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Example: Two-Frame Stack (Huge Boulder, Sony 85/1.4 GM)

Making an image like this has always been frustrating with a lens in the 85mm range: there is just no way to obtain a sharp boulder and a sharp background. Or even a sharp boulder without stopping well down.

A “short stack” with super crisp lens performance at f/5.6 or f/6.3 would be one approach, sharpening the grasses and the boulder while (optionally) leaving the background blurred for effect. Another approach (as used here), is two frames at f/11 to sharpen everything near to far. Without focus stacking there would be no way to render the large boulder sharply*, even at f/16, and that would degrade the entire image too much.

The use of f/11 is just sufficient for sharp foreground grass with the rear of the boulder starting to blur slightly. A second f/11 frame focused in the rear of the boulder (see annotated image) sharpens up the region from the rear of the boulder, across the pond and to the distance.

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Diglloyd Making Sharp Images articulates years of best practices and how-to, painstakingly learned over a decade of camera and lens evaluation.

Save yourself those years of trial and error by jump-starting your photographic technical execution when making the image. The best lens or camera is handicapped if the photographer fails to master perfect shot discipline. High-resolution digital cameras are unforgiving of errors, at least if one wants the best possible results.

  • Eases into photographic challenges with an introductory section.
  • Covers aspects of digital sensor technology that relate to getting the best image quality.
  • Technique section discusses every aspect of making a sharp image handheld or on a tripod.
  • Depth of field and how to bypass depth of field limitations via focus stacking.
  • Optical aberrations: what they are, what they look like, and what to do about them.
  • MTF, field curvature, focus shift: insight into the limitations of lab tests and why imaging performance is far more complex than it appears.
  • Optical aberrations: what they are, what they look like, and what to do about them.
  • How to test a lens for a “bad sample”.

Intrigued? See Focusing Zeiss DSLR Lenses For Peak Performance, PART ONE: The Challenges, or (one topic of many) field curvature.

Variants Stacked,Single available in full article
f11 @ 0.4 sec, ISO 100; 2016-08-17 06:36:15
Sony A7R II + Sony FE 85mm f/1.4 GM

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