Helicon focus price

December 27, 2021 / Rating: 4.5 / Views: 950

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Purchase – Helicon Soft

Helicon Focus is a program for focus stacking. Program selects focused areas from multiple source images and combines them into one perfectly focused image with extended depth-of-field.

Purchase – Helicon Soft
This might be the dumbest question ever but when one is doing focus stacking, live view has to be in play, right? I'd think it would be very difficult to try and do this hand holding and viewing through a viewfinder or is that possible too depending on the software that's used for the stacking process? I used to follow the work of a macro photographer Sandy who could hand hold and take stacks of 4 to 5 slices of close ups of such critters as bees producing exceptionally good results As for live view, I have never used it producing stacks, but there's no reason not to that I can think of other than it's not going to give you equal depth slices. You need very careful focusing on key areas, Sandy, so I always use the through the lens viewfinder to make sure I am perfectly manually focused on the required bits. I certainly couldn't work in sufficient fine tuned detail of my focus from live view. When taking just 2 or 3 shots for the stack, on a standard tripod with ball head and shooting literally in the field, I tend to work from easily identified key edges and move my focus adjustment from one edge to another. Some cheap cameras, without through the lens viewing, require the use of the rear viewing screen otherwise you can get a problem with the view from a basic off centre viewer not matching the actual scene. However, when some people are putting a lot of images into their stack they use a slide head on their tripod and take shots at fixed points. You're typically manually focusing a stack so the viewfinder or rear LCD make little difference. I tripod is a huge help and makes the alignment of the stack for easier and the results more predictable. Hi Grahame - I know I couldn't keep the camera in the same place using a handhold technique. I'd think even a slight move of it would make a difference in the outcome of the stack! The person you knew must have had total concentration and been able to stay "rock solid". Hi Geoff - I believe the Mark II stated that what I saw is what I got when I take a photo so I it seems that I can use either screen for focusing. I was thinking though that if I had the camera mounted on the tripod, it might be just as easy to look at the live view screen rather than through that tiny focus area. Guess this will be part of the experimenting that I will need to do. I usually prefocus the lens for the closeness/amount of magnification I want and move the camera (rocking on the monopod) to achieve focus. Hi Robin - I see that the theme of the replies is having a tripod. I received it as a gift and have used it many times but I find that it doesn't do well for heavy equipment. In the case of field photos of bugs, I never use either the lcd or a tripod. I don't generally stack bug shots because I am not steady enough to get the frames within the range of misalignment that my software can handle, but I know a number of macro photographers that do this routinely, even at magnifications far about 1:1. Also some of the tightening areas are not keeping things from moving anymore. For studio macro and other macros of things that stay put (like flowers or fungi), I use a tripod, stack images, and focus with the lcd. So I reckon there is going to have to be another investment made at some point. It's not necessary to use the lcd, but if your camera allows you to magnify a selected area, it is much easier to obtain accurate focus that way than with the viewfinder. And another decision will need to be made - best tripod, head type, etc. Hi Dan - I appreciate your thoughts and how you go about capturing photos! It gives me more ideas about how to try this format of photography. I know I am not steady enough to take more than one photo of anything and then be able to snap more photos for a stack - without some sort of aid - be it monopod or tripod. It makes me admire those who are able to take sharp macro pictures even more! Hi Dan - I appreciate your thoughts and how you go about capturing photos! George Ron Bigelow has a three part section on flower photography on his site, which may prove useful. I sometimes tip my tripod on to two legs to get a single shot of an insect or flower when working in the real world among brambles, thistles, nettles and other nasty bits of the undergrowth. It gives me more ideas about how to try this format of photography. Just one leg dramatically increases my reject rate. I know I am not steady enough to take more than one photo of anything and then be able to snap more photos for a stack - without some sort of aid - be it monopod or tripod. But I always have all three feet firmly on the ground when shooting for a focus stack. It makes me admire those who are able to take sharp macro pictures even more! You might have a look at Control my Nikon, if you've a Nikon. The exception being when taking a difficult shot of an insect where I don't want to move and give away my position. In which case I might attempt two shots but mostly thinking that I can take part of one image using select, copy then paste a small area such as a leg or wing from one image into the other. Hi George - I use a MAC O/S system and unless I miss the system