A Challenge to Focus Stacking

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AeroPhotographer Regular Member • Posts: 377
A Challenge to Focus Stacking

Because depth of field is proportional to distance from camera to subject squared, I often match focus stacking just by moving away from the subject and cropping.

Here is a challenge:

Post a photo in this thread of a common subject like a coin or a key that you made with focus stacking.  Then I'll try to match it with a single photo.  I may not succeed, but it will be interesting to see how close I come.

Alan

Rodger in Edmonton
Rodger in Edmonton Veteran Member • Posts: 4,014
Re: A Challenge to Focus Stacking

AeroPhotographer wrote:

Because depth of field is proportional to distance from camera to subject squared, I often match focus stacking just by moving away from the subject and cropping.

Here is a challenge:

Post a photo in this thread of a common subject like a coin or a key that you made with focus stacking. Then I'll try to match it with a single photo. I may not succeed, but it will be interesting to see how close I come.

Alan

I think many would agree that lower magnification stacking has a serious law of diminishing returns but many poster do well stacking > 1 x.

I don't want to post other's post but if one searches the forum one finds some pretty impressive stacks > 1 X .

It's not my preference but just like a 1 iron - some people can hit it pretty well.

The stand off MO works well on the low end of mag but the high end detail will be challenging to duplicate.

Here is one slightly below  1:1 try something like this on stand off - see how it goes:

Best Regards, Rodger
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Z6User
Z6User Contributing Member • Posts: 893
Re: A Challenge to Focus Stacking
1

You’ll be okay for small prints and on screen jpegs, but when you print or display bigger, you’ll see the loss of resolution and contrast. There is no free lunch. Anyway, focus stacking is easy with cameras that support multi focus shooting eg Nikon Z series.

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BSiler Contributing Member • Posts: 659
Re: A Challenge to Focus Stacking
3

One of the advantages of stacking is control of the final DOF.  If you shoot a relatively long stack set -- one that ends with photos with a focus point farther away than you really want, then you can effectively choose your post-stack DOF by leaving some of the photos out of stack when you merge them.

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OP AeroPhotographer Regular Member • Posts: 377
Re: A Challenge to Focus Stacking

Rodger in Edmonton wrote:

AeroPhotographer wrote:

Because depth of field is proportional to distance from camera to subject squared, I often match focus stacking just by moving away from the subject and cropping.

Here is a challenge:

Post a photo in this thread of a common subject like a coin or a key that you made with focus stacking. Then I'll try to match it with a single photo. I may not succeed, but it will be interesting to see how close I come.

Alan

I think many would agree that lower magnification stacking has a serious law of diminishing returns but many poster do well stacking > 1 x.

I don't want to post other's post but if one searches the forum one finds some pretty impressive stacks > 1 X .

It's not my preference but just like a 1 iron - some people can hit it pretty well.

The stand off MO works well on the low end of mag but the high end detail will be challenging to duplicate.

Here is one slightly below 1:1 try something like this on stand off - see how it goes:

Best Regards, Rodger
Save Lives - Be an Organ or Stem Cell Donor.
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Thank you Rodger.

What is the approximate width covered by this image?

What is the description of the subject, so I can try to find one?

I had asked for common items that are easy to find, like a key or coin.

Regards,

Alan

Z6User
Z6User Contributing Member • Posts: 893
Re: A Challenge to Focus Stacking

BSiler wrote:

One of the advantages of stacking is control of the final DOF. If you shoot a relatively long stack set -- one that ends with photos with a focus point farther away than you really want, then you can effectively choose your post-stack DOF by leaving some of the photos out of stack when you merge them.

Very true. Also you can use a wide aperture such as F2.8, to ensure that the background is very soft.

 Z6User's gear list:Z6User's gear list
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BSiler Contributing Member • Posts: 659
Re: A Challenge to Focus Stacking

Yep!

