Your experience with controlling focus bracketing using a smart phone

Joined
Sep 13, 2007
Messages
13,937
Location
Northern VA suburb of Washington, DC
I am going to get into focus bracketing by either buying a camera body and lenses that do it automatically or by buying a product that allows me to make it happen using my smart phone to control my current camera and lenses. I have already narrowed the camera systems down to three possibilities, so let's please limit the discussion to products that use the smart phone and don't require a focusing rail.

About the term, focus bracketing: I'm referring to capturing a series of images of the same scene, each image with its own focus point, so the images can be stacked later using external software to create a single image file with a larger depth of field than is possible when capturing just one image. (Nikon brands its focus bracketing as focus shifting.)

I would appreciate learning your good, bad and indifferent experiences using products that change the focus point using a smart phone. I'm aware of Camfi, CamRanger and Tether Tools products that do this but don't know of others. There was a discussion about this roughly 1 1/2 years ago, but many of the details in that thread are probably outdated.

Looking forward to an enjoyable, informative discussion! Thanks!
 
Last edited:
Joined
Apr 21, 2006
Messages
16,009
Location
Nashua, NH
I hope Mike isn't offended if I slightly hijack his thread. I am moving from a Z7 that has focus stacking to a Sony that doesn't - so I would be interested in products that will help pwith focus stacking on a Sony.

Mike, tell me if you want me to delete this post.
 
Joined
Sep 13, 2007
Messages
13,937
Location
Northern VA suburb of Washington, DC
We'll learn together, Allan!

I would be interested in products that will help with focus stacking on a Sony.
Some of the manufacturers make products that will do that with a Sony camera, but of course they probably will not support all Sony cameras. When considering a particular product, be sure to check out whether it's compatible with your camera model. All of the websites I've seen are very clear about providing that information, especially because the camera model will dictate which cable is provided that connects the device to the camera.
 
I take focus shift sequences with the my Z6 directly. What is the advantage of the phone control?
Heck if I know. Hence, part of the reason I started this thread: to learn about that.

However, I can imagine that the process might be easier when using a separate device. As just one consideration, some people have expressed that rather than using the Nikon system of determining the starting focus point, then the relative step size, and then the number of captures to be made (if I remember correctly), they would prefer to determine the starting focus point, the ending focus point and letting the number of captures be determined automatically. I believe some external devices controlled by a smart phone do this.

I can also imagine that using a larger viewing screen such as a smart phone, a tablet, laptop or even a full-fledged monitor connected to a laptop or desktop might be better than being limited by the small size of the camera's LCD. I know from personal experience that tethering to a larger display is helpful in certain situations. I've never used focus bracketing, so I don't know if the larger screen would be helpful when setting the bracketing parameters.

Another advantage I remember from research done about 1 1/2 years ago is that there was at least one controller that stacked the focus-bracketed images into one image. (I don't remember how well it did that.) Only some of the cameras that have focus-bracketing capability also have focus-stacking capability. No Nikon cameras have the stacking capability.

Completely aside from all of that, certainly the primary advantage of using an external device to control the camera is when the camera in question has no built-in focus bracketing capability. As an example, of all the cameras Nikon has ever made, only the Z6, Z7, D850 and the upcoming D780 have that capability.
 
Last edited:
Joined
Sep 13, 2007
Messages
13,937
Location
Northern VA suburb of Washington, DC
they would prefer to determine the starting focus point, the ending focus point and letting the number of captures be determined automatically.
CamRanger2 and CamRanger Mini use that method.

CamFi Pro and CamFi Pro Plus requires the user to input something about forward, backward and the number of captures to be made. However, the user's guide is not clear enough for me to understand the first two of those parameters.

Case Air (by Tether Tools) requires the user to input the number of shots to be made and the relative size of each step (small, medium or large).
 
Last edited:
Joined
Jan 22, 2019
Messages
1,367
Location
St. Charles, IL
Real Name
Andy
Mike, I don’t have experience with focus bracketing with an external device controlling the camera, but the idea of having that device stack the images in real time might deprive you of the ability to shoot in raw. For me, that trade off would not be worthwhile. My workflow when focus stacking (not that I’ve done it very extensively) is to post process the individual NEFs in LR, then align and stack those edited files as layers into PS.

In a similar vein, another point worth considering:

Depending on the lenses you employ, the alignment step in PS can be somewhat important, as it will resize the images to compensate for variations resulting from focus breathing. For example, the Micro-Nikkor 55mm f/2.8 breathes significantly (setting aside that it, as a MF lens, is obviously not a candidate for any automation of focus bracketing), and the auto align step is critical to getting a good stack out of that lens. IDK if CamRanger or any of the other products have a solution for focus breathing, but it’s probably worth looking into.
 
Joined
Sep 13, 2007
Messages
13,937
Location
Northern VA suburb of Washington, DC
the idea of having that [external] device stack the images in real time might deprive you of the ability to shoot in raw.
CamRanger 2, CamRanger Mini, CamFi Pro, CamFi Pro Plus and Case Air (by Tether Tools) support focus bracketing raw files. I'm reasonably confident that any external device will do that because the file format being used is the sort of parameter usually controlled by the camera, not the external device.

Your point is worth investigating for the rare external device that also stacks the focus-bracketed images. (None of the products mentioned in this post do that.) As an example, the Olympus cameras that do both focus bracketing and focus stacking retain the focus-bracketed raw files so you can stack them using external software if you don't like the results of the camera's stacked image.
 
Last edited:
Joined
Sep 16, 2005
Messages
2,298
Location
Auburn, Washington USA
I used the original CamRanger to control my D800. Worked great. Traded in my D800 on a Z7 last year so the camera does this function now. One advantage I see with the Z7 is that each step requires less than 1/2 second, and it is completely silent. I end up looking at the lens stepping in order to see when the sequence is finished. Also each sequence can be put in a separate folder. Much easier to process later.
 
Joined
Sep 13, 2007
Messages
13,937
Location
Northern VA suburb of Washington, DC
I used the original CamRanger to control my D800. Worked great.
Great to know! Thanks, Ron!

One advantage I see with the Z7 is that each step requires less than 1/2 second, and it is completely silent. I end up looking at the lens stepping in order to see when the sequence is finished. Also each sequence can be put in a separate folder. Much easier to process later.
None of those details would be important to me for reasons I won't bore you with. However, they could be really important for others to take into consideration.
 

Latest posts

Links on this page may be to our affiliates. Sales through affiliate links may benefit this site.
Nikon Cafe is a fan site and not associated with Nikon Corporation.
Forum post reactions by Twemoji: https://github.com/twitter/twemoji
Copyright © 2005-2019 Amin Forums, LLC
Top Bottom