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DPP4 Depth Compositing tool (Focus Stacking) - Comments / Observations For those interested.

I've been "Focus Stacking" for a couple of years now using two programs from Helicon, Helicon Remote and Helicon Focus. I use Remote to take the stacks via a 10' USB 3x connection to my laptop which transfers RAW (CR2) files to my laptop and opens Helicon Focus to do its thing. It's quite powerful and packed with features, but it's fairly expensive, so I wouldn't expect anything less.

With that being said, back to the topic. Since I seldom use all of DPP4, I just found the Depth Compositing tool and gave it a go. I started with some stacks taken with the EOS 7D mark II, which didn't work because only certain Canon cameras are supported. When all else fails, read the DPP4 maunual. It turns out that my EOS 5D mark IV is supported, so I loaded a 19 shot stack taken with that camera and an EF 100mm f/2.8L macro lens. One gripe I have with DPP4 is that you can't embed your RAW recipe in a saved RAW file, at least i can't find a way to do it, and if I needed adjustments in my stacks, it was either reshoot or adjust in DPP4 and convert to tiff in DPP4 and rerun the stack as tiff's in Helicon as opposed to simply editing my RAW files, saving them, then using Helicon Focus to stack the edited RAW files. With this feature now in DPP4, I can edit one RAW image then copy the recipe and paste it to the others, then process the stack with edited RAW files 🙂


I'm impressed with the outcome, but the "touchup" tool is a little clunky. You don't get a lot of options through the process, but I am happy so far and will only use Helicon Remote to get the initial shots. I'm assuming that other Canon users who have "in camera" stacking as an option will like it also.


The attached image was taken with an EOS 5D mark IV and EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM lens, stacked in DPP4, converted and saved as tff, then resized and converted to jpg for posting (just to save space). the tiff's are stunning.


Dracaena Surculosa-2a.jpg


Agree somewhat and diasgree on some! 


I use canon camera but a leica lens. 


Focus stacking has very little to do with raw format - it is detecting points of focus that can be done with micro contrast detection - sort of like a camera does in the first place. So while DPP might restrict usage to canon raw files, there is little technical reason not to do focus stack on DPP for all canon camera models. 


DPP should be able to detect points of focus from any canon camera model - it already does - it is recorded in the file and DPP shows it!


The RAW formats are public anyway? Even GIMP can read it. How each package interprets it can be different - it is not about the format. 


About "shooting" focus stack on model A vs B ... well all that is required is start at point A, keep moving till you reach point B (user specifies it). And decide how many steps and hence incremental on each step. (less than 100 lines of code) The camera already does all these things! No need to get a high end model to do it.


Why need use external intervalometer (for time lapse) or focus stacking software from others. 


A kludgy Magic Lantern will do this on models which apparently cannot do these.


About your comment on DPP is free - most of the digital camera is basically software. One reason why the german brands have been losing out. The camera / lens are not cheap - they need to pay more attention to the s/w. Comparable code runs on the camera itself - there is very low value on increasing compute power in the camera from the consumer perspective since it has to be imported to the computer anyway. The body has many constraints, restrictions on power, memory, heat dissiaption etc. Most modern computers can do this while importing the files - most will not even notice the delays. The camera can be a lot cheaper / faster.


Only things it really needs is a high quality sensor and good quality lens. And since a single sensor for all will be cheaper, the price differentiaton is with such "gimmicks". A large number of semiconductor components are like that - creating another device even with a minor change costs lot more than selling the exact same piece with some undetectable internal changes - but exactly the same part. 


But selling the body is where they make profits 😉 The price points they are, the industry will shrink even further.


Notice, even Sony does a discounted / custom capture one.


If you look at Phase I - $40k camera - the backend on the camera is running linux / capture one!  Something a rasberry pi can do! Just the form factor (more of shape than size) difference! $100 vs $40k price diference.


Even on the canon body - you are basically buying < $150 worth of computing power at $3k! Even a low end general purpose computer will beat it. Concentrate on the lens (which they obviously do), and sensor. Use smart phone apps and host computer to do the rest. The camera body will price will need to come down dramatically. 

