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Manual lenses and focus stacking?
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 03, 2016 3:46 pm    Post subject: Manual lenses and focus stacking? Reply with quote

Will it be possible to use a focus stacker with images from a manual focus lens, or may a little movement to the camera body result in a bad image after the software processing?

Which photo stacker program will be the best to use? Are there any good freeware programs on the web?


PostPosted: Sat Dec 03, 2016 5:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Serious macro focus stackers mainly use macro rail/macro stage to change the focus anyway ie by moving camera + lens together slightly closer or further from the subject. This is much more precise than using the lens focus, whether auto or manual. So your qq is a bit apropos.

FYI - good web site:

http://extreme-macro.co.uk/focus-stacking/


PostPosted: Sat Dec 03, 2016 6:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Agreed, an automated Stacker certainly add functionality, like StackShot


PostPosted: Sat Dec 03, 2016 6:09 pm    Post subject: Re: Manual lenses and focus stacking? Reply with quote

Eriksen wrote:
Will it be possible to use a focus stacker with images from a manual focus lens, or may a little movement to the camera body result in a bad image after the software processing?

Which photo stacker program will be the best to use? Are there any good freeware programs on the web?


Most canned stacker programs have an alignment function to ensure X, Y, Theta, and Magnification alignment between frames, so small changes can be compensated. I've done many stacks using manual lenses, with varying amounts of success. Most of the issues relate to movement of the subject, not the camera.

A good program to start with is CombineZP. It's free, easy to use, and produces reasonably good results. If you are into programming you can also write your own scripts to minimize the over-sharpening inherent in the native macros.


PostPosted: Sun Dec 04, 2016 1:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Changing focus with some/most(?) lenses will change it's FOV aka focus breathing, which will cause problems with the stack alignment.
http://www.bobatkins.com/photography/technical/focus_breathing_focal_length_changes.html


PostPosted: Sun Dec 04, 2016 5:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lightshow wrote:
Changing focus with some/most(?) lenses will change it's FOV aka focus breathing, which will cause problems with the stack alignment.
http://www.bobatkins.com/photography/technical/focus_breathing_focal_length_changes.html


Focus breathing mainly applies to autofocus lenses in the macro range. Most manual focus macro lenses don't change focal length as they are adjusted to minimum focus distance (generally at max magnification of 1:2), but newer autofocus macro lenses (with max magnification of 1:1) must change focal length in order for the autofocus mechanics to work properly. It is this change in focal length that causes focus breathing. A truly manual lens (ie not an autofocus lens put in manual focus mode) won't generally have this problem.


PostPosted: Sun Dec 04, 2016 7:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

As someone who does a lot of stacking with mf lenses - it's pretty much covered already. Generally the tell of a lens that's going to have serious focus breathing issues is whether it's internally focusing or not, and most of the 'classic' macros tend to extend to focus and don't suffer from it significantly. What else - some will be a little optimistic about their true focal length which can cause some head scratching when you modify the lens with extension tubes/diopters about why you're ending up at a certain magnification contrary to what you might have calculated out beforehand. Some can end up a fair ways from what would be your ideal bi-telecentric projection and end up with some odd looking perspectives and implied distances between things as the whole image is assembled, depending on what method you used (moving the camera with the lens steady, focusing the lens, moving the camera and lens). But there is nothing on any of the ones I use that I would consider a serious problem for focus stacking purposes.


PostPosted: Sun Dec 04, 2016 10:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I bought on of these http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/282177655083?_trksid=p2057872.m2749.l2649&ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT in order to try it out.

When the lens is moved between each shot, there will off course be a difference in the size of these images, so the program has to align these in one way or another in order to get the final image to look good.

When I googled for stacking programs, the Helicon Fokus came up first in the list http://www.heliconsoft.com/heliconsoft-products/helicon-focus/ Are there anybody here who have tried out this program?


Last edited by Eriksen on Sun Dec 04, 2016 1:46 pm; edited 1 time in total


PostPosted: Sun Dec 04, 2016 1:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Eriksen wrote:
I bought on of these http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/282177655083?_trksid=p2057872.m2749.l2649&ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT in order to try it out.

When the lens is moved between each shot, there will off course be a difference in the size of these images, so the program have to align these in one way or another in order to get the final image to look good.

When I googled for stacking programs, the Helicon Fokus came up first in the list http://www.heliconsoft.com/heliconsoft-products/helicon-focus/ Are there anybody here who have tried out this program?


