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60MP Sony A7R IV
Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 GM

Focus Stacking

Shot using Sony A7R IV Camera2 (brand-new loaner camera). Lens Sample1 is the same lens used in Big Tree at Bend in Alpine Creek. Includes images at up to full camera resolution.

The Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 GM is a fine lens for focus stacking. This page shows focus stacked images along with corresponding single frames from the stack, highly useful for perspective versus what is possible with the two approaches.

Especially at 12mm, my interest is in making 2-frame focus stacks, for their simplicity and quick shooting. However, due to field curvatures and the needed overlap, my conclusion is that full sharpness really requires three (3) frames at f/9 to achieve a full range from ~3 feet out to infinity. And while I am a fan of using f/11 due to substantial diffraction dulling on a 60MP sensor, given the effort involved in the stacking process (even for two frames), the use of f/11 is called for in many scenarios when wind or other issues make stacking prone to unwanted artifacts (effort aside). Also, a single frame at f/11 in pixel shift mode can take some aggressive sharpening, but pixel shift is even less of an option in most field conditions due to even minor subject movement. Still, even f/11 will leave soft corners (either near or far). So the perfectionist might still stick to focus stacking, perhaps even using f/11.

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Diglloyd Guide to Mirrorless offers comprehensive integrated coverage of most APS-C and full frame mirrorless cameras and lenses.

Special emphasis is placed on Sony full-frame, including Sony lenses and the high performance Zeiss Batis and Zeiss Loxia lenses plus Rokinon/Samyang and others. Fujifilm X, Olympus and Panasonic M4/3, Sigma dp Merrill and dp/sd Quattro are also covered in depth. Years in the making, it offers a wealth of material for choosing and using a mirrorless camera.

  • Make better images by learning how to get the best results right away. For example, the best way to set up your Sony camera.
  • Save money by choosing the right lens for your needs the first time, particularly with the numerous lenses available for Sony.
  • Make better images, a sort of “cheat sheet” saving yourself months or years of ad-hoc learning—best practices and how-to and processing parameters are discussed and shown.
  • Jaw-dropping image quality found nowhere else utilizing Retina-grade images up to full camera resolution, plus large crops.
  • Real world examples with insights found nowhere else. Make sharper images just by understanding lens behavior you won’t read about elsewhere.
  • Aperture series from wide open through stopped down, showing the full range of lens performance and bokeh.
  • Optical quality analysis of field curvature, focus shift, sharpness, flare, distortion, and performance in the field.

Want a preview? Click on any page below to see an excerpt as well as extensive blog coverage, for example on Sony.

Variants Stack2,SingleFrame available in full article
Dry Wash, Death Valley
f9 @ 1/30 sec EFC shutter focus stack 2 frames, ISO 100; 2020-11-19 15:56:28
Sony A7R IV + Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 GM @ 12mm
ENV: Death Valley, altitude 4200 ft / 1280 m, 55°F / 12°C
RAW: LACA corrected, vignetting corrected, pull 0.85 stops, +100 Shadows, +20 Whites, +10 Contrast, +10 Clarity, USM {12,50,0}

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