I'm not really to concerned whether DDP is good, bad, free or whatever, I just want it to do what it says it can do.

My problem is that I have a Canon Rebel T6i which is NOT in DDP4's list of cameras suitable to use Depth Compositing (DC) of RAW files.


I initially took 5 photos using a Telephoto Zoom lens and a tripod.  All pictures taken in Manual Mode at same setings I did not change the zoom in any of the picutres.  There was a mix of some manually focused, and auto focused.  Each  with the focus point further away from the camera for each shot.  When I tried to run the depth compositing tool on my RAW pictures and as expected it failed.  I used ddp's Batch Processing to convert the files to Exif-JPEG (*.JPG).  I selected all 5 jpg photos, and ran them thru the DC tool, but the tool processed only 3 images.

Screen Shot 01-15-21 at 03.03 PM 001.PNG


I took more photos and tried several different combinations of Auto Focus, Manual Focus etc.  There were no cases where I was able to have the DC tool process all the images I selected.  In one instance I had the tool select 7 of 11 images processed.

I reviewed the list of cautions in the ddp4 manual, and noticed that if multiple subjects are in the screen, it may not be combinable.  There was nothing unusual about the photo, but to eliminate this as a potential cause, I then took 6 shots with a zoom lens on a tripod using Manual Mode without adjusting any parameters between shots.  Each shot was Auto Focused about a foot farther along the length of an empty table.  When I converted the RAW files to jpg and processed them through the DC tool, only the first four were processed.

Is there any rationale why all the shots are not being processed?
I notice in the screen snag above it states 'Performing depth compositing from 3 images.  Adjust as needed'

How would one adjust this?  Start over and select more?

I don't know if this is coincidence or not, but I took another set of pictures of typical subjects, with Camera set to Image Quality = 'L' so I wouldn't need to convert from RAW.  the entire set was processed by DC tool.  Seems like dpp4's DC tool doesn't like its own jpg format?  Any explanation?




@amaitra wrote:

Does this work at all with TIFF files generated by DPP from RAW on 6D?


DPP cannot import TIFF created by Hugin either.

According to the manual, yes (see attached) it will use the files, but since the 6D does not have built in focus bracketing, you would need to find another way to get the stacks to process in DPP4. I've only used it with two cameras, the 7D2 and 5D4 with Raw (5D4 only), Tiff, and JPeG.




Depth Composit - DPP4.jpg

I'll give it another  try and check to see if I'm deleting the EXIF. I'm using Canon 100mm 2.8 (not L. not IS). I use Canon Camera Connect on my iphone to increment the focus in one step increments.

@steve_z wrote:

I'll give it another  try and check to see if I'm deleting the EXIF. I'm using Canon 100mm 2.8 (not L. not IS). I use Canon Camera Connect on my iphone to increment the focus in one step increments.

Are uploading the images to your iPhone?  That is probably where your EXIF is getting deleted.  Download directly to computer.

"The right mouse button is your friend."

The images are all from the 80D. The iphone is just to use the Canon Camera connect to control the focusing and allow the incrementing of the focus one step on the lens at a time. The Raw to JPEG conversion is done in DPP.


I upgraded to DPP

I have confirmed that depth composing works when using JPEGs right out of the camera.

Also working now for JPEGs converted from Raw files.


I'm going to chaulk this up to Canon fixing something in the release updates (or user error that I'm not going to try to figure out what it was).


I’ve had some difficulty using the Depth Compositing (Focus Stacking) using my Canon Rebel T6i and DPP4.  The Rebel T6i which is NOT in DDP4's list of cameras suitable to use Depth Compositing (DC) of RAW files, so I wasn't reallyl expecting much success, but the DPP4 manual does state Depth Compositing (DC) will work with jpeg images.   It can be frustrating taking photos that can’t be processed because I don’t understand the software limitations.  So I did some experimenting. 

