Helicon Focus Help

Focus Stacking
  Rendering
  Retouching
  Text/Scale Bar
  Saving Results
Micro Panorama
  Micro Panorama Parameters
  Shooting Micro Panorama
Program Preferences
  General
  Autoadjustments
  Performance
  Integration
Advanced functionality
  Processing of Raw files
  Raw development settings
  Batch process and Split stacks
  Folder monitor
  Dust Map
  Command Line Mode
Licensing
System Requirements
Install/Uninstall
  Installation for Windows
  Installation for Mac
Integration
  Adobe Lightroom
  Helicon Remote
  Helicon 3D Viewer
Shortcuts
Samples

The latest updated version of Helicon Focus Help is available on our Web site.

Try out our Video tutorials to learn how to get the most of Helicon Focus.

On our Web site you will also find reviews and Articles giving lots of useful tips on stack shooting, focus stacking, tethered photography, using rails and other special equipment.

FOCUS STACKING

Helicon Focus is a software for focus stacking and micro panorama stitching. No matter if you are an amateur making first steps in photography or a laboratory scientist using state-of-the-art optics, you will be impressed by how easily and smartly Helicon Focus meets any challenge.

This software is a unique focus stacking tool allowing to achieve images with theoretically unlimited depth of field. It means that if you have a number of partially focused photos, or a stack, the program will render it into a fully focused image by combining the sharpest areas from each photo of the stack.

If you are new to focus stacking, first we suggest you to watch video tutorials available on our Web site.

Rendering

The main work screen has four tabs that one by one will lead you from opening of source images to saving of the output one.

rendering tab

The Rendering tab is the starting point and the main workspace in Helicon Focus. Here you open source files, set the focus stacking parameters, launch rendering and preview the results.

1 - Menu bar

2 - Toolbar

3 - Workspace tabs

4 - Source images

5 - Render parameters

6 - Output images

7 - Zoom controls

8 - Current source image

(top or left)

9 - Current output image

(bottom or right)

Source Files

Opening Source Files

There are several ways to open source files:

Now the Source images list shows which files will be processed (stacked) once you press the renderRender button. The list of source images will be updated each time you choose another output image, showing the files that were used to render this result.

The Source images list has a context menu that can be called by right-clicking on any of the images on the list or by pressing the menu button. This menu gives you several options:

Removing Source Files

To remove one or more files from the Source images list, select one or multiple images holding down the Ctrl key. Then right-click on one of the highlighted files to call the context menu and choose the Remove image option. You can also click the relevant button right below the Source images list or just press the usual Del.

Please note that removing images from the list doesn't delete the files from the disk.

Rendering Methods

You can choose between three focus stacking algorithms: methods A, B, and C.

Here's a brief explanation of each method and its most typical applications:

Although it's your personal experience that will be your guide in choosing the right rendering method, we will give you some practical tips in the table below.

Method A
Method B
Method C
Multiple crossing lines, complex shapes
+
-
+ +
Images with a glare
+
+ +
-
Long stack
(> 100 images)
-
+
+ +
Non-consecutive (random) order of images
+
-
+
Preserving color and contrast as a priority
+ +
+ +
+

Although method C can cope with some stacks shot in non-consecutive order, we still strongly recommend to shoot images in correct order, i.e. either from fore- to background or vice versa. Right shooting order is one of the preconditions for good focus stacking results.

Selection of the most suitable method depends on the complexity of the stack, the number and the order of images and other factors. So there can't be any strict rule as for the optimal choice, and we do recommend you to try all of them.

Downscaling

Once you opened source files you have an option to resize them for further processing. With Helicon Focus it is easy - just choose the percentage value and start rendering. Processing of downscaled images will save you quite a bit of time. The images are only resized for processing in Helicon Focus, no changes are actually made to the files on the disk.

Radius

The Radius parameter is one of the two main controls to be adjusted, it is only available in A and B methods.

When performing focus stacking the program analyses each pixel of the source image in order to define if it is in focus. Then the detected focused areas from the whole stack are combined into one output image. Radius is the control that regulates the size of the analysed area around each pixel.

In order to get some more practical understanding of this parameter, let's consider two most typical cases.

