Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Extreme Focus Stacking

Having previously posted about the technical aspects of my Focus Bar script, I thought I would give a demonstration of its power.

My test subject was a small (50mm high) candle holder and my living room. The composition was that I wanted to place the candle holder as close to my (EOSM) camera as I could: about 15cm away.

I wanted everything from the candle holder to infinity to be tack sharp and that my infinity blur was to be optimized to the best possible, ie better than the hyperfocal and finish with an infinity defocus blur of just over the sensor limit of my EOSM.

I first used the ML auto ETTR  at ISO100 and at a focal length of 14mm, to give an exposure of 4 sec at my chosen aperture of F/7.1.

Having placed my focus at the macro end of the lens, ie at a reported 15cm, the Focus Bar script told me the minimum number of focus brackets would be eight, ie at an overlap blur of the defocus blur. However, as I wanted a high quality focus stack, and was aiming at an overlap blur of around 10 microns, I knew I would be taking more that eight brackets.

Once I had taken the first bracket and started focusing towards infinity, the Focus Bar provided me all information I needed when deciding the next focus distance. Once I saw around a 10 micron overlap, I took anther image, and repeated this until I entered the infinity focusing zone and finished my focus bracketing sequence at around an infinity blur of about 10 microns. In all I needed 12 focus brackets and all, thanks the Focus Bar, were optimised for their image to image overlap.

Next the 12 images were ingested into Lightroom and the first image minimally adjusted and the other 11 synced to this base image. Here are the first and twelfth images:

From within LR I then exported the 12 images to Helicon Focus and let it do its magic, before seamlessly returning to LR with the merged image. After a little bit of perspective tweaking, and minimal exposure tweaking, I ended up with this image:

I hope this simple demonstration has helped Canon Magic Lantern users, interested in focus stacking, take a look at my Focus Bar.


  1. New to your Focus Bar, and just reading about it now. I'm using ML and the focus stacking feature in it, and had been thinking the fixed step size available in there for racking focus didn't take into account the changes of DOF as focus distance increases (and the opposite). It seems your Focus Bar does some nice and needed calculations here, so my question is. Can Focus Bar actually on it's own fire off the whole needed sequence of images (like Focus Stacking does now in ML with fixed step size), varying the step size as needed? That would be awesome. If not, have you considered patching the existing stacking code to allow a variable step size as calculated by your efforts?

    1. Henrik

      In fact my original landscape focus stacking script was fully automatic and fully controlled the lens. It worked very well on my 5D3, but not at all on my EOS-M.

      You can download the script here:

      I've written about this on my blog.

      Personally I now prefer the Focus Bar approach as it puts me in the loop.

      As for steps sizes, I'm afraid we are limited to what the Canon side gives us.