Helicon vs Serene: for Focus Stacking Software? (Or another suggestion?)

cayenne

EOS 5D Mark IV
Mar 28, 2012
2,307
312
Hi all,
I'm playing around with some macro and maybe even some landscape serious focus stacking....

I'm looking at:

Helicon Focus
vs
Zerene Stacker

And was wondering who here might have recommendations between the two....and why you like what you have/recommend?

I've been taking some focus stacks with my 5D3....I also have been shooing 120-150 shot medium format RAW images too (about 200+ mb each)....and when I get a R5 after the first of the year, I'm sure I'll be shooting many image large RAW focus stack series with that too.

I have a Mac Pro, so, I should have the horsepower to handle this many files with large sizes....but which is the best?

I plan to get the Pro version of which ever software I get...but was hoping some of the great folks here could give me some recommendations and anecdotal experience with one or both of them.

Thank you very much in advance!!

cayenne
 
Last edited:

Mt Spokane Photography

I post too Much on Here!!
Mar 25, 2011
16,114
1,204
I evaluated both, but lost interest and never bought one. Each has its points. I'd suggest making use of the free trial to see which is faster and which is better. Faster does not mean better.
 

cayenne

EOS 5D Mark IV
Mar 28, 2012
2,307
312
I evaluated both, but lost interest and never bought one. Each has its points. I'd suggest making use of the free trial to see which is faster and which is better. Faster does not mean better.

I've downloaded both of them. I"m currently generating TIFF from RAW to give Helicon first shot at a focus stack project.

I'll run the 30 day trial of Zerene on the same TIFF stack.

After that, I think I"ll delete all the TIFF intermediates...and try the Capture One Helicon plug in that supposedly makes a seamless round trip to HF and back.

But still looking for any input from anyone that's used this and has opinions of them....

Thank you in advance!!

cayenne
 

cayenne

EOS 5D Mark IV
Mar 28, 2012
2,307
312
Well so far...the Helicon Focus seems to be a bit ahead of the Zerene app for me.

However, it appears there is a LOT of info I need to delve into with Zerene to maybe learn to 'tune' some parameters. I'll keep playing with it.

So far, it appears I like Helicon's ability to work with RAW images in and export DNG (essentially "RAW") images out....I'm working right now to see how much I can push/pull the resultant DNG image in both capture one and On1 RAW.

I tried originally doing some slight sharpness, color ,etc....in Capture One first and exporting out as TIFF files...and running through both focus stacking programs.

Those small adjustments seemed to be overly amplified somewhat....so, thinking if I can get back close to a RAWimage after stacking with the Helicon app, I might like to go that way.

C1 has a Helicon plug-in that can make the roundtrip seamless...but it only seems to run it as TIFF out and TIFF in....so, not sure how that will work.

I did do that route and have several resultant images....and I didn't even yet do ALL the permutations as that HF and Zerene both have multiple algorithms you can choose for processing.

Anyway, still working the experiments....

I also need to shoot a few more varied focus stack images to try while on the trial period. HF seems to also have some editing capabilities within the focus stacking process....like if something moves, you can choose which in focus images to use in case it chooses poorly.

Anyway, that's progress so far.

If ANYONE has experience with these programs and can offer some info/insight please chime in!!

cayenne