The first one is the image with fine intersecting details (close-ups of insects, fur, bristles etc.). Here the smaller the value of the Radius is the sharper are the intersecting details. On the other hand, you should keep in mind that there might also be artifacts on smooth, solid-color surfaces, so you need to find a balance.

Here are two stacking results rendered at a different radius, both by B method.

Method B, Radius = 1 Method B, Radius = 22

Another quite typical example will show the advantages of higher Radius values - minimizing halo or other artifacts along the object edges. As you can see from the photos below, increasing radius allows to almost eliminate the halo effect. Excessive increase of the Radius value will affect details, so again - find a smart compromise.

Method B, Radius = 2 Method B, Radius = 22

Experiment with your stacks, compare results and very soon you will find the right balance.

Smoothing

Smoothing is the second of the two main focus stacking parameters. When analyzing the stack, the most sharply focused areas of the source images are found to be combined into one output image. For methods A and C smoothing defines how these sharp areas will be combined. Low smoothing produces a sharper image, but the transition areas may have some artifacts. High smoothing will result in a slightly blurry image, though without any visible transition areas. For B method this value defines how depth map will be smoothed out.

Note: if when readjusting the controls you want to get back to default settings, just right-click on the slider of the parameter you want to reset. This works for all controls in Helicon Focus.

Outputs List

Once you press the Render button the stack processing starts. All resulting images and processing progress bars will appear in the Outputs window at the bottom of the screen. Here you will find all the results produced during this working session. Select the output, and the source images that were used to render this result will be displayed in the Source images list. The Outputs window also contains brief info on the stacking parameters: method - radius - smoothing.

Retouching

retouching tab

In some cases you will need to do some retouching of the output image. On the Retouching tab we have three main brushes - Copy from source, Clone and Erase. You can choose the brush in the right part of the tab.

Copy from source

Both images will appear to you perfectly synchronized, even when zooming in or out. The output image will be displayed on the right.

If you already tried to create a nice stack yourself, you know that it can be quite challenging due to a range of external factors affecting the shooting process. So sometimes you will have blurring, banding, halo or other artifacts. Many of them can be fixed with the Copy from source brush. The idea of this tool is that it will allow to replace artifacts on the output image by copying the same area from the relevant source image.

On the left - one of the source images, on the right - the output image right after rendering (the antennae were moving during shooting, so the software displayed antennae from all the source images on the resulting one).

In order to copy the area from the source to the output image, choose the Copy from source brush, pick the appropriate image in the Source image list, i.e. select the image where the "problem" area looks better than on the other ones. Then adjust the brush parameters and paint.

On the left - one of the source images to copy from, on the right - the output image with Copy from source brush applied.

You can choose the source image you need manually, by going over the list in the Source images window. But there's also another option, which is especially relevant for long stacks. Position the brush on any part of the output image and you will see the name of the file it was taken from. Press F9 key and this source image will be immediately loaded to the left window. Use Page Up and Page Down keys to navigate through the source image list.

Helicon Focus has another great feature that allows to get even better rendering results. As you already know, each rendering method has its advantages and works better for different parts of the image. Sometimes in order to get perfect result you need to combine parts of the output images rendered by different methods and rendering parameters. To do this, press the Use another output as a source button below the Source images list to choose one of the output images that will serve as a source one. This possibility is only available in Pro version.

Brush Parameters

There are four main brush parameters:

Brush size - sets the diameter of the copied area. Minimize it for more fine and precise strokes.

Brush hardness - sets the hardness/softness of the brush edges. With high values the brush stroke will have sharper edges, with lower ones the copied element will blend better into the target image.

Color tolerance - makes the brush "smart". When set to 100% it will allow to copy all (100%) pixels in the painted area, whereas setting to lower values will make the brush select pixels to be copied by their color - only those pixels will be copied that have similar color to the central one in the painted area. For instance, this option becomes truly essential when it comes to dealing with fine details or complex outlines that you need to leave as is while copying the background.

This simple example will show you how it works:

Color tolerance set to low value - the brush is applied only to yellow background, leaving pencils in the foreground intact.

NB: Brightness was set to a high value just to make it more demonstrative.

Color tolerance set to maximum - brush is applied to all pixels within the copied area.

Brightness - makes copied pixels either brighter or darker to match the brightness of the output image.

