Macro Focus Stacking

Started Apr 8, 2013 | Discussions
OP Duncan C Veteran Member • Posts: 7,664
Re: Macro Focus Stacking - Zerene Stacker results
1

I've started trying out Zerene Stacker for Mac, and it seems to give MUCH better results than either Helicon Focus or CS 6.

Here is a HUGE images of the center of a daffodil, created from a stack of 111 images:

And a couple of 100% crops of small parts of the same image:

Make sure you look at the full-sized image of the last one. The texture detail is amazing.

_sem_ Veteran Member • Posts: 4,993
Re: Macro Focus Stacking - Zerene Stacker results

Duncan C wrote:

I've started trying out Zerene Stacker for Mac, and it seems to give MUCH better results than either Helicon Focus or CS 6.

...

Make sure you look at the full-sized image of the last one. The texture detail is amazing.

Remarkable.

But the yellow-orange edge is smeared at certain places, seems a similar issue as with Helicon. I hope it can be fixed?

OP Duncan C Veteran Member • Posts: 7,664
Re: Macro Focus Stacking - Zerene Stacker results

_sem_ wrote:

Duncan C wrote:

I've started trying out Zerene Stacker for Mac, and it seems to give MUCH better results than either Helicon Focus or CS 6.

...

Make sure you look at the full-sized image of the last one. The texture detail is amazing.

Remarkable.

But the yellow-orange edge is smeared at certain places, seems a similar issue as with Helicon. I hope it can be fixed?

Yup, its a little soft at the yellow/orange border in places. I haven't looked into it to see what my retouching options are yet.

Robin Casady Forum Pro • Posts: 12,898
Re: Macro Focus Stacking - Zerene Stacker results

Duncan C wrote:

_sem_ wrote:

Duncan C wrote:

I've started trying out Zerene Stacker for Mac, and it seems to give MUCH better results than either Helicon Focus or CS 6.

...

Make sure you look at the full-sized image of the last one. The texture detail is amazing.

Remarkable.

But the yellow-orange edge is smeared at certain places, seems a similar issue as with Helicon. I hope it can be fixed?

Yup, its a little soft at the yellow/orange border in places. I haven't looked into it to see what my retouching options are yet.

Look to see that if are any images where that area is sharp. It might be that your focus change skipped that area.

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Robin Casady
http://www.robincasady.com/Photo/index.html
"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts."
— Bertrand Russell

OP Duncan C Veteran Member • Posts: 7,664
Re: Macro Focus Stacking - Zerene Stacker results

Robin Casady wrote:

Duncan C wrote:

_sem_ wrote:

Duncan C wrote:

I've started trying out Zerene Stacker for Mac, and it seems to give MUCH better results than either Helicon Focus or CS 6.

...

Make sure you look at the full-sized image of the last one. The texture detail is amazing.

Remarkable.

But the yellow-orange edge is smeared at certain places, seems a similar issue as with Helicon. I hope it can be fixed?

Yup, its a little soft at the yellow/orange border in places. I haven't looked into it to see what my retouching options are yet.

Look to see that if are any images where that area is sharp. It might be that your focus change skipped that area.

I do. I created this stack using Nikon's camera control software, which includes an option to change the focus in very small, precise increments.

I think the problem is that when the yellow flower petals are sharply focused, the orange flower center is very out of focus, creating an out-of-focus halo that obscures the sharply focused yellow flower bits immediately adjacent to the orange flower center. I'm not sure what the solution is to this problem. Maybe sombody else who has more experience with focus stacking can chime in here?

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Robin Casady
http://www.robincasady.com/Photo/index.html
"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts."
— Bertrand Russell

newtoy Regular Member • Posts: 391
Re: Macro Focus Stacking - Zerene Stacker results

Duncan C wrote:

Robin Casady wrote:

Duncan C wrote:

_sem_ wrote:

Duncan C wrote:

I've started trying out Zerene Stacker for Mac, and it seems to give MUCH better results than either Helicon Focus or CS 6.

...

Make sure you look at the full-sized image of the last one. The texture detail is amazing.

Remarkable.

But the yellow-orange edge is smeared at certain places, seems a similar issue as with Helicon. I hope it can be fixed?