specifics, this seems to be for Windows only. I do have the ability to tether a camera to the MAC through a utility offered in Canon's Digital Photo Professional. I imagine that the software you referenced probably has better ways to go about capturing that perfect picture though. Hi Geoff - I just took a quick peek at your link and it looks useful! But then you've never pointed to anything that wasn't useful So I could probably get by with a well made tripod and then use it in situations that may call for a monopod? because it does look like it contains some answers to the questions I have swirling around in my brain. I've never tried copying/pasting from one image to another, I've only done it within an image to erase something I didn't want. I suppose there would be times when that would be useful but for the most part, I like to leave the photos as I captured them. Ron Bigelow has a three part section on flower photography on his site, which may prove useful. I sometimes tip my tripod on to two legs to get a single shot of an insect or flower when working in the real world among brambles, thistles, nettles and other nasty bits of the undergrowth. But then mulling this idea over, I do have lots of them end up in the rubbish bin because of minor problems. Just one leg dramatically increases my reject rate. But I always have all three feet firmly on the ground when shooting for a focus stack. The exception being when taking a difficult shot of an insect where I don't want to move and give away my position. I too tend to use a monopod and rock the camera forward, refocussing through the focal range. In which case I might attempt two shots but mostly thinking that I can take part of one image using select, copy then paste a small area such as a leg or wing from one image into the other. In the autumn I photograph fungi, often in less than optimum lighting conditions, and regularly use stacking. I use a stable tripod with a reversible centre column so that I can get the camera very low..... usually lower than I can get to see through the viewfinder. To get round that problem, I use a program, Helicon Remote which tethers my camera to a tablet/laptop. This gives me a 'comfortable' high definition live view on an 8" screen. I can also programe the sequence of images for the stack. I usually save the sequence directly to the camera, but I can copy them directly to the tablet/laptop. Hi George - I use a MAC O/S system and unless I miss the system specifics, this seems to be for Windows only. There are two ways to create a stack: move the camera toward or away from the object, or change the point of focus by rotating the lens barrel. I do have the ability to tether a camera to the MAC through a utility offered in Canon's Digital Photo Professional. I imagine that the software you referenced probably has better ways to go about capturing that perfect picture though. Except for some practical questions, it doesn't make any difference which you do. What matters is that you get the right interval between shots so that you don't leave anything out of focus. There is no need for a rail, although you might find it easier to use. You can accomplish the same thing by rotating the lens barrel. I own a good rail, and I use it to help make fine adjustments for framing the first shot, but I don't use it after that to create the stack. I could, but I just am in the habit of rotating the lens instead, and I would have to figure out how much to turn the knob on the rail to get the right intervals. I believe the function in Control my Nikon that George is referring to is controlling the change in focus via the software if you are shooting tethered. The software I own for that is Helicon Remote (not Helicon Focus), which works on both PCs and Macs. Once you figure out the settings for your particular lens (the defaults were not correct for mine), you simply focus on the closest and farthest points that you want in focus and indicate those to the software. The software then takes the necessary number of photographs, rotating the lens itself. It's in some ways very neat, but I found that I never use it. I have done it so long that I know how much to rotate the lens. None of this helps with shooting bugs, unless they are very cold and slow-moving. There are two ways to create a stack: move the camera toward or away from the object, or change the point of focus by rotating the lens barrel. Except for some practical questions, it doesn't make any difference which you do. What matters is that you get the right interval between shots so that you don't leave anything out of focus. There is no need for a rail, although you might find it easier to use. You can accomplish the same thing by rotating the lens barrel. I own a good rail, and I use it to help make fine adjustments for framing the first shot, but I don't use it after that to create the stack. I could, but I just am in the habit of rotating the lens instead, and I would have to figure out how much to turn the knob on the rail to get the right intervals. I believe the function in Control my Nikon that George is referring to is controlling the change in focus via the software if you are shooting tethered. The software I own for that is Helicon Remote (not Helicon Focus), which works on both PCs and Macs. Once you figure out the settings for your particular lens (the defaults were not correct for mine), you simply focus on the closest and farthest points that you want in focus and indicate those to