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Application of Focus Bracketing in close-up photography

Discussion in 'X-T2, X-T1, X-T20, X-T10' started by Kevin Hall, May 15, 2018.

  1. Kevin Hall

    Kevin Hall Well-Known Member

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    Late last night I landed something I'd been fishing for this spring - a male Luna Moth. Here was a chance to apply the new Focus Bracketing from the 4.0 update on my X-T2, and I'm very pleased with the timing of Fuji's release and the resulting images.

    Some have questioned the practical utility of Focus BKT, while there have also been some suggestions that it is the latest fad. For me, it is an innovative new tool that helps me solve a frequent problem in the close-up photography of Lepidoptera - that is, making a sharp image from antennae to tail, wing tip to wing tip.

    Back in the film days, the trick was getting parallel as much as possible and using a small enough aperture for maximum depth of field - as much as diffraction would allow for, often f22. Almost always, it was still not enough and you had to be selective with your focus. Wing tips and antennae were frequent casualties.

    Diffraction is even worse with digital sensors that are smaller than 35mm and so stacking is a much needed technique to defeat it. And better still, when done correctly, it delivers the depth of field required for the entire subject - something that stopping down was never capable of. But it wasn't easy, at best you had a macro rail to assist you and at worst, you were carefully adjusting each slice by hand on your lens.

    With firmware 4.0 these kinds of images are much easier. It is still very detailed work and requires a good subject (not at all for chasing butterflies through the meadow), but it makes better results closer to reach.

    For that I am grateful, thanks to Fuji.

    Horizontal image: X-T2, XF80mm Macro, tripod, Fotodiox, 1/15sec @ f10, ISO 200, 9 images, Helicon Focus.

    Vertical image: X-T2, XF80mm Macro, tripod, Fotodiox, 1/15sec @ f10, ISO 200, 7 images, Helicon Focus.

    ActiaslunaSTACK2.jpg

    ActiaslunaSTACK1.jpg
     
  2. Pobert58

    Pobert58 Premium Member

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    I do a lot of insect macro work as well and agree with everything you wrote. Focus bracketing is a nice feature for some of us.
     
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  3. ChrisW1685

    ChrisW1685 New Member

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    Astonishing images, Kevin, thanks for sharing. I've not got round to trying focus bracket yet, but must experiment.
     
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  4. Dog Daze

    Dog Daze Premium Member

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    does this bracketing stack align and blend, or is stacking software still a necessity? just asking, I still use my Nikon equip on a rail for my stacks and that probably wont change due to the investment I already have in macro lenses, flashes, diffusers etc.
     
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  5. Pobert58

    Pobert58 Premium Member

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    Fuji focus bracketing simply takes the photos, one still needs to use software to stack the photos.
     
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  6. Kevin Hall

    Kevin Hall Well-Known Member

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    What it does is take incrementally "deeper" slices into the depth of the scene in an automated manner. You then need to stack however many images (slices) into a composite image with software.

    I forgot to mention that the Focus BKT settings were step = 10. Steps of 1 are very, very shallow and 10 being the deepest.
     
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  7. Double Negative

    Double Negative Premium Member

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    Well that's just amazing. Nice work! I'll have to revisit Helicon Focus (for Mac).
     
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  8. Pobert58

    Pobert58 Premium Member

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    Affinity Photo does focus stacking as well, and I suspect is cheaper than the dedicated stacking software. It also has good support for Fuji RAW files.
     
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  9. Shadowside

    Shadowside Good Glass is Forever...

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    Simply stunning!
     
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  10. Richard_M

    Richard_M Premium Member

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    This is why I have Arsenal on order. If it doesn't live up to the hype, then I may end up moving to Olympus. I've been out on macro photowalks with a couple of Olympus users, and I'm not sure if its the operators, or the camera being finicky, but I can shoot a focus stack and moved onto the next subject while they're still photographing the first. This is what has been holding me back from moving to Olympus. Like you, I use Nikon DSLR's for my focus stacks in conjunction with a CamRanger, which also controls my StackShot rail for those time I use it. The current Fuji implementation is not suited to my needs, and I'm hoping Arsenal will fix that. Even so, the merging of the stacks in post is quite quick these days with minimal errors, but if I can reduce the time spent post processing then I'm all for it. :)

    Nice images @Kevin Hall
     
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  11. trainer

    trainer Premium Member

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    Wonderful images Kevin. Happy shooting.
     
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  12. Ron Stewart

    Ron Stewart Well-Known Member

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    Those are very impressive results. The detail is fantastic.

    They also bring up some fond memories for me. When our kids were much younger (both are married now), they found a caterpillar in the back yard and put it in a jar with some leaves. It cocooned itself, and some time later (months, if memory serves), a Luna moth emerged. We kept it in cardboard box for a short while, then released it. I'm not fond of very many insects, but I'll always have a soft spot for these moths.

    Ron
     
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  13. Kevin Hall

    Kevin Hall Well-Known Member

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    My first Luna Moths were a pair at a campground restroom near Lawrence, Kansas the summer of 1983. They are amazing creatures and you never forget the experience of an encounter with them.

    Many thanks to all the contributions to this thread as well as the kind words.
     
  14. mcdesign

    mcdesign Premium Member

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    Sharp as a tack, I haven't tried this function as yet. Beautiful images.
     
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  15. Double Negative

    Double Negative Premium Member

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    Oooh! I never thought to look for it there. Will give it a go! Thanks.
     

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