I've played with the demo of zerene and some other stackers, and I actually ended up reverting to photoshop for what I do, if I was doing 300 image stacks via either the olympus in-camera focus bracketing or a motor driven thing I'd probably shell out for it though. In my experience it was much less forgiving in terms of changing image perspective than PS and you absolutely had to stack images in order for it to do anything right at all. Not at all good for handheld stacking where there might be some degree of shift in perspective and a non-uniform or unpredictable series of steps (eg sandwiching two to four F11-F16 exposures of the subject into an F2.8 of the blown background or mixing and matching super resolution with stacked steps), which is stuff PS will merrily destroy without having to do much work. If you have subject movement going on though, you are going to be in for some work regardless of what program you use.

The hand turning focus rail things - I bought one just to see what it was like, pretty similar to that, and ended up taking the two bits apart and just adding them into the pile of bits of brackets. From what I understand one of those that works properly (to sub-mm accuracy and repeatable precision and stability) is a world of difference in terms of precision and stability from the $20-40 range ones you see on Ebay. And even when I have done some static subject macro stuff with a controlled lighting/shooting environment I found having to lash down the camera on a tripod was just a big old pain in the arse and ended up hand holding it anyway.


PostPosted: Sun Dec 04, 2016 3:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Eriksen wrote:
I bought on of these http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/282177655083?_trksid=p2057872.m2749.l2649&ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT in order to try it out.

When the lens is moved between each shot, there will off course be a difference in the size of these images, so the program has to align these in one way or another in order to get the final image to look good.

When I googled for stacking programs, the Helicon Fokus came up first in the list http://www.heliconsoft.com/heliconsoft-products/helicon-focus/ Are there anybody here who have tried out this program?


I use Helicon Focus for rendering stacks. My studio setup includes a stepper-based rail, and I use Helicon Remote to control it. I've had very good luck with Helicon and would recommend for all skill levels. Zerene is probably more powerful/flexible but is a steeper learning curve. Helicon Focus does all the alignment and scaling automatically for you so you don't need to worry about small differences between images.


PostPosted: Sun Dec 04, 2016 6:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Does that mean that I have to be very accurate between each step in order to get a good result? Will a hand controlled rail with random steps give a bad image after the software processing?


PostPosted: Sun Dec 04, 2016 8:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Eriksen wrote:
Does that mean that I have to be very accurate between each step in order to get a good result? Will a hand controlled rail with random steps give a bad image after the software processing?


It depends on the precision you expect out of it. If you look at the rail - ideally you would be able to hand move that thing from the entire range left to right and back and forth and take photos at the same offset as you went through the ranges on each axis. But on the cheap ones, you don't really have enough precision on the markings or the wheels to do this in a way that guarantees you're shooting from equally spaced positions, and the rail will pitch and lean and sag depending on where the camera is on it, so you're really looking at a very small range around the centre of it where it will even be at the same facing and orientation to the subject. You can use lower final magnification or larger f-stops to get around some of this, but at least with the one I bought, I thought it was very optimistic about the kind of range of travel that was usable on it, even with one of the lightest macro camera/lens combinations that exists.


PostPosted: Sun Dec 04, 2016 10:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Eriksen wrote:
Does that mean that I have to be very accurate between each step in order to get a good result? Will a hand controlled rail with random steps give a bad image after the software processing?


The problem that might show up is "focus banding". This is when the step size is larger than the depth of field. When you use an automated stepper, you can set the step sizes to be very precise, so that you never miss focusing on any levels within the stack. As you are already aware, if you manually focus using a rail, your step sizes won't be so precise. This means you'll probably need to make smaller steps than you really need to in order to avoid missing any levels. Other than this, having non-uniform steps is not such a bad thing, and in fact for many manual stacks I do, I will often purposefully choose the areas I want to be in focus. This can lead to banding, but if banding occurs in an area I don't care about, it's not so bad. This also minimizes the number of shots in the stack. Now, one thing you won't be able to do with non-uniform step sizes is 3D rendering. If you use depth map stacking, and try to do 3D rendering, the non-uniform steps will cause distortion in the Z-heights of the rendered features.


PostPosted: Mon Dec 05, 2016 7:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

An automated stacker is on my DIY To Do list. I have some parts, but need to statr programming and a bit machining.
I think manual stakcing is OK for smaller stacks with ~50 images. I have done few 300 image stacks manual and this was very tiring, especially with the times waiting before the exposure.


PostPosted: Mon Dec 05, 2016 8:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

For small objects and insects I've recently build a DIY macro stage from a computer CD-ROM, raspberry pi and a Easy Driver. I didn't tested it the right way (lack of time), but I know that the mechanics, motors and code are working. It's not my idea, it was done before, I have just adjusted for my needs / materials. This setup has it's limitations and flaws, but is easy to build and program. The cd-rom stepper motor is low resolution, ~ 20 steps per rotation, but easy driver can work with 2,4 and 8 microsteps/step resulting in a maximum 160 microsteps per rotation. It results in a ~10-15 microns "stage" movement per microstep which can be enough for some types of stacking. The raspberry pi also has the advantage of controling, via gphoto2, the the shutter of most cameras. I've tested it on canon 50d and 70d and it works. So it is kind of full automatic, after chosing the parameters: number of shots, no. of steps/microsteps, pause between shots. Right now I don't have a GUI, not even a web frontend; I insert the parameters directly in code. If someone is interested in this small project and I can help ...


