Thursday, 14 July 2016

Newten Town Hi-Res versus Focus Stack

This is taken from a Hi-res image (6775 x 4192 crop from a 9519 x 7314 original) with the camera set to ISO 200, lens aperture F8 at 0.6 seconds, resized to 1400 x 866 pixels (click on image to see full size).

For the past few months my hobby focus has largely been on taking pictures with my new Olympus OMD EM5 Mark 2 micro four thirds camera.  One of the reasons I chose the camera was because it features a 40 megapixel Hi-Res mode, which I thought was super awesome.  It is, but after months of practice I've come to the conclusion that the really super awesome feature of my camera is the automatic focus bracketing feature, which was a firmware upgrade that the reviews I read didn't mention.

That's serendipity for you.

I've been sorting out some terrain and changing the graffiti I wrote on one of the building from FA*M Will Set You Free to Death Will Set you Free – driven by a friend who was playing in my old campaign who read FA*M as Football Association, rather than Freedom Army, which rather spoiled the effect that the graffiti was suppose to have for me.

And this is a crop from a focus stack made from 25 images (3232 x 2129 crop from a 4668 x 3356 original), again the camera was set to ISO 200 (best quality), lens aperture was F4 and each image was taken at 1/4 of a second, resized to 1200 x 790 pixels (click on image to see full size).

The re-write involved sanding down the original letters to, to remove them, and then repainting the wall.  As I didn't want to go to all of the effort it would require to repaint the wall to the original colour I took a short-cut and repainted it red.

I've been trying to do a real comparison of the advantages and disadvantages of using the Hi-Res mode of my camera, and the pictures in this post have been re-shot several times to get results I was happy with, and proving that I'm not as good as photographer as I like to think I am.

This is a 1027 x 1210 pixel crop from the 40 megapixel Hi-Res image.

In some ways the results of this comparison are a little disappointing because the depth of field at F8 is insufficient to meet my needs, even thought the out of focus background is quite nice the lack of sharpness across the model is telling.

This is a 777 x 831 pixel crop from a 16 megapixel focus stack.

Looking at the pixels, by taking a full size crop from each image, I think it's quite clear that the focus stack has produced the sharper looking image, and if I wanted to blur the background it would be possible to remove images from the stack to achieve the effect.  So for now, until Olympus offer a firmware upgrade that allows automatic focus bracketing in Hi-Res mode, focus stacking 16 megapixel pictures is the way to go.


  1. Very impressive images, Ashley. I'm a Nikon man myself.

    1. My partner is too, and they do make excellent, if rather bulky, cameras.

  2. So did you get your shipping estimate from the HG kickstarter? The numbers I've seen thrown around suprised me.

    1. Yes I did, and there was a sharp intake of breath. I can only hope that the charge includes import taxes. I'm counting my blessings that I didn't commit to the terrain KS as I had even less confidence about the amount that would be charged for shipping resin buildings across the Atlantic.

  3. Well, your focus stack has 25× the amount of light coming into the camera, so it's not entirely surprising it looks better - for each pixel (or, I suspect, clump of pixels) in the final image it has a 25 different options to choose from.

    I still like Pentax but I haven't used their recent ones.

    1. I assume you've seen this review?

      Personally, even as a Pentax fan, I think it's one fugly camera, and if I'm going to spend serious money on a camera I want it to look good too. I'm fussy like that.

    2. I'm not in the market for a new camera right now, so I'm generally not reading reviews in case I get overcome with Kit Lust. And I don't care about the æsthetics of my tools, as distinct from the æsthetics of the things I make with them - which I hadn't thought of in quite those terms, so thanks for that.


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