Festive Focus Stacking

This article shares a selection of festive focus stacking images captured handheld this morning and processed in camera.

NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 12-40 mm f/2.8 @ 40 mm, efov 80 mm, f/2.8, 1/60, ISO-1600, in-camera focus stacking, subject distance 285 mm

I decided to give myself a bit of a holiday season challenge with these festive focus stacking images… so I set some guidelines for myself.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 12-40 mm f/2.8 @ 18 mm, efov 36 mm, f/2.8, 1/60, ISO-1600, in-camera focus stacking, subject distance 275 mm

These parameters included:

  • shooting handheld in available light
  • all subject matter could not be moved or adjusted in any way
  • surroundings could not be adjusted in any way. this included not moving any furniture to get better shooting angles
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 @ 100 mm, efov 200 mm, f/2.8, 1/60, ISO-800, in-camera focus stacking, subject distance 785 mm

My wife quite enjoys this time of year and she spruces up the house with various seasonal decorations. These festive focus stacking images were captured either in our family room or living room. Many are tree ornaments.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 @ 115 mm, efov 200 mm, f/2.8, 1/60, ISO-2000, in-camera focus stacking, subject distance 725 mm

It was an interesting challenge to find subjects with decent light along with reasonably unobstructed shooting angles. The articulated rear screen on my camera came in very handy as found myself in a number of somewhat contorted physical positions.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 @ 150 mm, efov 300 mm, f/2.8, 1/60, ISO-6400, in-camera focus stacking, subject distance 825 mm

I set my in-camera focus stacking for a series of 10 photographs with a focus differential of 5 for most of the images in this article.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 @ 150 mm, efov 300 mm, f/2.8, 1/60, ISO-3200, in-camera focus stacking, subject distance 1.1 metres

Often when we are out with our cameras in a natural setting we don’t have the opportunity to move branches or other obstructions and must shoot around them as best we can.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 @ 135 mm, efov 270 mm, f/2.8, 1/60, ISO-3200, in-camera focus stacking, subject distance 1.1 metres

One of the benefits of this type of challenge is that it forced me to slow down and spend some time studying potential festive focus stacking images, and being more discerning before capturing them.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 @ 100 mm, efov 200 mm, f/2.8, 1/60, ISO-5000, in-camera focus stacking, subject distance 730 mm

Many memories of past travels and other events came flooding back as I inspected potential subjects for these festive focus stacking images.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 @ 95 mm, efov 190 mm, f/2.8, 1/60, ISO-6400, in-camera focus stacking, subject distance 735 mm

It also served to remind me that I should dust off an old family-oriented project and finish photographing all of our festive season decorations so my wife and I can complete cataloguing them.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 @ 150mm, efov 300 mm, f/2.8, 1/60, ISO-5000, in-camera focus stacking, subject distance 825 mm

We both feel that this would be an heirloom that we can hand down to our children that they will appreciate in the years to come.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 @ 150mm, efov 300 mm, f/2.8, 1/60, ISO-4000, in-camera focus stacking, subject distance 980 mm

Each decoration has its own story in terms of where we obtained the item, which of our children made it, or who gave it to us as a gift. Our draft catalogue contains all of these details for each piece of decoration.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 @ 150mm, efov 300 mm, f/2.8, 1/60, ISO-640, in-camera focus stacking, subject distance 720 mm

I used three different zoom lenses capturing various photographs this morning, with the M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 being the lens that I used most often.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 @ 150mm, efov 300 mm, f/2.8, 1/60, ISO-2000, in-camera focus stacking, subject distance 785 mm

I’ve always liked the focal length range of this lens, coupled with its comparatively short minimum focusing distance.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 @ 150mm, efov 300 mm, f/2.8, 1/60, ISO-5000, in-camera focus stacking, subject distance 700 mm

Using the in-camera focus stacking of my E-M1X produces a finished jpeg file, as well as providing me with corresponding RAW files should I want to combine the files in post.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 @ 142 mm, efov 284 mm, f/2.8, 1/60, ISO-5000, in-camera focus stacking, subject distance 865 mm

Using the in-camera focus stacking jpeg usually suffices for my needs. Rather than stopping my lens down to get the desired amount of in-focus area on my subject, the in-camera focus stacking allows me to get the results I want while shooting wide open at f/2.8.  This can help with subject separation.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 @ 150mm, efov 300 mm, f/2.8, 1/60, ISO-1000, in-camera focus stacking, subject distance 935 mm

Our best wishes to you and those you love during this festive season.

Technical Note:

Photographs were captured handheld using camera gear as noted in the EXIF data. Images were produced using my standard process.  This is the 1,108  article published on this website since its original inception in 2015.

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4 thoughts on “Festive Focus Stacking”

  1. Excellent post! I find the in camera focus bracketing and stacking one of the prime features of my E-M1 Mark II camera. I have programmed one of the function buttons with this feature. When I come across wild flowers I often utilize this unique feature. You have inspired me to wander about the house and capture some of our Christmas ornaments.
    Thank you for your posts. I look forward to each one of them.
    Tom

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