Focus stacking with Z 7

Discussion in 'Macro' started by mark4583|1, Sep 1, 2020.

  1. This is my 1st attempt at stacking, looks as if all is in focus except the last driver, my question is should I have taken more shots? (10) or more width (5) or both? anyone have a basic formula for macro and Landscape? Thanks

    Gerald Cafferty likes this.
  2. Hi Mark,
    I'm a little surprised that no one has responded to your questions. I'll give it a try based on my own experience with stacking.

    You do not say what f stop was used. When you say "width" are you referring to depth of field? Are you using a rail? Looks like the rear isn't in focus because you didn't focus all the way through.

    Most often I get good results at f 8 with a Canon ef-s 60mm macro lens. I shoot as many frames as necessary to get what I'm looking for. I use a rail to focus through and I use the stack in PS6 to put things together. Others will approach this differently. You don't need a rail, but it is very helpful. I don't leave home without it.

    You ask about a basic formula for macro and landscape. Is this with regard to stacking? I can't address the landscape, but what I described above is my starting point for stacking macro images.

    What you have here is nice. Keep doing what you're doing if it works for you. You might want to keep notes to help you better understand what goes right or wrong. Best wishes.
  3. A very good start. Keep it up.

    I can only speak to stacking macro images. I've stacked a great many macro images but zero landscapes.

    The three essential elements are:
    1. making sure the stack extends forward enough to include the near detail you want.
    2. Making sure the stack extends back far enough to include the detail you want.
    3. Making sure that the difference in focus between shots is not large enough to leave unsharp areas.

    The last is the hard part. you can buy software that will do it for you, but if you do it by hand, you'll gradually learn from experience. I do all of mine by hand. As Laura pointed out, pay attention to your aperture, because that determines how much you can change focus between shots. I no longer use the 60mm length that Laura mentioned, but with my 100mm macro and a full-frame body, I generally shoot at f/7.1 when I'm going to stack.

    If I were doing work with much smaller things, I would probably do the math to figure out how far apart shots should be, but I haven't needed to in my work. Most of my stacking is flowers.

    If you are shooting things this large, there is no need for a rail, although there's usually no harm in using one. As Rik Littlefield, who wrote the Zerene stacking software I use once said, if you're shooting something larger than a raisin, adjusting focus using the lens barrel is often best. In most cases, you won't see a difference, but in some cases you can. The example I saw where a rack was a problem was a fairly complicated situation, which you wouldn't encounter starting out but that comes up in a fair number of my images: using two different stacking algorithms and touching up from one to the other. (The reason for this is that different algorithms have different weaknesses.) So I would say that if you find a rack easier, go for it, but don't feel that you have to use one. I've stacked much of my work for many years, and while I have a fairly high-end rail (Kirk), I don't use if to change focus between shots. I use it, in combination with a geared tripod head, to make it easier to get the framing and position right for the first shot in the stack.

    There are some excellent tutorials on the Zerene website, but they mix general principles with things specific to that software.

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