>>>Monday Macro/Closeup June 16 - 22<<<

Started Jun 16, 2014 | Discussions thread
sherman_levine Forum Pro • Posts: 11,051
Re: Focus Stacking Freeware, Camera and Macro filter Comparisons

Briansdad1 wrote:

I've been experimenting with focus stacking software. A couple of commercial ones "expired" on me but yesterday I found some freeware, CombineZP. (More on the software later). I took macros of the same subject and with identical lighting (somewhat different angles though) using my FZ-70 and Nikon D3100, each paired with an Olympus B-Macro and then a Opteka 10x. Each camera was set to full manual. Multiple images at slightly different focus depths were taken.

The Nikon was first and I had difficulty keeping alignment when I rotated the focus ring. Regular incremental focusing was even more difficult. The FZ-70 was, in contrast, much easier. The "clicks" of the thumb focus wheel made increments a breeze., and more steady. Therefore, I got fewer usable samples for stacking for the Nikon than I did for the Panny. (In fairness to the Nikon, it was first and I think practice made me better by the time I got to the Panny.) Below are both results for the Panny but the Nikon only has the B-macro image because of too few usable samples from the Nikon-Opteka combo to make a good stack.

Exposure settings and distance from subject to background foliage might account for some differences in color and bokah for the sets. The two cameras shoots were on separate days so the fruit might have changed dolor too.

There was no PP done on any of these images except with CombineZP, as indicated. All frames were JPGs.

These are, I believe, a wild rose hips about 2.5 mm across.

First, A single frame from the FZ-70 + B-Macro

A single frame from the FZ-70 + B-Macro

FZ-70 + B-Macro, 13 frames, merged with CombineZP:

FZ-70 + B-Macro, 13 frames, merged with CombineZP

A single frame from the FZ-70 + Optecka 10x:

A single frame from the FZ-70 + Optecka 10x

FZ-70 + Opteka 10x, 21 frames, merged with CombineZP:

FZ-70 + Opteka 10x, 21 frames, merged with CombineZP

Nikon D3100 + Olympus B-Macro, 1 of 23 frames:

Nikon D3100 + Olympus B-Macro, 1 of 23 frames

Nikon D3100 + Olympus B-Macro, Stack of 23 frames with CombineZP:

Nikon D3100 + Olympus B-Macro, Stack of 23 frames with CombineZP


CombineZP is Windows freeware with a mild learning curve. It crashed my computer a couple of times until I set the .exe compatibility to XP SP3. (It appears development ended in the Vista era and I avoid Vista). Stable after that. It is a memory and resource hog, though, so don't plan to multitask if you decide to try it. It can be set for any one of or all six stacking algorithms. All six takes time but it's worth it as results vary a lot. Here are relevant links:

A blog discussed CombineZP, where there is a link for a Yahoo group dedicated to CombineZP on this page.

What passes as a home page for CombineZP

Download link for CombineZP

BTW, Tripod is a must.

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I'm not a pro. Images I post are unrestricted. Copy, edit, re-post here as part of the tread or elsewhere. C&C always welcome and encouraged - I'm not touchy about the negatives.


Why do you change the camera focus? It seems to me that you want to keep focus constant (i.e. use manual focus and set it once) and change the focal plane using a focusing rail

 sherman_levine's gear list:sherman_levine's gear list
Panasonic FZ1000 Nikon Coolpix P900 Panasonic FZ80/FZ82
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