September 20, 2014, 12:28:26 AM

Author Topic: Issues with focus stacking  (Read 1724 times)

yorgasor

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Issues with focus stacking
« on: April 09, 2014, 02:27:39 PM »
I've recently started exploring with focus stacking.  I have a macro slider rail with metric measurements that allow me to precisely adjust the camera distance to the subject.  Depending on the depth of field and the lense being used, I will usually take photos between 2mm and 5mm apart.  I'll end up with about 15 photos that I will then load into Photoshop CC that aligns the photos in the stack, picks out the portions in focus, and combines it into a single image. 

When it works, it works great!  However, sometimes Photoshop doesn't pick out portions that were in focus, and leaves the photo with random bits that were blurred.  Here's an example from a session this morning:



There's a random bulb on the right that is out of focus, where every other one looks fine. Also, just to the right of the bulbs in the middle, the flower pedal starts out in focus, before suddenly going out of focus. Looking through my stack of photos, I had shots where these portions were all in perfect focus.

Is there a way I can fine tune the stacking process, giving photoshop hints of where it went wrong and correct them?  I've read lots of tutorials on this topic, but none of them even hint that Photoshop could make a mistake or how to correct it.  Anyone here with advice?

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Issues with focus stacking
« on: April 09, 2014, 02:27:39 PM »

TheBiologist

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Re: Issues with focus stacking
« Reply #1 on: April 10, 2014, 12:15:45 AM »
If you've got the image in focus, your best bet is probably to use a layer mask. You'd bring in a new layer with the image that has the focus. Put it on the top layer so it appears above the other images then black out the mask so that nothing will show. You then selectively paint in the section with a white brush to reveal the section that has focus so that it shows with other images. If your on the mask layer which will only show black you can lower the opacity to show the lower layers and aid with what focus you want painted in from the image.

privatebydesign

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Re: Issues with focus stacking
« Reply #2 on: April 10, 2014, 12:46:46 AM »
The focus stack has all the layers with their layer masks, you just have to adjust the layer masks that are already there. Just choose the the layer that has the best detail and paint white onto the layer mask, and black o the layer mask that is currently white.
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chrysoberyl

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Re: Issues with focus stacking
« Reply #3 on: August 05, 2014, 08:43:30 AM »
First, I am very new to focus stacking.  My 6D has a feature that stacks up to 9 images, but they are consistently blurry.  I use a very steady tripod and RF remote.  I change focus the minimum amount.  Please recommend next steps.  Is a macro slider rail requisite?

tolusina

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Re: Issues with focus stacking
« Reply #4 on: August 05, 2014, 02:32:10 PM »
....... My 6D has a feature that stacks up to 9 images......
....... Is a macro slider rail requisite?.......
Um, your 6D does what? I find no such feature in mine, is ML on your 6D? Please tell where did you find such a feature?
 
A slider rail is one option, one method, maybe the better choice, I'm not qualified to to make that call.
 
Do check out this thread, first attempts at macro stacking, let's see some stuff. (beginners only please), though I think there are a few posts from members with more than beginner level experience.
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ajperk

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Re: Issues with focus stacking
« Reply #5 on: August 05, 2014, 02:45:19 PM »
....... My 6D has a feature that stacks up to 9 images......
....... Is a macro slider rail requisite?.......
Um, your 6D does what? I find no such feature in mine, is ML on your 6D? Please tell where did you find such a feature?
 
A slider rail is one option, one method, maybe the better choice, I'm not qualified to to make that call.
 
Do check out this thread, first attempts at macro stacking, let's see some stuff. (beginners only please), though I think there are a few posts from members with more than beginner level experience.

The 6D has a multi-shot noise reduction feature that allows you to take up to 9-images that it then converts into a final noise-reduced jpeg. Maybe they are talking about this feature? It may also explain why the results are consistently blurry.
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tolusina

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Re: Issues with focus stacking
« Reply #6 on: August 05, 2014, 04:44:08 PM »
......
The 6D has a multi-shot noise reduction feature that allows you to take up to 9-images that it then converts into a final noise-reduced jpeg. Maybe they are talking about this feature? It may also explain why the results are consistently blurry.....
D'oh on me then. Just a few days back I was trying to figure out how to do exactly that, your post jolted me straight towards the answer I sought, thanks.

I'm not imaging this feature to be at all useful for focus stacking though, am I missing something else?
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Re: Issues with focus stacking
« Reply #6 on: August 05, 2014, 04:44:08 PM »

ajperk

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Re: Issues with focus stacking
« Reply #7 on: August 05, 2014, 04:50:50 PM »
......
The 6D has a multi-shot noise reduction feature that allows you to take up to 9-images that it then converts into a final noise-reduced jpeg. Maybe they are talking about this feature? It may also explain why the results are consistently blurry.....
D'oh on me then. Just a few days back I was trying to figure out how to do exactly that, your post jolted me straight towards the answer I sought, thanks.

