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Does focus stacking work with a focus rail

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I know that there are 2 ways of producing the input files for a macro focus stack i) a small refocus between images ii) using a focus rail to move the camera between photos.


From what I understand refocusing between photos is much easier for the stacking software to deal with but a focus rail gives more control.


From the forum and the tutorials I couldn't see whether the new feature can merge a stack created using a focus rail.


Has anyone tried this?

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I use a rail. It works fine. I can't think of any reason why a rail would make things more difficult for the software. Arguably it should be easier, since the optical path through the lens doesn't change. I'm curious to see counter-arguments. I suppose that if you don't have the rail and lens axis aligned well, that might create a problem for the software. Depending on your mounting hardware, this might or might not be something you need to think about.

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Thanks for your reply. I'd heard that using a focus rail makes it more difficult for the software as when you move the camera you are changing the perspective and angle of view slightly. When you change the focus while leaving the camera still all of the optical parameters are the same between shots.


I think it should be easier for the software to layer the photos when the camera is not moving as when photographing using a focus rail requires move corrections in the software


It's good to hear that you have been using a focus rail successfully as this seems to be an easier workflow

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I guess it might also depend on the distortion characteristics of the specific lens. As for which workflow is easier, if you are going with an all-manual approach, I agree with you. It can be hard to determine how far to rotate the focus ring between shots, and to get reproducible results. With a good rail, you can control the distance pretty precisely, and use DOF calculations to determine the right amount of inter-shot travel. Having said that, there are camera control tools out there, e.g. DSLR Dashboard, that can automate the focus adjustment, too (I haven't tried that particular feature of DSLR Dashboard).

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