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Focus Stacking

Lesson 24 from: FAST CLASS: Fundamentals of Photography

John Greengo

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Lesson Info

24. Focus Stacking


Class Trailer

Photographic Characteristics


Camera Types


Shutter System


Shutter Speed Basics


Camera Settings Overview


Camera Settings - Details


Sensor Size: Basics


Focal Length


Lesson Info

Focus Stacking

a relatively new feature now being included in some cameras is focused Stacking. What happens here is the camera will take multiple photos, adjusting the focus slightly after each photo so that you end up with a series of photos that are each focused on something slightly different. And this is a different way of getting great depth of field. Now you're going to need to use some sort of enhancement program or photo software manipulation software to take all these images and run it through a program and collect all the sharpest bits of all of them so that you get one compressed image essentially of all of these taking the sharpest bits of all of these. So, as an example of what we're doing here, if you shoot with shallow depth of field, you're obviously not going to get the background and focus with something in the foreground. Now you can stop the lens down to F 22 you're still not going to get the background in focus in some cases. And if you watched the previous section in this class...

, you'll say, John, you didn't focus in the right spot. You're focused on the nearest subject, you should focus on the subject in the middle. All right. Well, even when you focus on the subject in the middle, F 22 still does not give you sharp focus from foreground to background in some situations where you're just running the limits of what you can get in focus. So using the focus stacking. Currently it is in some of the Olympus cameras and in at least one of the Nikon cameras at the time we film this, you're going to shoot a bunch of pictures, and now you can shoot your prime aperture, and I don't want to shoot it F 22 because of the diffraction that you get. I like shooting F eight F 11. I want to get a little bit more depth of field, so I'll shoot it. F 11. I've shot 50 images, and I know these air really small on screen, and you can't see him. But they're all different, and I've done a focus step with of one. What is a step with a step with is nigh cons definition of a little bit. Their step with two, which is a little bit more, and how much kind of overlap. Do you want on these images? Because at F 11 there's gonna be a bit adept. The field and the next one will be next to it, and it's gonna have a little bit of an overlap there and then the next one and the next one in the next one, and you want to make sure there is some overlap. It's going to depend on how much you need cause I could have shot this Siri's with 500 shots. That's gonna bog my computer down. I could have shot it with five shots, and it might not have been enough. So there is kind of a sweet spot on how many images to shoot, and it depends on what you're trying to do. All right, So if you want to take a look at what these images look like, the first image is the image, with the subject closest to the camera in focus. That's where I start the process, and then the camera moves it a little bit with each photo for each of the fifties until it gets to the last one, where, in this case, it's focused either on the background or possibly even slightly behind the background. So I run it through a program, and now I get one sharp image from front to back. And if we compare items in the foreground versus items in the background, you'll see that we're getting some very nice sharpness. Now some of you may have noticed on the doll head there. There's a little bit of unusual fuzziness around the edge. There are some options for getting into the programs and playing with the exact parameters and how it mask out mass things. And so that's one of things that you're gonna get when you have a computer, manipulate a whole bunch of photographs and come up with one sort of composite of it. But in general, you're gonna get really good results from this much better than you could ever get in a single shot. F 22. I typically don't do this out in the field, but if I come across a situation that really needs it and let me give you an example, this is down in California. This is Ah, near Monterey. Forget the name of the park down there, but there's these trees covered with these orange like in and it extends all up. It's very three dimensional, and focus stacking was used to get the shot. Now what I did is I focused and I didn't have a camera that did focus stacking. You don't need a camera that has that feature built in. You can just do it manually. Gotta be very careful. Got to be on a tripod. And so I take the first the second, the third, the fourth I forget. I think I took about shots. Justus many shots as it took me to get through this to get to the very back end of this scene. And then I got one final sharp image. And if you're wondering, is he just being a little bit picky? Is this really necessary? Let's take a look at a close up because I also shot one in F 22 just to see how much difference it would make. And so here you can see that there's a great deal of sharpness difference between just stopping downed F 22 doing the focus snacking and so focus stacking will give you sharper results. It can help out in other ways, a swell. So here I'm just focusing on a little flower at F 2.8, and I kind of like this because it blows the background out. You can't see anything going on, but the front edge and the back edge and the stem are no longer sharp. They're they're blurry cause the shot of the extreme, shallow depth of field. Now, if I just stop this down to F 32 the background, well, it becomes something different that I didn't really like. What I could do is focus stack on just the flower, but not go all the way to the background. And so it's stacking just those images of the flower. So I get a sharp picture of the flower, the leaves and the stem. But the background is still blurry, and so you can end up with the result that I was originally intending for when I was shooting at 2.8. Just a 2.8 wasn't right, and so it was a good solution for this situation. And so, if you're in a situation we're stopping down, F 22 is not giving you the depth of field that you're wanting. You can try focus stacking on your own or if your camera has it shooting multiple photos, moving the lens just a little bit from the foreground to the background so that you get everything and focus. So a few more examples of where I've used focus stacking, usually using an aperture of around F 11. That's a good number for focus stacking in my mind, and there are multiple programs out there that will allow you to do this. And I use Helicon Focus, which is at Silicon soft, and they seem to have pretty easy to work software. I haven't explored every nook and cranny of it, but I just kind of like Dumpem in process. Hey, that looks pretty good. A few little adjustments in there, but it's a pretty simple program and works well for anyone who has great needs for depth of field landscape photographers, architectural photographers and we talked a little bit about tilt shift lenses, and sometimes this will do things that you can't do with tilt shift lenses. They tilt shift lenses only solve certain amount of problems. This solves a different set of problems, So some some tips for focus stacking. I find it best to stay in the manual exposure mode because all of these photos are gonna become one they need to have all the same setting on them. Ah, this is for non moving subjects should be obvious. You're shooting multiple photos there, camera on a tripod, eight or 11 on your aperture setting. And then, if you are doing it manually, you have to be just very careful about adjusting that lens without bumping the camera. So things move. The program will actually align images that have been moved slightly because when you do focus, one of the things that you may have noticed, as we focus through all those different pictures is that the magnification changed slightly and that happens with camera lenses. It's called Focus breathing. It's not usually a big issue, and that's where there's a slightly different magnification as you focus back and forth and the cameras will or the processing software is gonna crop into the tightest of those images. And so it's better to shoot a little bit wide. If you think you might need that extra space around the edges,

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