Before the rush

Before the rush
by evan-pak

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What software is available and widely used for macro focus stacking? In other areas photoshop, lightroom, aperture, etc are kind of industry standard options. Is there such a thing for focus stacking?

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up vote 5 down vote accepted

I believe you are looking for something like Helicon Focus.

I've heard from reliable sources that stacking can also be done manually in Photoshop CS 5, but I haven't done it myself.

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Can you elaborate more in the answer without just a link? – rfusca Jan 3 '12 at 18:28
Indeed, Helicon Focus (linked) is the standard AFAIK. – Itai Jan 3 '12 at 20:40

You can also use the hugin toolset which includes the align_image_stack and enfuse tools. You may also wish to add the EnfuseGUI to cut down on the typing.

  • Works very well
  • Free & Open Source
  • Multi-platform runs on Mac/Windows/Linux

There is a very nice walk through here. enter image description here

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In Photoshop CS5 or later, load your images into layers.

  • Select Edit > Auto Align Layers (at macro distances even on a tripod small changes in focus will alter the perspective of each shot)

  • Select Edit > Auto Blend Layers. This will select the sharpest parts of each layer and create a mask. The masks can be quite complex, but it does a very good job.

There is an open source program CombineZP

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I used CombineZP until now, but it does not work anymore with 24 Megapixel images. Switched to Zerene Stacker now, as mentioned by @user24722, which is also available for Linux. – Simon A. Eugster May 11 at 19:29

One solution has been omitted for this question - most people who stack actually tend to use Zerene Stacker - it's the only package that has various user generated plugins for substack slabbing. If you look through Flickr there are twice as many Zerene pics as there are for Helicon. Helicon is faster though and suits lab workers better, ZS better for photographers. Both this and Helicon are the class leaders.

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