I took a set of photos with camera image quality set to ‘RAW +L’, to give output in RAW and jpeg.  All photos were taken indoors, no flash, MANUAL mode (f8 0.3s), lens AUTO FOCUS ON, camera set to ‘1 pt AUTOFOCUS’.  The images were simple photos taken on my kitchen table so I didn't validate the quality of the images, only the process to make it work.

DPP4’s DC tool processed the jpg images directly from the camera without any issues.  As expected, the DC tool did NOT process the RAW files and I got an error, “Cannot Start Depth Compositing Tool, Not Available for the focused image.”  I converted the RAW files to jpeg with DPP4 using Batch Processing, EXIF-JPEG.  Surprisingly, the DC tool did NOT process the converted jpeg files and I got an error, “Cannot Start Depth Compositing Tool, Select at Least 2 images.”

I did a couple more tests see what other limitations existed.

Although the DPP4 instructions, for best results, camera should be between f5.6 and f11.  I found photos taken at f5 could not be processed. (I assume images at f13 may be similar but I didn’t’ test).

The DC tool would only combine images with the same aperture, and shutter speed.  (I assume ISO and ‘Exp Comp +/-‘ would behave the same, but did not test).  The easiest way to achieve this is to keep the camera in MANUAL mode.
Photos taken in AV mode were included only if the photos had the same settings.

Surprisingly it did not matter if the camera was in AUTO FOCUS, or MANUAL FOCUS.  I don't understand this as it is my understanding that the DC tool uses the AF points in its algorithm

In summary, to confidently process photos taken on my Rebel camera with the Depth Compositing Tool in DPP4, photos should be shot in MANUAL mode, using camera jpeg format, and f5.6-f11.  MANUAL or AUTOFOCUS seem to work equally well.

Is there a technique (method or conversion setting) I should use to convert the RAW files to jpeg in DPP4 such that the images can be processed by the DC tool?

A simple, quality but "kludgy" tools is enfuse (comes with Hugin). 

Edit your RAW images - then export as TIFF or JPEG depending on what you desire. Use enfuse to stack them. DPP will mostly not be able to reprrocess the focus stacked image if it is tiff (they do not support multi layer tiff). But jpg mostly works.


Hugin has a build in align tool as well - you will benefit from a pre-process through that.

@carl_schnurr wrote:

Is there a technique (method or conversion setting) I should use to convert the RAW files to jpeg in DPP4 such that the images can be processed by the DC tool?

All of your shots have to have the same settings, with the exeption of the focal plane. As you've discovered, the camera has to be in manual mode with the lense set to AF (unless you are manually focusing the lens or use a rail) and you will set ISO, Tv, and Av with the software you are using to take the stacks when initially starting the shoot. I use Helicon Remote then transfer my Raw files off camera to my laptop. Once I get them opened in DPP4, I adjust the first shot, if needed, then copy the recipe and batch paste it to the other images then convert & save as Jpeg or tiff, then run them through the DC tool. if you are doing it manually, like by using a rail or trying to advance focus manually, the same rules apply. I know I'm repeating myself, but it bears repeating: All settings must be the same, so once you get that first focus point and have all of your adjustments, snap away and do not change anything.

I've never tried it with the T6i, but have with the T4i, T7i, 7D2, and the 5D4 (just to see if it works), with success.

**Sorry for all the edits, I keep forgetting stuff :)**



Thanks amaitra and Newton for your quick and thorough reply.
I use the Canon EOS Utility to download all my shots from my camera to my computer.
I should have mentioned that I didn't do any of photo editing in any of the steps above. 


My difficulty lies in the step that @FloridaDrafter describes as "...then convert & save as Jpeg or tiff, then run them through the DC tool."   

converted the .cr2 files to .jpg using DPP4, Batch Processing, using the parameters shown below:

Screen Shot 01-22-21 at 06.55 AM.PNG

But the resulting converted jpegs could not be processed by the DC tool.  

Is there a different method or conversion setting I should use in this conversion?



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