Canon Community Canon Community

Occasional Contributor
Posts: 13
Registered: ‎11-26-2012
Accepted Solution

Focus Rails

I just purchased a canon MP-E 65mm macro lens, I have checked on line for different styles of focusing rails to many to choose from. I need some info on what would work best for me, I seem to like the Novoflex MFR # castel mini. I have a canon 60 D, and a canon T3I. Another subject is what would be a good Software to purchase for Focus stacking, once again lot's to choose from on line, and should I avoid the free downloads, ( Helicon Focus) and (Combine ZM News) are some that I have looked at, from the videos I have watched I need to learn how to do the stacking to obtain the best macro pictures. Need help on both matters. I have always trusted the replies and feedback, from the Canon Forum. Thanks to all.

Reputable Contributor
Posts: 790
Registered: ‎06-11-2013

Re: Focus Rails

I have two focusing stages.... One is an old Minolta. The other is a more modern Kirk. Both work well and are quite beefy.


I've used others, but not the Novoflex you mention. However, other Novoflex items that I have used have been consistently excellent.


For macro work, I never saw the need for focusing rails/stages that have both forward/backward and side to side movement. Just forward/backward.


If you use a tripod head with an Arca Swiss type quick release, it's possible to do a "poor man's" focusing rail, simply install an extra long lens plate on the lens' tripod mounting bracket. It can be slid forward and backward to focus. However, this might not be precise enough working with an ultra high magnification lens such as the MP-E 65mm.


Can't help much with the focus stacking software... I'm looking for one of those myself. From my own research, Helicon Focus seems the front runner.


I also believe there might be some features of Magic Lantern software that can help.... allowing focus bracketing. Again, this is just something I'm starting to look into and haven't implemented yet. I don't know if ML can be use with 60D (but would guess it can). I know it can be used with both my 7Ds and 5DII.


Alan Myers

San Jose, Calif., USA
"Walk softly and carry a big lens."
GEAR: 5DII, 7D(x2), 50D(x3), some other cameras, various lenses & accessories


Respected Contributor
Posts: 1,735
Registered: ‎02-28-2013

Re: Focus Rails

[ Edited ]

I have a Hakuba ( and I have no complaints.  But that Novoflex you mentioned looks to be on a whole different level, so your needs might be different than mine.  Also, I've never used the Hakuba past about 2.5X - because I don't have the lens, not because it couldn't handle it - perhaps it wouldn't perform as well at that magnification.  It's sturdy and the control smooth enough for my use.


I do like having said to side adjustments (and up and down would be nice).  Not critical, but helps get your subject composed when at high magnifications.


I use Combine (though I think ZM is an older version).  It works great, but the only thing I have to compare it with is Photoshop, which can't handle big stacks on my system.  I like simple interfaces, I don't need a bunch of additional features, just stack photos into something I can edit in PS.


Edit: to add - I see no point in not trying the free software. If it doesn't work for you then go buy something like Zerene, but you have nothing to lose with trying the free stuff first.

powered by Lithium

LIKE US on Facebook FOLLOW US on Twitter WATCH US on YouTube CONNECT WITH US on Linkedin WATCH US on Vimeo FOLLOW US on Instagram SHOP CANON at the Canon Online Store
© Canon U.S.A., Inc.   |    Terms of Use   |    Privacy Statement