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Thread: Focus Stacking

  1. #1
    rpcrowe's Avatar
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    Focus Stacking

    I want to play a bit with focus stacking using Photoshop CS5 to combine the images. This seems like a fun thing to do indoors while the Summer heat does its worst outside.

    Although, I have noticed several references to using Photoacute for focus stacking as well as for combining images for other multi-image techniques. However I don't want to buy a program for every technique that I try. I would rather experiment using Photoshop CS-5.

    There are two questions which I have regarding focus stacking:

    1. Does Photoshop CS-5 have the capability to do a good job in focus stacking?

    2. When shooting my multiple images for focus stacking, would focusing with the manual focus ring of the lens be best or... would it be better to use my macro rail and focus by moving the camera ever so slightly?

  2. #2
    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Focus Stacking

    Hi Richard,

    1) I put "Focus stacking CS5" into google and read a few results, I came across this thread at Luminous Landscapes. I haven't read it all, but it sounds like you could try it but that Helicon, which Rob uses, is best.

    2) Never tried it, but the engineer in me thinks that the rail would be easy to get regular increments of distance because the scale is linear, whereas a lens' focus ring often isn't. i.e. the first 10 degrees rotation gives a different distance to the second 10 degrees, and so on.

    Cheers,

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    Re: Focus Stacking

    I did try the free trial version of Helicon but didn't like the results which were excessively oversharpened.

    It looked at though it was sharpening every layer to the maximum amount and the background ended up looking terrible.

    But Rob gets some good results so perhaps I wasn't making the correct adjustments.

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    Re: Focus Stacking

    Quote Originally Posted by rpcrowe View Post
    Does Photoshop CS-5 have the capability to do a good job in focus stacking?
    Not that I know of, but who knows, it might be buried in there somewhere!

    When shooting my multiple images for focus stacking, would focusing with the manual focus ring of the lens be best or... would it be better to use my macro rail and focus by moving the camera ever so slightly?
    Helicon Focus has automatic focus bracketing with Helecon Remote (a component of the Pro and Pro x64 versions) if it helps.

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    Re: Focus Stacking

    Quote Originally Posted by Geoff F View Post
    I did try the free trial version of Helicon but didn't like the results which were excessively oversharpened.

    It looked at though it was sharpening every layer to the maximum amount and the background ended up looking terrible.

    But Rob gets some good results so perhaps I wasn't making the correct adjustments.
    Out of interest, I often find that with over-sharpened high-frequency components, a slight gaussean blur can work wonders.

  6. #6

    Re: Focus Stacking

    I have only just installed CS5 in past few days, so have not had a chance to try stacking in CS5, but I have heard that it is much improved over CS4, which I never bothered with preferring to use Helicon. You might find the video tutorial below useful.

    I've never used a rail. I use manual focus on a tripod. After I got the hang of the technique I got pretty good and just firing them off, and I don't have any problems now. I use studio flash as well, and provided you wait for the flash to fully recharge you can get consistent exposure (which is important) and great lighting effects. This shot was studio lit and stacked using Helicon.

    Focus Stacking


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