Hello, I’m Peter Barge, editor of EphotozineTV. I’m gonna show you a technique now that’s gonna give you ultra sharp shots from your macro lens when doing close ups. The idea is to take several pictures at the same subject at different distances using the lens size optimum setting. So why do we need focus stacking? Well, if you’ve ever taken a close up shot using a macro lens, close up, filters or bellows. You realize that if you don’t use the smallest aperture of your lens has, some of the subject may not be in focus. And that’s exactly what happened with this pocket watch that I’ve use as the subject. This first photograph shows that if you focus with a wide aperture that one point, in this case the 50 on the clock face, that everything else in front and behind will be out of focus. And in this case focusing on the 50 doesn’t matter about the rest behind it because there’s no subject detail that we want sharp. But we do want the front of the face and the wine to sharp and it’s completely out of focus and it goes more out of focus the closer you get. So the idea of focus stacking is to shoot several shots and then put them all together in a program that automatically brings them all into one, and that’s focus stacking software. There are other ways of getting a picture sharp. You can use the smallest aperture, but you may have found that that will result in a longer shutter speed, which might not be appropriate. Also, using the smallest aperture of a lens isn’t the best in terms of performance because lenses are designed to work with a midrange aperture, your optimum aperture, and that’s usually around 5, 6, or F8. If you use it down at the smallest aperture, you’re not getting the whole of the lens being used, so you find aberration and little problems going on, especially noticeable on edges. And the other thing you could do is turn the watch so that it’s parallel to the film or CCD, but then you don’t get a very interesting image. So in this case, what I’ve done is I mounted the camera on a tripod and set the exposure to manual. So that it’s consistent through all the frames. I’ve set the focus to manual, so that it can very precise. So the next thing to do is to focus on the farthest part of the image, now you can either start on the front or the back, in this case I’m starting on the back of the watch. Focus the camera, take your shot, adjust with the focus very slightly forward, and take another shot. Keep repeating this until you end up with the front part only shot. You’ll end up with a set of pictures of different focus points. And in my case, I got 12 shots. You’ll find that somewhere between 6 and 30 will be required depending on the subject. And make sure when you are focusing that the focusing is staged in even intervals. So now we’ve got all the pictures, what you do then is you use a program such as CombineZM, which is free, or I preferred Heliconsoft, Helicon Focus. This one is free download and trial but it is a cost of about 15 pound to buy it, and I definitely recommend it, so much friendlier interface and did seem to work better for what I was doing. Load them all into the program and then set it on to auto, that’s the easiest way. And you’ll see a preview window that shows the program working through the images and each time, parts of the image will be combined and it will start to look sharper as its going through. Then eventually, it will process the whole lot and you’ll end up with a really sharp, sharp. The whole process takes about 2 to 3 minutes. You do get little bits of artifacts around the edge, and that’s because as you change the focus point, it does just change the amount showing in the image. And in this case the closer you get as in, the bits come out of focus. Those bits when they blended together can cause like jagged bits, just on the edges of the frame. It’s quite easy to crop this out, if you need to allow a bit of extra space when shooting to compensate and allow for the crop. And that’s it, focus stacking in a nut shell.