the software. The software then takes the necessary number of photographs, rotating the lens itself. It's in some ways very neat, but I found that I never use it. I have done it so long that I know how much to rotate the lens. None of this helps with shooting bugs, unless they are very cold and slow-moving. Sandy doesn't want to shoot bugs yet but wants to play with focus stacking to get e feeling of it. I downloaded once a trial not so long ago but never continued, maybe later. One of the reasons was it didn't have the stacking software, just the the software to control the camera. I'm not sure what Helicon Remote and Helicon Focus do but I think they have the same division between camera control and stacking. https:// George Dan, I may have caused a bit of confusion with my quick post. I probably should have made it clear that while I use Helicon Remote for tethered image capture to step through the focal range, I use either Zerene or Combine Z to process the stack of images to create the blended composite . I do on occasion use the 'stacking & blending' option in Photoshop, but it is rather limited since as far as I am aware, there is only one stacking algorithm available. Dan, I may have caused a bit of confusion with my quick post. I probably should have made it clear that while I use Helicon Remote for tethered image capture to step through the focal range, I use either Zerene or Combine Z to process the stack of images to create the blended composite . I do on occasion use the 'stacking & blending' option in Photoshop, but it is rather limited since as far as I am aware, there is only one stacking algorithm available. I find having both methods valuable, and the retouching function works very well. I also find that the ability to adjust the contrast setting in DMax is sometimes helpful. I access it via Zerene's Lightroom plug-in, which makes the workflow very fast and simple. Thank you for all the good information that's been offered. I have software to check out and techniques to learn. I did play a little bit today with a beautiful bouquet that arrived at my door unexpectedly. Since it is flowers I wanted to try, the arrival of these is a treat. So I'm not sure if this rates as a decent "stack", but what I did was mount the camera on my tripod, focused from a distance that took in the entire bouquet and then focused on various parts of the bouquet. Affinity photo has the ability to "focus merge" so I tried that procedure. You seem to get enough images to have plenty of DOF overlap between the shots. I like the appearance of the pot and the dark background. I would try a 4x5 crop with a bit more room on each side. I fussed with the photo a bit, cropped it a little more closely and have arrived at this rendition. Today I did a quick test on one of my focus stacks to compare the capabilities of Zerene Stacker and Helicon Focus Here are the specs of the test: Automated Macro Rail: Focus Stacker v3 Total Images: 66 Camera: Nikon D7100 Lens: Lomo 3.7x Microscope Objective on a set of extension tubes and cheapest bellows in the market. Exposure: 1/180 ISO: 100 Light Setup: 2X Yongnuo 560-IV with diffusers Subject: Ant about 6mm long Original Resolution: 6000X4000 (RAW) Zerene Stacker version: v1.04 Helicon Focus version: 6.3.0 I used the same machine (i7/12GB Ram/SSD Hard Drive) for every step. Although there were not any other processes during that time, the results are still should be considered as approximate. First of all, Helicon Focus has a big advantage over Zerene Stacker in terms of pipeline. Helicon Focus supports raw pipeline with DNG input and output. Zerene Stacker does not have any raw support yet (which makes me surprised). So I stuck with 16 bit TIF export to test Zerene Stacker. With the 16 bit TIF pipeline there is actually no pixel data loss. In fact, this format can hold more color data that a regular DSLR can shoot. DNG file can hold the whole of your data with a optimum size and it can also hold the metadata. Since file size of DNG is much less and make the format easier to load/reload it speeds up the whole pipeline, not only import/export. Exporting timings for 66 images from Lightroom with the plug-ins: Zerene Stacker : Helicon Focus : Wow… I was expecting DNG to be faster but more than two times? Lets see how they do when actually processing the images. Helicon Focus offers 3 different focus stack methods, which you can retouch and combine them. Methods A and B has Radius and Smooth settings, where Method C does not have any setting. PMax’s algorithm is very similar to Method C (Pyramid) in Helicon. The logic is to collect all data and use the best parts of each. PMax and Method C are relatively faster to calculate compared to the other algorithms. By cleaner, I dont mean better, but most of the time the results from these methods are usable without any combination. Although the picture is more contrast and it creates something like a halo effect especially on the highlights. Method C and PMax creates an extraordinary job on very thin parts like hair follicles. It also compensates better the Lens breathing effect (or the gaps occurred because of literally moving the camera in this case) compared to the other algorithms. Other methods (DMap in Zerene Stacker and Method A/B in Helicon Focus) creates less noisy, better quality results. Ideally, one would want to use most parts of the image from DMap or Method B results. The parts that can not be done well like the edges and thin parts should be