Canon R5 Mirrorless — Focus Stacking

My test of the Canon R5’s Focus Bracketing — or focus stacking — continues.

This is a 10-photo blend of a gulf fritillary butterfly.
A blend of 10 images gives the long-tailed skipper sharp detail throughout.
Here’s a close-up of the image above. Notice that there’s tight detail on the skipper and on the vegetation.

I’ve been working with the Canon R5’s focus bracketing (or focus stacking) since I bought the camera. Overall, I’ve been impressed. Here are my previous blog postings on this topic.

Questions have come up during my tests and in talks with other photographers.

What increment should be used? The Canon R5 comes set at increment 3. That’s a good starting point and what I used on my first tests.

I changed to increment 7 for the purple passionflower blooms. I like 7 now.

How many photos are needed for a good photo stack? Obviously, that depends on how deep the subject is. I used 10 on the long-tailed skipper and 10 on the red passionflower bloom. The skipper is much smaller than the flower.

In my tests, 10 photos seems to be a sweet spot. The Canon R5 takes less than a second to fire off the series of images. Push the shutter button one time and the camera does the rest.

I used Photoshop’s focus stacking and tried 3, 5, or 1o images. The stacks with 10 images were smoother and better aligned.

Where should the focus point be at the start of the stack? Focus should be on the closest point to the camera. That’s a lesson learned.

On the long-tailed skipper, I focused on the wing closest to the camera. In earlier tests, I focused on the head and the wing closest to the camera wasn’t sharp.

On the red passionflower, I focused on the flower in one photo. In the second photo, I focused on the buds in front of the bloom. Notice the difference?

Red passionflower bloom. Focus point at the beginning of the focus stack was on the bloom.
Red passionflower bloom. Focus point at the beginning of the focus stack was on the buds in front of the bloom. NOTE: The fuzzy area to the left of one bud needs a bit of post-processing work.

All photos were taken with the Canon R5, 100-500mm lens, 1.4x extender, f/11, ISO 400.

Questions? What’s been your experience with the R5’s focus bracketing? Does your mirrorless camera have focus bracketing or stacking? Experience?

Here’s my review of the Olympus focus stacking.

Author: kathyadamsclark

Professional photographer leading workshops and tours.

9 thoughts on “Canon R5 Mirrorless — Focus Stacking”

  1. I wonder if you have any suggestions for supplemental lighting for macro work? I often use a ring flash which gives me significant control but clearly I can’t do so with focus stacking so for very close work lighting is often needed or wanted – how would you illuminate your subject?


  2. Hi Kathy,
    I’m just starting to explore focus bracketing/stacking and ran across this blog post. If I use the bracketing in the R5 does it provide the stacked image or do I still need to load the series into an editor to do the work? I’m getting into macro photography with the R5 and the RF100mm macro lens (which I truly love) and can see where stacking could provide improved end results. Thanks for any insights you can provide.


  3. Hi Kathy, yes PS does a good job too but HF is faster in my experience. The caveat with all the software is that you need to check what files it will accept. For example I have DxO’s amazing PureRaw denoise software. Transform high ISO Canon R5 files but it won’t accept my Leica M10R DNG files. A bit frustrating to say the least. I’m not sure what the limitations are on HF. DxO also doesn’t take Fuji files.


    1. Agree and a good point. There’s nothing more frustrating than buying software and then finding out it doesn’t work. I wonder if the latest update to the software will let it accept the Leica files. Thanks for commenting.


  4. Great information here. Thank you, You address close up work, and I am trying to learn to do stacking with my R5 for landscapes s. How, if at all, does this differ?


    1. I’ve had mixed results stacking landscape photos. I don’t have a lot of opportunity to do those grand landscapes. In theory, the process is the same. Keep trying. I might do a blog posting on stacking for landscape in the near future. Stay tuned!


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