Hand held Focus stacking


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Jun 16, 2015
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I find focus rails very fiddly and hard to move the tripod to the subject. (Also when I fly a tripod is extra weight etc).
So any advice on how to do hand held focus stacking?
Is this guide any good? It looks quite expensive?

How to Hand Hold a Macro Focus Stack

Am I right in thinking that you often have slightly manually move the photos to do a stack? (As opposed to just use a command as here
Focus Stacking in Linux | BarryGrussling.com)
to do it?
I am sure handle focus stacking is possible but I think a larger number of results is not going to happen at first. Maybe with some practice and trial and error your ROI will increase. So if you are a Linux user that might be your only option if not I would highly recommend Helicon Focus because when doing focus stacking and moving Helicon will help remove the things moving check this video out
While I will grab some shots to stack shooting hand-held, I usually plan to focus stack well before I head out. With hand-held, then first need to align the images, photoshop can do that and it can stack them as well.

I use Zerene Stacker. It will do the alignment and the stack together. Have a lightweight tripod for travel and just manually do the focus steps on the macro lens.

I find that starting and ending the focus points past your main subject help in the final stack and it is easy to have 15 or more shots. Like mentioned on that website, while I don't move the camera with my eyes closed, I do tend to close my eyes when doing the fine focus movement on the lens and I often have the viewfinder covered so I am not looking at each shot.

I also do an extra shot or two with the background further out of focus by opening up the aperture and then blending in that shot manually. As some edge area in the final image might be lost due to alignment and/or magnification differences I try and frame slightly wider than normal around the subject.

I've used a flash on a few occasions, and you almost have to use it if trying hand-held.

For travel you could make a small setup with something like a c-clamp or gorilla clamp and focusing rail, but I think it would be harder to get into position than a tripod unless you are free to place the subject where you want it.

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