Check the Show source map option to highlight the part of the current source image that was used for creation of the output one.

For more convenience of precise and fine retouching of 100% scale high-resolution image, use the Grid feature. The Ctrl+G shortcut will show/hide the grid that will serve as a reference helping you navigate within the zoomed image.

Show depth map option allows to display the depth map of the output image during retouching.

Cloning

The second brush type allows to copy fragments within the output image. Choose the Clone brush and one of the options: Clone area or Paint with pattern.

With Clone area the source and the target cloning areas are moving in parallel, whereas the Paint with pattern sets the source spot and allows to clone it to any target area.

The example below will show you the difference between the Clone brush types.

The first is the Clone area brush with default brush parameters. As you can see, the parallel movement of the source and the target areas enables to actually clone any element within the output image.

Photo: Asian Lily ©Walt Polley

Next brush type is Paint with pattern. This one allows to choose the pattern on the output image and to paint the target area.

Photo: Asian Lily ©Walt Polley

The Texture only option allows not to copy the part of the image completely, but to clone just its texture leaving the background color intact.

You can also visit our Video tutorials page to see all these brushes in action.

Eraser

In order to cancel the unwanted changes, use Undo buttons to undo a point, a stroke or a brush. But sometimes it is more convenient to use the Eraser. Adjust the brush settings just as you did with other retouching brushes and go over the parts of the image that you want to be back to initial state.

 

Retouching in several sessions

If you want to close the program and continue retouching the image later, you can save the project file and get back to it some other time. This saving option will keep all the changes that were done to the source images and the output one, including all the adjustments and retouching history, so that you can even undo the changes during the next retouching session.

To use this option go to the main menu\File\Save project file... Choose the folder, and all the necessary info will be saved to the *.hproj file.

To continue working with this project go to the main menu\File\Load project file...

Text/Scale

text tab

On the Text/Scale tab you can add a scale bar and one or several lines of text to your image.

Adding Text

Check the Text box to add or to remove text from the image. Once it is "on" you can type the text that you want to be written on the image in the Text window.

The Insert special menu allows to insert special symbols (© and µ) and image metadata, such as date, time, aperture, ISO, etc.

The font can be selected from the Font list.

decr incr buttons change the font size; bold italic underline buttons change the text style; the color picker allows to select the font color.

The drop down box below allows to choose the text effects: highlighted, shadowed, embossed paper or no effect.

Use left right buttons to align the text.

The Transparency sets the opacity of the text.

To add one or several more lines of text, click on the Add button.

To delete all text from the image, click the Delete all button.

To edit existing text, first click on it (selection will be marked with a green rectangle) and then edit its contents or properties.

Adding Scale Bar

Sometimes it's difficult to understand the dimensions of the object on the image without any reference. The Scale bar option was designed to solve this problem.

To add a scale bar to your image, check the Scale check box.

To select the appearance of the scale bar, click on the Select Scale... button and choose one of the offered images.

You can also add your own scale bar type by clicking on add in the Select Scale window and locating the image to be opened. The scale bars are typically black and white. To invert colors, check the Invert colors check box.

The Scale width shows scale size against the image width. This value can be used to calibrate the scale using objects of known size.

Typically, the scale calibration process will look like this:

1. Shoot a stack of an object of known size. It can be a stack consisting of at least two images. For example, a regular school ruler can be taken as a reference object.

2. Render this short stack, go to Text/Scale tab, check the Scale check box, choose the scale bar type and stretch it to match the known dimension. This will define the correspondence of real life dimensions to the Scale bar width in %.

3. Resize the scale bar proportionally, depending on what scale bar length you need for the further reference. Here's an example: let's say that we have dice with edge length of 3.0 cm, which corresponds to the Scale bar width of 70%. For more convenience we prefer a scale equal to 1 cm, which corresponds to 20% (1 cm x 70% / 3.0 cm=20%).

Now you can add this scale to other images to provide some reference.

Of course, this workflow is only applicable for images made in identical shooting conditions (the same lens, focus, camera position).

Saving

saving tab

On the "Saving" tab you can save or export the resulting image.

