A couple of weeks ago I posted a couple of focus-stacked flower shots.
These were taken and stacked using a free programme called Combine Z which did an impressive job. In the last posted I commented that, having made the switch from Windows to Mac (why did I wait so long??), Combine Z is a Windows only programme and so I would be looking for an alternative for the Mac platform.
I tried a couple of attempts in Photoshop CS5 and while the results were OK I had a look around to see what dedicated focus-stacking software might be available.
Enter Helicon Focus from HeliconSoft.
A downloaded the (fully functioning) trial version and ran one of the same images through Helicon Focus that I had used in Combine Z. The resulting image is (click the image to see a larger version):
Overall I was very impressed with the job that was done by Helicon Focus.
I just used the default settings and apart from using levels to knock back the background I’ve done nothing else with this image.
One of the things that I had perhaps expected was to have touch out quite a few artefacts from the stacking around the edges of the spikes – something that I had to do with the Combine Z version of the image – but there were no artefacts at all.
Given the ‘out of the box’ performance of Helicon Focus in my opinion it’s a great product. If you’re only going to be doing a few focus stacks then perhaps the cost might be too much compare to the in-built functionality in Photoshop. If focus stacking is something that you’ll be doing a lot then it’s definitely worth the investment.
I’ve also just taken delivery today of Stackshot from Cognisys. Once I’ve had a play with it I’ll be putting together a combined review of both Stackshot and Helicon Focus together.