Author Topic: Focus Stacking Using Photoshop  (Read 1451 times)

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nscaleSPF2

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Focus Stacking Using Photoshop
« on: January 08, 2017, 12:14:17 PM »
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There has been some discussion in other parts of this forum regarding the use of certain cameras that can "stack" several images to produce one that has everything (or almost everything) in focus.  I don't think that we talked about the use of Photoshop software that will do essentially the same thing with any camera.  Here is a simple tutorial that explains how this works.

https://photography.tutsplus.com/articles/focus-stacking-made-easy-with-photoshop--photo-12621

I have not tried this myself, yet.
Jim Hale

Trying to re-create a part of south-central Pennsylvania in 1956, one small bit at a time.

wcfn100

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Re: Focus Stacking Using Photoshop
« Reply #1 on: January 08, 2017, 12:40:52 PM »
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I've used it in CS5 and at the time worked better than combineZ.

Jason

nscaleSPF2

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Re: Focus Stacking Using Photoshop
« Reply #2 on: January 08, 2017, 02:19:32 PM »
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I've used it in CS5 and at the time worked better than combineZ.

Jason

Jason, could you please explain for those of us who are not so computer literate what CS5 and combineZ are?  What did you like about CS5?

Regards,
Jim Hale

Trying to re-create a part of south-central Pennsylvania in 1956, one small bit at a time.

peteski

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Re: Focus Stacking Using Photoshop
« Reply #3 on: January 08, 2017, 02:36:47 PM »
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CombineZ (as in depth or Z-axis) and Helicon Focus are couple of the most popular focus stacking applications.  I use old version of Helicon Focus, but with lifetime support I should upgrade someday.

CS5 is Adobe Creative Suite V5 - a graphic manipulation program (I use Corel PhotoPaint).
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wcfn100

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Re: Focus Stacking Using Photoshop
« Reply #4 on: January 08, 2017, 02:44:53 PM »
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Jason, could you please explain for those of us who are not so computer literate what CS5 and combineZ are?  What did you like about CS5?

Regards,

I like that I have it.  :)  The focus stacking in Photoshop are done via scripts.  First you build a stack and then blend them together.  I don't know if newer versions of Photoshop have newer scripts that are better or different or whatever.

CombineZ had more issues towards the edge when blending the photos which effectively gives you a smaller finished photo.


Jason

nscaleSPF2

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Re: Focus Stacking Using Photoshop
« Reply #5 on: January 09, 2017, 10:04:31 PM »
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As is usual for me, nothing is ever easy.  Adobe no longer offers their "Creative Suites."  They replaced them with the "Creative Cloud", or CC for short, to the great consternation of many professional photographers.  You cannot purchase Adobe CC, you must lease it, at a cost of anywhere from $20 to $50 per month, depending on which features you want to use.  This does not make sense for someone like me, who would probably only use the focus stacking feature.

Adobe used to have some competion from Apple, with their iPhoto software, but that doesn't exist anymore, either.

Looks like the most viable option for me is to purchase Helicon Focus, at a cost of about $100.  This is not cheap, but it is less than the cost of a new camera.  Helicon does offer a trial version, that I plan to try.  Will report back, when I get any meaningful results.
Jim Hale

Trying to re-create a part of south-central Pennsylvania in 1956, one small bit at a time.

Ron McF

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Re: Focus Stacking Using Photoshop
« Reply #6 on: January 10, 2017, 01:07:09 AM »
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Helicon does offer a trial version, that I plan to try.  Will report back, when I get any meaningful results.

Jim, while you're at it, you might also like to try the 30 day free trial of Zerene Stacker:
http://zerenesystems.com/cms/stacker

Here's an image I made from 15 separate photos in 2013 when I was experimenting with the DoF I could get using Zerene Stacker. The distance from the turnout frog in the foreground to the back wall is approx 7.5 feet.


A personal license costs USD $89.

Regards,
Ron

(Edited to add the photo.)
« Last Edit: January 10, 2017, 08:44:19 AM by Ron McF »
Ron McF
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robert3985

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Re: Focus Stacking Using Photoshop
« Reply #7 on: January 10, 2017, 01:44:49 AM »
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I started with Helicon Focus when it wasn't well known using the trial version, which, at the time, put a big watermark on finished stacks.  I decided to go with a Helicon Pro lifetime license since at the time, they didn't offer a 1 year license.  Seems to me that at the time, the Pro version was about $300, so the price has come down considerably since then.

I noticed today (1/9/2017) that Helicon is having a sale on their products, so now would be a good time to purchase either a one year or lifetime license, with substantial savings for any of them.

If you're not a pro or semi-pro photographer with either a Nikon or Canon DSLR, I would recommend the  "Lite" version with a lifetime license right now of only $92. It gives you all of the important features of the more expensive Pro and Premium versions, omitting retouching tools, batch mode, stack autosplitting, RAW-in-DNG-out mode, 3D model generation, 2D micro panorama, Helicon Remote for Windows/Mac, and Helicon Remote Mobile

I bought Helicon Remote Mobile a couple of years ago, which allows me to control my Nikon DSLR with my Samsung Galaxy S5, select my near and far focus limits, and let it do the focusing and shooting for me, without me ever touching the focus ring on my lens.  This only works with Nikon and Canon DSLR's, but it's a great accessory.