retouched either using the original photographs or from other methods. Here are the calculation timings for each method: …………………………………………………………………………… Zerene Stacker: PMax= DMap= (default settings) …………………………………………………………………………… Helicon Focus: Method A= (Radius=4 Smooth=2) Method B= (Radius=4 Smooth=2) Method C= …………………………………………………………………………… In Helicon Focus when even all three methods combined it still takes less time then PMax calculation of Zerene Stacker alone. I am testing TIF vs DNG, but I am not sure this entirely related with the image format and loading/decoding times. I believe even I use TIF for both of them, Helicon will be still much faster then Zerene Stacker. The thing is, until there is a RAW pipeline for Zerene Stacker, I wont do a fair time comparison, because if there is a RAW pipeline, I refuse to use anything else. Below there are 4 different 100% crops with all 2 methods from each software. I think Method A in Helicon Focus is out of competition. I couldnt see any more usable part of it when compared with method C and B. However, at the end of the page I provide the original files, so you can check from there if you like. As I told before, PMax and Method C are very similar to each other. Method B and DMap is looking very similar too at the first glance. At some parts Method B is better then DMap, and in some parts vice versa. But with a more carefull inspection, Zerene Stacker results are a little bit sharper in general. It is true that Helicon Focus has a better interface, more responsive and gives you more features like 3 render methods, zdepth output and 3d model output. IMHO, both z Depth and 3d model outputs are not useful. In every case I tried I could not get a usable z Depth and 3d model is nothing but a toy. For me, these are not features that going to sell the product. However, when it comes to speed, Helicon Focus wins the race with a huge difference. With a little sharpness difference you can get about 3.69 times faster results. In another words, with zerene stacker assuming you are using a i7 computer which has 12gb ram and average quality ssd drive, you can finish 10 stacks containing 100 photo each in approximately 7 hours. If you use Helicon focus you can finish the same amount in 2 hours. Personally, I would give another 7 hours for a tiny little bit more sharpness. After all, the whole point using dof stacking softwares are getting the optimum sharpness/dof ratio. In macro photography there are so many things that can affect the sharpness of the image, so yes no matter what the speed is, I would always choose the sharper. On the other hand, the difference is so tiny, I am not sure that everyone will be thinking as I do. At this point, I think the best move that Zerene could do is adding dng support. I believe this would be a great improvement above any other feature.There are many little tricks in photography that can help you to improve your images. One of these is focus stacking, a technique where you take a row of photos of the same subject with the focus point slightly shifted between each shot: you then merge these photos together and will be rewarded with an image that shows more depth of field than the individual shots (while keeping background blur and everything else the same). The merging process can be quite painful with the wrong software: processing will be slow, results will be inaccurate. I did some extensive research on this question and tested four of the most common focus stacking programs: I published my findings in separate articles for each of these but in this post here I want to summarize the key points. The programs I have tested are the following (click on the name to see the full review): Two of these are dedicated stacking software (Helicon Focus and Zerene Stacker) while the other two are general photo editing programs that, among many other features, also include a stacking feature. So the big question is: which of these programs works best for focus stacking? Helicon Focus is a popular dedicated stacking software that allows you to try out different rendering methods (called „Method A/B/C“) and set parameters like radius and smoothing to achieve the best results. Helicon Focus offers a 30 day trial for which you can check out their website: Zerene Stacker is, like Helicon Focus, intended to be a professional stacking software: it offers you two processing methods (called „PMax“ and „DMap“) and also allows you to choose between different settings (estimation radius, smoothing radius etc.). Photoshop is a well-known and well-established photo editing software that has been on the market for 30 years already. Among its many functionalities it offers a straight forward stacking feature. Affinity Photo has emerged only recently as a contender to the market dominance of Photoshop. It, too, offers many editing features: one if these is focus stacking. affinity.Processing speed becomes crucial when you want to do „deep stacks“ that consist of dozens of individual images. If, on the other hand, you mainly do stacks up to 20-25 single photos than this factor won’t be as important for you. Personally, I belong to the latter category, so I tested the processing speed of each software with an 11 image stack and a 26 image stack: As you can see Helicon Focus is by far the fastest focus stacking software: depending on the method you use it’s four to fourteen times faster than Zerene Stacker and Affinity Photo and fifteen to twenty eight times faster than Photoshop. So