Boldly Going Where No Lens Has Gone Before
By Arthur H. Bleich–
You can fiddle around with in Photoshop to merge several images taken at different distance settings in order to increase your depth of field but nothing does it better (or faster) than Helicon Focus, a stand-alone application created by a team of developers, headed by Dan Kozub, in the Ukraine who relish taking on software challenges like this.
Helicon Focus combines a series of shots that have had their focus points set at different distances and merges them into one image that has incredible depth of field. No camera or lens combination (not even view cameras with swings, tilts and f/64 apertures) can match the results.
You just set your camera to manual focus and shoot a series of shots, advancing the point of focus from near to far as you go. Then upload the stack of images to your computer, open Helicon Focus and it blends them into a single image that’s in sharp focus from foreground to background.
When you shoot your images, you’ll need a tripod, of course, and subjects that are fairly stationary (or can hold still); Helicon Focus does a superb job on close-up photography (through microscopes or with macro lenses) and also produces amazing landscapes (when you want infinite depth of field).
Three different versions, Lite, Pro and Premium are offered; the last two come with an additional gem, Helicon Remote. It pre-programs the focusing steps on most Live-View-equipped Canon and Nikon cameras to cover the range you need and then rapidly fires the shutter while changing the focus of each image automatically.
Pricing runs $30 to $240 and discounts are offered if you upgrade from one version to another. A 30-day fully functional demo of Helicon Lite is available free for a try-out. heliconsoft.com
April 8, 2014
You can also do this in Photoshop. Cheaper, if you already have Photoshop.
April 3, 2014
I’ve heard of the technique but have never tried it so I think I’ll download the trial and give it a shot tomorrow.