I'm not imaging this feature to be at all useful for focus stacking though, am I missing something else?

I've only experimented with it a little bit for noise reduction. Even with a tripod I have found that you begin to lose fine detail, which is what aggressive noise reduction does anyway, so as far as I could tell it wasn't radically better than available noise reduction techniques. Perhaps I wasn't doing it right, though.

I have not tried anything like focus stacking with it. Being that it's essentially an averaging of all the photos together, I don't think it would work great for focus stacking. In fact, my first guess is that you would get what was mentioned: an overall blurry image as the camera attempts to average the in focus and out-of-focus portions of all the images.
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chrysoberyl

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Re: Issues with focus stacking
« Reply #8 on: August 07, 2014, 07:42:30 AM »
I would mention that I am pretty new to photography, too, but that is obvious now.  Thanks all for clarifying the feature I assumed was focus stacking.  I go now to the thread, first attempts at macro stacking, let's see some stuff. (beginners only please).  Thanks, Tolusina!

gruhl28

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Re: Issues with focus stacking
« Reply #9 on: August 15, 2014, 12:23:44 PM »
I've recently started exploring with focus stacking.  I have a macro slider rail with metric measurements that allow me to precisely adjust the camera distance to the subject.  Depending on the depth of field and the lense being used, I will usually take photos between 2mm and 5mm apart.  I'll end up with about 15 photos that I will then load into Photoshop CC that aligns the photos in the stack, picks out the portions in focus, and combines it into a single image. 

When it works, it works great!  However, sometimes Photoshop doesn't pick out portions that were in focus, and leaves the photo with random bits that were blurred.  Here's an example from a session this morning:



There's a random bulb on the right that is out of focus, where every other one looks fine. Also, just to the right of the bulbs in the middle, the flower pedal starts out in focus, before suddenly going out of focus. Looking through my stack of photos, I had shots where these portions were all in perfect focus.

Is there a way I can fine tune the stacking process, giving photoshop hints of where it went wrong and correct them?  I've read lots of tutorials on this topic, but none of them even hint that Photoshop could make a mistake or how to correct it.  Anyone here with advice?

FYI, there is a bug in AutoBlend in the update of Photoshop CC that was released about a week and a half ago, where it no longer selects the in-focus sections of each layer, but instead selects almost all of the bottom layer when using AutoBlend for focus stacking. See
https://forums.adobe.com/message/6620256#6620256

infared

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Re: Issues with focus stacking
« Reply #10 on: August 15, 2014, 03:27:56 PM »
Is focus stacking similar to suitcase stacking?  :o
« Last Edit: August 15, 2014, 03:31:30 PM by infared »
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chrysoberyl

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Re: Issues with focus stacking
« Reply #11 on: August 15, 2014, 03:46:31 PM »
Yes!  My images all come out looking mashed!  Hopefully Elements 12 will be the proper tool.

quod

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Re: Issues with focus stacking
« Reply #12 on: August 15, 2014, 04:53:32 PM »
When it works, it works great!  However, sometimes Photoshop doesn't pick out portions that were in focus, and leaves the photo with random bits that were blurred ....
There's a random bulb on the right that is out of focus, where every other one looks fine. Also, just to the right of the bulbs in the middle, the flower pedal starts out in focus, before suddenly going out of focus. Looking through my stack of photos, I had shots where these portions were all in perfect focus.
I have the same problem.  I have focus stacked a few landscape shots and Photoshop will not seem to process them correctly, leaving some areas fuzzy that should be sharp.  I'm curious to find out what tools other use because I am convinced Photoshop's stacking feature needs a serious upgrade.

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Re: Issues with focus stacking
« Reply #12 on: August 15, 2014, 04:53:32 PM »

tculotta

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Re: Issues with focus stacking
« Reply #13 on: August 21, 2014, 10:04:41 AM »
Have you tried an app that is specific to stacking, like Helicon Focus to see if it produces a better result? I may be wrong, but I suspect that that stacking feature in PS is an add-on, like the HDR feature, that is sometimes not as capable as standalone apps.

privatebydesign

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Re: Issues with focus stacking
« Reply #14 on: August 21, 2014, 10:13:37 AM »
I found very little difference between Helicon Focus and PS CS6, so much so that I don't use Helicon anymore. The key is to work through the layer masks, they always need a touch up here and there in both programs.
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Re: Issues with focus stacking
« Reply #14 on: August 21, 2014, 10:13:37 AM »