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Old May 23, 2004, 3:46 PM   #1
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The following concerns a way to, in some cases, maximize depth of field for your macro or close-up photos.

First let me say that I'm using a rather loose definition of "macro" as a close-up, and not necessarily 1:1 or greater, even though the same technique is applicable.

Since depth of field is a major issue for those who love macro photography, I thought I might discuss a technique which can help increase depth of field (DOF) in some situations.

Essentially, those using a fixed lens digicam have an advantage in many respects over the photographer using a dSLR. In some ways it's a two edged sword, but for some types of macro photography it is advantageous. In the following discussion, a fixed lens digicam often has the advantage for maintaining a constant image size through multiple focus points because of the internal design of the lens, but if we use a dSLR with a macro lens which doesn't change the distance to subject a great deal when focusing, it too can be used and so was chosen for this example. Everything which applies here will work as well or better with your fixed lens digicam.

When we shoot with our 35mm platform dSLR's, and even with our fixed lens digicams, we always would love greater depth of field. Fortunately for us, we can "sometimes" borrow a technique from photomicroscopy of combining multiple images taken of the same subject with differing focal points into a single image with great depth of field. The reason I say "sometimes" is that there are a couple conditions which must be fulfilled. First, we need a subject which doesn't move and then we need a rock steady tripod and hopefully, a remote release.

For this exercise, I selected a Huchol art object (beaded deer) which stands about 7 inches in height. I shot it from above at an angle of around 50 degrees which gave plenty of room to show depth of field.

To make it even more difficult, I let the camera (Canon 10D with 100mm Canon F2.8 macro lens) select the aperture and it averaged around F3.5, certainly not what you "should" do and only done to get a "worst case" scenario. I used the built-in flash and took a total of 8 frames. I began by focusing on the very top of the ear and progressively changed the focus point until at the 8th frame I had focused on the base.

Because I didn't use a cable or remote release (one should) there was a tiny bit of frame shift which caused some areas to not be perfectly focused because the software was not able to perfectly align images before combining the frames into a single image.

To avoid wasting bandwidth, and because there are a total of 9 frames, I'll provide links rather than embed any images.

If you look at each frame, you will see the progression of "in-focus" areas. All in all, the software did a rather nice job of making one image of 8 differing frames.

Now the best part The software is free. Links following examples to both the free software used here (designed for photomicroscopy) and a couple commercial (one very expensive and oneless expensive) software. Fortunately the free software works almost as well as the "really expensive" version.

Best regards,

Lin

http://www.lin-evans.org/combine/file001.jpg
http://www.lin-evans.org/combine/file002.jpg
http://www.lin-evans.org/combine/file003.jpg
http://www.lin-evans.org/combine/file004.jpg
http://www.lin-evans.org/combine/file005.jpg
http://www.lin-evans.org/combine/file006.jpg
http://www.lin-evans.org/combine/file007.jpg
http://www.lin-evans.org/combine/file008.jpg
http://www.lin-evans.org/combine/combine.jpg

Link to CombineZ softwarea:

http://www.hadleyweb.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/CZ4Docs/pages/introduction.htm

Link to AutoMonage Commercial Software:

http://www.syncroscopy.com/syncroscopy/am.asp

Link to Helicon Focus - both Commercial and Freeware Versions

http://www.helicon.com.ua/pages/index.php?heliconfocus

Last edited by Lin Evans; Feb 1, 2015 at 1:26 PM.
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Old May 24, 2004, 2:52 PM   #2
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What big fat coincidence! I just now finished taking a whole "roll" of macros in which I fiddled like crazy with DOF, ending up not terrifically happy with the shallowness of it. Only AFTER all my struggles did I turn on the computer and find your directions for getting a larger DOF.:sad:

Question: Do you use the free software and, if so, which one? I noticed it's also free at the commercial site except that the pictures get branded on the bottom. At the other site where the software is just plain free, it's mentioned that it runs under Windows 95, which is four generations back from XP, the one I use. Is this the program you use and, if so, what version of Windows are you running it under?

Thank you so much for taking the time to write up all that information.

--Barbara
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Old May 24, 2004, 3:30 PM   #3
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Hi Barbara,

My personal favorite is the freeware CombineZ which will run on any Windows system from '95 forward. I run it on XP.

Link Here:

http://www.hadleyweb.pwp.blueyonder....troduction.htm

The branded freeware version from Helicon (nor their $115 version) has no ability to "adjust" forslight differences in image size which happens as a course of changing focus. CombineZ, on the other hand, has the ability to auto-resize and does a pretty good job.

It's not all perfect, even with the $600 packages. The $3000 software does a "slightly" better job than the freeware CombineZ, but is more geared toward a production environment.

With some images you may have to manually "clone" out some small halo effects from the process, but it's a small price to pay for the fantastic differences in depth of field you are able to achieve when you can get two or more focus points. Here is another series I just did of a tiny Kachina (1/2 inch tall) with a 10D and 100mm Canon F2.8. I could not have done this any other way and achieved anywhere near the results. Definitely give CombineZ a try. Below are links to the five images used to combine into the sixth one (result.jpg) Each are around 2.8 meg - final has been compressed to about 1.5 meg, adjusted, cleaned, etc.....

Lin

http://www.lin-evans.org/combine/1.jpg

http://www.lin-evans.org/combine/2.jpg

http://www.lin-evans.org/combine/3.jpg

http://www.lin-evans.org/combine/4.jpg

http://www.lin-evans.org/combine/5.jpg

http://www.lin-evans.org/combine/result.jpg

Last edited by Lin Evans; Feb 1, 2015 at 1:28 PM.
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Old May 25, 2004, 10:42 AM   #4
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Lin, that's fairly incredible! One last question about CombineZ: can it work with TIF format? I ask because I never take or save JPEGs.
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Old May 25, 2004, 11:04 AM   #5
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It works better with tif or bmp because jpg compression artifacts cause unwanted issues.

Best regards,

Lin
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Old May 25, 2004, 7:00 PM   #6
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Thanks, Lin. I just downloaded it and will be testing it tomorrow.

--Barbara
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Old Feb 26, 2005, 2:32 PM   #7
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I have a test about combineZ and Helicon focus with Canon 10D and SIgma 50 mm macro.

The result as good and it's very quit to make this. If you make this manually, it can take many time.

You can explication and result (here) (in french) :

http://infographie.macrophotographie.be/combinez.htm

http://infographie.macrophotographie...icon_focus.htm

A+
SKR (Belgium)


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