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Approaching Potential Sensor Resolution: Focus Stacking at 50 Megapixels (Spotted Boulder, Canon 5Ds R)

If one’s goal is maximal detail, using a 50 or even 100 megapixel camera is only a prerequisite: it is necessary but not sufficient. In terms of the actual detail that can be captured, most real-world scenes make it impossible to resolve to anywhere close to sensor resolution because stopping down either provides insufficient depth of field, or so negatively degrades the image (diffraction), that there is no solution (tilt lenses can help, but few subjects are fully cooperative). And that’s ignoring lens limitations, which are legion (MTF for fine detail as well as field curvature and other optical limitations).

This example in Making Sharp Images shows how quite a lot more detail can be recorded at 50 megapixels (Canon 5Ds R), using focus stacking.

Getting Close to 50 Megapixels in Real Photography (Spotted Boulder, Canon 5Ds R)

Includes images up to 28-megapixels (finished stacked image vs best single image), crops and annotated focus placement image showing how focusing was done for the stack.

Wow! This image is spectacular on the late 2015 iMac 5K: every tiny twig, every blade of grass, every tiny speck in the boulder is there even at the 28 megapixel size—it’s like looking at a 'chrome' that is 23.5" inches wide—only far sharper than any film-based image could ever have been made of this scene.

Spotted Boulder, Lundy Canyon
f9 @ 1/50 sec focus stack 3 frames, ISO 100; 2016-10-28 09:14:30
Canon EOS 5DS R + Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L III @ 16mm

[low-res image for bot]

I think whoever did the boulder above did this more elaborate one as well. I like how the painting took advantage of the natural shape of the rock for noise and mouth. See Aperture Series: Painted Rock.

Spotted Boulder, Lundy Canyon
f5.6 @ 1/50 sec, ISO 100; 2015-11-02 11:41:31
Canon EOS 5DS R + Zeiss Distagon T* 1.4/35 ZE @ 35mm

[low-res image for bot]


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