Zerene Stacker and Rik

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rjlittlefield
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Zerene Stacker and Rik

Post by rjlittlefield »

You may have noticed a new piece of software, Zerene Stacker, starting to be mentioned in the technical forums.

Just so nobody has to wonder about it, I'll confess right now: Zerene Stacker is something I wrote.

You've actually seen quite a few images made by it. All my stacks posted since that Monarch cremaster back in October have been done with it. Several other members have been using it as well.

Nobody has been talking about it, though, because I asked everyone to keep quiet until the software was mature enough to be really useful. That worked very well, by the way -- many thanks to all the people involved!

Now that Zerene Stacker has gone into "public beta", I anticipate discussion.

And therein lies a wrinkle or two...

If you read the website for Zerene Stacker, you'll see that it's planned to become a commercial product at some point.

There's some opportunity for tension here, since photomacrography.net is strictly non-commercial.

So here's the plan...

First off, the rules for me are the same as they would be for any other member: no promotion of stuff for sale. You're not going to see any advertisements here.

On the other hand, I don't think we ever intended to block discussion of a product by somebody who happened to be involved with it, as long as the relationship is clear and the discussion is fair and thoughtful.

So when questions and discussions come up about technical issues, I'll still be in there, thinking, writing, and illustrating as usual. I learn a lot that way.

I do have one request. If you see me writing anything that looks even remotely misleading or incorrect, please let me know. My intention is always to provide accurate information first and foremost. If it's not coming across that way, I need to know.

Thanks!
--Rik

augusthouse
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Post by augusthouse »

A welcome and innovative contribution to photography!

Well done Rik and congratulations :smt023

Rik wrote:
On the other hand, I don't think we ever intended to block discussion of a product by somebody who happened to be involved with it, as long as the relationship is clear and the discussion is fair and thoughtful.
So, in other words; in the outside world, Zerene Stacker is a software program written by you, but here on photomacrography.net, it's just another piece of software to be vigorously and openly discussed, as is currently the case with other products/solutions. :smt024

Craig
To use a classic quote from 'Antz' - "I almost know exactly what I'm doing!"

rjlittlefield
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Post by rjlittlefield »

Exactly. Well said!

--Rik

Planapo
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Post by Planapo »

Hey Rik, that´s cool news! :smt023

I had no time for stacking lately, but am looking forward to using "ZS" soon!

Congratulations for the launch of your "baby", may it grow well and prosper!

--Betty :D =D>

Carl_Constantine
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Post by Carl_Constantine »

Thanks Rik. Along the lines of "vigorous open discussion" how about an unbiased (as much as you can be) comparison between CombineZ, Zerene Stacker, and Helicon Focus (at least as unbiased as you can be). Maybe someone else with extensive stacking experience can do the comarison?

Since I want to do some stacks with my new Macro Lens when it arrives, I'd love to see a comparison. I figure, the two main packages used by the photographers on this board must have some shortfalls for someone to write another one :-)

So let's see it, pretty please.

Oh, PS (warning: shameless self promotion): If you want/need a better website, PM me :twisted:
Carl B. Constantine

Aynia
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Post by Aynia »

Wow, Rik. Congratulations and well done. :D

I haven't done any stacking yet.. haven't even download Combine.

Can we promote this on other photo forums in the macro section? I'm only on two others and only one has a macro section but I noticed someone promoting Helicon the other day.

rjlittlefield
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Post by rjlittlefield »

Betty, thanks for the kind words. I'll look forward to seeing some stacks!

Carl, I expect that those comparisons will appear gradually over the next few weeks. It would be a lot of work for anyone to crank out a comprehensive comparison all at once, and the result would be so long that hardly anybody would read it anyway.

To answer your basic question, I went to the trouble of writing Zerene Stacker mainly because I got tired of trying to wrestle the other packages into producing images I'd be happy with. That job is far from trivial even with ZS, largely because I'm an incurable perfectionist. But it's a lot easier than it used to be with the other packages. I can produce better results faster. Easier, better, faster -- a nice combination.

But that's for me -- the kinds of stacks that I shoot, the output quality I shoot for, the amount of time I invest, and probably a horde of other features that are specific to me and my situation. Not everyone will have the same experience, and as the discussion evolves I'll be very interested to hear what other people's experiences are.

Aynia, anybody who wants to promote ZS in another forum certainly has my blessing to do that! It's a public beta, and these days, that means worldwide and unrestricted. People will figure out soon enough what (if anything!) it'll do for their applications. If they're happy with what they see, that's great, and if they're not, I'm happy to learn from the discussions.

--Rik

microcollector
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Post by microcollector »

Rik,

Yesterday, it was mentioned on a couple of mineral forums. They were Strahlen.org and Mindat.org. So far no stacks have been posted but several people are planning on trying it.

