Critique Air-Fried Spring Rolls --- Prefer Focus-stacked or Not?

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Before I made either photo, I had one style firmly in mind as my preference. Now that I've made both photos, I'm surprised that I prefer the other one. I'll explain my preference after people have given their thoughts. Do you prefer the image that is focus-stacked or the traditional one?

10 focus-bracketed images using CamRanger Mini and Tamron 90mm macro lens. Stacked in Photoshop with no touch up.

The recipe for the spring rolls is at https://www.williams-sonoma.com/recipe/air-fried-spring-rolls.html?bnrid=3147607&cm_ite=bnr_3all&tp=i-H43-Q2T-1puw-1a7ZTQT-1n-2np1c-1c-1a7JA7p-12ifnf&cm_ven=Promo&cm_cat=Cat&cm_pla=2020-01-23_Airfryer_FF&cm_em=01:8B488BA07131C833F04C829C527226DA2CA48F44&dtm_em=ce85abcfdc48cca91d5b6dcbcbf02d30&os_ehash=ce85abcfdc48cca91d5b6dcbcbf02d30&om_mid=437902

Setup
A small continuous-light lamp fitted with a diffusion sock was in the right front area. A white reflector on the opposite side of the scene lifted the shadow tones.


Traditional
Mike 2020-02-09--001-S.jpg
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Focus-stacked
Mike 2020-02-09--022-S.jpg
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Both look good, although the focus stack is obviously a bit sharper.

Since I know nothing about focus stacking ... what is the difference between shooting this as a time exposure at f22 (or whatever your minimum aperture is) and "focus stacking"?

Cheers!!

Ken
 
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I too prefer the second. In food and product images I personally like everything in focus, just like I think I see it.
Mike, technical question. If you are stacking, why would you even shoot at f18?
With a 2.8 lens, sharpest fstop is usually 5.6 or so- would need to test to confirm. You will be in the range of diffraction softening even at f18. If you are stacking do you care about native depth of field? You can just stack more images. I have never used the camranger for stacking, but when I stacked with the d850, Helicon focus handled stacks of 50+ images without any issues. I am just curious if I have this wrong, which I may.
LMK
Gary
 
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what is the difference between shooting this as a time exposure at f22 (or whatever your minimum aperture is) and "focus stacking"?
It's not possible to get the entire scene in focus using just one capture when using this focal length at this distance from the scene. As an example, notice how much of the scene is out of focus when shooting at f/32, which is the smallest aperture on this lens.

So, using the CamRanger Mini external device, it automatically shot 10 images, each using a different focus point. That's called focus bracketing. When Nikon builds that capability into a camera, they brand it as focus shifting. Once I had the set of focus-bracketed images, I used Photoshop CC to stack the images to produce one image. The process automatically uses only the part of each focus-bracketed image that is in focus. Once all of those parts of every image are combined (stacked) into one image, the part that I wanted in focus (in this case, the entire scene) is indeed in focus.
 
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If you are stacking, why would you even shoot at f18?
With a 2.8 lens, sharpest fstop is usually 5.6 or so- would need to test to confirm. You will be in the range of diffraction softening even at f18.
I should probably check the lens again, but I seem to remember from quite awhile ago that f/18 seemed to be as sharp as when using larger aperture settings.
 
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I figured you had a reason, no sense in making more images than you need. When I tested my nikon macro lenses they did fine until about f11, then did lose a little, but just a little. I think the diffraction softening is overplayed on the internet. It makes people afraid to shoot f11 or even f22 when they need to. But when stacking, I always used 5.6 or 8 on a 2.8 macro lens.
Your mileage may vary
Gary
 
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Focus stacking done right shows the subject more as we perceive it. When we look at something, we do not naturally see a thin depth of field. Our eyes plus our brains assemble images into a seemingly infinite depth of field.

Stacking photos made with Nikon’s Focus Shifting is something I need to do more of...
 
I think the diffraction softening is overplayed on the internet.
Completely overplayed in my mind. Even so, I want to shoot at the ideal aperture when focus stacking for two reasons:
  • Exercising the discipline of using ideal parameters when it's possible to use them, such as in the situation when I made the photo, is always good; and
  • If some day unexpectedly I want to display a large print of a focus-stacked image, it will look its best when captured using the ideal aperture.
So, I will be sure to check out that lens again. Thanks for posting your question!
 
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Focus stacking done right shows the subject more as we perceive it. When we look at something, we do not naturally see a thin depth of field. Our eyes plus our brains assemble images into a seemingly infinite depth of field.
That's true. However, the more artistic aspects of photography that display details the human eye rarely or never sees and/or the brain rarely or never perceives are also good in their own right. If photographers never made photos that contradict the human experience, all photos would be purely documentary. Documentary photos are wonderful, but photos that allow for considerable artistic license are also wonderful. My attitude: why not make both kinds?
 
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Well I would say the focus stacking turned out great. However for personal preference and for this particular photo I prefer the single exposure photo. The DOF leads to focus on the texture and inside goodness of the egg roll making it more focused on the interesting part... the insides. But that’s just me, you know what they say about opinions.... 😂
 
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Thank you, everyone!

I prefer the single exposure photo. The DOF leads to focus on the texture and inside goodness of the egg roll making it more focused on the interesting part... the insides.
Before I constructed the setup, that's exactly what I planned.

I prefer the second one, it shows more of the delicious, crunchy wrapper.
After I saw the two photos, that's exactly what I decided.
 
I prefer them deep-fried... ;) :)
Those who answer questions not asked fail the test. :ROFLMAO:

Seriously, of the seven air-fried foods I cook, these spring rolls are the closest to being deep fat fried in taste, texture and appearance. I'm going to serve them to friends without telling them that they're air-fried to see if they notice the difference.
 

Butlerkid

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Both images are very well created. However, I prefer the first image. DOF has an important role in guiding the viewer's eye (and holding the viewer's attention longer) to the most important part of the image. The crunchiness of the eggroll and the goodies inside are strongly portrayed in the partial eggroll. I appreciate and enjoy the presence of the supporting elements (the additional eggroll and the sauce) but prefer them slightly OOF as presented in the first image.
 
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Thank you also to Randy and Karen!

The information in this thread is important to me now that I have just barely begun my adventure into focus stacking. That's because there are enough people who prefer the one look and enough who prefer the other look, with both camps using reasoning that makes perfect sense, that it justifies making both looks unless I'm dead set against one of them before even constructing the setup. That situation is sort of like having a client who doesn't have a strong preference for one or the other; I would make both kinds for that client. Not that I have ever had or would want to have any clients.
 
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I too prefer the second. In food and product images I personally like everything in focus, just like I think I see it.
Mike, technical question. If you are stacking, why would you even shoot at f18?
With a 2.8 lens, sharpest fstop is usually 5.6 or so- would need to test to confirm. You will be in the range of diffraction softening even at f18. If you are stacking do you care about native depth of field? You can just stack more images. I have never used the camranger for stacking, but when I stacked with the d850, Helicon focus handled stacks of 50+ images without any issues. I am just curious if I have this wrong, which I may.
LMK
Gary
Just some thoughts:

Using a larger aperture means more images, reduced dof and smaller step width.

Using a smaller aperture means less images, increased dof and larger step width.

A decent Micro lens is designed to be used at smaller apertures therefore diffraction is less of a problem.

Mike's new Z6 has diffraction compensation - something I need to look at for myself.

DG
 
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