Focus Stacking Test

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Jan 19, 2019
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Leamington Spa, UK
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Paul
I thought I'd see how the focus shift feature works. The shot below is a hand-held stack of 9 images with a step width of 5. I used the 24-70 at 60mm and a subject distance of about 0.5 m (1.5 ft). Stacking is in Photoshop. I'm pretty pleased given that it's handheld (shutter speed of 1/25 sec, ISO 64, f5.6). However, Nikon could learn a lot about focus stacking from Olympus in terms of usability:

a) Olympus will do an in-camera focus stack to a JPEG. The JPEG result is usually very good and I've seldom re-stacked the raws because the JPEG has been good enough. However, even if you want to stack from raw later, the in-camera stack is good to check sharpness across the range. The Z7 will give you the "peaking stack image", which is better than nothing, but it's not as nice as having the full stack in the camera. On the EM1.2, the stack takes about 10s, so it's pretty quick.

b) The Olympus lets you set stacking mode and then initiate the sequence by pressing the shutter button with the EVF and rear monitor working as usual. This makes handheld stacking much easier. The Nikon has a menu option to initiate the shooting which means that you're shooting blind. Not an issue on a tripod, but doing it handheld is a bit hit and miss as to whether the subject is still framed after you've fiddled with menus on the rear screen.

c) The Olympus also shows you each shot as it takes it so it's easier to see if you've got the number of shots right (e.g. whether you're taking too many by focussing behind the subject).

d) The Olympus also moves the focus forward a little for the first few shots to make sure that the front part of the stack is adequately covered.

So, while I'm not unhappy with the Nikon implementation (and the results of course are fine), it would be nice if Nikon could look to enhancing the feature in a future firmware release (I can dream!).

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OM Focus Stack by Paul Kaye, on Flickr
 
Joined
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Moscow, Idaho
Of the 24 or so enlarged prints that I have hanging on my walls, all but one were shot with the camera a tripod. A few would have benefitted from focus stacking, so it stands to reason that had I done so (had the technology been available when I shot them) I would have used a tripod for that. I use a tripod for 2 main reasons, stability and precision in framing—two things that I believe are stil critical in focus stacking work.
I don't let my camera do any processing, so it's RAW al the way for me.
That's my experience and it works for me. I don't expect it to work for others.
 
Joined
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Northern VA suburb of Washington, DC
I use a tripod for 2 main reasons, stability and precision in framing—two things that I believe are stil critical in focus stacking work.
I don't think those factors are critical when doing focus bracketing and stacking so long as the camera has the capability to properly implement the processes when shooting handheld. I've come to that belief after seeing so many images that were focus-stacked by handheld Olympus cameras.
 
Joined
Jan 19, 2019
Messages
256
Location
Leamington Spa, UK
Real Name
Paul
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #10
This is one of the reasons I use three brands of cameras. I gave up trying to make one a Jack of all trades.

Just wait until you try HDR with the Nikon :(
Funny you should say that - I insisted for years that I would't mix systems, but I eventually gave in. My current plan is Nikon Z7 for landscapes and general wide to short tele use, Olympus EM1.2 for long lens (40-150) and macro, and Olympus EM10.2 plus the 17/1.8 for street.
 
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