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Thread: About Focus Stacking

  1. #1

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    About Focus Stacking

    With increasing numbers of CinC members getting interested in macro photography, this article may be of some interest.

    http://photo.net/learn/macro/focus/s.../harold-davis/

    It is from another photo site; so just grit your teeth while reading it.

  2. #2

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    Re: About Focus Stacking

    Is it possible to do focus stacking in Lightroom only? Does anyone know how?

  3. #3
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    Re: About Focus Stacking

    Geoff,

    I've used photoshop's stacking a couple of times. It worked fine. My favorite, however, is Zerene, which is a standard for a lot of macro photographers. It's simple, has two different stacking algorithms that behave differently, and has very good retouching functions. The last is important when there is a big distance front-to-back between surfaces that are adjacent on a plane parallel to the sensor--e.g., one petal far behind another. These situations tend to produce halos. What Zerene allows you to do is to pick a single image where that edge is in focus and paint from that to the composite.

    I'll post two recent flowers I did with Zerene. Both were using the Dmap algorithm. The first, if I remember, was 3 or 4 images. The second was 10. Neither needed any touchup at all.

    There is a free demo, if I recall, and some useful tutorials on their website.

    My usual drill is to import into Lightroom and then change nothing except for WB and, if necessary, exposure or other tonal controls. Then I export 8-bit TIFFs (on my computer, perhaps because of RAM limitations, zerene tends to crash with 16 bit TIFFs), stack, and then reimport into LR and occasionally PS for more editing.

    Dan

    About Focus Stacking

    About Focus Stacking

  4. #4
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    Re: About Focus Stacking

    Is it possible to do focus stacking in Lightroom only? Does anyone know how?
    no. LR does not include either a stacking algorithm or layers. See post above about how I do this with LR.

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    Re: About Focus Stacking

    Ok, could you point me in the right direction? Thank you.

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    Re: About Focus Stacking

    I'm impressed by focus stacking; keeping the same dof gradient, better bokeh and all the subject in focus. Helicon have a focus stacker but I'm not suggesting it is the best, but also any application with masks will suffice.

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    Re: About Focus Stacking

    Any software which has an auto align option and supports the use of layers can be used.

    Sometimes (with CS5) I will auto align the layers and use masks to select the visible areas if I find that the Auto Blend control is producing too harsh a result.

    Some time ago, I did try a few fully auto programmes but never achieved the results I wanted.

    If I remember correctly. Helicon was very expensive and the free limited period trial software produced excessively sharpened images. But this could have been my fault.

    Zerene ground to a halt so after 30 minutes I switched the computer off; and Combine ZP (or something like that) wouldn't load onto my computer.

    I find CS5 works OK for me, but it may be worth experimenting again with other software; when I get some spare time.

  8. #8
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    Re: About Focus Stacking

    I haven't tried it because I use Photoshop CS5 for Layers, but it looks like layers is available for Lightroom:


    http://lightroomkillertips.com/2011/...for-lightroom/

  9. #9

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    Re: About Focus Stacking

    I have been recommended to read this article

    http://www.macrostop.com/pdf/ArtofFocuStacking.pdf

    But at 122 pages, in pdf format, I think it will have to wait until I have more time.

    And after doing a bit more research, I find that article is merely 'the tip of the iceberg'.

    A load more substantial pdf articles are here

    http://www.macrostop.com/
    Last edited by Geoff F; 27th May 2012 at 08:28 PM. Reason: links added

  10. #10
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    Re: About Focus Stacking

    Quote Originally Posted by Geoff F View Post
    Some time ago, I did try a few fully auto programmes but never achieved the results I wanted.

    Zerene ground to a halt so after 30 minutes I switched the computer off; and Combine ZP (or something like that) wouldn't load onto my computer.
    That's strange - I've been using Zerene for a couple of months with no glitches at all. I'm running it on a Win7 quad core with lots of RAM. Very pleased with the results and the speed.

    I tried Helicon and it seemed OK, but found the response to questions rather lacking and quite slow. Zerene, on the other hand, was very helpful and responded quickly, hence my choice of Zerene.

    CombineZM is free, so the price is right, but it didn't provide the results that Zerene did.

    Glenn

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    Re: About Focus Stacking

    Zerene ground to a halt so after 30 minutes I switched the computer off;
    My experience is like Glenn's. I have used Zerene for a couple of years, and I can't remember a single failure except when I tried 16-bit TIFFs on my machine (dual core, win 7, 4 GB), even though I use it often. However, I think the best is for people to try things themselves. Zerene has a free trial, and Combine is free altogether.

    My one complaint about Zerene is that it lacks a manual alignment option. I have traded notes with the developer about this and he wrote that it is on his list but that other things (I now forget which) were higher up. I haven't checked back with him in more than a year, so I don't know where that stands now.

    Dan

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    Re: About Focus Stacking

    Quote Originally Posted by DanK View Post
    My experience is like Glenn's. I have used Zerene for a couple of years, and I can't remember a single failure except when I tried 16-bit TIFFs on my machine (dual core, win 7, 4 GB), even though I use it often. However, I think the best is for people to try things themselves. Zerene has a free trial, and Combine is free altogether.

    My one complaint about Zerene is that it lacks a manual alignment option. I have traded notes with the developer about this and he wrote that it is on his list but that other things (I now forget which) were higher up. I haven't checked back with him in more than a year, so I don't know where that stands now.

    Dan
    Interesting - I have been converting my RAW files to 16 bit TIFF before stacking and the computer rips through them very quickly with no glitches.

    Glenn

  13. #13
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    Re: About Focus Stacking

    Glenn,

    I just tried stacking 8 16-bit TIFFs with Zerene and had no problem at all (with a 32-bit win7 computer, hence limited to 4 GB). It did the stacking quickly, even with DMap, which is considerably slower than PMax. So, the problem in the past was me, not Zerene. I suspect I had been exporting the images as compressed TIFFs, which Zerene's documentation specifically warns against. These were uncompressed, 16-bit, ProPhoto RGB.

    Dan
    Last edited by DanK; 29th May 2012 at 12:19 PM.

  14. #14

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    Re: About Focus Stacking


  15. #15

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    Re: About Focus Stacking

    Only had a quick glance so far, but I think he mentions something about that software doing auto high and low pass filters before stacking.

    This is a problem which I have encountered previously, which results in an excessively sharpened image.

    Not sure if there are any adjustments for this.

  16. #16
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    Re: About Focus Stacking

    I haven't used the combine software for several years, but I see no sign of sharpening with Zerene. If it does any, it is subtle. I do all of my sharpening after the stacking is finished, editing the final TIFF in LR or photoshop.

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    Re: About Focus Stacking

    Quote Originally Posted by Bobobird View Post
    This guy (LordV) is one of the best I've come across on forums.

    http://photography-on-the.net/forum/...focus+stacking

    http://photography-on-the.net/forum/...focus+stacking

    It's interesting (and reassuring to me) to see that he now uses Zerene Stacker.

    Glenn

  18. #18
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    Re: About Focus Stacking

    Quote Originally Posted by DanK View Post
    I haven't used the combine software for several years, but I see no sign of sharpening with Zerene. If it does any, it is subtle. I do all of my sharpening after the stacking is finished, editing the final TIFF in LR or photoshop.
    Dan:

    I use the same procedure (in LR). The only thing I can't change is the camera profile which is embedded.

    Glenn

  19. #19

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    Re: About Focus Stacking

    Yes Brian does some really super work.

  20. #20
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    Re: About Focus Stacking

    OK you guys, you convinced me to attempt stacking, suffer the results

    About Focus Stacking

    CS4, 7 image stack, no other processing

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