Cognisys Stackshot?

Started Aug 14, 2019 | Discussions
Ellis Vener
Ellis Vener Forum Pro • Posts: 13,943
Cognisys Stackshot?

I’m not sure if I need one or merely want one. I have a macro project coming up and I will be doing focus stacking. While my camera has focus shift capabilities.

the project will be in the 1:2 to 4:1 magnification range.

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Ellis Vener
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Azimuth Jones
Azimuth Jones Regular Member • Posts: 323
Re: Cognisys Stackshot?

No experience, sorry, but I thought I'd point out that LensRentals has it for a week for $83. And I recently got an email from them offering 20%-off through the 23rd, with coupon-code UGET20

Ellis Vener
OP Ellis Vener Forum Pro • Posts: 13,943
Re: Cognisys Stackshot?

Thank you Mr. Jones
Much appreciated. I received that coupon as well. I did not know LensRentals.com stocked it.

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Ellis Vener
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Bill Janes Senior Member • Posts: 1,941
Re: Cognisys Stackshot?

Ellis Vener wrote:

I’m not sure if I need one or merely want one. I have a macro project coming up and I will be doing focus stacking. While my camera has focus shift capabilities.

the project will be in the 1:2 to 4:1 magnification range.

Ellis.

Take a look at Rik Littlefield's post on focusing by ring or rail. For magnifications of less than 1:1 an auto-focusing macro lens with "focus shift" is my preferred method, although determining the number of shots and step size with my Nikon D850 takes some experimentation.

For magnification greater than 1:1 many methods require manual focus and the StackShot is very useful and simple to use in this situation. One can set the near and far focus points, specify the number of shots, and start shooting. Alternatively, one can set the start distance, step size and number of shots. The Zerene site has good depth of field tables that help in determining the step size. Extreme Macro has some good info on high magnification photography.

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Bill Janes

Ellis Vener
OP Ellis Vener Forum Pro • Posts: 13,943
Re: Cognisys Stackshot?

Bill Janes wrote:

Ellis Vener wrote:

I’m not sure if I need one or merely want one. I have a macro project coming up and I will be doing focus stacking. While my camera has focus shift capabilities.

the project will be in the 1:2 to 4:1 magnification range.

Ellis.

Take a look at Rik Littlefield's post on focusing by ring or rail. For magnifications of less than 1:1 an auto-focusing macro lens with "focus shift" is my preferred method, although determining the number of shots and step size with my Nikon D850 takes some experimentation.

For magnification greater than 1:1 many methods require manual focus and the StackShot is very useful and simple to use in this situation. One can set the near and far focus points, specify the number of shots, and start shooting. Alternatively, one can set the start distance, step size and number of shots. The Zerene site has good depth of field tables that help in determining the step size. Extreme Macro has some good info on high magnification photography.

Thank you Bill!

i want to avoid the out of focus blurred edge when photographing at an oblique angle and the background is textured.

i am working with a Z7 and a D850 so I already am familiar with focus stepping. I am using Helicon Focus stacking software.

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Ellis Vener
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mawyatt2002
mawyatt2002 Contributing Member • Posts: 502
Re: Cognisys Stackshot?

Ellis Vener wrote:

Bill Janes wrote:

Ellis Vener wrote:

I’m not sure if I need one or merely want one. I have a macro project coming up and I will be doing focus stacking. While my camera has focus shift capabilities.

the project will be in the 1:2 to 4:1 magnification range.

Ellis.

Take a look at Rik Littlefield's post on focusing by ring or rail. For magnifications of less than 1:1 an auto-focusing macro lens with "focus shift" is my preferred method, although determining the number of shots and step size with my Nikon D850 takes some experimentation.

For magnification greater than 1:1 many methods require manual focus and the StackShot is very useful and simple to use in this situation. One can set the near and far focus points, specify the number of shots, and start shooting. Alternatively, one can set the start distance, step size and number of shots. The Zerene site has good depth of field tables that help in determining the step size. Extreme Macro has some good info on high magnification photography.

Thank you Bill!

i want to avoid the out of focus blurred edge when photographing at an oblique angle and the background is textured.

i am working with a Z7 and a D850 so I already am familiar with focus stepping. I am using Helicon Focus stacking software.

Ellis,

With the excellent info Bill pointed to if you decide on focus stacking by camera/lens movement the Stackshot is a great focus rail, WeMacro has a lower cost rail. I have both, the Stackshot is the most versatile of the two, the Wemacro is very capable and a great value. If you use Zerene as focus stacking software, this has a built-in interface with Stackshot which is the best available IMO.

