This article shares some handheld focus stacked flower images captured in my front yard yesterday morning. With COVID restrictions and safety precautions it has been difficult to get out to photograph this subject matter in public settings for a number of months. While the selection of spring flowers in our front yard is limited… it was still an enjoyable photographic experience.
NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.
When I first considered Olympus gear back in May 2019 two of the capabilities that intrigued me were the IBIS performance as well as computational photography features like in-camera focus stacking.
I found that some of the lenses like the M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 were quite innovative in terms of the flexibility and functionality that they provided. It’s relatively short minimum focusing distance was also of significant benefit.
As my use of the system has increased over time, so too has my appreciation for the photographic potential that Olympus/OM System equipment unlocks. As noted in a previous article, the M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 zoom has become my favourite lens.
When I decided to capture some handheld focus stacked flower images two lenses immediately jumped into my mind. The M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 and the M.Zuiko 60 mm f/2.8 macro. These two lenses give me the overall flexibility I need to create a range of flower and foliage photographs.
As regular readers will know, I hate using tripods and only do so when I have no other option. Since I bought my Olympus gear back in June 2019 I have not used any of my tripods with this equipment. At this point I haven’t experimented with Live Composite, which will require tripod use. Perhaps that’s why I haven’t gotten around to experimenting with that technology yet. 🙂
Like all things photographic, using in-camera focus stacking does come with some trade-offs. The in-camera processing output is a jpeg which somewhat limits what can be done in post. And, it does take some practice with camera settings and handheld technique.
There are some significant benefits using in-camera focus stacking, especially when shooting in lower light conditions. You’ll notice that all of the handheld focus stacked flower images in this article were captured using an aperture of f/2.8 and either ISO-200 or ISO-400.
Obviously shooting at lower ISO values helps to utilize the available dynamic range and colour depth of a camera’s sensor. This is especially important when using smaller sensor cameras.
In-camera focus stacking allows a photographer to create the subject depth-of-field they need and still shoot wide open, and without putting a lot of the background in focus. This creates very good subject separation. Unfortunately misinformation continues to be spread online that shallow depth-of-field cannot be created with a M4/3 camera.
When using in-camera focus stacking it is important that the subject is as motionless as possible. I captured most of the handheld focus stacked flower images in this article fairly early in the morning when there was very little breeze. I only had three attempts using in-camera focus stacking where my E-M1X was unable to successfully combine ten images into a single focus stacked photograph. My technique could have been as much to blame as atmospheric conditions.
I used a Focus Differential setting of 5 for all of the photographs in this article. The articulated rear screen on my E-M1X was used to compose all of the images featured in this article.
I noticed some tulip buds and spent some time photographing them at different angles. The monochromatic nature of the images appealed to me as it helped to highlight subtle colour variations on the bud.
If you have an Olympus/OM System camera and have not yet experimented with the in-camera focusing stacking technology I’d recommend giving it a try. Shooting handheld using the rear screen rather than with a tripod further expands the potential of this technology.
Photographs were captured handheld using camera gear as noted in the EXIF data. Images were produced from out-of-camera jpegs with some adjustments done in post. All images are full frame captures. Photographs were resized for web use. This is the 1,161 article published on this website since its original inception in 2015.
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