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.

Playing With Bubbles

Patterns in a bubble that look like a planet.

We learn so much about photography when we play. The photo above is a simple bubble but the view is magical.

Here’s what you need to create this photo.

1/8 of a cup of water, 1/8 of a cup of dish liquid, 2 tablespoons of glycerin, small dish, long straw. Lightly mix the three liquids in a small dish. Lightly mix is the key.

Put the dish on a black background.

Camera on a tripod with a lens focused to minimum distance. I used a Canon R5 with a 24-105mm lens. Shutter release is helpul but off-camera flash is the magic. Camera in the Manual mode, f/16, 1/200th of a second shutter speed, ISO 500, flash at ETTL. This means that your flash is going to do the work since the camera’s light meter won’t be balanced.

Put the straw in the liquid and slowly blow. Your goal is to create one bubble. If you blow fast, you get lots of little bubbles. One bubble and slowly blow to make that bubble bigger and bigger. The bubble will stay for one or two minutes thanks to the liquid solution.

Things that will drive you crazy are (1) reflections from overhead lights, (2) reflections from nearby windows, (3) reflection from the flash.

My advice is to “work it” to get rid of all those reflections. Turn off the lights, set-up away from a window, and hold the flash to the side. If you have a softbox handy or diffuser handy, then use those.

Wishing you success. This is a fun one!

Learn more about photography in my online classes.

Extreme Macro Photography

Blue Milkweed bloom measuring an inch across with thrips inside.

The image above was captured with a MOVO EXT-C5 Reverse Auto-focus macro lens adapter. The adapter lets you attach your lens to your camera backwards. This turns any lens into a super heavy-duty macro lens.

Here’s the MOVO EXT-C5 with a Canon 24mm lens in the middle. Notice that the part of the 24mm lens that usually connects with the camera is now facing away from the camera.

While the MOVO EXT was fun to play with there are drawbacks. Depth-of-field is extremely narrow even at f/22. Camera shake ruins most images even when the camera is mounted on a sturdy tripod.

An alternative is adding an extension tube and/or close-up filter to your existing lens.

Canon 500D Close-up lens is no longer available unless you buy them used. I’m currently using the Marumi DHG Achromat Macro +3 that gives the same quality. Then add a 24mm Extension Tube or a 12mm Extension Tube for added magnification.

I’ve used the items above for years when I wanted to photograph something up-close. I find the extension tubes, close-up lens, or combination a lot easier to use than the MOVO EXT.

Chrysanthemum reflecting in a small glass bead. Extension tube and close-up lens.
Same set-up with the MOVO EXT. Despite a lot of effort I could not get the main glass bead in focus.

Here’s a link to my old blog with a better explanation about a close-up lens.