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  1. #1
    Senior Member
    Dangerspouse's Avatar

    Focus Stacking

    I purchased my camera + macro lens primarily to do product photography for my wife. She needs 1:1 shots of very small objects, like single threads in a stitched piece. This presents no problem as long as the object is flat, like a sampler. But some of her pieces are 3 dimensional, and there I start running into depth of field problems.

    Last week I finally decided to join the 21st Century and got a subscription to Lightroom (Classic). While checking out tutorials I came across instructions for how to focus stack, which seems like just the sort of technique I need to fix my DOF issues.

    However, all the online instructions for focus stacking require both Lightroom and Photoshop. I don't have Photoshop. Does anyone here know if focus stacking can be done solely in Lightroom, and if so, how?

    Thanks very much!


    › See More: Focus Stacking



  2. #2
    Senior Member
    pforsell's Avatar

    Re: Focus Stacking

    Quote Originally Posted by Dangerspouse View Post
    I purchased my camera + macro lens primarily to do product photography for my wife. She needs 1:1 shots of very small objects, like single threads in a stitched piece. This presents no problem as long as the object is flat, like a sampler. But some of her pieces are 3 dimensional, and there I start running into depth of field problems.

    Last week I finally decided to join the 21st Century and got a subscription to Lightroom (Classic). While checking out tutorials I came across instructions for how to focus stack, which seems like just the sort of technique I need to fix my DOF issues.

    However, all the online instructions for focus stacking require both Lightroom and Photoshop. I don't have Photoshop. Does anyone here know if focus stacking can be done solely in Lightroom, and if so, how?

    Thanks very much!
    How about a specialized stacking software? There are several of them, but CombineZP is free while Zerene Stacker and Helicon Focus cost some money. There are plenty of others, do a google search.

    If you don't need PS for anything more than stacking, these other options might be way more economical. And they have a lot of automation built in.
    Thanks/Like Dangerspouse Thanks/liked this post
     
    9 Nikon single-digit pro bodies from D1H to D5.
    12 Nikon three-digit consumer bodies from D100 and up.
    56 Nikkor prime lenses from AIS 8/2.8 to AFS 400/2.8VR
    4 Nikkor zoom lenses: 14-24/2.8, 17-35/2.8, 28-70/2.8, 70-200/2.8VR
    My fastest lens is f/1.2 (x3) and slowest f/2.8


  3. #3
    Senior Member
    FredKingston's Avatar

    Re: Focus Stacking

    Well… Let’s see if we can wade thru this…

    You say you Bought a subscription to Lightroom Classic… It sounds like you may have bought the wrong package… Maybe Adobe can change/correct it for you…

    https://www.adobe.com/creativecloud/plans.html

    This is the plan you want… It includes both Lightroom and Photoshop…

    If this is the plan you subscribed to…then you just need to download Photoshop…

    Otherwise, to answer your basic question, “No, LR by itself doesn’t do Focus stacking to my knowledge…

    There are several other programs that do Focus stacking… StarStax is free. Helicon Focus has several free/paid packages
    Thanks/Like Dangerspouse Thanks/liked this post
     

  4. #4
    Senior Member
    Dangerspouse's Avatar

    Re: Focus Stacking

    Quote Originally Posted by pforsell View Post
    How about a specialized stacking software? There are several of them, but CombineZP is free while Zerene Stacker and Helicon Focus cost some money. There are plenty of others, do a google search.

    If you don't need PS for anything more than stacking, these other options might be way more economical. And they have a lot of automation built in.
    Thank you very much, that is extremely helpful. I'll look into CombineZP when I get home later. Much appreciated!

  5. #5
    Senior Member
    Dangerspouse's Avatar

    Re: Focus Stacking

    Quote Originally Posted by FredKingston View Post
    Well… Let’s see if we can wade thru this…

    You say you Bought a subscription to Lightroom Classic… It sounds like you may have bought the wrong package… Maybe Adobe can change/correct it for you…

    https://www.adobe.com/creativecloud/plans.html

    This is the plan you want… It includes both Lightroom and Photoshop…

    If this is the plan you subscribed to…then you just need to download Photoshop…

    Otherwise, to answer your basic question, “No, LR by itself doesn’t do Focus stacking to my knowledge…

    There are several other programs that do Focus stacking… StarStax is free. Helicon Focus has several free/paid packages
    Thanks so much for that! I'll check which version I have when I get home later (my wife is the one who actually downloaded it) and see if we have it available.

    I'm grateful for you guys taking the time to answer this. All the best to both of you.

    Tom

  6. #6
    Senior Member

    Re: Focus Stacking

    Focus Stacking
    Yeh, you should get LR and PS as part of the $10/month photography package. Adobe plays some marketing games and doesn't always show everybody the same offerings. Sometimes you have to dig.
    How big are the objects and how much detail do you need? Before you get too involved with the stacking, try a high aperture and back up a couple of feet. You will need more shutter time and/or more light. As you back up, dof increases. You should have plenty of mp to do some cropping to get back to a close view. If you are not using a tripod, then you will need flash or more light. Keep your iso low though. I like somewhere between 100-400. Try to focus on a midpoint front to rear, not the front face of the object.

    Here are a couple of quick shots. Handheld with flash and I used single point autofocus. With a tripod and manual focus you can do better. Find your sweet spot for backing up but still having enough detail after cropping. Some like to use live view to manually focus, you can zoom and really get it perfect.

    Focus Stacking-d71_1129.jpg

    Focus Stacking-d71_1131.jpg
    Thanks/Like Dangerspouse Thanks/liked this post
     
    I must have a really good camera.

