HHFS Macro

This article features some in-camera HHFS macro flower photographs captured with a 16mm extension tube and M.Zuiko 60 mm f/2.8 macro lens. Falling firmly into the ‘test’ category, the images in this posting were created simply to see what would happen when macro flower images were captured handheld using in-camera focus stacking technology, and a 16 mm extension tube.

NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 60 mm f/2.8 macro with 16mm extension tube, efov 120 mm, f/2.8, 1/320, ISO-200, handheld in-camera focus stacked, subject distance 265 mm

Like many people, I enjoy exploring the world around me through macro photography. Flowers have always been one of my favourite macro subjects.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 60 mm f/2.8 macro with 16mm extension tube, efov 120 mm, f/2.8, 1/320, ISO-200, handheld in-camera focus stacked, subject distance 280 mm

While I initially paid little attention to the in-camera focus stacking capability of my E-M1X, I have come to better appreciate the power of this technology.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 60 mm f/2.8 macro with 16mm extension tube, efov 120 mm, f/2.8, 1/320, ISO-200, handheld in-camera focus stacked, subject distance 205 mm

The output from the E-M1X’s in-camera focus stacking technology is a jpeg. As a long time RAW shooter I erroneously discounted the value of an in-camera jpeg.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 60 mm f/2.8 macro with 16mm extension tube, efov 120 mm, f/5, 1/500, ISO-640, handheld in-camera focus stacked, subject distance 300 mm

Creating handheld in-camera focus stacked HHFS macro images is a very enjoyable and creative experience. I’ve always loved the freedom that comes from avoiding tripod use whenever possible.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 60 mm f/2.8 macro with 16mm extension tube, efov 120 mm, f/8, 1/250, ISO-2000, handheld in-camera focus stacked, cropped to 3266 pixels on the width, subject distance 570 mm

As you examine the EXIF data for the HHFS macro flower images in this article you’ll notice that I used a variety of apertures, shutter speeds, and ISO values.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 60 mm f/2.8 macro with 16mm extension tube, efov 120 mm, f/8, 1/250, ISO-4000, handheld in-camera focus stacked, subject distance 280 mm

I kept my in-camera focus stacking settings the same for all of the sample photographs in this article… 10 stacked images with a focus differential of 5.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 60 mm f/2.8 macro with 16mm extension tube, efov 120 mm, f/8, 1/250, ISO-5000, handheld in-camera focus stacked, subject distance 280 mm

My apertures ranged from f/2.8 up to f/8. Since I composed many of my HHFS macro flower images using a front quarter view, the bulk of my photographs were captured using an aperture of f/8.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 60 mm f/2.8 macro with 16mm extension tube, efov 120 mm, f/8, 1/250, ISO-5000, handheld in-camera focus stacked, subject distance 655 mm

All of the HHFS macro images in this article were captured outdoors around my backyard deck in about an hour and forty minutes.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 60 mm f/2.8 macro with 16mm extension tube, efov 120 mm, f/8, 1/250, ISO-400, handheld in-camera focus stacked, subject distance 290 mm

I faced some intermittent breeze which necessitated me timing my HHFS macro flower captures to coincide with short breaks in the breeze. To do this I concentrated on feeling the breeze on the back of my neck or on my bare forearms… then shooting the moment I felt a lull ensue.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 60 mm f/2.8 macro with 16mm extension tube, efov 120 mm, f/8, 1/250, ISO-6400, handheld in-camera focus stacked, subject distance 230 mm

Timing my image captures in this manner allowed me to keep my shutter speeds in the 1/200 to 1/500 range. Given that I was in-camera focus stacking 10 images at a time, as well as using a 16mm extension tub with a macro lens, I thought these shutter speeds would be fast enough to produce acceptable results.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 60 mm f/2.8 macro with 16mm extension tube, efov 120 mm, f/5, 1/500, ISO-2500, handheld in-camera focus stacked, subject distance 435 mm

The light around my back deck varied significantly which seriously impacted the ISO values I used for these sample images. There were a number of occasions when I used my body to block out direct sunlight, casting my subject flowers in shade.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 60 mm f/2.8 macro with 16mm extension tube, efov 120 mm, f/8, 1/250, ISO-400, handheld in-camera focus stacked, subject distance 290 mm

This is a technique that many folks use when photographing flowers in harsh sunlight. A wide brimmed hat held over a blossom while shooting with one hand can also work very well… although I did not use that approach with this group of images.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 60 mm f/2.8 macro with 16mm extension tube, efov 120 mm, f/8, 1/200, ISO-6400, handheld in-camera focus stacked, subject distance 255 mm

ISO values with these HHFS macro images varied from ISO-200 all the way up to ISO-6400.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 60 mm f/2.8 macro with 16mm extension tube, efov 120 mm, f/8, 1/500, ISO-800, handheld in-camera focus stacked, subject distance 795 mm

Before publishing this article I showed my wife all of my test images. I found it very interesting that she asked me where I had gone to create these photographs. Apparently she didn’t recognize many of the blossoms, and she was shocked when I told her they were all created on our back deck.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 60 mm f/2.8 macro with 16mm extension tube, efov 120 mm, f/8, 1/200, ISO-500, handheld in-camera focus stacked, subject distance 295 mm

This is one of the wonderous things about macro photography. It enables us to see things around us in new and surprising ways. Using an extension tube with a macro lens allows us to get in even closer.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 60 mm f/2.8 macro with 16mm extension tube, efov 120 mm, f/8, 1/200, ISO-5000, handheld in-camera focus stacked, subject distance 290 mm

As photographers many of us experience times when we feel uninspired. We can lose our sense of wonder of the world around us.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 60 mm f/2.8 macro with 16mm extension tube, efov 120 mm, f/8, 1/200, ISO-2000, handheld in-camera focus stacked, subject distance 250 mm

When I’m in a bit of a photographic funk, I find that spending some time doing handheld macro photography restores a sense of freedom, adventure and discovery. Having options like in-camera focus stacking that I can use handheld with macro subjects makes the adventure even more enjoyable and creative.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 60 mm f/2.8 macro with 16mm extension tube, efov 120 mm, f/8, 1/200, ISO-2500, handheld in-camera focus stacked, subject distance 305 mm

Technical Note:

Photographs were captured handheld using camera gear as noted in the EXIF data. Images were produced from out-of-camera jpegs using my standard approach in post.  Images were resized for web use. This is the 1,186 article published on this website since its original inception in 2015.

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