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Was watching some video from Adobe Creative Live last night and found myself interested in this software:

 

http://www.heliconsoft.com/heliconsoft-products/helicon-focus/

 

Its $50 for a one year license for the pro edition. Thought it might be worth trying for a year and playing around with stack focusing. Kind of appeals to me.

 

Anyone use it?

 

Jill

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clove-isolated-on-white-high-magnificati

 

Yes, I did this with Helicon. You might also consider zerene stacker. I used the trial of Zerene and found it to produce better results but it is more expensive. You can also do stacking with Photoshop CC but it's quite a drawn out process and difficult to re-touch.  You will need to do quite a bit of re-touching for Alamy if you want to do high magnification stuff.

I quite often use it to extend the DOF just a little rather than doing full stacks. This way it avoids the artefacts than can be introduced when working really close. Some of my seed close-ups use stacking like this.

Edited by JohnB
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As it happens I spent most of yesterday doing stacks of plants and flowers.  It allows you to take photos that would otherwise be impossible but it's very time consuming to do it well.  Ideally you need a focussing rail if you are doing macro work although it is possible to get good results by changing the focus on the lens if you are careful.  The results nearly always require some re-touching but the Pro version has a very good cloning tool.  I've mentioned it in a couple of blogs over the years.

 

Chris

 

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Now if only the returns would be in proportion to the effort  ;)

 

Cheers,

Philippe

It would be a very popular technique if we were paid by the hour.

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It's working pretty good (Mac osX), i even use it for landscapes. Instead of shooting higher than my favorite F11, i shoot multiple images at F8 or F11 and stack them together for maximum DOF and sharpness. Lately i use more and more my TS-S for maximum DOF, but Helicon is still a very nice alternative. some might say use Zerene Stacker, but both work more or less in the same way...stacking.

 

Good luck!

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Think I may give it a try.

 

Jill

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I have been using only Photoshop CS6 (not CC or Helicon Focus). Camera usually on tripod and change focus from front to back at F11.

 

Here is a grasshopper that held steady because it was cold. Tripod 100MM macro took 9 shots front to back F 11 but only used 6 front shots in order not to sharpen background. No cloning necessary.

 

a-grasshopper-on-a-milkweed-leaf-in-roug

 

Flowers hand held 7 shots front to back F 5.6 wide angle. Only used 4 front shots to place attention on front flowers and soften from mid image to back. Some simple cloning to clean up some double outlines on front flowers.

 

marsh-marigold-aka-kingcup-caltha-palust

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There is an Adobe video on using either Lightroom or CS6, can't remember which as I use both, for focus stacking and gave it a try at the time for flowers having come across an article which reckoned the sharpest aperture for aps-c was around f4. The software didn't seem to align the shots to a satisfactory level and I haven't got 'round to trying to perfect this; but the video on utube may be worth a look before you part with any cash.

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If you want to try stacking longer term without paying out for the software try CombineZM.  It will give you an idea for free though it's not as good as the more professional stuff.  This Helophilus pendulus shot was 5 shots converted to TIF and combined in CZM.

 

stacked-image-of-a-garden-hoverfly-helop

Edited by John Richmond

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The software didn't seem to align the shots to a satisfactory level 

 

I have had alignment failures on some images. According to Adobe their software seeks to aline lines and not points. So, for instance, it will not align a star field or a flower image without strong lines.
 
It uses the time metadata in the files to select the first image shot in the sequence, and aligns the rest of the images to that first image.
 
This is why for architecture, panoramas, of focus stacking the first image you shoot should be the master image that you want everything else to line up with.

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