A forum to ask questions, post setups, and generally discuss anything having to do with photomacrography and photomicroscopy.
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In an earlier posting, Carl Constantine asked for a comparison of various stacking packages.
What appears above is one comparison for a situation that I run into frequently.
You're looking at the antennae of a midge, shown also HERE (whole body) and HERE (this same stack, post-processed for gallery display).
This is a deep stack of a hairy subject shot at high magnification -- 87 frames at 11X onto the sensor.
The four images are unretouched output from Zerene Stacker PMax, CombineZP "Pyramoid Max", and Helicon Focus Methods A and B. No processing of any kind on these except to scale them down, adjust the color balance and levels (same for all images), and adjust (reduce) the contrast of the CombineZP image to more or less match the others.
What I find particularly telling in these images are:
1. Presence/absence of halo around the thorax and front leg.
2. Obliteration of the main shaft of the rear antenna in the HF images.
3. Presence/absence of banding in the OOF background.
I enjoy discussing the fine points of stacking.
But for this subject, I think the case is decided well before we get down to the fine points. For my purposes, the two HF images shown here are not helpful, and I have never been able to find any combination of parameter settings that make HF work well for this type of subject. So my choices are basically a) radically adjust my standards, b) don't shoot this type of subject, or c) use some other software.
For this subject, the CombineZP output is pretty good too, and we would have to get down to discussing the fine points. There are other subjects where CZP has more obvious drawbacks, but I'll show those separately.
Zerene Stacker Version 0.9 Build T200904032045
CombineZP version 22nd of March 2009
Helicon Focus 4.75.5 X64 release 15 March 2009
All default, except the HF brightness adjustment was enabled and set to its max of 30%.