I did download it and install it on a 64 bit Vista laptop. The install was fine and the program opened without problems. I have not had an opportunity to run a stack yet. It may not be able to use the benefits of a 64 bit system but it appears capable of running in one.

Doug
micro minerals - the the unseen beauty of the mineral kingdom
Canon T5i with Canon 70 - 200 mm f4L zoom as tube lens set at 200mm, StacK Shot rail, and Mitutoyo 5X or 10X M plan apo objectives.

My Mindat Mineral Photos
http://www.mindat.org/user-362.html#2

AndrewC
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Post by AndrewC »

microcollector wrote: I did download it and install it on a 64 bit Vista laptop. The install was fine and the program opened without problems. I have not had an opportunity to run a stack yet. It may not be able to use the benefits of a 64 bit system but it appears capable of running in one.
I didn't bother because the products website says "contact us for 64bit operating systems".

I'll give it a whirl now.

Also, the website says the demo version expires after a "few weeks", how long is that ?

Andrew

augusthouse
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Post by augusthouse »

Andrew wrote:
Also, the website says the demo version expires after a "few weeks", how long is that ?
Andrew, whilst in Beta, each release is time-limited - to be replaced by an updated Beta version approximately every few weeks or as they become available.

There is an 'update check' built into the software which provides notification when a later Beta release is available for download.

Quote from http://www.zerenesystems.com/stacker/
Each beta version is time-limited and will expire after a few weeks, having been superseded by an updated beta version.

Craig
To use a classic quote from 'Antz' - "I almost know exactly what I'm doing!"

rjlittlefield
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Post by rjlittlefield »

Thanks for the comments and clarifications, folks.

Craig has it exactly right. The current beta is good for the rest of April. Sometime before it runs out, we'll release a new beta version with bug fixes etc and an extended date. This process will continue until things are wrung out well enough to switch over to an ordinary licensing scheme.

We haven't tested the application on a 64-bit OS yet, but I would be surprised if the current 32-bit version did not work properly.

The application is highly portable. For example the current code base has been run on Macs also, both PowerPC and Intel. There were a few glitches, mostly look-and-feel issues, but it did stack and retouch and the output images looked fine. We're now expecting to release a Mac beta in a couple of weeks.

--Rik (representing Zerene Systems)

Carl_Constantine
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Post by Carl_Constantine »

Happy to hear that you haven't left Mac users out in the cold. I know a lot of them, would still love one myself.

Would also like to see a specific 64-bit version available as a lot of new machines are 64-bit Windows and Mac OS X is 64 bit as well I think.
Carl B. Constantine

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Post by Tesselator »

Just now seeing this. Good on you RJ! We need more people developing good products like ZS!


A bump from Aug 2006... That's quite a bump and very glad I could be the one to do so! :D

rjlittlefield
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Post by rjlittlefield »

A bump from Aug 2006...
I'm slow, but not that slow! :wink:

The bump is only from Apr 2009, one year ago. Aug 2006 sounds like when we created this version of the forum, so that's what shows as my Joined date.

By the way, the previous version of the forum is still available via the "Old Forums/Galleries" link at the top of this page. It goes to http://www.photomacrography1.net/forum/ (added digit "1").

Checking the archives in the old forum, I see that my join date there was May 09, 2005, almost 5 years ago now. First post was "Scales of a Sulpher (butterfly)". That was a stack processed with CombineZ5. The high res stereo version is still fun to look at. There's a link to it in the thread. The pair was true stereo, using two stacks, and I see I processed those stacks with Helicon Focus 3.10. I don't remember why I processed the one with CZ and then the pair with HF -- probably just playing around.

--Rik

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Post by Tesselator »

Ah... dang... I just noticed that I was reading the join dates instead of the post dates. :p Heh! :D


rjlittlefield wrote: It's not exactly an in-the-wild shot, but you folks might like this one:

Image

Extended depth-of-field, 53 frames, CombineZ5.

More info at http://www.janrik.net/insects/ExtendedDOF/index.html .

I also have a high res stereo version of this beast, see http://www.janrik.net/insects/ExtendedD ... reoDE.html and load StereoPhoto Maker as described there.

--Rik

That is actually very cool! And it's the very first time I was ever able to do the 3D thing with my eyes - and be sure it wasn't just an optical side affect from crossing my eyes and straining the muscles. I did it by stretching the images across my two 24" monitors - split at the division. Instantly my mouse pointer was floating in space - at what seemed like a meter or two from the cho-cho (Japanese for butterfly) and the flatness of the monitors faded away into infinity. That's a weird feeling!

Thanks!

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