Save... Allows to save the resulting image in JPEG or TIFF format. The default name of the file is formed automatically.
Export 3D Model Creates a 3D model and opens it in Helicon 3D Viewer; here you can adjust the model and save it in a variety of formats. Read more about Helicon 3D Viewer here.
Create Animation Creates an HTML page with JavaScript animation of the stacking process.
Save Depth Map Saves depth map as a grayscale image. This image can be used for relief measurements or for 3D modelling.
Export Layers Saves aligned layers as semitransparent PNG files. The tranparency is set in such a way that a stack of these layers in Photoshop gives resulting image.
Copy Result to Clipboard Allows to copy the resulting image to clipboard.
Publish to Web Automatically converts, resizes for the web and uploads your image to Helicon Soft secure server with just one click. You will also get a unique URL that you can immediately send to anybody to share your image.
Share on Facebook Resize the image if needed, add a description and post directly to your Facebook page.
Save Project file Save the image in the current state to be able to continue retouching and working with it later.

MICRO PANORAMA

Please note that the micro panorama function is only available in Pro version. 

The micro panorama function is designed to stitch images made through a microscope. It may fail to stitch images that were made by camera rotation on the tripod.

The program aligns images based on the Panorama autoadjustment settings (main menu\Edit\Preferences\Autoadjustments). The program only shifts images to align them, no magnification or rotation is applied.

Micro Panorama Parameters

The Rows control sets the number of rows in your panorama.

The Columns control sets the number of columns in your panorama.

The Overlapping of rows sets the overlapping value of adjacent rows. Move the slider until you see the pattern on the images merge.

The Overlapping of columns defines how adjacent columns overlap. The images can also be moved manually, dragged with a mouse, which sometimes allows for more precise alignment of images.

The Seem smoothing sets the width of seams with gradient transparency.

Check the Crop margins box to crop the resulting panorama in a way to remove the blank spaces formed after shifting of its elements.

With Shooting order parameter you set the order in which the images of panorama were shot. There are two ways to shoot panorama: each row from left to right, or odd rows (1,3,5,...) from left to right and even rows (2,4,6,...) in the reverse direction. And in any case rows should be shot in consecutive order, i.e. the 1st, the 2nd, the 3rd etc.

The Reset positions button allows to restore the original position of images after you dragged them with mouse.

The Reset will restore the default values of panorama settings.

Shooting Micro Panorama

PROGRAM PREFERENCES

To open the Preferences dialogue, go to the main menu\Edit\Preferences.

General

Mouse dragging speed - sets correlation between movement of the mouse and shifting of the image. It makes navigation in the main window faster, especially when working with zoomed images.

Magnifying glass size - defines the size of the virtual magnifying glass that appears if you left-click on the image.

Monitor profile is used to display images on the monitor. Your monitor has its own color profile that was saved to the system folder during monitor installation. Helicon Focus will pull up the relevant default monitor color profile, but you can set an alternate one if you wish.

Show intermediary results during calculation - enables screen updating during processing. Please note that it will add another 30% to total processing time!

Automatically check for program updates - if enabled, the program will check for updates by connecting to Helicon Soft server each time when started.

Show legacy B method - method B in Helicon Focus 7 has been significantly changed. The legacy method B (i.e. the one used in earlier versions) is hidden by default, but checking this option in Preferences will make it available. Legacy method B allows for much faster processing, however it produces more atrifacts on uniform background, especially if images of the stack have different brightness levels.

DPI in the output image - sets how much DPI you want to have in the output image.

Save file name template - sets the file naming pattern. You can add additional parameters from the dropdown menu.

Do not save EXIF metadata - remove the metadata of the output image.

Use default jpeg quality - if checked, the program will always save jpeg's at default quality, without asking confirmation each time before saving.

Autoadjustments

Focus Stacking Autoadjustments

Even if you shoot a stack from a tripod and the subject is completely still, the images in the stack will not be perfectly aligned. It means that even with good shooting conditions, the subject will slightly change its size and position on the image every time the focus is shifted. So during focus stacking the program has to somewhat scale and sometimes rotate and shift images in order to align. This group of controls allows to fine-tune the alignment properties if needed.

Adjust vertically - sets maximum vertical shift between two consecutive images of the stack in % of their width or length, whichever is greater.

Adjust horizontally - defines maximum horizontal shift between two consecutive images in % of their width or length, whichever is greater.