 BSiler's gear list:BSiler's gear list
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Rodger in Edmonton
Rodger in Edmonton Veteran Member • Posts: 4,014
Re: A Challenge to Focus Stacking

AeroPhotographer wrote:

Rodger in Edmonton wrote:

AeroPhotographer wrote:

Because depth of field is proportional to distance from camera to subject squared, I often match focus stacking just by moving away from the subject and cropping.

Here is a challenge:

Post a photo in this thread of a common subject like a coin or a key that you made with focus stacking. Then I'll try to match it with a single photo. I may not succeed, but it will be interesting to see how close I come.

Alan

I think many would agree that lower magnification stacking has a serious law of diminishing returns but many poster do well stacking > 1 x.

I don't want to post other's post but if one searches the forum one finds some pretty impressive stacks > 1 X .

It's not my preference but just like a 1 iron - some people can hit it pretty well.

The stand off MO works well on the low end of mag but the high end detail will be challenging to duplicate.

Here is one slightly below 1:1 try something like this on stand off - see how it goes:

Best Regards, Rodger
Save Lives - Be an Organ or Stem Cell Donor.
Quaecumque vera

What is the approximate width covered by this image?

What is the description of the subject, so I can try to find one?

I had asked for common items that are easy to find, like a key or coin.

Regards,

Alan

Thank you Rodger.

Mea culpa - its a common aster from the super market the floret center is about 1 " in diameter - here is a 29 image stack of a 1.5 " Morgan dollar - I don't have a rail so this is essentially done on a tripod with hand focus guessing on each slice so its with " bear skins & stone knives" as Spock says - if someone has a rail please chime in with a better image.

Its at F 16 close but not 1 : 1 to bite the entire axis of the coin but at least gives you a start point.

It would be best at F 5.6 but w/o a rail It will be too hard to guesstimate by hand for me

I dodged and burned it a bit and sharpened  30 % halftone in NIK.

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Best Regards, Rodger
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OP AeroPhotographer Regular Member • Posts: 377
Re: A Challenge to Focus Stacking

Here's mine. Sony A6400 with 18-135 kit lens at f16.

I wish I had a coin just like yours, which has deeper relief.

Rodger in Edmonton
Rodger in Edmonton Veteran Member • Posts: 4,014
Re: A Challenge to Focus Stacking

Yes - even try a coin on good condition since we know the size, try a quarter

One has to play with the lighting - side lighting will pop the relief more.

I played with these concepts quite a bit a few years ago , specifically with coins , I found the best results for coins  absent a rail was a single shot at an angle with a larger soft box, I used tissue on a lamp - slightly oblique angle to the coin surface and the coin with a slight tilt from the horizontal vs the lens , distance from sensor to subject +/- 70 - 80 cm.

If I had a rail _ would give the them a Hail Mary DOF at 1:1 on a heavy angle but w/ o a precision instrument to move the lens I found it too hard.

BTW - there is a guy around here - I think he is mawatt or maywatt - he has posted 1000 shot stacks of microchips that are out of this world - and others have done stellar work with flies - these are single shots.

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Best Regards, Rodger
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OP AeroPhotographer Regular Member • Posts: 377
Re: A Challenge to Focus Stacking

My goal was to show that surprisingly deep depth of field is achievable without stacking, if you shoot from a greater distance.  That's because depth of field is proportional to distance squared.  So double your distance and you quadruple your depth of field.

However my image is only 945 pixels wide, which is 30% of yours.  But 945 pixels does quite well in many places.

Alan

John K Veteran Member • Posts: 9,832
Re: A Challenge to Focus Stacking

AeroPhotographer wrote:

My goal was to show that surprisingly deep depth of field is achievable without stacking, if you shoot from a greater distance. That's because depth of field is proportional to distance squared. So double your distance and you quadruple your depth of field.

