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Stackshot and Zerene Stacker
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leander



Joined: 19 Jun 2011
Posts: 58
Location: USA

PostPosted: Tue Nov 26, 2019 12:58 pm    Post subject: Stackshot and Zerene Stacker Reply with quote

I have a Nikon D850, Stackshot and use Zerene for controlling Stackshot. Is it possible to have a live view on my computer screen while I move the Stackshot to set the beginning and end of the stack, and if so, how do I set that up?

Also, should I be using mirror lock up when using Stackshot and set the # of pulses to 2 in the Zerene Stackshot menu, or when using flash doesn't it matter if I use mirror lock up?
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rjlittlefield
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Joined: 01 Aug 2006
Posts: 20169
Location: Richland, Washington State, USA

PostPosted: Tue Nov 26, 2019 2:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Live view must be provided by running some other program, such as Nikon Camera Control Pro 2 or ControlMyNikon, at the same time as Zerene Stacker. See for example the recipes section at https://zerenesystems.com/cms/stacker/docs/stackshot#recipes .

Mirror lockup, yes, you should be using that. Without it, at high magnification there can be enough movement to blur the subject even with flash. The amount of blur depends on many factors and often it's not big enough to cause a problem. But the only way to tell for sure is by comparing against shooting with mirror lockup, which is much safer.

For critical work, I shoot with mirror lockup and a couple of seconds of shutter open time, with second curtain sync. That gives time for even the shutter vibrations to die out before the actual image capture is made by flash.

--Rik
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mawyatt



Joined: 22 Aug 2013
Posts: 2228
Location: Clearwater

PostPosted: Tue Nov 26, 2019 2:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Since you are using the D850, you can use the Electronic First Curtain Shutter and avoid any front curtain induced vibration.

Later look into the all Electronic Silent Mode, but this blocks the Hot Shoe if you want to use flash or strobes, work arounds are available tho.

You can also use an external HDMI monitor with most cameras today, a small 7" remote HDMI works well.

Best,
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leander



Joined: 19 Jun 2011
Posts: 58
Location: USA

PostPosted: Tue Nov 26, 2019 6:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you! My understanding is it is not possible to use Zerene and Control My Nikon at the same time...and I am, in fact, getting an error message. I would like to continue to use Zerene to control Stackshot because the user interface is PERFECT......but it is sometimes very difficult to set the beginning and end points looking through the eyepiece or even live view on the back of the camera. I am looking for a way to view beginning and end points on my monitor and using Zerene to control the Stackshot.

The cool thing about Zerene is you set the beginning and end and it calculates the number of steps. CMN does not have that feature and it takes longer to set up a stack by guesswork or trial and error.

The other problem with using CMN is you can't shoot a stack in portrait mode because the USB cable is connected through the L-bracket.
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rjlittlefield
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Joined: 01 Aug 2006
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Location: Richland, Washington State, USA

PostPosted: Tue Nov 26, 2019 7:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

leander wrote:
Thank you! My understanding is it is not possible to use Zerene and Control My Nikon at the same time...and I am, in fact, getting an error message.

Wearing another hat, I am support@zerenesystems.com . I am not aware of any incompatibility between Zerene Stacker and ControlMyNikon, so I would be very interested to know the details of your configuration and what the error message says. Probably it is best to do this by email, and then after we get things sorted out, we can post resolution into the forum. Thanks!

--Rik
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leander



Joined: 19 Jun 2011
Posts: 58
Location: USA

PostPosted: Tue Nov 26, 2019 8:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Okay, Rik, I'll do that. Thanksgiving might slow me down a little but I'll get back to you.
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leander



Joined: 19 Jun 2011
Posts: 58
Location: USA

PostPosted: Wed Nov 27, 2019 3:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mystery solved with the error message.
This was the set up:
Stackshot
• Stackshot controller box cable to Stackshot motor
• Stackshot controller box cable to shutter release 10-pin remote terminal
• Stackshot controller box USB mini to computer

Camera – Nikon D850
• USB 3.0 to computer
• Manual focus, F11 @ 1/200 sec
• Mirror lock up – this enables EFCS

Lighting
• SU-800 Commander Module on camera hot shoe
• 4 SB-800 speedlights

ControlMyNikon Software 5.4.98.99 Standard
• Select Nikon D850
• Press “Connect” and software connects to camera

Zerene Stacker Software 1.04 Build T2018-07-19-1515
• Select Tools/Stackshot Error Message: There seems to be a driver conflict, but Zerene Stacker cannot tell what’s wrong. This error can be caused by two programs trying to access the Stackshot at the same time. Stackshot Error – Could not establish communications with Stackshot controller. Stackshot not found (USB unplugged?). I believe you can’t open CMN and then attempt to open ZS and connect to Stackshot – that is when I get this error message.

