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How to Create a Focus Stacked Picture

Updated on November 14, 2014

Macro Photography of a Submininiature Camera Using a Focusing Rail

When using a macro lens with extension tubes, the depth of field can be less than a centimeter. This can make it difficult to see the beauty of a detailed subject when only a fraction is in focus. Focus stacking, using a focusing rail and image stacking software, can be the solution. The photograph to the right is of a 1970 Minox Subminiature Camera Type C after applying focus stacking software to the individual pictures. The Minox camera is 120 mm x 28 mm x 16 mm.

For this Hub, I took a series of nineteen images of the camera controls and used image stacking to create a final photograph. The Nikon was set to manual focus, and an aperture of f/10. Initially, I focused on the left end of the Minox controls and took a picture. Then, with the focusing rail, I moved the camera toward the Minox about 2 mm and took a second picture. The camera was moved forward again 2mm for the next photo. As the camera was moved closer to the Minox, the depth of field moved along the camera so that different segments of the Minox were in sharp focus.

By taking 19 pictures, all points of the Minox were in focus in at least one picture. Zerene Stacker focus stacking software was used to combine the nineteen photographs. For brevity, every other picture taken and the final image is shown below.


Equipment Needed

To do the focus stacking you will need a tripod to ensure that each photograph is exactly aligned. A focusing rail will allow you to set the desired image magnification and then move the camera a few millimeters at a time to shift the depth of field into the subject. I used a Kiwi FC-1 4-Way Macro Focusing Rail. The 4-way rail allows you to make small adjustments to the left or right to adjust your composition.

The focusing rail is mounted on the tripod. The camera is mounted on the focusing rail. I used an Aputure Amaran AHL-N60 LED Halo light ring to provide adequate lighting while minimizing shadows.

The photographs were taken using an AF-S Nikkon Micro 85 mm lens with a 36 mm and a 20 mm extension tube.

Pictures of the Camera Set-up

Click thumbnail to view full-size
The Kiwi FC-1 4-way Macro Focusing Rail.The Kiwi FC-1 4-way Macro Focusing Rail.The macro focusing rail is mounted directly on the tripod.  The camera is mounted on top of the focusing rail.  Note the clusters of flower blossoms.
The Kiwi FC-1 4-way Macro Focusing Rail.
The Kiwi FC-1 4-way Macro Focusing Rail.
The Kiwi FC-1 4-way Macro Focusing Rail.
The Kiwi FC-1 4-way Macro Focusing Rail.
The macro focusing rail is mounted directly on the tripod.  The camera is mounted on top of the focusing rail.  Note the clusters of flower blossoms.
The macro focusing rail is mounted directly on the tripod. The camera is mounted on top of the focusing rail. Note the clusters of flower blossoms.

Pictures of the Minox Camera - Nine of nineteen images that were stacked and the final image.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
The final stacked photograph.
The final stacked photograph.
The final stacked photograph.

4-Way Focusing Rails From Amazon

These focusing rails will allow you to make small changes to the camera position without having to move the tripod.

Equipment Needed For Macro Photography - Visit Amazon

Nikon 85mm f/3.5 G VR AF-S DX ED Micro-Nikkor Lens with Tripod + UV Filter + Macro Ring Light + Accessory Kit for D3100, D3200, D3300, D5100, D5200, D5300, D7000, D7100 DSLR Cameras
Nikon 85mm f/3.5 G VR AF-S DX ED Micro-Nikkor Lens with Tripod + UV Filter + Macro Ring Light + Accessory Kit for D3100, D3200, D3300, D5100, D5200, D5300, D7000, D7100 DSLR Cameras

KIT INCLUDES 5 PRODUCTS -- All BRAND NEW Items with all Manufacturer-supplied Accessories + Full USA Warranties:

<1> Nikon 85mm f/3.5 G VR AF-S DX ED Micro-Nikkor Lens +

<2> Sunpak DSLR67 Macro Ring Light +

<3> OSN 24.5-Inch Macro Tripod +

<4> Vivitar 52mm UV Glass Filter + <5> PD 6pc Complete Cleaning Kit

 
PLR Optics 4PC LENS-63 52mm +1 +2 +4 +10 Close-Up Macro Filter Set with Pouch
PLR Optics 4PC LENS-63 52mm +1 +2 +4 +10 Close-Up Macro Filter Set with Pouch

Enables macro photography using a standard lens

Includes +1, +2, +4 and +10 diopter filters

Ideal for photographing small items

Includes nylon filter wallet - Protected by 15-year warranty

Includes DB ROTH Micro Fiber Cleaning Cloth

 
Novoflex Ring Flash with 18" Connecting Cord for the Power Pack Generator, Guide Number of 14 at ISO 100.
Novoflex Ring Flash with 18" Connecting Cord for the Power Pack Generator, Guide Number of 14 at ISO 100.

Ring Flash...Diffuse Shadowless Flash Light.... The ring flash has a guide number of 14 (ISO 100) and is designed for use in situations where completely frontal lighting or flat, contrast-free light is required. The ring flash head is screwed into the filter thread of the lens (std. 52mm, other sizes with optional stepping rings).

 

Visitor's Comments - Let me know what you think about image stacking.

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    • crbphotography profile imageAUTHOR

      crbphotography 

      5 years ago

      @TheDeeperWell: Thank you for your comment. If you go to http://www.laurieknight.net/article/view/7 there is a list of focus stacking software for the mac.

    • profile image

      TheDeeperWell 

      5 years ago

      Doesn't look like the stacking software works on a mac. Wonder why?

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