Taking a few landscape shots and was wondering how you would make both the front and back of the photos sharper. Came across Focus Stacking but my biggest concern right now is the quality of the photo...

I assumed this would help but again am curious about the disadvantages of using this method.

A couple that I 'infer' are disadvantages include:

  1. Loss of movement? (ghosts, shadows, water blurry, etc)
  2. Lighting across photos would be different?
  3. Some areas (depending how you stack them) might come out blurry?

Again not sure about the ones I've inferred and if their are any others.


3 Answers 3


You are right about the disadvantages of focus stacking, also, the process of taking pictures for focus stacking (taking multiple pictures at different focus ring positions and getting every bit of the picture sharp in at least one picture) can be a bit technically challenging.

That is why traditionally landscape photographers solve this issue by using a small aperture, slow shutter speed (to compensate for the aperture) and hyperfocal distance focusing - its much simpler then focus stacking.

The "hyperfocal distance" is a distance (from the camera's sensor) that if you focus farther than it everything from half the focus distance all the way to infinity will be in focus, for small apertures the hyperfocal distance is quite short and you can get everything in focus with a single exposure.

The hyperfocal distance is calculated based on the aperture value and focal length, every depth of field calculator I've even seen also tells you the hyperfocal distance.


IMO focus stacking isn't very useful for landscape photography, it's more useful in macro photography, but for landscapes there are better ways to get good focus. check out this online depth of field calculator to get an idea about DOF in different settings.

Anyways, about your question, I must say it's possible to get a good result in focus stacking if you do it manually in Photoshop. I believe those disadvantages that you mentioned are just dependent on editing techniques and users skills.

  • \$\begingroup\$ So if you do it correctly it could be helpful. Thanks! \$\endgroup\$ Sep 29, 2012 at 20:32

Another disadvantage not mentioned before is:

Focus stacking takes a lot of time, in particular in the postprocessing phase. This is a multi-step process, (comprising at least align+stack). You need to get familiar with special-purpose software, and there are countless ways to try different parameter settings at the PC. Tiniest erros add up and must be corrected for with software. Colors or color ratios might change in unexpected ways during the stacking process.

It also takes extra time in the other phases: carefully preparing the shoot takes time (although it saves time later); and during the shoot, sitting and adjusting also takes more time and care than "usual" landscape photography.


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