I saw some images on another forum which employed the use of focus stacking and it inspired me to give it a go. I have a keen interest in Macro photography and anyone who dabbles in it themselves will often know that you end up with a very shallow DOF. It can therefore be difficult to achieve front to back focus in one shot. This is where focus stacking comes in.
I've been aware of focus stacking for a while but never tried it as the only software I knew that did it was Helicon Focus and my budget is a bit tight at the moment. Anyhow, I came across another piece of software that does the same, and also found out that Photoshop CS4 can also focus stack.
The free software is called CZM
or CombineZM and works quite efficiently and quickly, especially when compared to CS4.
As mentioned above the same can be done in CS4 (and CS5 as well) and the process is relatively simple, but the actual processing of the images can be lengthy.
To do this in CS4 you need to open Bridge and select the images.
Go to Tools>Photoshop>Load files into Photoshop layers
(this opens up the images into a single PS document with each image on a separate layer.)
Select all the layers and go to Edit>Auto-Align Layers
This will align all the layers together.
Next go to Edit>Auto-Blend Layers
(select stack images)
Now Photoshop will stack and mask the images leaving a composite which should all be in focus. The fact everything is masked means that you can fine tune the image should you wish.
Anyway, below is a couple of test images with CS4 and CZM.
There isnt much in it, but the CZM stack is marginally sharper (it applies its own sharpening to the finished image) and took a fraction of the time to do the stack than CS4 took.
I could have done with another shot focussed slightly further behind to top it off.
Another image focus stacked in CZM
Not too bad, but the central part looks like its OOF and it shouldnt be.
Im pleased with my first attempts and Im keen to give it another go with other objects etc.