if time is the most important factor for you, you have a winner. Focus stacking is a relatively complex process where a lot of little things can go wrong: and the more of these go wrong, the more you will have to manually adjust later on – an often painful and time consuming process. Typical problems are: There was slight movement in the wing while I took my shots for the stack. This makes this part of the image particularly challenging for the stacking process: Photoshop is the winner here producing an almost perfect stack without any ghosting. This is mostly du to the great auto-alignment that Photoshop uses. However, in the same image there are other little issues that Photoshop produced while Zerene Stacker and Helicon Focus did a better job: All in all I didn’t find „the one“ stacking software that would produce perfect results every single time: with complex images like the dragonfly each software showed it’s own little faults here and there. However, I did find that Affinity Photo often produced the worst results with a lot of halos and ghosting: even a slight glimmer of light gets amplified in an ugly manner. In the same vein, Affinity Photo is also very unforgiving if your stack shows any inaccuracies (which happens easily when you shoot living subjects and/or handheld). Helicon Focus and Zerene Stacker offer the most features: you can run the stacking process with different parameters and methods that each will give you a different result. You can then combine these images for the best final result. Photoshop and Affinity, on the other hand, don’t let you choose any parameters: the stacking process just gets done in a set way. The only feature is a retouching tool that allows you to paint in missing bits in the stack. While this sounds very basic I found it more than sufficient for Photoshop since the stacking gets done so well already – which, unfortunately, cannot be said of Affinity Photo. Helicon Focus, Photoshop and Affinity Photo also allow you to open and stack RAW files, while Zerene Stacker does not. However, while testing this feature I didn’t see any improvement in image quality when editing my stack in post. This image (a stack out of 13 images) was underexposed: I brightened it in Photoshop using the RAW file out of Helicon Focus as well as the JPG out of Zerene Stacker… If we just look at the stacking results then Helicon Focus, Zerene Stacker and Photoshop are almost equal contenders to the title of „Best Focus Stacking Software“. Surprisingly, however, I found that for many images Photoshop will yield the best results. This was especially true with challenging images where the subject moved a bit between each single frame. Affinity Photo yielded the worst results and I wouldn’t recommend using it if you have high expectations regarding image quality. Now, if we look at the processing speed then Helicon Focus is the winner by far and, ironically, Photoshop becomes the loser being the slowest software in the competition. If you regularly do stacks that consist of 20 images or more it will definitely be worth it for you to invest in Helicon Focus. If, on the other hand, you do only stacks up to 20 images and use Photoshop already then it won’t make much sense for you to pay the extra for a specialized stacking software: Photoshop does the job admirably well.offers a variety of Helicon Focus Discount Coupons and Promo Codes for your online shopping at Save up to 60% with Discount Codes and Voucher Codes listed below, which are 100% working and genuine so that you will have a hassle-free shopping experience.DSLR and mirrorless cameras allow a high level of control over our photos. We can change different settings like shutter speed, ISO, and aperture. These cameras are capable of focusing on single objects and utilizing the depth of field. This is where focus stacking plays an important role. Focus stacking is the process of merging multiple photos with different focal points. In this article, we look at the best focus stacking software, and how the process of focus stacking works. Using focus stacking, you could combine these three photos together so that each plant was in-focus. You can utilize advanced focus stacking software that intelligently masks the different focal points, and merges them together to create a high-quality image. Focus stacking can also be used to combine different aperture shots of the same object together too. So why would you use the best focus stacking software? Surely you could just form the above photo of the three plants using a smaller aperture of f/22, for example? Technically yes, but we have to consider the fine details. Shooting at a small aperture of f/22 may not provide the same level of detail or sharpness as a photo at f/4.0. Whilst smaller apertures are fantastic for landscape photography, larger apertures are more appropriate for shooting single objects. The large aperture allows you to create a beautifully out-of-focus background or even a bokeh effect. Essentially, using focus stacking, you can get an image with a stunning blurred background, whilst focusing clearly on individual objects too. The following are some benefits of using focus stacking: As you can see, there are several advantages using focus stacking – it opens up a host of possibilities, and provides photographers with greater control. In the below sections, we look at the best focus stacking software including: Adobe Photoshop is often considered one of the best photo editing and manipulation