This article shares some in-camera focus stacking test images captured handheld with an M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS zoom lens. I really didn’t know what to expect using my E-M1X’s in-camera focus stacking capability with this particular lens. In the past I most often used the M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 zoom or the M.Zuiko 60 mm f/2.8 macro with in-camera focus stacking.
The 100-400 does have a reasonably short minimum focusing distance of 1.3 metres, so I thought this test was worth a try. These test photographs fall under the ‘let’s see what happens’ category.
NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.
All of the images in this article were captured during a visit to the Niagara Butterfly Conservatory at the end of May. I created photographs of both butterflies and flowers/foliage to use a variety of test subjects.
As you review the EXIF data you’ll notice that I used a shutter speed of 1/250. It is possible that I could have used a slower speed successfully.
Since this was my first attempt using in-camera focusing stacking with the M.Zuiko 100-400 mm lens I gave myself a bit more latitude with shutter speed. Especially since I had my E-M1X set to 10 in-camera focus stacked images per run and I was using longer focal lengths.
It was quite busy at the facility during the day that I did these test images. This made it more difficult to find perched butterflies. Both the children and adults were trying to encourage the butterflies to perch on their fingers. More often than not all that was accomplished was scaring the butterflies into flight.
As it turned out using a longer focal length zoom lens actually came in handy during this particular visit to the Niagara Butterfly Conservatory.
As is my standard practice I had the in-lens IS turned off. When using the M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS zoom at a reasonable shutter speed I find that the IBIS of my E-M1X does a very good job and I don’t bother with the in-lens IS.
The lighting at the Niagara Butterfly Conservatory was variable, ranging from dark shade to direct sunlight. As a result my ISO values ranged from ISO-160 all the way up to ISO-6400.
Doing this kind of test provides a practical benefit. Often when I’m out with my M.Zuiko 100-400 zoom it is the only lens in my bag along with my MC-14 and MC-20 teleconverters. It is good to know that the handheld in-camera focusing stacking technology works very competently with this zoom lens as I may come across subject matter where this capability would come in handy.
For example, it is more difficult to get in close to wild butterflies that are perched, as compared to those that reside in a facility like the Niagara Butterfly Conservatory.
When hiking along forest trails it is common to come across flowers, foliage or other subject matter that is in challenging light. In those situations it could be beneficial to use in-camera focus stacking to get the desired depth-of-field, rather than stopping the 100-400 mm zoom lens down, and losing some of the available light.
I often use handheld in-camera focus stacking with a focus differential of 3. Longer focal lengths lenses like the M.Zuiko 100-400 mm zoom provide shallower depth-of-field at any given aperture when compared to a lens like my M.Zuiko 60 mm f/2.8 macro. So, I adjusted my focus differential and used 4 or 5 for the images in this article.
This change in focus differential setting worked quite well for butterflies, flowers and foliage subject matter.
When using in-camera focusing stacking with your Olympus/OM System camera that has this technology it is important to remember that some of the first images in the focus stacking run will focus in front of where the auto-focus point is placed. The ratio is approximately 1/3 in front and 2/3 behind the auto focusing point position.
It is also important to keep in mind that there are currently 14 M.Zuiko lenses that are compatible with in-camera focus stacking.
The M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS zoom lens provides a lot of flexibility since it can be used with teleconverters. Adding the use of handheld in-camera focus stacking further extends the functionality of the lens.
For example using handheld in-camera focus stacking could come in very handy when photographing fairly static subjects like reptiles in both wild and captive environments.
When using longer focal lengths there is a temptation to stop the lens down a bit to increase depth of field. As long as the subject is static using handheld in-camera focus stacking may be a better choice.
If you own an M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS zoom and have not yet tried using in-camera focusing stacking it may be worth a try. At this point I think there are 7 Olympus/OM System camera bodies that have this technology… the new OM-1 and the six bodies noted in the linked article.
Photographs were captured handheld using camera gear as noted in the EXIF data. Images were produced from out-of-camera jpeg files using my standard approach in post. In-camera focusing stacking was set to 10 images with a focus differential of 4 or 5. A single, small auto-focus point was used. I had my camera set for RAW + jpeg fine. Crops are noted where appropriate. Images were resized for web use. This is the 1,178 article published on this website since its original inception in 2015.
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