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When doing a product shot like this, how do I get more in focus when the aperture is already so small. I don't want to get any smaller for the risk of introducing significant diffraction. Note the lens cap is not exactly in focus (maybe its hard to tell because I have sharpened the image a bit). But I basically center focused the middle of the object at F/14. I was using a 50mm with an APSC camera.

enter image description here

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The focus point isn't the center of the in-focus area: the focus point is closer to the near point than the far point. So focus a little towards the front of the subject, instead of the exact middle. See e.g. the diagrams at dofmaster.com/dofjs.html –  drewbenn May 31 '13 at 18:53
    
For this reason exactly, I use a smaller 2/3" sensor for product photography intended for web use. Image quality imperfections are not discernible at those sizes and DOF is truly extensive at F/8 - F/11. –  Itai May 31 '13 at 22:19

5 Answers 5

An alternative to focus stacking is to tilt the plane of focus so that it is parallel to the object you are trying to photograph. Usually the plane of sharpest focus is parallel to the film/sensor plane of the camera, however by tilting the lens relative to the camera the plane of focus can be tilted so that it is aligned with the longest axis of your subject, ensuring more of the object is contained within the depth of field.

This can be done with a special purpose (or homemade) tilt-shift lens, or if you are doing lots of product photography, a macro bellows setup might be more appropriate.

This approach is more difficult to learn and more expensive than focus stacking, and offers a finite increase in apparent depth of field but usually allows you to get the detail you need in a single capture with no post production.

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As I know, depth of field is not exactly the same in front of and behind focus plane. One third of area in focus is in front of focused point and two thirds are behind this plane.

So if you want to have whole your object in focus, you should focus to some point which is approximately in one third of depth of object. Especially when you don't have closer part in focus, you should focus on closer point.

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The one third/two thirds division breaks down at macro and hyperfocal distances. At very close distances the ratio between front and back distances approaches 1:1, as you near the hyperfocal distance it approaches 1:infinity. A 50mm lens on a FF body at f/5.6 has a 1:2 ratio only at 17 feet. Any closer and more than 1/3 of the DoF is in front of the point of focus. Further away more than 2/3 of the DoF is behind the PoF. dofmaster.com/dofjs.html –  Michael Clark Jun 1 '13 at 1:58

what I would do is to increase the distance from subject which increases the depth of field. Subject will be smaller in the picture But then I can crop the picture to get what I want. of course this approach does not work if number of pixels is very important (you want to print a poster or something).

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When you crop and then blow the image back up to full size you change the viewing distance/magnification which also changes the DoF, since DoF is based on a particular viewing size at a particular distance. –  Michael Clark Jun 1 '13 at 1:46
    
but if the captured image is sharp because of the increased distance, does cropping make it un-sharp? –  Kamyar Souri Jun 1 '13 at 3:59
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There is only one distance that is truly sharp. What is called depth of field (DoF) is what appears sharp because the blur circles from point light sources within the DoF are perceived as points at a specific display size. When you increase the display size, you increase the size of the blur circles, and thus reduce the depth of field. –  Michael Clark Jun 1 '13 at 4:27
    
understood, thanks. –  Kamyar Souri Jun 2 '13 at 1:26

Move back and zoom in.

Change to a longer focal length lens. You'll make the required depth of field insignificant to the focal length and distance-to-subject. However you will make the subject look 'flatter'.

EDIT: Actually you might be best to test this before relying on it. Sounds nice in theory but I could be wrong. I tried to test it but I only have a wide angle here and it isn't easy. If I'm wrong on this would be nice for someone to explain the reason why.

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