softwares. One thing you might not know is that this software also has an extensive focus stacking feature that utilizes two tools – auto-align and auto-blend layers. To focus stack images, the process is relatively simple. We have outlined the steps below: As you can see, the process includes just 4 steps. Firstly, instead of opening each file individually, use the special “open stacks” feature. This combines the source images into one file as separate layers. Next, simply use the Auto-Align layers tool, and then the Auto-blend layers tool. We have included some screenshots of this process below: The stacking process is straightforward. When combining layers, it is important to consider the alignment. If your layers are not aligned properly, the auto-blend tool will work, but the image will have ghosting. Also Read: How to Focus stack in Photoshop We had great success with the quality of the focus stacking – the tools are intelligent and merge the different focal points seamlessly. The processing time is OK, but this depends on the size of the source images. ON1 Photo RAW 2021 is the latest version of this graphics editing software has many improvements, including performance. It also features an extensive focus stacking process. Below you can watch a video on how to focus stack images using ON1 Photo RAW: ON1 Photo RAW 2020 is an excellent program that has an intuitive layout. The focus stacking feature is not immediately noticeable, but it can be found on the right-hand side of the editing toolbar. As with the other programs, the process is simple and you can change different features of the focus stacking process too. Related Post: Best Focus Stacking Cameras Using this program you can stack multiple images quickly using the following steps: Helicon is a fantastic, advanced, free-to-try program (but expensive to buy) focus stacking software. Full functionality for focus stacking is available in the trial and you can save merged images without watermarks or copyright notices. Once you are ready to buy, there are several Helicon Focus price options to choose from. You can buy the lifetime license (with free updates) or one-year license: Helicon Focus Lifetime License Cost (prices as of 25 August 2020): This program is simple to use and has a no-nonsense approach. The central pane contains previews of the source images, and the final composite when it is finished. The right pane contains details of source images and the controls for the focus stacking process. Although the basic process is simple, there is a host of advanced controls you can utilize. Helicon uses three different merging methods – weighted average, depth map, and pyramid. Each method merges the images differently and offers varying levels of quality. In addition to this, you can change the smoothing, and radius settings using sliders. Helicon is considered one of the best focus stacking software programs because it offers a quick and effective process. The following process is used to merge images: Once you have done the above, the program will combine and render the images automatically. Whereas the speed of Photoshop varies, we noticed that process times for Helicon appear consistent. The program renders images quickly and you are presented with a preview of the finished image in a matter of seconds. The quality of combined images looks superb – don’t be fooled by the preview. When the process is complete, a low-res preview of the image is shown. If you save and open the actual file, you can see the high-resolution version. This program is a great alternative to Photoshop and one of the best focus stacking software tools available. Zerene Stacker is available as a trial program – the trial lasts for 30 days. After this, you must purchase a license that is relatively inexpensive. When using the trial version, a watermark is placed over the final composite image. As with the other programs, Zerene Stacker is user-friendly and easy to use. The interface looks a little dated, but the menus and controls are logically placed. First, the central panel shows previews of the files. Next, the top, left-hand panel shows the source imaged. Finally, the bottom-left panel displays the final merged image. When using this program, you can’t really make a mistake – its straightforward to use, and self-explanatory. In addition to this, loading times are fast, and the whole program works seamlessly. Furthermore, the end quality of the merged images looks great. Zerene Stacker has a range of useful features allowing you to boost the quality of the image, and automatically align the source files. The following is the basic process: There is nothing more to this process – to select images and merge them takes mere minutes. We like that this program auto-aligns the source images – this process appears to be efficient and works to a high degree of accuracy. You also get the option to use an automatic retouching process two which improves the basic quality of the finished image. Using one of the best focus stacking software programs listed above, you can put this technique into practice. If you have any experience using focus stacking or know of any other software, leave a comment and share your thoughts! He is also a Lightroom and Photoshop expert and likes to test new photo software, apps, and gear. Paul frequently shares his travel photography tips on his travel blog and writes for known photography publications.

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