Internal focus stacking - Olympus EM1 Mark ii - compared with Helicon

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oneofone25
oneofone25 Contributing Member • Posts: 565
Internal focus stacking - Olympus EM1 Mark ii - compared with Helicon
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So, I do a ton of macro-photography as many of you know.  I used the Pen-F until I acquired the EM1 mark ii later this summer.  Both do the internal focus stacking of 8 images which has been helpful, however, I rarely use it as I am constantly taking 100-200 images for extensive depth of focus on images like bugs, spiders and sand.  However, this weekend I decided to test the Olympus Focus Stacking mechanism vs the Helicon system to see how well the two work compared to one another.  The Olympus not only takes 8 images and converts them into one new file, but also saves the 8 images it initially took.

For the test subject, I of course used an amazing snow crystal from this weekend's storm.  Snow crystal was on glass, lit from above and underneath.  F4 with ISO of 250.  0 for exposure bias, and exposure time was 3/4ths of a second.

Lens was the 60mm Olympus macro attached to 36mm worth of Kenko extension tubes which allow for the auto-step to work for the focus stacking/bracketing.  I also had a Raynox 250 attached to the end of the 60mm macro.  This gave approximately 4.5:1 magnification.  The camera was vertically mounted facing down on a Copy Stand to make sure it was secure.

First, the resulting image from the internal stack - unedited and uncropped:

Next, the 8 images sent through Helicon, Method A, Value of 0 for smoothing and for Radius:

As you can see, fairly similar results.  You can see that the image stacked by Olympus internally is fairly larger than the one stacked in Helicon.  There is a crop of sorts that happens with the Olympus, providing a more magnified image through their process.  This is similar to how the Panasonic worked when I had the FZ2500 - however, I have been far more impressed with the resulting images with this Olympus system.

Here's a 100% crop of the stacked image from Olympus, and then Helicon:

Not horrible results from the Olympus, but definitely improvement in the Helicon file.   No clue as to why except a more efficient and accurate program that Helicon has compared to the internal Olympus.  However, I am still blown away by the Olympus internal stacking as the differences are barely noticeable when you have full sized files being compared.  In addition, if you are away from a computer that has a focus stacking program, it is a very convenient resource!

Here is the final edited file for some light adjustment, sharpening and color (utilizing the Helicon file).  I also rotated it slightly for visual enhancement:

Any and all thoughts are welcome!

 oneofone25's gear list:oneofone25's gear list
Sony a6000 Olympus PEN-F Olympus E-M1 II Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 60mm 1:2.8 Macro Olympus 12-40mm F2.8 +2 more
Olympus E-M1 Olympus PEN-F Panasonic FZ2500
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