Focus-stacking with CamRanger

This blog post reports the result of more experimentation with completely automated focus stacking using CamRanger.

25 photos were used to create this focus-stacked composite image of an Eastern Least Clubtail dragonfly (Stylogomphus albistylus) exuvia from an odonate nymph that Bob Perkins collected and reared.

I own two Canon macro lenses: a Canon MP-E 65mm Macro lens; and a Canon EF100mm f/2.8L Macro lens.

The MP-E 65mm macro is manual focus only, and cannot be used with CamRanger to create automated focus-stacked composite images.

In contrast, the EF100mm macro can be used with CamRanger to create automated focus stacks. In order to increase the magnification of the EF100mm macro, I used the lens in combination with three Kenko macro automatic extension tubes: 12mm; 20mm; and 36mm.

Pros and Cons

My goal was to create a tight close-up showing the face-head only. On one hand I failed to achieve my goal due to less maximum magnification using the combination of EF100mm macro lens and extension tubes rather than the MP-E 65mm macro lens.

On the other hand I shot 25 photos in a little more than four minutes*, with the focus plane shifted in small increments from front to back along the subject — all without touching the camera after setting the initial focus point. That’s what I call success!

Related Resources

Tech Tips

The following equipment was used to shoot all of the photographs for the focus-stacked composite image of the exuvia: CamRanger hardware, and iOS app running on my iPad mini (with retina display); Canon EOS 5D Mark II digital camera, in manual mode; Kenko macro automatic extension tubes (12mm, 20mm, and 36mm)Canon EF100mm f/2.8L Macro lens (set for manual focus); and Canon MT-26EX-RT Macro Twin Lite set for “Master” mode, and several external flashes set for “Slave” mode including Canon 580 EX- and Canon 580EX II Speedlites and a Godox TT685C Thinklite TTL Flash fitted with a Lastolite Ezybox Speed-Lite 2 flash modifier.

Auto power-off was disabled for the camera and all external flash units. CamRanger was set for a *10-second delay between shots in order to allow sufficient time for the lens to change focus automatically, the camera rig to settle, and the flash units to power-cycle.

Adobe Photoshop CC 2017 was used to create the focus-stacked composite image, as well as spot-heal and sharpen the final output.

Copyright © 2019 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

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