Focus Stacking Tutorial
What is Focus Stacking?
Focus stacking is capturing images with different focus points, and later combined in external software such as Photoshop/Lightroom. It is to create an image with more Depth of Field (DOF) than would be possible with a single exposure. Landscape and macro photography are two genres of photography that benefit most from using this procedure.
Before shooting, it is always helpful to know your lens’ sweet spot, defined as the aperture that the lens produces its sharpest image. You can test several settings until it is determined.
General Steps on How to use Focus Stacking
- Place your camera on a sturdy tripod.
- Frame the subject and compose the shot.
- Open the Joopic App and set the shooting mode to “Focus Stacking”
- Determine exposure for the scene, and set the camera to manual mode.
- Open Live View on the app and aim the focus point on the nearest object desired to be in focus. Please make sure that the lens is in AF mode.
- “Press start” and take the first exposure and for the next shot Joopic will automatically adjust the parameters according to the settings you have set.
- Shutter release cable is necessary for this feature to work properly. Please connect the shutter release cable to trigger your camera shutter.
Please visit our FAQ for shutter cable - camera compatibility.
How to Start?
Camera mode: Manual. Parameters Adjustment (ISO, Exposure, White Balance, etc)
Shooting mode: Focus Stacking
Set the shooting Options
After all is set, press “Start” to start shooting
Note: When triggering Live View will be turned off automatically.
Three Main Settings in Joopic "Focus Stacking"
Focus adjustment range: wide, middle and narrow
Focus adjustment direction: you can choose the focus from near to far or far to near at the focus adjustment direction
Number of shots: The number of shots starts from 2. These will determine how many shots will you take when the focus stacking mode activated.
Note: Through the above three steps, you can check the settings of focus range, focus direction and the number of shots. Trial and error method is usually needed before final shooting.
After the setting is done, open the Live-View on the Joopic app and then select a focus starting point. Put your lens to AF mode and press “start” to activate the focus stacking mode.
Tips on how to use Focus Stacking
There are two basic scenarios when shooting landscapes, that may benefit from focus stacking.
when the subject is a close foreground object with an interesting background and both desirable aspects to be in sharp focus.
The second, is when using a telephoto lens (shallow depth of field) and the subject covers multiple distances, that may be brought into sharper focus.
(Note: shooting landscape with wide angle lens has no benefit in being processed by focus stacking.)
To capture landscapes, three images are generally all that is necessary to create sharp focus stacking images, but extra images is also fine, you just need to make sure that the entire scene is covered. Post production will take more time when you have more images to stack.
More than other type of photography, macro photography benefit the most from focus stacking, this is because macro lens has an extremely shallow depth of field.
In order for final macro images to be perfect at least six images to as much as 30+ images are needed. You may refer to our example later in this article.
Tip: As often used when capturing HDR images, take a shot with your hand in front of the camera before and after each series of images. When working with the images later, this will make it easier to tell where each series starts and ends.
The stack method is implemented by pre-shooting and post-processing. We use macro photography as an example. Focus stacking the flowers only makes the flowers stand out from the background
Next, please look at the image below for aperture F2.8, F22 and three settings in our Focus Stacking options.
- Focal Length: 180mm
- Aperture: F2.8
- Shutter Speed: 1/125
- ISO: 100
- Focal Length: 180mm
- Aperture: F22
- Shutter Speed: 1/60
- ISO: 1600
- Focus Stacking mode
- Focus adjustment direction: from far to near
- Number of shots: 12
- In the final image processing, use Adobe Photoshop to perform focus stacking computing
Final Image Processing
The process of stacking the images using external software may be a challenging to some of you. Therefore, we will help you to summarize the steps on how to create a beautiful final focus stacked image on Photoshop. Here’s how:
- Open Photoshop
- Get each image on a separate layer: Under File, choose Scripts and Load files into stack. Click Browse and select all the images.
- Check the box for Attempts to Automatically Align Source Images.
- Click OK. Each images will open into a new layer in Photoshop.
- Open the Layer palette -> All Layers.
- Under Edit, select Auto-Blend Layers.
- Check the box for Stack Images and Seamless Tones and Colors. Optionally, select Content Aware Fill Transparent Areas, which will fill any transparent areas generated by aligning images in step 3.
- Click OK
- Flatten the image by selecting Layer->Flatten image->Save.
Note: If you are using a Lightroom and Photoshop workflow, after importing your images into Lightroom, instead of following steps 2 through 5, you can simply add all your images into Photoshop layers by selecting all your images.
Then you can go to Photo->Edit in->Open as Layer In Photoshop. This will open all the selected images as layers.
Align your images by selecting all the layers in the layer palette, then go to Edit->Auto Align Layers and continue to step 6 above.