I've used the D500, D800, D800E, D850 and soon the Z7 on both rails, make sure you get the proper camera trigger cable interface.

Eventually I moved to custom rails, and now developed custom controllers which go beyond the capabilities of commercial available stacking systems. These support automated Stack and Stitch work at high magnifications (mostly do silicon chip images). You can see some of the developments here.

https://www.dpreview.com/forums/thread/4342999

BTW you won't be able to use flash or strobes with the D850 or Z7 under fully electronic shutter modes, the Hot Shoe is blocked during these modes. A work around has been developed with the custom controllers mentioned above.

Best,

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Ellis Vener
OP Ellis Vener Forum Pro • Posts: 13,943
Re: Cognisys Stackshot?

Thank you for all of this.

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Ellis Vener
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John K Veteran Member • Posts: 8,662
Re: Cognisys Stackshot?

What are you photographing, what's the primary light source, and what macro lens/setup do you have to get to 4:1?

Asking cause I shoot single frames up to 5x.

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Ellis Vener
OP Ellis Vener Forum Pro • Posts: 13,943
Re: Cognisys Stackshot?
1

John K wrote:

What are you photographing, what's the primary light source, and what macro lens/setup do you have to get to 4:1?

Asking cause I shoot single frames up to 5x.

Nothing complex: just rocks.

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Ellis Vener
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mawyatt2002
mawyatt2002 Contributing Member • Posts: 502
Re: Cognisys Stackshot?
1

Ellis Vener wrote:

John K wrote:

What are you photographing, what's the primary light source, and what macro lens/setup do you have to get to 4:1?

Asking cause I shoot single frames up to 5x.

Nothing complex: just rocks.

I wouldn't characterize all rocks as "nothing complex", some rocks & minerals can be very challenging because of the complex surface reflections. There are a few folks over at the Photomacrography site Bill mentioned that have produced some stunningly beautiful images of rocks and minerals with Stackshot and WeMacro rails. I had no idea how beautiful these minerals and rocks can be, others have done some sections of small meteorites that are also quite stunning. I recall an image of a small mineral crystal with a tiny ~1mm sliver of gold meandering around in the crystal surfaces, absolutely beautiful natural subject!

Caution, stacking can become addictive because you can fill the entire field with crystal sharpness at pixel levels and not suffer defraction and soft corners with traditional techniques. Some specialized lenses, including microscope objectives, can be employed to go far beyond what conventional "macro" lens achieve at higher magnifications. Recently a surplus Minolta Film Scanner lens (5400) Robert O'Tool discovered and tested with excellent results, these quickly escalated in price once the "word" got out!! He also discovered a $18 4x microscope finite objective that is a jewel in the rough, think you can still get these for ~$20!

Along with the excellent sites Bill mentioned here is Robert O'Tools site.

https://www.closeuphotography.com

Best,

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ClosePhoto Regular Member • Posts: 137
Re: Cognisys Stackshot?

mawyatt2002 wrote:

Ellis Vener wrote:

John K wrote:

What are you photographing, what's the primary light source, and what macro lens/setup do you have to get to 4:1?

Asking cause I shoot single frames up to 5x.

Nothing complex: just rocks.

I wouldn't characterize all rocks as "nothing complex", some rocks & minerals can be very challenging because of the complex surface reflections.

Yes, things certainly get complicated when the subject requires significant lighting yet many surfaces are reflective.

FOV: 6mm

mawyatt2002
mawyatt2002 Contributing Member • Posts: 502
Re: Cognisys Stackshot?
3

ClosePhoto wrote:

mawyatt2002 wrote:

Ellis Vener wrote:

John K wrote:

What are you photographing, what's the primary light source, and what macro lens/setup do you have to get to 4:1?

Asking cause I shoot single frames up to 5x.

Nothing complex: just rocks.

I wouldn't characterize all rocks as "nothing complex", some rocks & minerals can be very challenging because of the complex surface reflections.

Yes, things certainly get complicated when the subject requires significant lighting yet many surfaces are reflective.

FOV: 6mm

Yes lighting these kind of subjects is a challenge indeed!!

