Focus Bracketing with the new Sony A7Riv

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Michael A Schwartz Forum Member • Posts: 51
Focus Bracketing with the new Sony A7Riv

Will there be a way to focus bracket with the A7Riv either directly or, indirectly, using third party software or hardware?

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Sony SLT-A77 Sony a7R II Sigma 18-250mm F3.5-6.3 DC OS HSM Sony DT 16-80mm F3.5-4.5 ZA Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* Sigma 150mm F2.8 EX DG OS Macro HSM +8 more
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Davi7d777
Davi7d777 Regular Member • Posts: 312
Re: Focus Bracketing with the new Sony A7Riv
2

As someone that has been focus stacking all my serious images since 2014, am wondering about that too. I suspect when Nikon recently came out with that in camera function with the D850, it surprised other manufacturers that are now working to catch up. The key here with the A7Riv is whether it can be done fully with a software upgrade or whether some internal hardware especially at system chip level is required. An issue with the D850 implementation is that it results in more images in the stack than are optimal because it does not toss out focus points that are not necessary. For instance a person standing along the cliff at the Grand canyon may only need a few focus points at their standing distance and then a single infinity shot for everything in the far distance. However with the D850 one gets everything within a range at a single selected aperture. At optimum larger apertures like say 5.6 that may be a large number of shots and at the huge top resolutions of these new cameras, that eats up a large amount of memory and during processing a powerful workstation lest one end up waiting for commands to complete.

When doing this manually, one can use spot focus, either auto spot focus or manual, to efficiently select at optimum apertures like f5.6 only those distances on important elements that are actually within a landscape frame. To fill in the minor amounts of  other distance elements, one might use f11 or f14 like the D850 so that there are no obvious holes in a capture set. An improvement on the D850 function would be to before a set of shots are taken, in addition to some overall say F11 range shots would be to set up XY frame points stored in memory for important elements at an optimal aperture that a camera would sequence through after the range shots. On each shot the camera would need to re-focus and the better way to set that up would be up to the user to do so from near to far. In the field I do such on a tripod with the EVF but each shot takes a few seconds and many of my focus stack sets have 10 to 20 shots so much element movement may occur.

Although I have been doing this manually for years now, the main issue remains that it takes too long between shots such that anything moving like people, tree leaves, vegetation, water, clouds, creatures, etc, mis-registers between each shot causing an enormous increase in effort during later post processing even during mild breezes because resolution is so extreme on these new cameras that it picks up on the slightest differences. The huge advantage of an in camera function like with the D850 is a camera can rapidly sequence through a set of shots before elements have a chance to move. Like before that bird up on a limb starts moving again. Or before a breeze starts back up after a few seconds lull that will again move that beautiful flower in your foreground.

Another related issue with focus stacking is one really needs to be using a lens with an excellent flat edge to edge, corner to corner flat field. Thus all those many lenses that are excellent at frame center but somewhat soft at edges really won't capture well at larger optimal apertures. And of course such is usually much worse with zoom lenses versus primes.   Differences in sharpness between elements can be a very obvious negative.

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David

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SilvanBromide Senior Member • Posts: 3,848
Re: Focus Bracketing with the new Sony A7Riv
2

Michael A Schwartz wrote:

Will there be a way to focus bracket with the A7Riv either directly or, indirectly, using third party software or hardware?

If you mean automated in-camera shot sequences with AF-adjusted focus intervals, then the answer is unkown (there's been no announcement), but I think unlikely.

But ... I've been doing focus stacking for many years, including with the a7Rii and now with the a7Riii. In the event that I purchase the a7Riv (i'm interested but undecided at this point) I expect I will continue to do so with it.

I build sets of images to use in focus bracketing using manual techniques by moving the AF focus point or (occasionally) using MF. That gives me a lot of control over the outcome with a set of files that cover the DOF I've decided I want (and without redundant shots, for the most part).

If you're doing a lot of macro work, I can see how a fully automated bracketing in-camera would be attractive. It could probably be implemented in firmware by Sony, if they were to view it as a priority (to date it doesn't seem to have been on their radar...).

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JimKasson
JimKasson Forum Pro • Posts: 25,760
Re: Focus Bracketing with the new Sony A7Riv
2

Michael A Schwartz wrote:

Will there be a way to focus bracket with the A7Riv either directly or, indirectly, using third party software or hardware?

