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Following this question I just got a Tamron SP 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro lens to study macro focus stacking. As seen in my attempt to reproduce a 6" depth it seems to work in practice.

However then I went for a 12" deep barrel and discovered that focus breathing seems to make this tricky, if not impossible. Here are the first and last photos in the focus bracket set. The focal length changes so substantially that at least Photoshop has no idea how to align the stack. Is there a solution for this? E.g., are internal-focus macro lenses immune to focus breathing? Or is there a practical means of merging a stack that ends up with a significant range of focal lengths?

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The only way to counteract focus breathing directly is to buy a lens that doesn't breath. The other option is to move the camera as a whole closer and further from the subject. This will image the entire object at the same magnification with enough shots, but you will run into perspective issues.

  • Indeed: It seems that serious macro shooters use focus rails to move the camera, instead of changing the lens focus. – feetwet Jul 1 '15 at 15:12

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