Busy Cactus

I wanted to try Zerene stacker Pro so I took two runs on this and also compared it to Helicon. With this series, I do this Zerene worked better. Sharper and clearer. First stack was 50 images and the second one was 15. There are very little difference but I liked the 50 better, and it was easy to do. I used a focus rail and with the 50 images I only moved 1/8 of an inch, the 15 about 3/8.

Specific Feedback Requested

Any tips on Zerene would help for those that use it

Technical Details

Canon R7 RF 100 f/2.8 1/160 f/10 iso 100. On a tripod using a remote shutter cable and 2 second delay each shot. Other than shadow adjustment no post processing was done

1 Like

Dean, koodoos for trying the stacking. I have yet to get there, so I am not the one to comment on that side of things. I do like the image and the only thing I can think of that might improve the shot is possibly cropping off a bit from the right side to help the center of the flower to be a little more off center in the image. Just a thought. A fine shot as presented.

Woah! Talk about setting yourself a challenge. A huge stack, a focus rail and a cactus, no less. Mostly it succeeds though. Kudos.

First, let me ask which base image type did you choose? PMax or DMap. I have my suspicions, but I’ll let you tell me. Second, did you do any retouching? Again, I have my suspicions, but I don’t want to assume.

I was hoping to get your input, @Kris_Smith. I read what the differences were, and it sounded like PMax was the correct one. The only retouch I did was increase the shadows in LRC. I did not want to post process that much on this post. I was disappointed that this program cannot return the stacked image back to LRC. However, saving the file as a TIFF and syncing the folder in LRC is simple enough. I have a nice focus rail so I may just use it more often, although the real reason using one is to keep a macro at 1:1 which this photo is not

Thank you, I have not had much luck with focus stacking. The focus rail helps.

1 Like

Yeah, the return trip to Lr from Zerene requires a little extra step, but it’s manageable.

In terms of which is the “right” final image for you, I’d say experiment and play with it. I’m still doing that, but these days I will prefer a DMap image to work with for retouching. To my eyes DMap produces more accurate colors and doesn’t add noise to the background the way PMax does. I also find that PMax images have stubborn haloes that are a pain to get rid of. So if I play with the settings for DMap, mostly contrast threshold which is part two of that stack process, I can usually come up with an image that needs the LEAST amount of retouching. Usually this is background OOF stuff that can become goopy (my highly technical term!) when the contrast threshold is too low. So I tighten the mask right into the subject sometimes and that usually gets me a clean DMap to start retouching.

Often that’s just “painting” PMax detail into the areas that need it. Something like this cactus would have better PMax detail where all those needles cross over each other. PMax processing does that better than DMap and so by going over your image systematically you can find the areas that just work better on the PMax and paint them over to your DMap image for the final.

You can also change up the side-by-side retouching panels to have your target image showing in one very large frame. Hitting the Alt key will show the source image so long as you hold it. This can be one of your original photos or another output image. Usually I end my retouching process with this method. You can always return to the standard side-by-side layout by going up to the … preferences or options menu, I forget which it is and selecting return to standard layout.

Phew. Sorry for being long winded. If this makes no sense, hit me up in chat if you want and I’ll see if we can work through it. I have some stacking to do myself and so can be right inside a project to pick up any fine points I may have missed.