A Beginner’s Guide to Focus Stacking

Tutorial

Focus stacking is a fun and easy technique you can do right at home with nothing more than your camera, lens, and editing software. In fact, the Fujifilm X-T2, X-T3, and X-T4 series of cameras—and many others—contain a “focus bracketing” feature that lets you do this automatically.

The “Focus Bracketing” setting on your camera allows a series of individual consecutive shots to be taken at incrementing focus points automatically. These images are then blended together using post production software such as Photoshop, Helicon Focus, Zerene Stacker, and others.

The video tutorial is broken down into three parts: getting your (Fujifilm in this case) camera ready for focus stacking, an actual demonstration of the photo stacking capture process, and a post-production workflow example to achieve a final, merged, focus-stacked image.

Some tips on shooting focus stacking:

  • Use a sturdy tripod. The sturdier the better.
  • Make sure your shutter speed, aperture, and ISO are all set to manual.
  • Set your white balance manually as well. You do not want your white balance to shift between each of the individual focus stacking shots. Focus stacking photography is much like time lapse photography with regard to consistency between the individual frames.
  • Before you begin shooting, make sure that your lens depth of field will actually, in fact, reach through the entire range of the subject you want to be in focus. This is particularly important for macro lenses or lenses utilizing extension tubes.
  • Before you begin your series of images, take a photo of the front of your hand. Then, once you have completed all of your photo stacking images, take another photo of the back of your hand. This will then make it easier in Lightroom, Photoshop, etc. to see where your series of photo stacked images begins and ends.
  • If you are shooting with an interval of zero seconds, best to use the electronic shutter to avoid any possibility of camera shake.

And that’s it! Below you’ll find some examples from the video.

In each example, I provide the first, middle, and final photo of the series – plus a final merged photo showing how the stacking turned out. I did very little editing and almost no color correction as obviously this was not the point of the tutorial.

Example One

Example Two


About the author: Chris Lee is a corporate photographer, technical trainer, video editor located in the Atlanta area who created the pal2tech YouTube channel last year. He recently woke up one morning and realized that he loves teaching photography even more than actually taking photos. We know… he still finds that hard to believe also..

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