Tried it but problems

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Moderator: Stas Yatsenko


Tried it but problems

Unread postby DHF » 02.11.2009 19:28

Hi All,

Well I downloaded the trail version of Helicon and installed it and ran it and the results were not great I have to say. Many sharp and detailed edges had not been blended correctly and were left blurred, yet others areas in the same image had worked quite well, which is odd - and whoever said in this forum that Helicon is easier to use than CS4’s focus blending, is not telling the whole truth, it is far easier with CS4, it is just that it only allows for a standardised output, whereas Helicon is infinitely variable in selecting and applying blending settings. I tried the various settings in Helicon and the blend still was not satifactory.

Also tried CS4 focus blending to compare and to be honest, I got a very similar result with some edges left blurry and other edges perfectly sharp, which means it was no better than Helicon, but certainly no worse either.

The image I used was a macro shot of a flower across 5 images, taken using a bought for purpose rack system and tripod along with a Canon close up filter attached to an L series lens on a 5D, with the DoF stepped through accordingly and evenly across the five images.

My conclusion is that with lots of fiddling or if you have an image taken on a relatively flat plain with only a limited DoF, then either of these two systems work reasonably well, but something with a larger DoF, then neither of them work very well at all and need a lot of tinkering and frustration to get anything like a decent result.

In conclusion - if you have CS4 then I wouldn't buy Helicon Focus as the embedded tool in PS is already there and is as good as Helicon, but no better than Helicon. But if I didn't have Photoshop, then yes I would probably buy Helicon as a lower priced alternative - but I suspect anyone thinking of using this type of software for focus stacking, will probably be a bit more advanced than your average Joe Photographer and already have, or be intending to buy, a copy of CS4, so it would be a waste of time and money to own two sets of tools, that give very similar and unreliable results, where neither of them perform well out of the box on anything other than single plain images with a limited FoV. A substantial reduction in the price of Helicon Focus would make it worth buying for the casual purchaser I suppose, but other than that, I could not recommend it.

I am therefore not going to purchase Helicon (whatever the price) as I already own and use CS4.

I hope this helps any would be purchasers of this program.


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Stas Yatsenko
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Unread postby Stas Yatsenko » 03.11.2009 14:58

Thanks for your feedback and findings. I would appreciate if you upload your source images to our ftp server (as described at so we can test it and maybe improve our algorithms. Even if your source images do not allow to get perfect result (moving object, change of view point) I am sure that with our retouching brushes this can be fixed with a few strokes in a minutes.

I would suggest you to look at other pages comparing Helicon Focus with CS4.

CS4 works quite well in some cases but fails in many others. It is not able to process high resolution stacks and it is limited by the number of source images in the stack. We tested Helicon Focus with 120Mpixels images. The number of images in the stack is not limited. You have control over processing parameters. Specialized retouching brush to copy areas from source image to resulting image is much more efficient then cloning in CS4. In other words, if you want to get closer to the perfect result, Helicon Focus gives you the tools to do this.

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