I wanted to play with the Focus Shift so badly that I decided to spend a couple of hours doing some macro photography on flowers in the Flower Dome , Gardens By The Bay.
A few tips & lessons that I have learnt from today's session :
1. after composing the shot, prefocus to a point just before the nearest point to the camera that you want sharp becomes in focus. This would then become the start focus point.
2. AF must of course be enabled , use AF-S
3. For smaller size flowers less than 2 inches in diameter, I would recommend to start with the following setup / settings :
- Focus Step Width of 2 or 3
- Number of images to be taken : 50 to 70 (of course this depends on the composition too)
- F-stop of 5.6 to 8.0
- For 60mm to 90mm macro lenses
4. For larger size flowers between 2 to 5 inches in diameter, I would recommend to start with the following setup / settings :
- Focus Step Width of 5
- Number of images to be taken : 50 to 60 (of course this depends on the composition too)
- F-stop of 8.0 to 10.0
- For 60mm to 90mm macro lenses
5. Setup needs to be on tripod
6. Best practice is to save each stacking series of images in new folders each time. This can be set in camera
7. Shoot using the JPEG FINE file format if the dynamic range is not too great and lighting is stable because stacking 50 to 70 RAW files does need some serious computer processing power. On my 2.6GHz i5 machine with 16GB RAM, time taken to stack between 50 to 60 JPEG FINE full resolution (45.7MP) files took between 20 minutes to 90 minutes depending on the complexity of the content captured.
Created from stacking 50 images at f8.0 , focus step width of 3 , Nikkor 60mm f2.8 micro
Same scene but a single capture using an aperture of f36 , Nikkor 60mm f2.8 micro
Results wise it was pretty clear that the stacked versions were much sharper and crisper front to back. The f36 version was not even close in sharpness, crispnes and overall quality when compared to the stacked images.
Sharing the rest from today's session.
Stacked from 64 images , aperture f8.0 , Focus Step Width : 3 , Nikkor 60mm f2.8 micro
This one took me 75 minutes to stack.
Stacked from 40 images , aperture f8.0 , Focus Step Width : 3 , Nikkor 60mm f2.8 micro
Stacked from 38 images , aperture f5.6 , Focus Step Width : 3 , Nikkor 60mm f2.8 micro
Stacked from 50 images , aperture f10.0 , Focus Step Width : 5 , Nikkor 60mm f2.8 micro
Notice the increase in aperture and Focus Step Width size as this flower was much larger
In summary, I am definitely addicted to the Nikon D850's Focus Shift feature.
Now I can really use the resolution & contrast sweet spot of the lens (normally between f4.0 to f8.0) to obtain the best image quality and still maximize the Depth Of Field (DOF) without resorting to using insanely large Aperture numbers like f36.
As you can see from the stacked images shared, the DOF that can be obtained was just incredible and I can now get the whole flower sharp , petals and all. The other thing that you should know is that the amount of details rendered by the D850 are just INSANE !! Look at all the textures captured.
I am really looking forward to my next session focusing on Flower Photography and this time the plan is to select much better flower specimens to photograph and create even more appealing flower images
Till then Happy Shooting !!