Hey Alan,

I get around stacking by being careful about where I place the area of acceptable focus. I will chose something in the frame, like a butterfly's proboscis, and while keeping that area in focus I twist my wrist to "bend" the focus where I think it needs to be. In this case I twisted the camera to the left and up:

Tech Specs: Canon 80D (F11, 1/250, ISO 100) + a Canon MP-E 65mm macro lens (set to 4x) + a diffused MT-26EX-RT with a Kaiser adjustable flash shoe on the "A" head (the key), E-TTL metering, -1/3 FEC). This is a single, uncropped, frame taken hand held. In post I used Topaz Sharpen AI and Clarity in that order.

Granted I do benefit by the crop of my sensor, but I never crop my images in post (preferring to do all of the framing and composition with the camera).

One thing to note is that cropping, no matter how you do it, does not change the magnification of an image. Magnification, with respect to photography, is determined by how the subject is being projected onto the image plane (film or digital) and is locked in when the shutter is pressed. Anything that is done, after the shot has been taken, to make the subject look larger in the frame is called an enlargement and does not change the magnification. Creating an enlargement will not reveal any additional detail that was not already in the image, but increasing the magnification that the shot was taken at can

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John K Veteran Member • Posts: 9,832
Re: A Challenge to Focus Stacking

Z6User wrote:

BSiler wrote:

One of the advantages of stacking is control of the final DOF. If you shoot a relatively long stack set -- one that ends with photos with a focus point farther away than you really want, then you can effectively choose your post-stack DOF by leaving some of the photos out of stack when you merge them.

Very true. Also you can use a wide aperture such as F2.8, to ensure that the background is very soft.

The down side to using a small Fstop is that it will create a sharp transition between what is in and out of focus, and they are very distracting. I knew at least one shooter that would take an initial frame with the lens stopped down to either F8 or F11, and then open the lens back up for the stack. Much better "focus transitions" that way.

I avoid all of the problems that stacking creates by shooting single frames

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Also known as Dalantech
My Book: http://nocroppingzone.blogspot.com/2010/01/extreme-macro-art-of-patience.html
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Always minimal post processing and no cropping -unless you count the viewfinder...

gardenersassistant Veteran Member • Posts: 9,600
Re: A Challenge to Focus Stacking
3

AeroPhotographer wrote:

My goal was to show that surprisingly deep depth of field is achievable without stacking, if you shoot from a greater distance. That's because depth of field is proportional to distance squared. So double your distance and you quadruple your depth of field.

But you lose detail from the cropping. Here are some comparisons between a focus stack at f/3.5 versus cropped single images at f/11, f/16 and f/22.

Here is a comparison of the field of view for the stack, on the left, and one of the single images, on the right.

Here is a comparison to show the depth of field as between the uncropped focus stack at the top left and the three single images cropped to match the field of view of the stack. (f/22 top right, f/16 bottom left, f/11 bottom right.)

Here is the same comparison, but at 50% for the cropped single images and at 27% for the focus stack to match the fields of view.

Here is the comparison at 100% for the cropped single images and at 53% for the focus stack.

In this case the focus stack has greater depth of field than the f/22 single capture and better detail across the whole in-focus range than the f/11 single capture has in its best in focus range.

You can use post processing to get as much as you can out of single images, but there are limits to how far you can get with that and how large an image you can produce with image quality that is sufficient for  your needs.

However, with stacking there are practicalities to consider, especially with live subjects in their natural environment, which may present difficulties for stacking such as moving around, parts of them moving and/or being on something that is moving around in the breeze. They may also be located in an awkward to get at position for which single shots are practical but multiple shots suitable for focus stacking are not.

There are therefore trade-offs to explore to find what combination of magnification, aperture, cropping, stacking and processing best fit your preferences for the look of your images and the nature of your subject matter.

There are people who use stacking successfully for live subjects in the field. Using huge numbers of captures for a stack is obviously not being to be practical much of the time for live subjects in the field, but good results can be obtained with just a few images for a stack, as few as two sometimes, including hand-held.