Yup, its a little soft at the yellow/orange border in places. I haven't looked into it to see what my retouching options are yet.

Look to see that if are any images where that area is sharp. It might be that your focus change skipped that area.

I do. I created this stack using Nikon's camera control software, which includes an option to change the focus in very small, precise increments.

I think the problem is that when the yellow flower petals are sharply focused, the orange flower center is very out of focus, creating an out-of-focus halo that obscures the sharply focused yellow flower bits immediately adjacent to the orange flower center. I'm not sure what the solution is to this problem. Maybe sombody else who has more experience with focus stacking can chime in here?

-- hide signature --

Robin Casady
http://www.robincasady.com/Photo/index.html
"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts."
— Bertrand Russell

Due to the change in perspective when you adjust focus. Some part of the image will have no sharp detail recorded. Photoshop clone tool is the only way to solve that!

 newtoy's gear list:newtoy's gear list
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Chris2J
Chris2J Regular Member • Posts: 405
Re: Macro Focus Stacking

I'm sure he means "to a tablet" - unfortunately many people think tablet=iPad.  I am an Android user and have this app, which works very well during experimentation - I hope to use it for focus stacking of landscapes in Namibia over the next two weeks.  On the other hand, it may become too complex and cumbersome to carry and set up the Nexus 7 as well as the D3 and tripod up and down huge sand dunes, so maybe I'll just do it manually.  But the app really works well for controlling the focus-stacking process.  You just touch the screen to indicate where you want it to focus (in sequence) and tell it to GO.

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Chris J

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Chris2J
Chris2J Regular Member • Posts: 405
Re: Helicon

I bought Helicon after struggling with Photoshop CS6 (for focus-stacking) and do agree: it is a worthwhile investment.

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Chris J

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_sem_ Veteran Member • Posts: 4,993
Re: Macro Focus Stacking - Zerene Stacker results

newtoy wrote:

Duncan C wrote:

Robin Casady wrote:

Duncan C wrote:

_sem_ wrote:

Duncan C wrote:

I've started trying out Zerene Stacker for Mac, and it seems to give MUCH better results than either Helicon Focus or CS 6.

...

Make sure you look at the full-sized image of the last one. The texture detail is amazing.

Remarkable.

But the yellow-orange edge is smeared at certain places, seems a similar issue as with Helicon. I hope it can be fixed?

Yup, its a little soft at the yellow/orange border in places. I haven't looked into it to see what my retouching options are yet.

Look to see that if are any images where that area is sharp. It might be that your focus change skipped that area.

I do. I created this stack using Nikon's camera control software, which includes an option to change the focus in very small, precise increments.

I think the problem is that when the yellow flower petals are sharply focused, the orange flower center is very out of focus, creating an out-of-focus halo that obscures the sharply focused yellow flower bits immediately adjacent to the orange flower center. I'm not sure what the solution is to this problem. Maybe sombody else who has more experience with focus stacking can chime in here?

So, are there any images with sharp bits in the affected areas? It is interesting that elsewhere the edge is well-defined... so it might be a software issue.

If the problem is the halo of the front flower bits, one might work this around by reducing the OOF blur - by stopping down the aperture more (and sharpening to regain some of the lost resolution) or by using a different focal length or a lens with a different focus characteristic (assuming that you were changing focus not distance).

Maybe you could ask at the photomacrography forum, where rjlittlefield of Zerene is an active contributor?

http://www.photomacrography.net/forum/viewtopic.php?t=18282&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=15

Due to the change in perspective when you adjust focus. Some part of the image will have no sharp detail recorded. Photoshop clone tool is the only way to solve that!

newtoy Regular Member • Posts: 391
Re: Macro Focus Stacking - Zerene Stacker results

_sem_ wrote:

So, are there any images with sharp bits in the affected areas? It is interesting that elsewhere the edge is well-defined... so it might be a software issue.

