Techniques for shooting flowers using extended rail

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wsi
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Techniques for shooting flowers using extended rail

Unread postby wsi » 12.05.2012 14:40

I have been trying to shoot flowers using a nikon d800e (iso 100) nikkor 60 mm f2.8 micro lens (f8 to f13) manfrotto tripod elichrome quadra rx flash (set at 2.0). I think I am missing something in the technique to get sharp pictures. I focus the first frame very carefully on say the front edge of the flower using liveview magnification. I set the stackshot on steps doing say 30 steps at 50 mm each step. the flash is using sync cable. I have the live view on to start with. The camera is set on aperature priority at say f11. I execute the stackshot moving towards the flower (since i focused on the front edge to start. The process is executed and I have 30 images to combine. I download the photos to my computer. Run lightroom 4. export to helicon focus. run program (a, b and c). so far none of the output products have been terrific. In general I am not seeing a sharply focused image for the output that captures the whole flower in focus.

I am sure that I am doing something incorrectly with stackshot to get the images helicon needs? I have tried a few images and up to 50 images with no signicant difference in quality. Suggestions and ideas would be appreciated. The output is better than a single shot with the 60mm lens but not tack sharp like I would expect just a much bigger file.

Thanks

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Stas Yatsenko
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Re: Techniques for shooting flowers using extended rail

Unread postby Stas Yatsenko » 14.05.2012 10:53

First of all, make sure that StackShot is able to cover all the range. Focus on the nearest point, store it as A, then use arrows >,>>,>>> to focus on the farthest point, store it as B. Then go between A and B several times (use big arrows between A and B) to make sure the program is able to navigate correctly between them.

Then disable Auto check-box in Focus bracketing panel and enter number of shots (30). Start shooting, import images.

Make sure that the first image is sharp in nearest point and the last image is sharp in farthest point.

Then stack images together. Make sure that there is no soft areas between layers.

For best results, I would recommend you to use sharpest aperture (f5.6-8?).

You are also welcome to upload your stack to our server (as described at http://www.heliconsoft.com/ftp.html) for our tests.

wsi
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Re: Techniques for shooting flowers using extended rail

Unread postby wsi » 14.05.2012 13:03

If the depth of field on the 60 mm lens is say 0.189 meters at a given aperature then the distance between shots in your menus should be 90 mm or 0.90 mm?

I think that I just do not have the units entered correctly.

Thanks

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Stas Yatsenko
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Re: Techniques for shooting flowers using extended rail

Unread postby Stas Yatsenko » 16.05.2012 10:41

The distance between shots in Helicon Remote is measured in abstract focusing steps. Focusing step for StackShot by default is equal to 0.05 mm (see Preferences/StackShot) which means that you need to set distance to 60 if you want to cover 3mm between shots.

I can't tell you the exact value of the distance between shots. I would recommend to make several test stacks with different values and see which value is good enough.

wsi
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Re: Techniques for shooting flowers using extended rail

Unread postby wsi » 16.05.2012 11:03

Thank you. I have not used the remote package yet. I have been using stackshot itself. I apologize for the confusion.
I have learned that the depth of field on the Nikon 60 mm micro lens is very small. When you are focused at less than ten inches things get very tricky.

I have been doing trial and error with fifty shot stacks to see if I can get this to work. So far one mm steps to nine mm steps when the flower is eight inches away do not work well. Based on an Internet depth field calculator (which does not know about Nikon d800e cameras) I think the distance between shots will have to be between 20 mm and 40 mm. More testing is required or get a long USB cable and use the software :)

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Re: Techniques for shooting flowers using extended rail

Unread postby Stas Yatsenko » 17.05.2012 11:10

One mm seems to be quite a small step. If you send us this stack (as described at http://www.heliconsoft.com/ftp.html) we can tell you the actual DOF.

wsi
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Re: Techniques for shooting flowers using extended rail

Unread postby wsi » 20.05.2012 16:04

Assuming the lens is sharp enough does the software work better with f16 or f8?

Is it correct to say that the depth of field time the number of steps will equal the maximum in focus depth from the starting position? For example if the flower is 2 cm thick and you want leaves in focus 2 cm beyond the flower then your number of steps x dof must exceed 4 cm?

I think in many cases I just have not had enough distance travelled to get things captured in focus.

I have tried 30 steps of 90mm to see an actual improvement from the first frame. Larger steps seem to create more halo effect.

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Re: Techniques for shooting flowers using extended rail

Unread postby Stas Yatsenko » 21.05.2012 10:50

Assuming the lens is sharp enough does the software work better with f16 or f8?

F16 will work better (if equally sharp) because blurred foreground object will mask background to less extent.

Is it correct to say that the depth of field time the number of steps will equal the maximum in focus depth from the starting position? For example if the flower is 2 cm thick and you want leaves in focus 2 cm beyond the flower then your number of steps x dof must exceed 4 cm?

Yes, with the exception that DOF should overlay by 20-30%.

I think in many cases I just have not had enough distance travelled to get things captured in focus.

I have tried 30 steps of 90mm to see an actual improvement from the first frame. Larger steps seem to create more halo effect.

Halo effect is a different story and may have nothing to do with number of steps or size of step. Upload your stack if you have doubts.

wsi
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Re: Techniques for shooting flowers using extended rail

Unread postby wsi » 23.05.2012 13:15

The stack files appear to be too large for the ftp upload. what is the file size limit?


wsi
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Re: Techniques for shooting flowers using extended rail

Unread postby wsi » 24.05.2012 00:55

I found a ftp program smartftp that worked very well with your site. I have uploaded a sample stack for your review and suggestions.

Thanks for the help

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Re: Techniques for shooting flowers using extended rail

Unread postby Stas Yatsenko » 24.05.2012 14:09

Thanks for the stack.

1. I can see that some images contain motion blur (see 1538.tif for example)

2. It looks like there is enough shots. Even if we select every second images (right click source image list on Parameters tab, Select\Every second image) the final image is fully focused.

3. Parallax is quite strong which makes impossible to align some part of object (green leaves). I would recommend to shoot from larger distance.

wsi
Posts: 27
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Re: Techniques for shooting flowers using extended rail

Unread postby wsi » 24.05.2012 17:35

Thank you. I will try those techniques.

wsi
Posts: 27
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Re: Techniques for shooting flowers using extended rail

Unread postby wsi » 26.05.2012 19:15

Ok still trying to get the technique down. Not successful yet.

I there a limitation on the number of input files to the focus stacking program? When I export from lightroom 4 it seems that lightroom 4 indicates 101 files exported but Helicon focus only gets 60. I just noticed this issue so some of my testing may faulty.

wsi
Posts: 27
Joined: 12.05.2012 14:23

Re: Techniques for shooting flowers using extended rail

Unread postby wsi » 27.05.2012 14:39

The NIkon 60 mm micro f2.8 has a very shallow depth of field. between 2.5 mm and 7 mm depending on how close you are to the subject. That being said I have found that I can get acceptable flower pictures with using F16 with a cognisys macro rail movement of 35 mm. I have used 99 frames for a sunflower picture. I will work on getting the number of frames down.


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