Rotate - defines maximum angle between two consecutive images in degrees. Usually not needed for microscope and tripod shots.

Scale -  defines maximum difference in subject size between two consecutive images in % of their width or length, whichever is greater.

Autoadjustments interpolation - allows to choose the interpolation principle. Slow methods preserve details better, though it is hardly noticeable.

Adjust brightness - defines whether brightness of consecutive images should be equalized.

Manual focus detection area adjustment - shows a blue rectangle of selection area and allows the user to adjust the area of alignment of frames in the stack. This option may be useful, for instance, if the frames have been shot through a microscope and black edges on images do not allow to align the stack correctly.

Crop result image automatically - the program may be lacking data at the image edges for alignment of the frames in the stack. Normally it results in stripes on the resulting image and other artifacts. This option allows to crop the areas lacking data automatically.

Show user crop rect - shows a dotted border rectangle allowing the user to select cropping area for the entire stack.

Panorama Autoadjustments

Group of settings related to processing of the panorama stack.

Adjust vertically - defines maximum vertical shift between two consecutive images in % of their width.

Adjust horizontally - defines maximum horizontal shift between two consecutive images in % of their width.

Depth map feathering - the degree of smoothing of the depth map used in method B.

Performance

Disk cache folder indicates the path to the folder used for storage of temporary files (TIFFs from loaded RAW files, the retouched image). The cache is cleared when the program quits; if it fails to clear cache on exit, it will try to do it during the next startup.

Memory cache limit - sets the share of RAM that the program can use for storage of the most recently used images. Normally it significicantly increases the speed of repeat processing.

Parallel image loading - enables upload of images in multiple streams. Speeds up processing of jpegs and RAW files on SSDs, but may slow down processing if applied on other types of drives and/or with TIFFs.

Run benchmark - starts processing of 100 frames by method B. Test result can then be compared to the results of other users (by clicking the 'Compare' button in the results window). This can be useful for evaluating your current hadrware and/or choosing new one.

Integration tab

The path to Helicon Focus plug-in for Lightroom is given on the Integration tab of the Preferences menu.

You may need it if you have several versions of Lightroom installed on your computer or you have problems with running HF module. If so, please make sure that the plug-in was installed to the right Lightroom folder.

You will need to have Adobe DNG Converter installed for processing of Raw files.

 

ADVANCED FUNCTIONALITY

Processing of Raw files

With Helicon Focus you can process Raw files opening them directly in the program or importing from Photoshop Lightroom.

With Helicon Focus Lite license you can open Raw files and save the output to .jpg or .tif.

Helicon Focus Pro package enables Raw-in-DNG-out mode - here you can find a comparison chart demonstrating the difference between standard Raw processing workflow and Raw-in-DNG-out mode.

With Helicon Focus Pro you will have this mode enabled automatically. Once you open Raw files in Helicon Focus, you will see the Raw development settings button appear beneath the Source images window in the right part of the screen.

If for one reason or another, you do not see .dng among file type options on the Saving tab, please

a. make sure you have the latest version of Adobe DNG Converter installed

b. set the path to DNG Converter on the Integration tab

c. in the Raw development settings beneath the Source image list select RAW-in-DNG-out loader codec.

If you export Raw files from Photoshop Lightroom for further processing in Helicon Focus and saving to .dng, please watch the Helicon Focus - Raw-in-DNG-out mode video.

Raw development settings

Helicon Focus allows processing a variety of file formats, including development of RAW files. Once you open the RAW source image, additional settings menu will appear beneath the Source image list. It enables more precise adjustment of rendering parameters.

""

There are six main controls here:

Codec: DCRAW is used by default, but here you also have an option to choose the codec yourself. To do so, go for Install WIC codecs (Windows only). If you would like to be able to save to .dng (Helicon Focus Pro only feature), please select RAW-in-DNG-out loader.

White balance: choose if you prefer Helicon Focus to set the white balance automatically or to use the white balance settings as set when shooting.

Highlights: choose the highlight recovery mode - Clip (clips highlights to increase contrast), Unclip (leaves highlights unclipped, may give a pink hue), Blend (blends clipped and unclipped values), Rebuild (reconstructs overexposed areas from the adjacent properly exposed ones).