PostPosted: Mon Dec 05, 2016 11:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

lucca1x wrote:
For small objects and insects I've recently build a DIY macro stage from a computer CD-ROM, raspberry pi and a Easy Driver. I didn't tested it the right way (lack of time), but I know that the mechanics, motors and code are working. It's not my idea, it was done before, I have just adjusted for my needs / materials. This setup has it's limitations and flaws, but is easy to build and program. The cd-rom stepper motor is low resolution, ~ 20 steps per rotation, but easy driver can work with 2,4 and 8 microsteps/step resulting in a maximum 160 microsteps per rotation. It results in a ~10-15 microns "stage" movement per microstep which can be enough for some types of stacking. The raspberry pi also has the advantage of controling, via gphoto2, the the shutter of most cameras. I've tested it on canon 50d and 70d and it works. So it is kind of full automatic, after chosing the parameters: number of shots, no. of steps/microsteps, pause between shots. Right now I don't have a GUI, not even a web frontend; I insert the parameters directly in code. If someone is interested in this small project and I can help ...


That sounds very interesting to me. I have done cnc building projects before, so if you could reveal the layout for this project, it would be very helpful.


PostPosted: Mon Dec 05, 2016 11:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

ZoneV wrote:
An automated stacker is on my DIY To Do list. I have some parts, but need to statr programming and a bit machining.
I think manual stakcing is OK for smaller stacks with ~50 images. I have done few 300 image stacks manual and this was very tiring, especially with the times waiting before the exposure.


Did you have to be very precise with the distance between each step when you did this manually? Can you see any difference in these images compared to the auto stacking images?


PostPosted: Mon Dec 05, 2016 11:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

My automated stacker is still on my To-Do list.
So I have no comparison between manual and automated stacking.


PostPosted: Mon Dec 05, 2016 2:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Eriksen wrote:
lucca1x wrote:
For small objects and insects I've recently build a DIY macro stage from a computer CD-ROM, raspberry pi and a Easy Driver. I didn't tested it the right way (lack of time), but I know that the mechanics, motors and code are working. It's not my idea, it was done before, I have just adjusted for my needs / materials. This setup has it's limitations and flaws, but is easy to build and program. The cd-rom stepper motor is low resolution, ~ 20 steps per rotation, but easy driver can work with 2,4 and 8 microsteps/step resulting in a maximum 160 microsteps per rotation. It results in a ~10-15 microns "stage" movement per microstep which can be enough for some types of stacking. The raspberry pi also has the advantage of controling, via gphoto2, the the shutter of most cameras. I've tested it on canon 50d and 70d and it works. So it is kind of full automatic, after chosing the parameters: number of shots, no. of steps/microsteps, pause between shots. Right now I don't have a GUI, not even a web frontend; I insert the parameters directly in code. If someone is interested in this small project and I can help ...


That sounds very interesting to me. I have done cnc building projects before, so if you could reveal the layout for this project, it would be very helpful.


Like I said the project is not finished, but I will post these days, what I have until now, in the DIY section.


PostPosted: Tue Dec 06, 2016 12:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Eriksen wrote:
lucca1x wrote:
For small objects and insects I've recently build a DIY macro stage from a computer CD-ROM, raspberry pi and a Easy Driver. I didn't tested it the right way (lack of time), but I know that the mechanics, motors and code are working. It's not my idea, it was done before, I have just adjusted for my needs / materials. This setup has it's limitations and flaws, but is easy to build and program. The cd-rom stepper motor is low resolution, ~ 20 steps per rotation, but easy driver can work with 2,4 and 8 microsteps/step resulting in a maximum 160 microsteps per rotation. It results in a ~10-15 microns "stage" movement per microstep which can be enough for some types of stacking. The raspberry pi also has the advantage of controling, via gphoto2, the the shutter of most cameras. I've tested it on canon 50d and 70d and it works. So it is kind of full automatic, after chosing the parameters: number of shots, no. of steps/microsteps, pause between shots. Right now I don't have a GUI, not even a web frontend; I insert the parameters directly in code. If someone is interested in this small project and I can help ...


That sounds very interesting to me. I have done cnc building projects before, so if you could reveal the layout for this project, it would be very helpful.


Here you are:

http://forum.mflenses.com/diy-mini-macrostage-with-raspberry-pi-and-cd-rom-stepper-t76348.html

It can be improved... a lot. Smile