Focus Stacking

Mirrorless Focus Stacking

No Rails, Motor Drives … just software!

While My Nikon D3 is still a wonderful camera, I decided to treat myself to a new rig, a Nikon Z7ii. Of particular interest is the in-camera’s ability to do Focus Stacking.

For my subject I chose my ancient but functional pocket slide rule from high school days (early 60s … so last century!) With all the finally engraved numbers, I felt this would be a real test of focus stacking.

  • Camera: Nikon Z7ii
  • Lens: AF-S Micro Nikkor 105mm 2.8G (F mount)
  • F to Z adapter
  • Image Processor: Affinity Photo
  • MacBook Pro 16” 32GB

The first requirement is a steady tripod for the camera and a consistent light source. Settings should remain constant with each frame shot. Some test shots are suggested so that the image is correctly exposed and framed. The Photo Shooting Menu on my Z7 opens up to a selection of options, most importantly the Number of shots and the Focus step width. Starting from the Near Focus point, the camera will move it out in small increments until it either hits infinity or the number of images selected, in my case 50. I initially tried 5 exposures at the default mid range of step width. The result was not up to par, so I ended up with 50 exposures at the mid level of step width. That worked perfectly.

Now 50 files of 45MPs each (total about 3GB) is a chunk of data to process. My software of choice is Affinity Photo.

  • Copy the RAW files to a folder on your PC.
  • Select File/New Focus Merge to bring up a panel for selecting the images. Go to your folder and select all the images.
  • Click OK to begin the process. It took about 20 minutes to create the merged file. The resultant Affinity file was 640MB.
  • Now the resulting file can be adjusted to your liking in Affinity or exported to your favourite program such as CaptureOne.

Note that Affinity is very capable of dealing with the Nikon RAW files.

Sliderule


As noted elsewhere on my Blog, I am not affiliated with the good folks at Affinity, but I do recommend their software.