A Cognisys rail , but that only works if you're fairly close. And there are some alignment issues with moving the camera/lens combination at less than 1:1. But it's definitely workable.

The high road is moving the sensor plane and leaving the lens entrance pupil fixed, but I'm not aware of any automatic focus bracketing solution that does that.

Jim

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lattesweden
lattesweden Veteran Member • Posts: 3,031
Re: Focus Bracketing with the new Sony A7Riv

My 2013 Olympus E-M1 has both focus stacking in camera and bracketing and so has most of their cameras had for a long time. The E-M1 wasn't their first either, it got it via a firmware update. And Panasonic has this function as well since long back. After that most others have joined in except Sony, even the Canon Rp has it. But maybe one day.

There is a freeware that can piggyback on Imaging Edge and via tether do focus bracketing on Sony but it is not field friendly directly....

OP Michael A Schwartz Forum Member • Posts: 51
Re: Focus Bracketing with the new Sony A7Riv

Thanks for your rely David.  I also have been manually bracketing and get good results.  Unfortunately it's time consuming and tedious.  A system like the one used by Olympus and Panasonic would be quite helpful.  I use the Cognisys Rail for desktop shooting but it would be too cumbersome for use in the field.

 Michael A Schwartz's gear list:Michael A Schwartz's gear list
Sony SLT-A77 Sony a7R II Sigma 18-250mm F3.5-6.3 DC OS HSM Sony DT 16-80mm F3.5-4.5 ZA Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* Sigma 150mm F2.8 EX DG OS Macro HSM +8 more
OP Michael A Schwartz Forum Member • Posts: 51
Re: Focus Bracketing with the new Sony A7Riv
1

Hi Sivan,  Thanks for your response.  I do a lot of focus stacking and a system like the one used by Olympus would be quite helpful.

 Michael A Schwartz's gear list:Michael A Schwartz's gear list
Sony SLT-A77 Sony a7R II Sigma 18-250mm F3.5-6.3 DC OS HSM Sony DT 16-80mm F3.5-4.5 ZA Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* Sigma 150mm F2.8 EX DG OS Macro HSM +8 more
OP Michael A Schwartz Forum Member • Posts: 51
Re: Focus Bracketing with the new Sony A7Riv

Thanks for your response Jim,  I use the Cognisys Rail for table top shooting but find the it is too cumbersome for use in the field.

 Michael A Schwartz's gear list:Michael A Schwartz's gear list
Sony SLT-A77 Sony a7R II Sigma 18-250mm F3.5-6.3 DC OS HSM Sony DT 16-80mm F3.5-4.5 ZA Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* Sigma 150mm F2.8 EX DG OS Macro HSM +8 more
lattesweden
lattesweden Veteran Member • Posts: 3,031
Re: Focus Bracketing with the new Sony A7Riv
1

Michael A Schwartz wrote:

I also have been manually bracketing and get good results. Unfortunately it's time consuming and tedious. A system like the one used by Olympus and Panasonic would be quite helpful. I use the Cognisys Rail for desktop shooting but it would be too cumbersome for use in the field.

You can get an Olympus body and macro lens for the same total weight and price as the Sony FE90/2.8.

The Olympus E-M10mkII and III have bracketing and don't cost much if you want the cheapest possible.

Also the E-M5mkII has a good quality weather sealing and a fully articulating screen so easy to always see what you do no matter how you place it. I hang mine upside down in the tripod column which makes it really easy to come down where ever one wants. A note on the E-M5mkII is that the III is supposed to arrive soon so don't pay too much.

Also the E-M1mkI, II and X all have good weather sealing and both bracketing and stacking in camera. The mkI does not have a fully articulating screen so from that generation I think the E-M5mkII is a better choice.

Also the nice looking, but not weather sealed Pen-F does bracketing and has a fully articulated screen.

Panasonic also has several bodys that can do bracketing just as good. I am not read up on those at the moment so you need to check those out yourself.

Lenses:
Panasonic macros: 30/2.8 1:1 or 45 /2.8 1:1
Olympus macros: 30/3.5 1,25:1 or 60/2.8 1:1.

I like the Panasonic 30, cheap and really sharp but no weather sealing. And I like the Olympus 60/2.8 which has good weather sealing. In camera stacking on Olympus bodys needs an Olympus lens but the bracketing works with any of them.

