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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

30 REPLIES 30


@carl_schnurr wrote:

 

 


Carl, I'm not sure this will make a difference but try setting your image quality to 10. Programs like this use contrast, amongst other things, to find sharp edges. JPeG is a "lossy" form of compression (it throws out bits of your image) so a setting of 5 might be introducing too much artifacting for the program to accurately stich the focused areas together. But, this is just a guess. Another thing that could be coming into play is the distance between focal planes: is your DOF overlapping enough for the software to make an accurate stitch. With focus stacking, more shots are always better, so try increasing the number of steps from point A to point B (more DOF overlap).

 

This is my export setup. All of these shots cover less than an inch.

Batch Export - jpg

This is the resulting image from the settings from my last post. I just did a down and dirty conversion and ran it through DC, just to make sure that it still works (you never know). In DC, I used its default settings and didn't go into the DC editing portion.

 

**EDIT** I processed this using jpg because that's what everyone seems to be trying, but I suggest using tif in DPP4's DC program, i.e., convert from Raw to TIF then run DC on the TIFs, even if you are going to save as jpg eventually. Obviously, use Raw for the whole thing, if you have a supported camera Raw. The example I have posted looks stellar when using the TIF format. Yes, it takes longer and the files are bigger, but if you plan to print or want the best results, TIF is the way to go. JPeG degrades every time you edit and save the file, it's just the nature of the beast. This example has been stepped on twice and resized.

 

7D2 and EF 100mm f/2.8 IS USM lens. Manual mode, ISO 3200, f/4, 1/200th, Raw files edited in DPP4 (4.13.10.0), then converted to JPeG.

 

Spiderwort Stack

Thanks for the reply.

 

I repeated the transfer of my original photos to jpeg using Quality =10, and 600dpi but got the same results. 

My original photos were not macro photos, but simply photos across the table top and across the room taken at f5.6.  So they had a fairlly shallow DOF, and its possible that the depth of focus did not overlap across successive images.

I took an additional set of macro photos using at f5.6, converted to jpeg using Q10, 600dpi.  The resulting jpegs were successfully processed by the DC tool.  I then edited the RAW files, editing one photo and copying the recipe to the remainder.
Again the photos were successfully processed by the DC tool.

Looks like you solved my problem.  Someday when there's enough ambient light,  I'll try to repeat the photos across the table and room using a higher f-stop and see if I can achieve overlapping depth of focus.

 

Thanks!


@carl_schnurr wrote:

 

 

Looks like you solved my problem.  Someday when there's enough ambient light,  I'll try to repeat the photos across the table and room using a higher f-stop and see if I can achieve overlapping depth of focus.

 

Thanks!


You are very welcome, Carl. Just keep in mind that although DOF is important, take a lot of shots, especially in the scenario you described where you are covering a fairly long distance. I've done exactly what you're talking about at my house and it required quite a few shots, but I was at a wide open f/2.8. I probably should have tried it with my nifty fifty at f/1.8, but that is for another day 😉

 

Newton

Mjfoto
Contributor

Still trying to find a work around using DPP compositing tool to stack raw files that have been edited in LR. Any ideas and why it won’t accept these files. Exact edits are performed on every file so they should all be exact, but still won’t accept?
Thanks for any help.

mike


@Mjfoto wrote:

"Still trying to find a work around using DPP compositing tool to stack raw files that have been edited in LR. Any ideas and why it won’t accept these files. Exact edits are performed on every file so they should all be exact, but still won’t accept?
Thanks for any help.

mike"


Mike, my guess would be that LR is changing the header info or the paramiters don't match the format that DPP uses, for example, Canon may use a slider/scale of -5 to +5 for a particular adjustment, where LR uses a 0-100 scale for that same adjustment. But that is just a guess as I don't use LR.

Your best option is to get your exposure as close as you can, then stack the Raw files straight from the camera. If you need to edit before stacking, do it in DPP. Edit one image, then copy and batch paste the recipe to the others before stacking. Save as tiff if you need to take it to PS or some other post editor.

