Back in November, Shiv Verma described Helicon Focus and how it combines several layers of focus to increase depth of field. I started exploring focus stacking this summer using Photoshop, and eventually Helicon Focus, to increase depth of field, specifically in close-up images. At first the results seemed magical, until a closer look at images revealed imperfections and anomalies in the merging of the separate focus slices.
I have read over 30 articles about this technique, and attended two presentations that discussed Helicon Focus; not one of the images used as examples showed the anomalies I experienced in nearly every one of my attempts. I was determined to better understand the focus stacking technique and spent more than 200 hours photographing, processing, analyzing and documenting my observations. The result is an extensive set of focus stacked image comparisons, and observations of the performance of Photoshop and Helicon Focus techniques. The technique does solve some depth of field limitations in some situations; I will continue to use the technique, but it does not work in every composition. The results will be presented in three posts, a collection of 20 image sets, and a product review of Helicon Focus.
Part 3 – What Works, What Doesn’t — Conclusions