Interpolation: choose the demosaicing algorithm - Linear (basic, but fast), VNG (Variable Number of Gradients), PPG (Patterned Pixel Grouping), AHD (Adaptive Homogeneity-Directed), DCB.

Color profile: choose the color space defining the range of colors, tones, brightness of the image - Raw, sRGB (the smallest range of colors and tones, but the most commonly used), Adobe (wider color range, though not supported by some browsers and requiring special software to reproduce the colors correctly), ProPhoto (the widest range of colors, 16-bit processing recommended).

Noise threshold: the higher the noise threshold value is, the more noise is removed, though the more details might be lost. Normally optimal values lie in between 100 and 1000.

Batch process and Split stacks

This is a great feature allowing to optimize and speed up the multiple stack processing. Any Helicon Focus version allows to add several stacks one by one, loading each of them to the source image list and setting rendering parameters for each stack. Batch process mode makes it easier allowing to load a bunch of stacks at a time, to adjust parameters for each or for all of them for further rendering.

And not only that, there's another tool that is very helpful for stack processing - stack splitting. If you have several stacks in one folder, it is usually time-consuming to sort the whole pile of images into separate stacks. And sometimes it may even be quite problematic to make it, especially if you were shooting the same subject several times with slight difference in settings. Helicon Focus can split images into stacks automatically, please find the detailed instructions below.

Batch process:

1. Open Batch process window: Helicon Focus main menu\File\Batch process...

2. Add images, folder or several folders.

3. Set rendering parameters - method, radius, smoothing.

4. Adjust Autosave settings - choose the output image format, quality and target folder.

5. Press Render button to start processing.

The menu button next to each stack will open a small pop-up menu, allowing to Remove the stack (just from the list, not from the disk), to Apply current rendering parameters to all other stacks and to Split stacks.

 

Spilt stacks:

1. Open Batch process window: main menu/File/Batch process...

2. Add the folder to be split.

3. Choose Split stack in the menu menu.

4. Adjust the parameters - choose if you want stacks to be split by number of images, by minimum time interval between shots, by exposure or by focus. Please find more detail below.

The last line will give you the summary of how many stacks you'll get with these splitting parameters.

5. Press the Split button.

6. Proceed as with other enqueued stacks.

Split by image count - will be useful if you have several stacks of equal number of images.

Split by time - will be helpful if you do not know the exact number of images in stacks, but know the minimum time interval between shooting sessions.

Split by exposure - this splitting method is used for a specific shooting mode. If you were shooting stacks using Helicon Remote which allows exposure bracketing, go for Split by exposure and it will make all the sorting for you.

Split by focus - splitting method for HDR mode, where several shots are being made for each focus position.

No matter which method you choose, the images will be split into stacks only virtually for further processing in Helicon Focus, no actual folders with stacks will be created on the disk.

Folder monitor

Helicon Focus can monitor the specified folder and process the stack automatically once all the images of the stack are uploaded.

To use the Folder monitor option, go to main menu-File-Folder monitor, or use a shortcut: Alt+Shift+Ctrl+M.

File types to process - 'JPEG/TIFF then RAW' means that if you shoot JPEG+RAW, the programm will form two separate stacks.

Time between shots to split into stacks - sets the time interval for the program to determine the end of one stack and the beginning of another one.

Processing existing files - if not checked, only files that are being added after launching the folder monitoring will be processed.

Copy files before processing - allows to copy files and to split them into separate folders before processing. This will allow preventing the folder with new files from overfilling.

Autosave results - the output can be saved to a specific folder and in a chosen format.

Once the Folder monitor is launched, you can see it running in the right part of the toolbar.

Dust map

If there are dust particles on the camera sensor or in the optical system of the microscope, it will result in black dots on every image you shoot. Even if usually it does not bother you too much, when it comes to focus stacking of such images, these spots will turn into dark traces on the output image due to slight alignment shifting. Helicon Focus developed a great solution for such stacks - the Dust map function. Basically, all you need is to provide the program with a sort of a "map" of all dust particles that will be applied to the whole stack in order to eliminate these dust imprints. This function works also for hot pixels.

Below you will find all the detailed instructions as for how to use this feature, and this 100% crop of the sample image provided by Phil McCollum is a good demonstration of how the output image looks like with and without a dust map:

Dust map function is OFF. Move the cursor over the image to see how the dust map function works.