This workflow works great:
• Open ZS and open Stackshot Controller dialog box.
• Open CMN and Connect Nikon D850
• Click on Live View (you can hear the mirror flip up)
• A live view of what the camera sees in the CMN viewing area (not on the back of the camera)
• Using split screen or two monitors, go back to ZS choose your step size, use Fwd, Back, Set Start and Set End
• In CMN, close Live View
• In ZS, click on “Shoot Stack”
• The Stackshot moves, the images are captured and the flashes trigger
• The captured images appear in the CMN viewing window as each file transfers from the camera to the folder the user defined in the CMN storage folder

So the bottom line. Load ZS first and open the Stackshot dialog box. Then open CMN and connect to the camera. I'm then able to activate Live View in CMN view the camera view on my monitor and then set start and end with Zerene. Turn off Live View in CMN and then activate the stack in Zerene. Maybe sounds complicated but it's actually a pretty easy and fast workflow. AND it's much more convenient when it's difficult to compose the stack and get the start and end right by using just the camera.
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rjlittlefield
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Joined: 01 Aug 2006
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Location: Richland, Washington State, USA

PostPosted: Wed Nov 27, 2019 4:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Leander, thanks for figuring this out.

So, it looks like the problem is that ControlMyNikon now has capability to drive the StackShot by itself, and when CMN is launched first, it immediately grabs the StackShot so that Zerene Stacker cannot access it.

At https://www.tetherscript.com/kbcmn/focus-stacking/ , there is described a checkbox labeled "Use StackShot", located in the ControlMyNikon Preferences screen Stacking tab.

I suggest to try un-checking that "Use StackShot" preference in ControlMyNikon, and see if the conflict goes away.

--Rik
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dhmiller



Joined: 11 Nov 2019
Posts: 69

PostPosted: Wed Nov 27, 2019 5:50 pm    Post subject: Re: Stackshot and Zerene Stacker Reply with quote

I work with Capture One for tethering to my D850, set everything (start and end points) on the Stackshot, then pull out the USB cable connecting my laptop and the D850 and press Up on the STACKSHOT (after waiting a few seconds) to start the stacking. Im on a Mac, so CMN is not an option.

leander wrote:
I have a Nikon D850, Stackshot and use Zerene for controlling Stackshot. Is it possible to have a live view on my computer screen while I move the Stackshot to set the beginning and end of the stack, and if so, how do I set that up?

Also, should I be using mirror lock up when using Stackshot and set the # of pulses to 2 in the Zerene Stackshot menu, or when using flash doesn't it matter if I use mirror lock up?
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leander



Joined: 19 Jun 2011
Posts: 58
Location: USA

PostPosted: Wed Nov 27, 2019 7:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, you are right, Rik. If the stacking box is checked it creates the conflict with Zerene but only if CMN is launched first. By unchecking the "Use Stackshot" box it doesn't matter if CMN is launched before or after Zerene. So, that is the answer.

If Zerene takes control first and then you launch CMN and try to use their "Use Stackshot" feature, it will not connect so you can't have control with both programs (you wouldn't need that anyway). So my solution is to view what the camera sees in CMN and control Stackshot with Zerene.

But....the Use Stackshot option in CMN is MUCH less easier to use. Like I said before you can't just set beginning and end.....you have to guess and trial and error to figure out how many steps to set. The workflow I suggested above achieves the live view on a monitor convenience using CMN and the control of Stackshot using Zerene. The best of both worlds.
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Chris S.
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Joined: 05 Apr 2009
Posts: 3352
Location: Ohio, USA

PostPosted: Thu Nov 28, 2019 2:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

leander wrote:
But....the Use Stackshot option in CMN is MUCH less easy to use. Like I said before, you can't just set beginning and end.....you have to guess and trial and error to figure out how many steps to set. The workflow I suggested above achieves the live view on a monitor convenience using CMN and the control of Stackshot using Zerene. The best of both worlds.

Leander,

I agree that the Zerene Stacker interface for the StackShot is superb. But for completeness, let me mention that the StackShot controller on its own, operated through its keypad without any external software, is quite capable of determining out how many steps to take. Simply put the StackShot controller in "Automatic Distance mode," set the size of your focus step, indicate the begin and end points, and the controller will take the required number of pictures, separated by your chosen focus step, to cover the distance between the ends you've specified. The controller's display will even tell you how many images it is going to take, and how much time will elapse before the stack is complete.

--Chris S.
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Chris S.
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Joined: 05 Apr 2009
Posts: 3352
Location: Ohio, USA

PostPosted: Thu Nov 28, 2019 2:11 am    Post subject: Re: Stackshot and Zerene Stacker Reply with quote

dhmiller wrote:
I work with Capture One for tethering to my D850, set everything (start and end points) on the Stackshot, then pull out the USB cable connecting my laptop and the D850 and press Up on the STACKSHOT (after waiting a few seconds) to start the stacking. Im on a Mac, so CMN is not an option.

Dennis,

Is it really necessary to pull the USB cable out of your camera before starting the stack?

