We are a group of photography enthusiasts who are passionate about anything of photography, in particulary, water drop photography, high speed photography, and macro photography.

Our passion about photography does not stop at photographying the world, we are actively inventing, building tools to further ultilize modern technologies to explore and advance photographical techniques.

Focus stacking is a powerful method to extend depth of field by taking a series of images at different focal plane and use computer software to pick the sharpest part of each image for the final result. One way to acquire such series of images is by moving the camera towards or away from the subject (or by moving subject towards or away from the camera) so that different part of the subject will be in focus in each image. Then by applying computer algorithm, these images will be combined into one sharp image.

In order to move the camera (or the subject for that matter) and automate the process of image captures, an automated rail system is preferred method. However, current products on the market are extremely expensive and many macro photographers have to do it manually which is a tedious work to do. Besides expensive rail system, good stacking software are either expensive (but really good) or difficult to use (though free).

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Extreme Macro Focus Stacking Tutorial Part I

Extreme macro focus stacking sounds very complicated and difficult, but in reality, that is not the case as shown in this video. Here are some highlights.

To do extreme macro focus stacking, a stacking rail is necessary to move the camera (or subject).

It is not very difficult to mount an microscope objective on a DSLR, it is rather simple: finding an RMS (if your objective has RMS mount) to appropriate filter thread ring and put it on a prime (or zoom) of appropriate focal length as tube lens. Important here, you must focus the tube lens (prime or zoom) to infinity.

In this video, a 135mm prime lens is used and the microscope objective is a generic 4x PLAN one that requires 180mm tube length. So some calculation is involved to get actual magnification number:

Actual Magnification = 4 * 135 / 180 = 3 which is used in step size calculation

Have some specimen holder that you can mount subject one and pre-position it so we do not have to move the rail much.

Once subject is mounted, move the camera on rail to a position where almost all of subject are out of focus, this is the start position. Then move the camera on rail to another position where subject will be in focus in the process and stop at a position where almost all of subject is out of focus.

Once the start and end positions are set, step size must be calculated. This is where some helpful calculator is handy.

Once step size is set on the controlling software, just start stacking process till it is done.

So essentially here are the steps:

1. mount subject and roughly position it at focal plane of lens used
2. find start position where subject is almost completely out of focus and set it as start position.
3. move the rail to the direction where subject will be in focus till it is almost out of focus and set this point to be end position
4. calculate step size with some calculator or based on experience
5. start stacking
6. use some stacking software to stack all images to get a final one.

IMPORTANT NOTE: well, it is simple to do, but the most difficult part is lighting, as always for any photography. So this video is just an illustration of how to stack. To get best result, lighting is the most difficult and important part.