  7. #7
    Senior Member
    pforsell's Avatar

    Re: Focus Stacking

    @Dangerspouse You got good advice above. As per your OP, you might need a lot more magnification though. When shooting for stacks, don't close the aperture too much. If you go beyond f/8 or f/11 you will lose detail and resolution due to diffraction. Better to shoot a few more shots for the stack.

    If you will be doing a lot of those kind of shots, consider an automatic focus stacking rail. You can program the step size and number of steps and leave the rail and camera do the job. Tether your camera to a laptop, and your images will be on your hard drive ready to be stacked. Minimal hassle, maximum productivity. I use the Cognisys StackShot, but there are others in every price bracket.
    Thanks/Like Dangerspouse Thanks/liked this post
     
    9 Nikon single-digit pro bodies from D1H to D5.
    12 Nikon three-digit consumer bodies from D100 and up.
    56 Nikkor prime lenses from AIS 8/2.8 to AFS 400/2.8VR
    4 Nikkor zoom lenses: 14-24/2.8, 17-35/2.8, 28-70/2.8, 70-200/2.8VR
    My fastest lens is f/1.2 (x3) and slowest f/2.8


  8. #8
    Senior Member
    pforsell's Avatar

    Re: Focus Stacking

    Adding to my own post... if/when you need very large magnifications the stacking operation would be best done using bellows so that the front standard (lens) doesn't move but the camera instead. This way the magnification doesn't change as much and you won't get halos caused by size difference of the subject in consecutive frames.

    I don't know if that makes linguistically any sense... english is my third language. If that is gibberish please let me know and I try to draw a diagram to clarify my point.
    Thanks/Like Dangerspouse Thanks/liked this post
     
    9 Nikon single-digit pro bodies from D1H to D5.
    12 Nikon three-digit consumer bodies from D100 and up.
    56 Nikkor prime lenses from AIS 8/2.8 to AFS 400/2.8VR
    4 Nikkor zoom lenses: 14-24/2.8, 17-35/2.8, 28-70/2.8, 70-200/2.8VR
    My fastest lens is f/1.2 (x3) and slowest f/2.8


  9. #9
    Senior Member
    Dangerspouse's Avatar

    Re: Focus Stacking

    Quote Originally Posted by nickt View Post
    Yeh, you should get LR and PS as part of the $10/month photography package. Adobe plays some marketing games and doesn't always show everybody the same offerings. Sometimes you have to dig.
    How big are the objects and how much detail do you need? Before you get too involved with the stacking, try a high aperture and back up a couple of feet. You will need more shutter time and/or more light. As you back up, dof increases. You should have plenty of mp to do some cropping to get back to a close view. If you are not using a tripod, then you will need flash or more light. Keep your iso low though. I like somewhere between 100-400. Try to focus on a midpoint front to rear, not the front face of the object.

    Here are a couple of quick shots. Handheld with flash and I used single point autofocus. With a tripod and manual focus you can do better. Find your sweet spot for backing up but still having enough detail after cropping. Some like to use live view to manually focus, you can zoom and really get it perfect.
    Thank you for those excellent tips, and the gorgeous examples! I appreciate the advice, it's very, very useful info.

    Here's an example of the kind of detail she needs. This first shot is one of the thimble boxes she sells, and this sort of picture is what gets put in catalogs and product packages:

    Focus Stacking-thimble-box.jpg

    This next pic shows the kind of zoom she needs to do her work. She charts reproductions of historical samplers and needs to know details of individual threads in order to insure accuracy. These pictures are sometimes included in her retail kits to show others as well. (This is a detail of the box pictured above, which I used as a test subject):

    Focus Stacking-thread-macro.jpg

    This was inside a light tent, on a tripod, with a 40mm Nikkor micro (prime),two side spotlights and a front mounted ring light:

    Focus Stacking-macro-setup-lightbox.jpg

    Unfortunately that's the only lens I have with 1:1 micro ability. I've tried my other lenses with a reverse mount adapter, but nothing matches the quality pics I get with that 40. And for really tight shots like that second pic, I'm not sure I'm steady enough to go hand-held even if I could afford the 105-micro Nikkor.

    However, you've given me a lot to think about so I'm going to take your advice and see how things work backing up a bit, using a higher aperture, and then cropping down. Thanks again for that!


  10. #10
    Senior Member
    Dangerspouse's Avatar

    Re: Focus Stacking

    Quote Originally Posted by pforsell View Post
    Adding to my own post... if/when you need very large magnifications the stacking operation would be best done using bellows so that the front standard (lens) doesn't move but the camera instead. This way the magnification doesn't change as much and you won't get halos caused by size difference of the subject in consecutive frames.

    I don't know if that makes linguistically any sense... english is my third language. If that is gibberish please let me know and I try to draw a diagram to clarify my point.
    Your English is perfect. I never would have known it was not your native tongue if you hadn't mentioned it. Everything you wrote was crystal clear and does not require visual diagrams. I'm very impressed!

    Unfortunately, money is a bit of an issue. I probably would not be able to afford some of the equipment you recommend, starting with the laptop, which I don't own (your Cognisys costs more than my entire rig, for instance). I do see some reasonably priced macro rails for sale, but they are all manual models rather than automatic. Do you think there is much difference, other than convenience?

    Your advice to not go beyond f/16 is sound, and something I didn't know. Thanks very much, that's probably something I would have made a mistake with while trying to get greater DOF. I'll keep that in mind now.

    Thank you again for taking the time to address my question so thoroughly! I'm very grateful.





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