I've had to deal with surface reflections with some silicon chips I've imaged that have small 40~100um solder balls all over the chip for attachment. These are like tiny spherical mirrors, and reflect from every direction. The initial lighting solution to create an absolutely uniform lighting was quadruple diffusion using dual light tents, one inside the other and double diffused strobes, used up to 11!! Now I still use the light tents, sometimes dual tents, up to 7 strobes and use a white styrofoam cup attached to the microscope objective lens for higher magnifications. This isn't ideal since the cup moves with the lens for stacking and thus changes the subject lighting, but the movement is only a couple mm. For lower magnifications the cup is attached to a fixture and the lens "pokes" thru the end of the cup. BTW these cups are some of the best diffusers I've found for studio work, they are cheap available in various sizes, but they do eat light so you need lots of optical power.

Here's a large crop (can't show entire chip image (~20mm by 18mm), it's proprietary) for a older chip oxidized solder ball, for reference the multiple small squares are ~2um I recall. The top is overexposed, note the dent on the ball top this is from wafer scale probing using test. Also note the slight jags in the middle left of the coil spiral, this is caused by slight sub-micron rail lateral movement rather than perfectly along the optical axis. The stacking software can't totally compensate for this because the slight movement across ~20mm creates a very slight perspective change since the custom lens assembly isn't perfectly telecentric (magnification doesn't vary with subject position nor distance).

Initial setup used for imaging chips with solder balls

Stackshot rail with custom lens assembly (Mitutoyo Objective)

Later setup

Best,

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Ellis Vener
OP Ellis Vener Forum Pro • Posts: 13,943
Re: Cognisys Stackshot?

ClosePhoto wrote:

mawyatt2002 wrote:

Ellis Vener wrote:

John K wrote:

What are you photographing, what's the primary light source, and what macro lens/setup do you have to get to 4:1?

Asking cause I shoot single frames up to 5x.

Nothing complex: just rocks.

I wouldn't characterize all rocks as "nothing complex", some rocks & minerals can be very challenging because of the complex surface reflections.

Yes, things certainly get complicated when the subject requires significant lighting yet many surfaces are reflective.

FOV: 6mm

With respect, Lighting is a completely different subject from my query and I am not photographing geodes.

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Ellis Vener
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Or on instagram @therealellisv

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ClosePhoto Regular Member • Posts: 137
Re: Cognisys Stackshot?

Ellis Vener wrote:

ClosePhoto wrote:

mawyatt2002 wrote:

Ellis Vener wrote:

John K wrote:

What are you photographing, what's the primary light source, and what macro lens/setup do you have to get to 4:1?

Asking cause I shoot single frames up to 5x.

Nothing complex: just rocks.

With respect, Lighting is a completely different subject from my query and I am not photographing geodes.

-
Ellis Vener
To see my work please visit http://www.ellisvener.com
Or on instagram @therealellisv

I was responding to mawyatt2002's comment about the challenge of rocks, not to the thread in general.

Typically at 4x magnification one isn't looking for the matrix of a rock, but to capture the interesting elements unseen to the eye, such as the dawsonite, calcite, fluorite and marcasite crystals in that little vug.

In your case, the answer is straightforward. If focus stacking with Helicon is an option with your gear it's preferable to using a rail. A manual focusing lens or microscope objective necessitates a rail. Provided your lens doesn't have severe focus breathing, the focus stepping method will produce slightly better results.

Have you decided how you're getting to 4x magnification? Doing so while maintaining autofocus (to allow for stepping), IQ, and a reasonable working distance is a mean feat given the number of possible combinations.

flyinglentris
flyinglentris Senior Member • Posts: 1,344
Re: Cognisys Stackshot?

Ellis Vener wrote:

I’m not sure if I need one or merely want one. I have a macro project coming up and I will be doing focus stacking. While my camera has focus shift capabilities.

the project will be in the 1:2 to 4:1 magnification range.

I compared pricing between the RRS Macro Rails and the Cognisys products some time ago and this difference can be as little as a couple hundred bucks depending upon which products you are comparing.

RRS at B&H:

https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/search?Ntt=really%20right%20stuff%20macro%20rail&N=0&InitialSearch=yes&sts=ma&Top+Nav-Search=

Cognisys StackShot:

https://www.cognisys-inc.com/store/focus-stacking.html

As I don't yet have either product, it's an open decision where I'd go with this and I tend to prefer the StackShot option with its precise automated control.

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mawyatt2002
mawyatt2002 Contributing Member • Posts: 502
Re: Cognisys Stackshot?

Another parameter to consider when doing higher magnifications is the lens working distance and the lens barrel diameter near the entrance, these can make a difficult lighting situation even more difficult.

Best,

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