There are sharp edges, but your camera never record them. See the diagram below:

When you focus on the green object, you also record blur edges of the red object. But as you focus on the red object. Your camera no longer see the red edges. When you stack the pictures. The the red edges will be blur. There is nothing you can do unless you move both your camera and the focus ring to make sure the perspective of your camera remain the same on all pictures. That would be nearly impossible! Or use a very long lens to minimise the effect.

 newtoy's gear list:newtoy's gear list
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_sem_ Veteran Member • Posts: 4,993
Re: Macro Focus Stacking - Zerene Stacker results

newtoy wrote:

_sem_ wrote:

So, are there any images with sharp bits in the affected areas? It is interesting that elsewhere the edge is well-defined... so it might be a software issue.

There are sharp edges, but your camera never record them.

Well, I meant whether the camera recorded them (but they are gone in the processed image) or they were really never recorded. I mean, some parts of the yellow-orange edge look quite well-defined, despite no less distance in depth. The software seems to have issues with sharp bits at different depths around the same xy position. Pls check the "transparent foreground" discussion in the photomacrography link I've pasted above.

When you focus on the green object, you also record blur edges of the red object. But as you focus on the red object. Your camera no longer see the red edges. When you stack the pictures. The the red edges will be blur. There is nothing you can do unless you move both your camera and the focus ring to make sure the perspective of your camera remain the same on all pictures. That would be nearly impossible! Or use a very long lens to minimise the effect.

You mean a very long lens to reduce relative foreground blur (this is what I meant with a different focal length)? Stopping down the aperture would also reduce it, by reducing the blur radius.

Making the perspective the same on all pictures is not always impossible, it is called an object-space telecentric lens. AFAIK it is achievable with certain macro stacking approaches. But I guess the foreground-blur issue remains. Macro lenses also tend to "breathe" when moving focus; the nominal FL is valid at infinity but gets shorter at close focus, I recall up to 50%, and the nodal points move too. Both with extending and non-extending lenses, to different degrees. These characteristics are largely undocumented but I guess relevant for stacking purposes.

newtoy Regular Member • Posts: 391
Re: Macro Focus Stacking - Zerene Stacker results

_sem_ wrote:

You mean a very long lens to reduce relative foreground blur (this is what I meant with a different focal length)? Stopping down the aperture would also reduce it, by reducing the blur radius.

No, I mean reduce the effect of relative perspective change.

 newtoy's gear list:newtoy's gear list
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Robin Casady Forum Pro • Posts: 12,898
Re: Macro Focus Stacking - Zerene Stacker results

newtoy wrote:

No, I mean reduce the effect of relative perspective change.

This is where using bellows and changing focus by moving the camera body is beneficial.

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Robin Casady
http://www.robincasady.com/Photo/index.html
"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts."
— Bertrand Russell

newtoy Regular Member • Posts: 391
Re: Macro Focus Stacking - Zerene Stacker results

Robin Casady wrote:

newtoy wrote:

No, I mean reduce the effect of relative perspective change.

This is where using bellows and changing focus by moving the camera body is beneficial.

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Robin Casady
http://www.robincasady.com/Photo/index.html
"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts."
— Bertrand Russell

Well, the only problem is to find the bellows that allow easy camera body adjustment without moving the lens. I look at that 2 years ago and didn't come up with anything!

(I absolutely refuse to buy from eBay!)

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Jeff Loughlin
Jeff Loughlin Forum Member • Posts: 83
Re: Macro Focus Stacking

Dang it.  I've been resisting the urge to start experimenting with focus stacking, but now you've gone and made it irresistible.  Now I have to go spend money on a set of focus rails and some software...

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OP Duncan C Veteran Member • Posts: 7,664
Re: Macro Focus Stacking

Jeff Loughlin wrote:

Dang it.  I've been resisting the urge to start experimenting with focus stacking, but now you've gone and made it irresistible.  Now I have to go spend money on a set of focus rails and some software...

LOL.

So far I have worked without rails. I've been using Nikon Camera Control Pro and Helicon Remote.

Helicon Remote (shareware) seems better for focus control than Nikon Camera Control. It lets you set the starting and ending focus points and the increment, and then it shoots the whole stack in one process. It apparently will also control a "Stack Shot" motorized focus rail system.

I think I'm going to end up buying Zerene Stacker focus stacking software and Helicon Remote camera control.

My birthday is coming up and I've asked for a set of focus rails to try experimenting with that.

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