The Lite version also interacts smoothly with Adobe Lightroom if you have it.

I am totally satisfied with my Helicon Focus Pro software and its advanced capabilities as far as extending my effective DOF to infinity on both product shots and model railroad photos, and I have never regretted buying a lifetime Helicon Focus Pro license...even at nearly $300.

I used Adobe Photoshop CS4 for many years and was totally happy with it until I bought a Nikon D7200 DSLR, and my CS4  version of Photoshop would not recognize my new camera's RAW file format.  Adobe doesn't support their older programs, so I had to find a workaround, which I did, but it added considerable time to my workflow.  I would rather be working on my model railroad, skiing, shooting or taking photos than spending time in front of my computer, so I decided I would look into the latest Adobe Creative Cloud version of Photoshop and other image manipulation and organizational programs.

I had some questions about the whole thing, thinking that my relatively slow internet connection was going to be a big problem, because I assumed that the programs were not downloaded completely into my computer.  After chatting with an Adobe representative online, I was told that the programs are installed on my computer, and the license is renewed monthly (or yearly) when the payment is received.  Since I had just built a new desktop build around a six-core, 3.4Ghz CPU running Windows 7 Pro 64bit, I was ready to see what the very latest Creative Cloud (CC) Adobe Photoshop/Lightroom combination would do as far as speeding up my workflow.

At $19.95 a month, this is one of the very best investments I've made.  I essentially have three programs for my 20 bucks a month that are the very latest & greatest from Adobe, and they will always be the latest and greatest.  The programs for my 20 bucks a month are Adobe Photoshop CC 2017, Lightroom and Adobe Bridge CC 2017, giving me the very latest and best professional photo manipulation and organizational programs for about 240 bucks a year.  If you could purchase these programs separately, the total package would cost you about $1,800...and be not-supported in about three to four years.

If you're serious about your photography, I highly recommend the Adobe Creative Cloud way of getting the very best in the easiest, most convenient way.

I haven't tried focus stacking with Adobe Photoshop CC yet, but I might give it a try just to see how it compares quality-wise to Helicon Focus.  However, I do use Photoshop CC for all of my post-stacking retouching, so both programs are essential tools in my photography arsenal.

Photo (1) - SP Power at Echo Curve - Helicon Focus Pro, retouched with Adobe Photoshop CC, 19 photo stack:


Cheerio!
Bob Gilmore





« Last Edit: January 10, 2017, 01:49:37 AM by robert3985 »

peteski

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Re: Focus Stacking Using Photoshop
« Reply #8 on: January 10, 2017, 02:36:56 AM »
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Photo (1) - SP Power at Echo Curve - Helicon Focus Pro, retouched with Adobe Photoshop CC, 19 photo stack:


Cheerio!
Bob Gilmore

Hey Bob, you did all that wonderful stacking but didn't retouch that pink-foam hill? :facepalm:

Just givin' you hard time.  :D

I use an ancient version of Helicon Focus  (running on a Win 98 SE machine) and I like it. The version I have includes all the retouching tools and I do use them all.
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nscaleSPF2

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Re: Focus Stacking Using Photoshop
« Reply #9 on: January 10, 2017, 10:21:40 AM »
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Thank you all for your kind replies.  They have been helpful.


At $19.95 a month, this is one of the very best investments I've made.  I essentially have three programs for my 20 bucks a month that are the very latest & greatest from Adobe, and they will always be the latest and greatest.  The programs for my 20 bucks a month are Adobe Photoshop CC 2017, Lightroom and Adobe Bridge CC 2017, giving me the very latest and best professional photo manipulation and organizational programs for about 240 bucks a year.  If you could purchase these programs separately, the total package would cost you about $1,800...and be not-supported in about three to four years.


Bob, the cost of the Adobe software may not be too far out of line, but I have a problem paying a monthly fee for a product that I may only use 3 or 4 times a year.  I could go on a rant about greedy corporate officers trying to squeeze every penny out of their customers, but I won't.

I'm an amateur photographer since about 1970.  Learned how to shoot with a Nikon F2.  So I tend not to rely too much on photo retouching software. 

Edit: removed some confusing information.
« Last Edit: January 10, 2017, 10:30:52 AM by nscaleSPF2 »
Jim Hale

Trying to re-create a part of south-central Pennsylvania in 1956, one small bit at a time.

nscaleSPF2

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Re: Focus Stacking Using Photoshop
« Reply #10 on: January 10, 2017, 10:34:50 AM »
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I have to apologize for the previous post, it contains a photo taken by Adam Draskovich.  I was trying to make a point about photo retouching, and the point misfired.  Sorry.
Jim Hale

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robert3985

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Re: Focus Stacking Using Photoshop
« Reply #11 on: January 11, 2017, 02:44:39 AM »
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Thank you all for your kind replies.  They have been helpful.

