very precise control over which pixels come from which layer of the image.

Overall, it looks like Helicon Focus does a better job "out of the box" than PS does, but it still isn't perfect, and I don't see a way to touch up the results by hand in Helicon.

I've always used Zerene Stacker....I have never obtained great results with Helicon in the past, so I stuck with ZS.

ZS can handle 60-80 TIFF files no problem, and doesn't seem to produce any of the issues that you mention here.

Only once in a while a stack will screw up, but that's always because of MY some rig movement occurred when shooting the images.


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"No problem can be solved at the level of consciousness which created it" - Albert Einstein

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