Comparing Affinity Photo Focus Merge with HeliconSoft HeliconFocus

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Walter Rowe
I have seen many recommendations for HeliconFocus. I own Affinity Photo and have used it to successfully create HDR Merged, Pano Stitched, and Focus Merged composites. I wanted to compare these products for myself.

HeliconFocus costs $200 USD for a persistent license and does one job - focus merge. Affinity Photo costs $50 USD (on sale now for $25 USD) and is a full blow pixel editor that also does HDR Merge, Pano Stitch, and Focus Merge.

Can a $25 software package do as good a job as a $200 software package? Does one package have advantages over the other? Watch my video to find out.

 
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Walter Rowe
Nice video. Thanks.
I use helicon focus, but Affinity seems to be another fine product.
gary
Thanks Gary. The HeliconFocus interface and close integration with Capture One / Adobe Lightroom definitely has an advantage, but the end product is absolutely indistinguishable in my opinion. I tried numerous focus stacking sequences of different subjects and could not find one sequence where I was convinced that HeliconFocus produced a noticeably better product. I confess that all the sequences I tested were high quality inputs. I imagine the quality of the output is proportionally influenced by the quality of the input. For example, I did not test lower resolution JPGs which might not offer as much fine detail to analyze.
 
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Thanks for posting this, Walter. The video is very well done.

I have both Helicon Focus and Affinity, and I didn't know Affinity would do focus stacking.

Looking back through my records I see that I purchased Helicon Focus back in 2016 for $92. I'm surprised the price has gone up so much!

I bought Affinity Photo about a year ago when it was on sale and only paid $25. I haven't used it much, but it has been my replacement for Photoshop at a much lower price.

Given that I own both, I'll probably stick with Helicon for my infrequent focus stacking, primarily because of the much faster rendering.
 
Joined
Jan 13, 2006
Messages
5,020
Location
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Walter Rowe
Thanks for posting this, Walter. The video is very well done.

I have both Helicon Focus and Affinity, and I didn't know Affinity would do focus stacking.

Looking back through my records I see that I purchased Helicon Focus back in 2016 for $92. I'm surprised the price has gone up so much!

I bought Affinity Photo about a year ago when it was on sale and only paid $25. I haven't used it much, but it has been my replacement for Photoshop at a much lower price.

Given that I own both, I'll probably stick with Helicon for my infrequent focus stacking, primarily because of the much faster rendering.

Thank you Jim. I agree HeliconFocus renders faster. It also has better integration with LR and CO, and has a more helpful UI for selecting image layers to correct any mistakes it makes on choosing which frame's bits should be visible in the stack.

What impressed me was that the $25 Affinity Photo did as good or better job in selecting the right bits out of the box. Even with using different algorithms and changing the settings, I was not able to get HeliconFocus to do as good a job without corrections. One area where Affinity Photo missed was in the blurred background areas where it created a sort of halo by selecting the wrong areas. I imagine it was trying to get sharp bits vs soft ones given the job it was asked to accomplish. That said, I found it easier to fix those halos than searching all around the "sharp" bits, selecting the layer that should have been selected, and correcting the layer masks (painting in the correct layer's pixels).

For someone who has neither app and might want to do the occasional focus stacking, Affinity Photo to me was the better value. Affinity Photo also has HDR Merge, Pano Stitching, and Astrophotography Stacking. You get all of that plus the Photoshop pixel editor features for $25.

For someone who does a lot of focus stacking, the HeliconFocus software is certainly worth the price. The keyboard shortcut for selecting image layers, the speed of rendering, the ability to choose algorithm and tune it, and its direct integration with LR and CO, are surely advantages and time savers.
 
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