First try at focus stack - problem?

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Apr 21, 2006
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I have had the z7 for a few months but never tried focus stack shooting. I decided to do a test today. I set it up to take 49 shots at a width of 4. When I pressed start 13 images were taken. I assumed the Z7 stopped taking images when the farthest section - a house - was shot in focus. IS that correct? (1)

When I looked at the first and 13th image I was surprised. The first one had the object in the foreground I initially focused on in focus, but the 13th image had the far away house oof. I looked at the images and the 8th image had the house in focus - sort of (not as good as the original.
Is that normal? (2) Why? (3.)

Screen captures
First image
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13th image
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8th image
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I haven’t checked out Nikon’s focus bracketing as yet, however, my experience using other camera brands is the camera will stop once the lens gets to infinity.
 
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This is from https://photographylife.com/reviews/nikon-z6/6

"Keep in mind, too, that the Z6 doesn’t reset to its original focus point when you’re done. So, if you take multiple focus stacks of the same subject, you need to reset focus back to the beginning each time. Otherwise, only your first focus stack will be sharp, and all the others will start out already focused too far away from your subject."
 
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This is from https://photographylife.com/reviews/nikon-z6/6

"Keep in mind, too, that the Z6 doesn’t reset to its original focus point when you’re done. So, if you take multiple focus stacks of the same subject, you need to reset focus back to the beginning each time. Otherwise, only your first focus stack will be sharp, and all the others will start out already focused too far away from your subject."
Yes that's true. Most of the time, I take a picture first of the closest subject which needs to be sharp. Then I dive into the menu for focus stacking. For landscapes, there's no problem.

For macro ... there are some drawbacks. Focus stacking only works when your lens/camera is in AF. You can use MF to set your initial focus. But after that you need to put your gear into AF. Also you need to go in the menu, to activate focus stacking. For all those steps you need to push buttons physically on your body. When you want to do a focus stack @ F2.8 to have the creamiest bokeh, chances are your initial focus point has shifted because you pressed al those buttons.

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This picture of a wasp spider is based on a stack of 30 pictures @ F3.5. I think I took 15 stacks in total. Only 5-6 of them were usable. Because of the problem as described above. Also because of the fact that the spider can move in between and that the web is moving because of the wind. But that's not the fault of the camera. :)
 
Joined
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Thanks for the info @Kattekrab, and nice photo.

I haven’t tried a focus stack with the Nikon, other than via a CamRanger. With both Fuji and Olympus I have one of the buttons reprogrammed to activate bracketing so it’s quick and easy to turn on or off. The issue I had with Fuji, was after the stack finished the camera refocused back to the start position. I then started using Olympus as it, like Nikon left the focus where it finished allowing me to see if the focus was past the subject, and if not I would take a few more shots. Unfortunately, Olympus with the last firmware update have followed Fuji’s method. What I have found with other bodies, I haven’t tried it with Nikon, although it did work via CamRanger, so long as the lens has AF on, disabling AF on the body allowed me to set the start point manually, and the stacking option worked from that point on.
 
Joined
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I commonly focus stack out in the real world with the d850. On that camera, not sure about the z models, I have custom programmed the f2 button to go directly to focus stacking. I have a set of focus stack parameters preprogrammed. So at any time I want to stack, I just have to prefocus on where i want the stack to begin, then push f2 and start. Works great. Saves diving through all the menus.
Gary
 
Joined
Mar 11, 2012
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I commonly focus stack out in the real world with the d850. On that camera, not sure about the z models, I have custom programmed the f2 button to go directly to focus stacking. I have a set of focus stack parameters preprogrammed. So at any time I want to stack, I just have to prefocus on where i want the stack to begin, then push f2 and start. Works great. Saves diving through all the menus.
Gary
Thanks for the info, yes, it certainly saves a lot of time when in the field. I only do closeup/macro stacks. I can easily take a couple of thousand images on a photowalk, then spend hours processing them. 🙂
 
Joined
May 5, 2005
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For all those steps you need to push buttons physically on your body. When you want to do a focus stack @ F2.8 to have the creamiest bokeh, chances are your initial focus point has shifted because you pressed al those buttons.
Can't you set it up with light touches to the touchscreen? I haven't tried it so I may be way off base here. I guess you have to press "menu" to get started.
 
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Can't you set it up with light touches to the touchscreen? I haven't tried it so I may be way off base here. I guess you have to press "menu" to get started.
I just confirmed that you can set all parameters with the touchscreen, but you have to get into the menu first. That does require a rather firm press of the menu button which I suppose could upset the initial focus.
 
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I usually focus in manual, using focus peaking. Easiest way to confirm you are truely starting on the closest point. Then click the lens to auto, push f2 custom button and the ok button. Camera does the rest. Actually pretty easy after you do it 10 times
Gary
 
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To avoid not getting the closest point sharp, would it help to focus on that, and then just turn the focus ring to get the focus plane a tad closer towards the camera? Then start from there?
The software will have to skip a useless frame closer than needed, but that isn't bad?

Or does focus stacking software rely on a sharp first frame?

Sorry, I'm new to that kind of thing...
 
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