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Greg's focus stacking
on Olympus E-M1 cameras
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This page is currently a copy of a diary article from 17 September 2017. It is intended to develop.

It's been nearly two years since Olympus came out with firmware support for Focus stacking, and I have yet to completely make friends with it. Every time I use it, I have to go back to the instruction manual and read what little it can tell me.

The Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark I and Mark II have two different kinds of focus stacking:

Kim Holst summarizes the in the following image (click to get full size):

The distance moved is controlled by a value that Olympus calls “focus step”, a number between 1 and 10 that has some relationship to the size of the step. The larger the number, the larger the step. Apart from that, there is no reliable information. Some say that the size of the step also depends on the depth of field, and some say that step 1 means a step of exactly the depth of field, so that for any two images the near limit of the second image is the far limit of the first image. That doesn't make sense to me for two reasons: first, that would make the larger steps far too large, and secondly “depth of field” is a matter of opinion: how unsharp can something be? In addition, it doesn't line up with my inaccurate observations. One thing is clear from observation is that the step is not constant: it gets larger with focus distances.

In each case, the camera uses the electronic shutter. This places severe (and undocumented) restrictions on the shutter speed with flash: 1/8 s maximum for the Mark I, and 1/50 s for the Mark II. The camera will happily shoot at higher speeds, giving images like these (E-M1 Mark II, 1/250 and 1/60 s):


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Diary entry for Sunday, 17 September 2017 Complete exposure details

 
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Diary entry for Sunday, 17 September 2017 Complete exposure details

 

When using flash, you can extend the time between shots to allow the flash to recharge. There's no feedback from the flash, of course, so if you choose it too short, you'll get uneven exposure.

Setting the parameters

There's nothing obvious about where to find the settings for focus stacking. They're in the camera 2 menu, under Bracketing.

Resources

Here's a list of other pages with information on this topic:


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