I have heard of cameras using various techniques to let you pick the focus point after the photo has been taken. For Canon, the closest thing I have heard to this is to manually shoot at different depths and to use post processing software to do focus stacking. However, most of the time I am shooting in the spur of the moment and only get one chance to take a shot, which may or may not be in perfect focus so I end up taking lots of shots that could have been good, but they're in bad focus

Is there any way to make my T5i take several shots in quick succession, each with slightly different focus?

up vote 3 down vote accepted

The feature you are looking for is Focus Bracketing, not Focus Stacking. Focus Bracketing takes several images (from 3 to 9 images, typically, depending on the camera) with a slight variation in focus. You must then pick the one which is focused where you intended. Focus Stacking takes a number of shots with different focus distances like Focus Bracketing but produces a single image which combines the in-focus parts of each underlying shot. This creates an image with a greater depth-of-field. With Focus Bracketing, you can use a computer software to do Focus Stacking but not vice-versa.

As an entry-level camera, the Canon T5i has neither of those features. Many - but not all - high-end models offer at least Focus Bracketing. Several recent mirrorless cameras from Panasonic offer Focus Stacking too. I don't remember off-the-top-of-my-head which other ones do.

  • Which Canon models, if any, offer focus bracketing? – Michael Clark Jan 9 '17 at 2:11
  • @MichaelClark - It's been a while since I've seen it. I haven't particularly paid attention to that feature. Curiously, I did take down a note that the Canon SX1 had it (a rather old bridge camera). – Itai Jan 9 '17 at 2:40

There is a way to do focus bracketing automatically with a T5i, but it may not be as simple as you're envisioning.

Magic Lantern

Magic Lantern is a firmware add-on that runs on top of your camera's DryOS operating system, like programs being run from a hard drive. Only in this case, your camera's memory card acts like the hard drive. So long as your T5i is running firmware v.1.1.4 (at the time of this writing), you can load Magic Lantern and gain access to a lot of features written by open source firmware developer volunteers who were frustrated that their Canon didn't do things they knew it could with software.

Keep in mind, however, that this is nobody's day job. And there is, as with any firmware mucking, a risk of bricking your camera. It's up to you whether it's worth it or not. I've been using ML on my 5DMkII and 50D for about three or four years, never had anything happen to my cameras that swapping out a battery wouldn't fix, and I love it, but it's not necessarily for everyone.

Step Focus

Magic Lantern has a step focus feature in it designed for folks who do a lot of focus bracketing for stacking purposes. It works best with the camera on a tripod, and you do have to do the following steps:

  1. Set an end point for the focus range.
  2. Set a starting point for the focus range.
  3. Set a step size for the intervals along the focus range.
  4. Set which button will trip the shutter for the bracket set.

So, as I said, possibly not as simple as you were envisioning. But one press of the button you designated in step 4, and then the entire series of images is taken in succession.

If you've never done macro focus stacking before, you may be surprised by a) the amount precision required for macro focus stacking, and b) the number of images you'll probably need for a successful stack.

See also: this Youtube video demonstrating how to use the step focus feature.

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