My own preference has been to stick with single captures, use small apertures and use strong post processing, with varying amounts of cropping depending on composition, to produce images that are relatively small at 1300 pixels high.

I typically shoot at f/45 on full frame, which produces effective f-numbers of around f/56 to f/135 for the magnifications I use, and equivalent f-numbers on other formats. This is the sort of images I end up with.

However my image is only 945 pixels wide, which is 30% of yours. But 945 pixels does quite well in many places.

Alan

Rodger in Edmonton
Rodger in Edmonton Veteran Member • Posts: 4,014
Re: A Challenge to Focus Stacking

AeroPhotographer wrote:

My goal was to show that surprisingly deep depth of field is achievable without stacking, if you shoot from a greater distance. That's because depth of field is proportional to distance squared. So double your distance and you quadruple your depth of field.

However my image is only 945 pixels wide, which is 30% of yours. But 945 pixels does quite well in many places.

Alan

Indeed it is yet such a method make high magnification of detail a challenge - Nick " the gardener assistant has also wrote on this.

All other things equal, done properly the big stack will outperform the stand off modus operandi on fine detail + high DOF but done improperly IMHO it leaves too many artifacts

the chip guys name is " mawyatt" search for " Some Silicon Chip Images"

As image size and thus fine detail  is proportional to distance - its tougherduplicate from afar.

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Rodger in Edmonton
Rodger in Edmonton Veteran Member • Posts: 4,014
Re: A Challenge to Focus Stacking

Thanks for the contribution Nick - the Yellow Jacket shots are my faves of all time - love the contrast on the pink/red - and have not seen the snail before - deadly!

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ThrillaMozilla Veteran Member • Posts: 6,450
Re: A Challenge to Focus Stacking
1

There are some simple basic principles that control the possibilities.

Depth of field and diffraction are both determined by the numerical aperture, i. e. the angle subtended by the lens aperture, seen from the subject.  Small aperture, large depth of field; large aperture, small depth of field.

You can narrow the angle either by stopping down the aperture or moving the camera back.  The effect on depth of field and diffraction are exactly the same for both alternatives.

The total effect is not the same, however, and either method has advantages and disadvantages.  If you stop down, you need to increase the exposure time, add light, or increase the ISO setting.  If you move the camera back, you will have fewer pixels on the subject, and may lose detail for that reason.  The perspective is set by the position of the aperture, so the perspective will change.  Likewise, the blur will be different for objects in the distant background or very near foreground.

Because depth of field and diffraction are both controlled by the same angle, increased depth of field is always accompanied by increased diffraction.  You cannot escape that problem with any combination of aperture control or camera position.  The only way to beat it is with composite photographs.

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OP AeroPhotographer Regular Member • Posts: 377
Re: A Challenge to Focus Stacking

I completely agree that stacking is superior. In the original post, I wrote,

"I may not succeed [in matching a stack], but it will be interesting to see how close I come."

I also wanted to point out that DOF is proportional to distance squared.

Alan

ThrillaMozilla Veteran Member • Posts: 6,450
Re: A Challenge to Focus Stacking

AeroPhotographer wrote:

I completely agree that stacking is superior. In the original post, I wrote,

"I may not succeed [in matching a stack], but it will be interesting to see how close I come."

I also wanted to point out that DOF is proportional to distance squared.

Alan

Yes you did, and you were right.  I just pointed out the principles involved.

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OP AeroPhotographer Regular Member • Posts: 377
Re: A Challenge to Focus Stacking

I found a cleaner silver dollar lurking in my sock drawer.

I also tried moving closer and found that I can squeak out a shot twice as wide (in pixels) as the prior shot.

Repeating, I know this isn't as good as stacking, but it demonstrates deeper depth of field in a single shot, by moving away from the subject.

Single frame with A6400 and 18-135 kit lens

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