Focus stacking

I bought December’s issue of Practical Photography and, after reading the article on focus stacking, decided to try it for myself. I am on holiday at the moment and I was able to use my brother’s 100mm prime macro lens for this test. The magazine article recommends using Helicon Focus to combine your photos but, since I don’t particularly want to buy software to do this, I decided to try the other software they recommend: CombineZM (which has the advantage of being open source).

Red pepper at f16

Red pepper at f16

I am going to use an image taken at f16 as a benchmark for this test. I tested CombineZM first. At first I used 8 source images all taken at f4. However, in the first and last images, so much of the image was out of focus that they didn’t add anything so I tried again with only 6 images. This worked better and so next I tried the “Do soft stack” macro and this gave the best result by far.

Red pepper at f4 combined with CombineZM

Red pepper at f4 combined with CombineZM

Then I installed Helicon Focus and tested that with the same 6 images. I was actually quite disappointed with the result which was quite a bit worse than CombineZM. This is good for me though because I now don’t have to go out and buy Helicon Focus. I should probably make it clear that I didn’t play around with the settings in Helicon Focus at all, I just used the default approach.

Red pepper combined with Helicon Focus

Red pepper combined with Helicon Focus

Comparison

Comparison

I have finally bought myself the BG-E3 battery grip for my Canon 400D! Wow! It improves the normal grip slightly by increasing the length of the side of the camera which my hand wraps around. Unfortunately the grip is still too small for my hand. However, the grip itself now forms the grip in portrait format and it is much larger than the normal grip so my hand can wrap around and is very comfortable (I don’t have to hold on with my finger tips). The grip has all the buttons you want at your fingers when holding the camera in portrait format and can also hold one or two NB-2LH batteries. I am very pleased with it and it looks uber cool!

I have also bought a new circular polarising filter which is a vast improvement on my last one.

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