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What Is Focus Stacking?

Washington monument at night, with cherry blossoms in the foreground
Spider on a web - example of focus stacking
Spider on a web, focus stacked image available for purchase at https://www.WaltPayne.Photography

What is focus stacking?

Focus stacking is a process that allows a photographer to achieve added sharpness/depth of field in a photograph by taking multiple images and combining them, similar to what is done in HDR photography, but varying the focal point.

How many images are needed for focus stacking?

How much food do you need to eat before you are full? In other words, it varies. Focus stacking can be done with just a few images, and there are photographers who sometimes use large numbers of images to improve the final product.

What types of images benefit the most from focus stacking?

Landscape photography and macro photography are the most common types of photography where focus stacking is used, though architectural photography, real estate photography and product photography are among other types that can benefit from the added depth of field.

What is the difference between focus bracketing and focus stacking?

Focus bracketing is the process of taking the images that are used to build a focus stacked photograph.


What ways does focus stacking improve image quality?

Besides the increased sharpness that focus stacking is well known for, it also helps reduce noise without losing detail. Noise reduction processes normally sacrifice detail as a trade-off, but focus stacking does not have that limitation. Focus stacking does not increase the number of pixels, but it does improve the quality of the pixels used so that you can typically enlarge the image more than you might otherwise have been able.

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