To use the Dust map feature, please follow these steps:

  1. Prepare a dust map: when shooting your images, make one unfocused (!) shot of a white surface, so that dust on the sensor can be easily identified.
  2. Launch Helicon Focus, add stack of images.
  3. In the main menu select: File\ Set dust map... Once added, the correspondent info will appear beneath the Source images list.
  4. Start rendering.

Please note that dust map should have the same dimensions as all the other images in the stack.

Here is an example of the dust map (provided by Phil McCollum):

In order to remove the dust map, go to the main menu\File\Remove dust map, or press the menu button next to the dust map file name.

Command line mode

Helicon Focus can be called from other programs using command line parameters.

Command line parameter Description
   
-silent Start Helicon Focus without interface only with progress bar
-save:full_name.ext Save result to the full_name.ext. If omitted, result is saved to Focused subfolder
-j:jpeg_quality Save JPEG quality (0-12)
-dmap Save depth map image
-noresult Do not save resulting image
-3d Save 3D model in Helicon 3D Viewer file format
-noprogress Do not show rendering progress bar
   
-i full_name.ext full_name.ext points to text file with input file names separated with new line '\n'
-o full_name.ext full_name.ext points to text file to store list of saved outputs
-preferred-output-path folder_name folder_name - folder to be opened by default when saving outputs from Helicon Focus
   
-mp:x Set Method (0=method A, 1=method B, 2=method C)
-rp:xxx Set Radius
-sp:xxx Set Smoothing
   
-va:xxx Define Vertical shift adjustment
-ha:xxx Define Horizontal shift adjustment
-ra:xxx Define Rotation adjustment
-ma:xxx Define Magnification adjustment
-ba:xxx Define Brightness adjustment
-im:x Define Interpolation method (1=Bilinear,...)
-dmf:xx Define Depth map feathering

 

Examples Description
   
HeliconFocus.exe -silent "c:\my images\set20" Process all images in "c:\my images\set20" folder with default parameters
"C:\Program Files\Helicon Focus\HeliconFocus.exe" -silent Process all images in the current folder and save result to "Focused" subfolder
HeliconFocus.exe -silent "c:\my images\set20" -rp:6 -sp:7 -mp:1 Process images with Radius set to 6 and Smoothing set to 7
HeliconFocus.exe -silent "c:\my images\set20" -save:c:\result.tiff Process images in "c:\my images\set20" folder and save as tiff file to c:\

 

 

LICENSING

Helicon Focus is a shareware program. You can evaluate a fully functional version for 30 days. Once the trial period is over, however, the program will add promotional text to the resulting image and limit its resolution to 4Mpixels unless you register the program.

To register the program, buy a license and get a registration key. You can order a license for one of the three versions described below: Helicon Focus Lite, Helicon Focus Pro, and Helicon Focus Premium.

A registered copy may be installed on up to four computers, as long as only one copy is used at the same time. A single license allows unlimited hardware upgrades and/ or transfers to other computers.

Helicon Focus Lite

Helicon Focus Pro

Includes all the features of the Lite version, plus:

Helicon Focus Premium

Includes all the features of the Pro version, plus:

 

SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS

The recommended system configuration is:

Minimum system requirements are:

 

INSTALL/UNINSTALL

Installation for MS Windows

The latest version of Helicon Focus is always available on the Downloads page of our Web site, if your license allows updating.

To install Helicon Focus:

1. Go to http://www.heliconsoft.com/software-downloads/.

2. Hit the Download button

4. Run the .exe file.

5. Follow the installation instructions.

6. Launch Helicon Focus from the Start menu or the desktop shortcut.

You can uninstall the program from the Control Panel.

Plug-in for Adobe Lightroom will be installed automatically with the first launch of Helicon Focus.

Installation for Mac

The latest version of Helicon Focus is always available on the Downloads page of our Web site, if your license allows updating.

To install Helicon Focus:

1. Go to http://www.heliconsoft.com/software-downloads/.

2. Hit the Download button

4. Open/mount the .dmg file from the Downloads folder.

5. Drag the Helicon Focus and Helicon 3D Viewer icons onto the Applications folder icon.

6. Launch Helicon Focus from the Applications folder.

In order to install plug-in for Lightroom, go to main menu\Edit\Preferences\Integration tab and hit the Install plug-in button.