Newton

Thanks will try to edit in DPP

Out of curiosity, is your Lightroom creating/updating XMP files to store the edit information?  I don't know if checking the Catalog Settings, Metadata, "Automatically write changes into XMP" means that Lightroom would behave differently in a  way that matters to DPP. It might be worth an experiment if you currently don't have this option checked.

neilb9
Apprentice

I"m a DPP4 Depth Compositing tool user taking raw images with an EOS R5 using focus bracketing. I sometimes have stacks of 20-30 .CR3 images and am looking for recommendations for speeding up the compositing time.  Currently using a HP Pavilion All-in-One - 27-d0072  Intel i7-10700T CPU @ 2GHz with 16 GB of RAM and Windows 10 64-bit operating system. Processing time is currently 45 seconds for each image and am searching for ideas to speed up processing time including replacing the computer if needed. I've tried other image stacking tools but want to stay with the DPP4 software for workflow compatibility and ease of use. Suggestions are greatly appreciated. 


@neilb9 wrote:

I"m a DPP4 Depth Compositing tool user taking raw images with an EOS R5 using focus bracketing. I sometimes have stacks of 20-30 .CR3 images and am looking for recommendations for speeding up the compositing time.  Currently using a HP Pavilion All-in-One - 27-d0072  Intel i7-10700T CPU @ 2GHz with 16 GB of RAM and Windows 10 64-bit operating system. Processing time is currently 45 seconds for each image and am searching for ideas to speed up processing time including replacing the computer if needed. I've tried other image stacking tools but want to stay with the DPP4 software for workflow compatibility and ease of use. Suggestions are greatly appreciated. 


I wish I had a cheap answer, but..... DPP is just slow at focus stacking, there is no way around it. There are folks on this forum who have very powerful systems and although they don't stack, they still report that it is slow at other operations as well, and the more you add to the image, like lens correction, noise reduction, stamping, etc., the slower it gets.

I have a Dell XPS 17 9700 laptop with a 6 core i7 10th gen CPU clocked at 3.xxghz and 32GB's of RAM with a 2TB NVMe M.2 drive, which is modest compared to what some folks on here are running. Mine takes about 25 seconds an image to do a stack and I usually shoot 60-80 shots per, but that is about what it takes to process my Raw files (25 sec.) when I'm just editing. A new system will probably speed you up, but at a cost. Obviously, our R6 files process much faster and I use that for bigger subjects, but the R5 for smaller subjects. BTW, I use the RF 100mm f/2.8 macro lens.

Before we bought the R5 and R6, I had bought Helicon Remote and Helicon Focus and used our 7D mark II and 5D mark IV for stacking. Then after DPP 4 added stacking, I was using Helicon Remote tethered to the 5D mark IV to get my stacks, then stacking in DPP 4. When stacking the CR2's from the 5D mark IV in DPP 4, stacking was slow, but not like the R5 files. Now, Helicon Focus will stack 60ish files from the R5 in just over a minute on my Dell XPS 17 but you don't have the editing control over the Raw CR3's like you do in DPP, so you have to get everything perfect if you are using Helicon. I use Corel PaintShop Pro 2021 or Corel PhotoPaint (it's part of CorelDraw Suite) to do my edits, like color saturation, WB, etc. In Helicons defense, it's geared to editing in PS and has an Adobe DNG Converter plugin, which I have never used to convert my Raw, but if you have LR or PS, I guess it would be possible to edit your Raw files there before processing them as DNG's in Helicon Focus.

I've used Helicon for years and paid $200 for the lifetime package, so it stays updated. It is very powerful and so much better than DPP 4 for doing "touch up" work, which is almost always needed when stacking, especially large complex subjects. I'm sure you know what I mean by "touch up". There will always be little areas of blur that need to be brushed out and sharpened. Helicon, unlike DPP 4, has bigger thumbnails so it is easier to pick the image that you need to clone from when touch up is needed.

I know, a lot of talk, and I wish I had an answer besides using smaller files and buying a new system, but I still prefer to stack in DPP because of the Raw control. I just have a smoke and a drink of some sort while DPP does it's thing 🙂

Newton

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