I use ControlMyNikon, not Capture One (though I've been meaning to give Capture One a try). I too set everything possible on the StackShot controller itself (force of habit established before Zerene Stacker introduced its impressive control features for StackShot). I use CMN for camera tethering--adjusting camera settings and image capture to computer--but not for stacking functions.

Once I hit the Up button on the StackShot controller, I find no need to disconnect my camera (Nikon D7100, most of the time) from the computer. The StackShot controller controls the camera and microscope focus block movement, and CMN moves the images over to my lightweight stacking-rig computer, which sends them to the heavy-duty stacking computer upstairs in my office.

The one thing that will definitely derail a stacking session, though, is to have live view on in CMN. I often forget to turn it off, and have to abort and start again (not difficult). Once I turn off live view, everything is fine without disconnecting camera and computer.

Will this work with Capture One?

--Chris S.
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Chris S.
Site Admin


Joined: 05 Apr 2009
Posts: 3352
Location: Ohio, USA

PostPosted: Thu Nov 28, 2019 2:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Leander, I'm confused by this:

leander wrote:
• Manual focus, F11 @ 1/200 sec

Since you shoot 1x to 10x, I imagine that you're using microscope objectives from at least 4x-10x.

At 1x with a macro lens, f/11 makes sense. But once you mount a microscope objective on that lens (if you are using the lens to converge infinite objectives), f/11 is likely too stopped down and may cause vignetting.

Is what I described an accurate understanding of what you're doing? If not, please correct me. Very Happy

--Chris S.
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leander



Joined: 19 Jun 2011
Posts: 58
Location: USA

PostPosted: Thu Nov 28, 2019 7:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Chris -
Yeah, that probably looks wrong with the limited info I supplied. I'm on a sturdy tripod with Stackshot and camera pointed into a white box with diffused flashes. I use the white box for some plant specimens brought inside. I usually shoot 1:1 up to 1:4 using my 105mm macro. No problems with sharpness. If I need to go more magnified I'll put on extension tubes to get to 2:1. If I need 3:1 I use a 1.7extender and 36+20 extenstion tubes. For everything I just mentioned I shoot f8-f16. No issues with sharpness.

For 4:1 I put a 4x microscope objective on my 200mm macro and open the lens all the way because if you don't you will get crazy vignetting as you said. I sometimes notice I don't get things as sharp as I like that is why I was asking about REAR curtain sync and Stackshot controller settings.

For 10:1 I move to a wood rig I made and put a 10x objective on the front of my 200mm macro though I have also used a bellows, again wide open f stop. No issues with sharpness as all things are pretty well locked down. Plus I push "go" for a stack and leave the room so I'm not the cause of any vibration.

I learned how to use the 4x and 10x objectives through photomacrography.net a number of years ago. A GREAT site to learn these things. But this is not my field of expertise so I often look for reality checks from the so many experts that hang around this site (including yourself). You have helped me in the past....so thanks again.
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dhmiller



Joined: 11 Nov 2019
Posts: 69

PostPosted: Thu Nov 28, 2019 9:09 am    Post subject: Re: Stackshot and Zerene Stacker Reply with quote

With Capture One running, the Nikon reports "PC" on the top LCD, and moving the forward/back buttons the Stackshot doesn't do anything. So it is completely under the control for the laptop. I pull the plug and Stackshot takes over, then it just writes all the images to the card in the camera. I can try to change the order of things and see what happens, but so far, I have not been able to get the Stackshot to control the camera if it is plugged in. I use Capture One to set the focus points in LV, raise and lower the ISO while focusing and positioning, then pull the plug for Stackshot to take over.
"The StackShot controller controls the camera and microscope focus block movement"
So you have an automated focus block?

]
Chris S. wrote:
dhmiller wrote:
I work with Capture One for tethering to my D850, set everything (start and end points) on the Stackshot, then pull out the USB cable connecting my laptop and the D850 and press Up on the STACKSHOT (after waiting a few seconds) to start the stacking. Im on a Mac, so CMN is not an option.

Dennis,

Is it really necessary to pull the USB cable out of your camera before starting the stack?

I use ControlMyNikon, not Capture One (though I've been meaning to give Capture One a try). I too set everything possible on the StackShot controller itself (force of habit established before Zerene Stacker introduced its impressive control features for StackShot). I use CMN for camera tethering--adjusting camera settings and image capture to computer--but not for stacking functions.

Once I hit the Up button on the StackShot controller, I find no need to disconnect my camera (Nikon D7100, most of the time) from the computer. The StackShot controller controls the camera and microscope focus block movement, and CMN moves the images over to my lightweight stacking-rig computer, which sends them to the heavy-duty stacking computer upstairs in my office.

The one thing that will definitely derail a stacking session, though, is to have live view on in CMN. I often forget to turn it off, and have to abort and start again (not difficult). Once I turn off live view, everything is fine without disconnecting camera and computer.

Will this work with Capture One?

--Chris S.
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