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Focusing rail for focus stacking


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<p>I am taking closeups with my T1i and the Canon 100mm f2.8 USM macro lens. I have tried focus stacking by changing the focus distance of the lens but cannot get the consistent results I want so I need a focusing rail. Cost is a consideration. One possibility is the Adorama Budget Focusing Rail (http://www.adorama.com/SearchSite/Default.aspx?searchinfo=budget%20focusing%20rail). I am concerned that it may be very difficult to advance a rack and pinion focusing rail in increments as small as one or two millimeters. Is advancing in small steps a problem with a rack and pinion rail?</p>

<p>The other alternative I have found is the Hakuba/Velbon Micro Slider (http://www.adorama.com/SearchSite/Default.aspx?searchinfo=hakuba%20macro%20slider). This uses a worm gear and advances 3.9mm per full revolution of the knob so advancing in increments of one or two millimeters should be easy.</p>

<p>Which of these two would be best? Are there other reasonably priced alternatives I should be looking at?</p>

<p>Thanks for your thoughts.</p>

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<p>Lots of focusing rails come up on eBay, new and used. However, the prices realized are often fairly high, but at least there is an alternative to buying new.</p>

<p>The devices themselves have been pretty much the same for many years.<br /> How fine increments can be depend very much on the particular focusing rail. A few have micrometer like adjustments.</p>

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<p>Even though I do a lot of stacking, I have never bought one. I've thought about it, so if you do find one that is both good and not too expensive, I'd be interested in your experience. However, I have been able to get fine results just changing focus at 1:1 (closest focus with your lens) and somewhat higher (e.g., using tubes with the lens). With really high magnification, its another matter--that's why I am thinking about a rail. What I have found is that if I make very small focus adjustments, it seems to work fine, with stacks ranging from 3 images to about 18. All the stacks here <strong>http://tinyurl.com/3fq8sgd </strong>were made that way, although a lot were with a 60mm macro lens rather than my 100mm.</p>

<p>Stacking can be fussy, so there may be problems unrelated to your use of focusing adjustments. If you post an example, people might be able to suggest things.</p>

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<p>Bill--</p>

<p>I start by focusing on the nearest part I want in focus. I then work back in very small increments, checking each image on the lcd before I go further. I don't find that the changes have to be exact, as long as they are small enough. Stacking will not work well if there are gaps in what is in focus (across all the images), but it does not seem to harm anything to have changes that are too small, except that it adds time.</p>

<p>Sometimes I check the farthest back point as well before starting, taking note using the focusing ring. Either way, I usually try to start a bit too close and go a bit too far back just in case, and then I discard any extras at each extreme.</p>

<p>Other things can cause problems with stacking. One is if there is too big a distance (front to back) between things that are in focus. For example, this can happen if the anther of a flower is far forward of any petals behind it. This can't be fixed with smaller movements. Instead, you have to patch it up afterwards. I use Zerene for stacking, and it has a retouching tool that you can use for this. For example, I think I needed to retouch the one I will post below, for that reason.</p>

<p>Dan</p>

<p><img src="http://dkoretz.smugmug.com/Nature/Flowers-and-mushrooms/i-n6RwfvR/0/L/2011-07-15-184221-ZS-retouched-L.jpg" alt="" /></p>

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I don't do a lot of Macro and have only really played with focus stacking. That said I found my Manfrotto micro

positioning plate (454) worked well and fits any tripod. I think they are about $70. I believe more serious focus

stackers use the 1/2 inch and 3/8 inch screwed to further stabilize the rail.

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<p ><a name="00ZAOA"></a><a href="../photodb/user?user_id=4435813">Philip Wilson</a> <a href="../member-status-icons"><img title="Subscriber" src="../v3graphics/member-status-icons/sub3.gif" alt="" /><img title="Frequent poster" src="../v3graphics/member-status-icons/2rolls.gif" alt="" /></a>, Aug 10, 2011; 12:21 a.m.</p>

 

<p>I don't do a lot of Macro and have only really played with focus stacking. That said I found my Manfrotto micro positioning plate (454) worked well and fits any tripod. I think they are about $70. I believe more serious focus stackers use the 1/2 inch and 3/8 inch screwed to further stabilize the rail.</p>

<p>I also have purchased the 454. However. I have one question, it seems that the object can be no close that the tripod logs. Le me rephrase, I pace the object doen on a table, then I set up the tripod with ocusing rail. Given that the legs of the pod extends a good bit from the senter, I can never get the focusing rail any closer. Am I missing something? FYI, I attach the rail to the 410 head, giving it a good deal more flexability</p>

 

 

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<p>Gregory, Thanks for the reference to the Manfrotto 454 plate.</p>

<p>You should be able to set the length of the tripod legs so that they go under the table. You may have to raise the center column a couple of inches to get the camera height you need but you should be able to get the center column against the edge of the table. Another alternative is the Manfrotto 190XPROB or 055XPROB tripod which allow you to quickly flip the center column to the horizontal position so you can extend the camera over the edge of the table.</p>

<p>Thanks to everyone else for your comments and suggestions.</p>

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One of my tripods is the 055 XPROB and with the 454 and even a light setup like a 5DII and 100 F4 LIS you need the

center column down. Outdoors with the legs very wide you can use the XPROB feature but only if the column is not

really extended. Once you start using the XPROB feature or cenetr column the 055 gets increadibly sensitive to

vibration. Perhaps in a very still environment with a lot of care you may make it work

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<p>I got <a href="http://www.adorama.com/MCFRS.html">this rail</a> from Adorama, and it works great. There's a little bit of flex, but it isn't awful. It's also pretty easy to make very fine adjustments in distance, and there are rulers on it so you can make precise changes in distance. It's more expensive than the one you linked to, but it's still much cheaper than many of the other options. I tend to avoid the most inexpensive options available for this kind of thing because of various compromises that must be made to keep the price so low. If the one you're considering is hard to adjust precisely, or has a lot of flex, it's going to be more frustrating to use, and you may not even bother. If you end up buying a better one in disgust, you'd be better off buying the better one up front...much like tripods. I'm not saying the budget one is terrible; I have no experience with it. But without knowing what the compromises are that keep the price down, you're taking a risk.</p>

<p>It's also very useful to use a remote release, if you aren't already.</p>

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  • 2 years later...
<p>I have the Manfrotto 454 positioning plate. I have used it extensively for the past two years. I did quite a bit of research on what was available at that time and chose the 454 due to it's positive reviews, small enough to fit in a camera bag, quick release. After using it for quite some time I have found that the screw is not as accurate as I would like. It wobbles as you turn the screw. This has a tendency to affect the clearness along edges of objects which in my opinion, detracts from the photo. Macro photography does involve up close perspectives and does show if there is blurring. Photo stacking will enhance the blur. I could retouch using the option in Zerene but it is very tedious and I would prefer to be more accurate with the photography than with the retouching tool on a computer program. I will be looking for a better positioning plate.</p><div>00cXN3-547449684.jpg.cfd75226671d3207e78d6f487bd2bf26.jpg</div>
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