Automated Focus Stacking Hardware
Both macro and small product photography share the problem of shallow depth of field (DOF) with a single shot, and with it, loss of detail that might otherwise strengthen the image. Using a small aperture brings more DOF but also diffraction and long exposure times. The solution to these problems is focus stacking, which increases DOF by taking focused shots of the subject at different planes, and then merging the sharp section of each file.
I recently came across an excellent, timesaving, automated, precision hardware solution by Cognisys called StackShot, which uses a motorized rail that mechanically repositions your camera and lens in precisely measured distances. It comes packaged with a power adapter, cables, documentation, and trial copies of Zerene Stacker and Helicon Focus remote stacking software.
The StackShot rail that your camera travels on is solidly built and attached by cable to a control panel, which is your command center. Here, you configure the variables: camera start and stop points; how many shots in the run; overlap; distance the camera travels for each shot; and timed pauses between shots to minimize any vibration. The controller has different modes that let you configure the above variables. The control panel's connectivity allows you to tether your camera, view each shot on a laptop using Helicon Focus, and then merge your files into a detailed image.
I have only two issues: StackShot lacks an on/off power switch, and some buttons on the control panel serve multiple functions that initially I found confusing.
StackShot should be part of your gear, especially if you do a lot of macro photography. Using an organized, automated process that delivers results, it gives you accuracy and precision, minimizing errors and time.
Company: Cognisys Inc.
Hot: Automated precision stack focus
Not: Having to pull the plug to turn it off