You can uninstall the program from the Applications folder.

 

INTEGRATION

Adobe Lightroom

Helicon Focus plug-in for Lightroom enables smooth and simple interaction between these two programs. It is installed automatically on Windows, and from Preferences menu on Mac OS.

Follow this general algorithm to see how it works:

  1. Launch Photoshop Lightroom and import the stack that you want to be rendered.
  2. Select images.
  3. Export to Helicon Focus. Call the context menu with a right-click on any of the chosen images and go for Export - Helicon Focus. If you want to check or adjust export settings, use the Shift+Ctrl+E shortcut instead of just right-clicking. Helicon Focus will be launched automatically. The stack will be displayed in the Source images window in the top right hand corner.
  4. Render with Helicon Focus. Adjust the processing parameters and start rendering. The resulting image icon will appear in the Output images menu in the bottom right hand corner. If you find that the resulting image needs some retouching or you want to add text/scale, go to the relevant tab.
  5. Save output image. Once you feel like stacking is done and you are happy with the result, go to the Saving tab, hit the Save button and choose the folder, the file type and name.
  6. Close Helicon Focus. The resulting image will be imported back to Lightroom automatically.

It is important to note that once you start exporting source images to Helicon Focus, you will see that an export progress bar will appear in Lightroom. The process will be shown as suspended until you close Helicon Focus, since Lightroom considers rendering in Helicon Focus as a part of export process.

Please remember that in order for the rendered image to be displayed in Lightroom, you should have either All photographs folder active or the one you saved the output image to. So if you cannot see the resulting image, make sure you're standing on the right folder.

Changing export format

Lightroom exports images in TIFF by default. To export in raw format, export settings need to be adjusted.

  1. Right-click any image in Lightroom and select Export -> Export... in the context menu:
  2. Go to Helicon Focus -> File settings. Select either DNG or Original in the "Image format" drop-down list. There's no significant difference between the two options when working with Helicon Focus.
  3. Click the "Export" button.

Note: simply selecting Export -> Helicon Focus in the context menu will always export TIFF images. Lightroom does not permanently store your selection of DNG / Original format. However, after going to export settings and clicking "Export" once, you can then right-click images and select Export -> Export with Previous. That will launch Helicon Focus and export raw images.

If you have problems exporting to Lightroom, try to un- and reinstall the plug-in. To do it go to main menu-Edit-Preferences...-Integration tab and click on "Uninstall plug-in" and then on "Install plug-in".

Please watch the video tutorials on our Web site for more details.

Helicon Remote

Read more about Helicon Remote here.

Helicon 3D Viewer

Read more about Helicon 3D Viewer here.

SHORTCUTS

Below you will find the list of all shortcuts for Helicon Focus. Sometimes using them makes it much more handy to work with images. In order to get used to them we advise you to print out the whole list and to keep it at hand.

Shortcut Description
 
General shortcuts  
 
Ctrl+O Open images
Del Remove images from the Source images list
Page Up, Page Down Navigate through the Source images list
Ctrl+S Save image
Ctrl+R Render the stack
F1 Helicon Focus Help
Right mouse button on slider Reset to default
Alt+Ctrl+Shift+M Folder monitor
 
Image navigation shortcuts  
 
Mouse wheel Zoom in/out
Left mouse button Show magnifying glass
Space + Left mouse button Pan the image (hand tool)
Right mouse button Pan the image (hand tool)
Left arrow, right arrow Move the image one step right or left
Ctrl+Left arrow, right arrow Move the image one page right or left
Click on scroll wheel Fit to window/zoom to 100%
 
Retouching shortcuts  
 
[] keys/Ctrl+scroll wheel Adjust brush size
Ctrl+Alt+scroll wheel Adjust brush hardness
Shift+scroll wheel Adjust color tolerance
Alt+scroll wheel Adjust brightness
Ctrl+Z Undo retouching
Ctrl+Y Redo retouching
Right mouse button Set new source area for the Clone brush
Right mouse button Keep it pressed to hide the retouching changes
Ctrl+G Show/hide grid
F9 Load current source image

SAMPLES

Click to see the original files and download the samples.