A thing to remember is that 1:1 on m4/3 is like 2:1 on FF. So you get really close.

All stacks below are about 35 images shot in camera and stacked in Helicon Focus.

The only thing you need to set is:
Number of images (up to 999)
How long focus jump it should do between them (one learns by testing)
Starting focus point, just tap the touch screen (or set manually)
Go.

Some examples

The rig

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OP Michael A Schwartz Forum Member • Posts: 51
Re: Focus Bracketing with the new Sony A7Riv
1

Thanks for your excellent advice and for sharing your images and set-up, Anders,  I will be giving it serious consideration.

 Michael A Schwartz's gear list:Michael A Schwartz's gear list
Sony SLT-A77 Sony a7R II Sigma 18-250mm F3.5-6.3 DC OS HSM Sony DT 16-80mm F3.5-4.5 ZA Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* Sigma 150mm F2.8 EX DG OS Macro HSM +8 more
ArthurPix New Member • Posts: 4
Re: Focus Bracketing with the new Sony A7Riv
1

This is all great info, and I love your stacked photographs! I would just like to add that the latest firmware update to the Olympus EM1 MkII gives this fabulous camera many of the same features as the EM1X —including dramatically increasing the number of images that can be stacked in-camera. I think it can stack 9 images now, which is more than my own macros ever required. In addition, I have seen new copies of the EM1MMkII discounted to US$1599 lately, so it’s priced quite competitively. Arthur

lattesweden wrote:

Michael A Schwartz wrote:

I also have been manually bracketing and get good results. Unfortunately it's time consuming and tedious. A system like the one used by Olympus and Panasonic would be quite helpful. I use the Cognisys Rail for desktop shooting but it would be too cumbersome for use in the field.

You can get an Olympus body and macro lens for the same total weight and price as the Sony FE90/2.8.

The Olympus E-M10mkII and III have bracketing and don't cost much if you want the cheapest possible.

Also the E-M5mkII has a good quality weather sealing and a fully articulating screen so easy to always see what you do no matter how you place it. I hang mine upside down in the tripod column which makes it really easy to come down where ever one wants. A note on the E-M5mkII is that the III is supposed to arrive soon so don't pay too much.

Also the E-M1mkI, II and X all have good weather sealing and both bracketing and stacking in camera. The mkI does not have a fully articulating screen so from that generation I think the E-M5mkII is a better choice.

Also the nice looking, but not weather sealed Pen-F does bracketing and has a fully articulated screen.

Panasonic also has several bodys that can do bracketing just as good. I am not read up on those at the moment so you need to check those out yourself.

Lenses:
Panasonic macros: 30/2.8 1:1 or 45 /2.8 1:1
Olympus macros: 30/3.5 1,25:1 or 60/2.8 1:1.

I like the Panasonic 30, cheap and really sharp but no weather sealing. And I like the Olympus 60/2.8 which has good weather sealing. In camera stacking on Olympus bodys needs an Olympus lens but the bracketing works with any of them.

A thing to remember is that 1:1 on m4/3 is like 2:1 on FF. So you get really close.

All stacks below are about 35 images shot in camera and stacked in Helicon Focus.

The only thing you need to set is:
Number of images (up to 999)
How long focus jump it should do between them (one learns by testing)
Starting focus point, just tap the touch screen (or set manually)
Go.

Some examples

The rig

ArthurPix New Member • Posts: 4
Re: Focus Bracketing with the new Sony A7Riv

Hi Michael, As a dedicated user of both the Sony a7rIII and Olympus EM1 MkII systems, I can vouch for the optics and software of the Olympus system, and their in-camera focus-stacking is aces. This is a fantastic system for anyone who appreciates compact size, excellent lenses and sensational in-camera automation. I have pre-ordered the Sony a7rIV and cannot wait to use it, but I also will keep using my Olympus for its own unmatched advantages. Feel free to quiz me about either system.

Michael A Schwartz wrote:

Hi Sivan, Thanks for your response. I do a lot of focus stacking and a system like the one used by Olympus would be quite helpful.

Tapper123
Tapper123 Senior Member • Posts: 1,745
Would love to see Sony add in-camera focus bracket/stacking features

I have these features on my Olympus and they're fun and useful.

Would love to see Sony add them to all their cameras, from A7 to RX etc.

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