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Focus bracketing using CameraPixels

Focus bracketing or stacking is a technique designed to increase depth of field in a shot with post processing. It’s widely used in macro-photography, but can be applied to landscape and architecture photography as well. In this post we will learn how to capture focus bracket in CameraPixels and create a photo with extended depth of field using Adobe Photoshop CS6.

Bellow is the example of standard (left) and extended (right) depth of field photography using iPhone device.

    

The left image was captured by focusing at the tip of the flower, while the right image was produced from a series of 5 images with different focusing point. This result can be achieved using a standard iPhone camera app, but CameraPixels hugely simplifies the process.

Capture focus bracket

In order to capture a focus bracket (or stack) you would need:

  1. The latest version of CameraPixels or CameraPixels Lite (reduced resolution)
  2. Tripod for an iPhone
  3. Good scene

Set your iPhone on a tripod such that a scene you want to capture is visible in the viewfinder of CameraPixels

1. Switch CameraPixels to Bracketing capture mode

2. Select needed output file format on the top toolbar

3. Open extra settings toolbar and adjust resolution, crop and quality of the final images

4. While in extra settings, set the Type in Bracket category to Focus. In appeared items bellow adjust min and max focus distance and number of images to capture

5. Set Timer in Intervalometer section to 1 or 3 sec to prevent blur from camera shacking when capture button is pressed

6. Press capture button and wait until all images are captured

Once all images were captures, have a look at them in Photos app or preview in CameraPixels just to make sure that all details of the scene in focus in at least one of the photos. It may take some practice to find the right range of focus distances and number of images to capture all details for a particular scene. As a general rule, for macro photography you would need smaller range, but more images. For landscape and architecture photography wider range of focus distances and fewer images may be enough.

Creating extended depth of field photo

One all needed images have been captured and reviewed it’s time to fire up a software of your chose that is capable of combining multiple photos and produce one with extended depth of field. There are few applications, available on Windows and MacOS that have such functionality and Photoshop is one of them. We will use Photoshop CS6 in this example, but other versions will have similar steps to create a final image.

1. Open Photoshop. In menu File find Automate item and then Photomerge sub-item

2. In the appeared dialog press Browse button and select all images you have captured for a given scene. Deselect Blend Images Together option and press OK

3. All selected images will be loaded in one document as layers. Select all layers and in menu Edit choose Auto-Align Layers item.

4. In the Auto-Align Layers dialog select option Auto and press OK

5. Next, without deselecting layers, in menu Edit choose Auto Blend Layers item

6. In the Auto Blend Layers dialog select Stack Images option. You can optionally check Seamless Tones and Colors option and press OK.

7. Once images are processed you will have a mask associated with each image on the layer. At this point you can review the result, adjust each mask individually in case of processing errors and blend images into one final result

 

 

    • Kelly
    • November 11, 2017
    Reply

    Wow, focus stacking is a really cool feature! Tried it with a few macro shots and friends couldn’t believe it was taken with iPhone. I made one night shot with 10 DNG images for a flower illuminated by torch at 30%. Was blown away by quality of the final image. Really, have to say special thanks for the torch level adjustment feature, it allows such cool photos at night! I know that the new version is coming soon, so eager to see what’s coming next!

    • Mikhael
    • November 11, 2017
    Reply

    This summer I’ve discovered I almost didn’t use my DSLR to capture photos. iPhone almost replaced it entirely for me, thanks to your app. Now, with focus bracketing, I can do things much easier using my iPhone than playing with DSLR to get similar results. Having iPhone 7 Plus and extra lenses really does the trick. Really like your app for its intuitively and flexibility. It’s like having a Swiss knife in my pocket for photography.

    • Kenneth
    • November 11, 2017
    Reply

    I’ve found your app recently after trying a dozen of others (Camera+, ProCam, ProCamera, etc.). Yours is the most feature reach and simple to use. Every update makes the app more powerful. Eventually it replaced several other, more specialised app on my phone. Thank you for such a great app and looking forward for new updates!

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