Bob, the cost of the Adobe software may not be too far out of line, but I have a problem paying a monthly fee for a product that I may only use 3 or 4 times a year.  I could go on a rant about greedy corporate officers trying to squeeze every penny out of their customers, but I won't.

I'm an amateur photographer since about 1970.  Learned how to shoot with a Nikon F2.  So I tend not to rely too much on photo retouching software. 

Edit: removed some confusing information.

Yup...if you're not serious about your photography, then spending money on top-notch software is hardly worth it. 

However, having been a pro photographer since 1974, I can attest to the fact that retouching has been going on for a LOOoooong time...well before I started it using an airbrush on big color prints.  Photography is about utilizing your available tools for the look you want.  It's okay to still shoot film, but I sold all of my film Nikon bodies ten years ago and I didn't look back.  We are well into the 21st century now and photo quality is better than Kodachrome or Fujichrome Velvia ever was, but...DOF using film will NEVER be as good as what modern software can do with focus stacking.  Them's the facts.  Being able to easily, in a few minutes choose what DOF you want by manipulating your stack, or mess with your color balance, or getting rid of artifacts or unwanted objects by using software for a few minutes is well worth the cost in my book.

Like anything else, the quality of the finished product is almost always in direct proportion to the sophistication of your tools, and/or the amount of time you give to a project.

I don't "rely" on my photo-retouching software any more than I rely on my camera to give me a usable image.  However, shooting RAW and using top-of-the-line software allows me to get results quickly that in the days of film would have taken me literally days to accomplish...if at all.

I learned to shoot with a Rollei 2 1/4 square twin lens reflex in 1962.  I got into commercial and wedding/portrait/model portfolio photography in 1974 using Nikon F2's and Hasselblads.  All of this film experience has not made me less amenable to converting to digital 100% and using what tools are available to me, so I don't see why learning to shoot using a Nikon F2 (I've had half a dozen of 'em) would have any connection with not using "retouching software"???

Just sayin'....  :)

However, if you'd like to use Adobe Photohop 2017 CC, you can pay one month's "rent" ($19.95) and then stop payments.  Six months later if you want to use it again, pay your rent for another month and use it again.  Pretty simple and not exactly costly.

Or, try Gimp for free, as it may do focus stacking much like Photoshop does...and it's totally free.  I use Photoshop because I'm very used to the interface and protocols and it's the best...but Gimp is close, so there's a chance it might do the job too.

Cheerio!
Bob Gilmore


robert3985

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Re: Focus Stacking Using Photoshop
« Reply #12 on: January 11, 2017, 02:55:11 AM »
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Hey Bob, you did all that wonderful stacking but didn't retouch that pink-foam hill? :facepalm:

Just givin' you hard time.  :D

I use an ancient version of Helicon Focus  (running on a Win 98 SE machine) and I like it. The version I have includes all the retouching tools and I do use them all.

Peter, Yup...that pink foam sure jumps out at ya doesn't it??  :D  Truth is, in 99.99% of my model train photography I am not attempting to enhance my modeling work, but to show my layout and rolling stock in a professional manner.  Soooooo....it goes against my grain to "improve" the appearance of any of my model work.

However, as in the foreground of this photo, I cloned grass over a non-scenicked part of my module, but I was copying my own work over a spot that will eventually have its own "grass", so that's okay.  If I had a portion of the Echo Sandstone Cliffs that was finished, I wouldn't hesitate to clone it over a portion that I had not yet scenicked as that doesn't misrepresent my modeling prowess.  Neither does adding steam, smoke and haze into a photo or lighting up headlights, classification and marker lamps, or even firebox glow.

But, it would be interesting to see what I could do to improve the look of that glaring pink foam.  Maybe I'll give it a try!  ;)

Cheerio!
Bob Gilmore

peteski

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Re: Focus Stacking Using Photoshop
« Reply #13 on: January 11, 2017, 03:46:46 AM »
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Peter, Yup...that pink foam sure jumps out at ya doesn't it??  :D  Truth is, in 99.99% of my model train photography I am not attempting to enhance my modeling work, but to show my layout and rolling stock in a professional manner.  Soooooo....it goes against my grain to "improve" the appearance of any of my model work.

However, as in the foreground of this photo, I cloned grass over a non-scenicked part of my module, but I was copying my own work over a spot that will eventually have its own "grass", so that's okay.  If I had a portion of the Echo Sandstone Cliffs that was finished, I wouldn't hesitate to clone it over a portion that I had not yet scenicked as that doesn't misrepresent my modeling prowess.  Neither does adding steam, smoke and haze into a photo or lighting up headlights, classification and marker lamps, or even firebox glow.

I don't see anything wrong with retouching or editing photos, as long as you aren't putting a devil's head on a baby (like photos in the Nation Enquirer).   :)

Quote
But, it would be interesting to see what I could do to improve the look of that glaring pink foam.  Maybe I'll give it a try!  ;)

Ah, poking the bear worked!  :D
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tom mann

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Re: Focus Stacking Using Photoshop
« Reply #14 on: January 11, 2017, 08:05:03 AM »
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Occasionally the Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop bundle will be on sale for $88/year, including cloud storage.