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Focus Stacking: Best Workflow?

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  • Focus Stacking: Best Workflow?

    My question today is two-fold.
    1. Is it better to develop RAW files before or after stacking (bearing in mind that the stacked image will be a single JPEG).
    2. If BEFOE, then what's the best way to apply the same develop settings to all 15 images I'm using for the stack? I think I know the anser, but want to see if there's something I've missed.
    Thanks.

  • #2
    AliGW

    1. I would develop the RAW files before focus stacking, if for no other reason to apply Lens Correction
    2. Make a custom Develop preset, and then you can Batch Develop using that preset.

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    • #3
      Greyfox Thanks - I thought as much.

      Is it the images from the Developed folder that I then use? I think it is, but just want to be sure.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by AliGW View Post
        Greyfox Thanks - I thought as much.

        Is it the images from the Developed folder that I then use? I think it is, but just want to be sure.
        When you "Batch develop" a group of raw images, the "developed" images along with their xmp sidecar files will be in the source folder. and I would select those for focus stacking (not the files now in the [Developed] folder).

        You could chose to have the Batch Develop output the files in another format, for instance TIFF, in which case the TIFF files will be in the source folder and you would choose them for focus stacking (but the Batch Develop will still place the "developed raw images and their xmp sidecar files in the source folder, with the originals (with a JPG extension) in the [Developed] folder. That method does generate additional files, but may be faster in the focus stacking than using developed RAW images. (I haven't actually done any comparison timing tests to confirm this)

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        • #5
          Thanks again. This makes sense.

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          • #6
            I've been playing with this a fair bit recently. I may be wrong about this, but I can't see any difference in the final stacked image between one using the original RAW images and one using those with the lens profile applied, so I am beginning to wonder if ACDSee applies any recognised lens profile as it merges the RAW stack. I'd love to know the mechanics behind it.

            I have read that Photoshop allows you to stack to RAW (.dng) output - that would be a nice addition.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by AliGW View Post
              I've been playing with this a fair bit recently. I may be wrong about this, but I can't see any difference in the final stacked image between one using the original RAW images and one using those with the lens profile applied, so I am beginning to wonder if ACDSee applies any recognised lens profile as it merges the RAW stack. I'd love to know the mechanics behind it.
              I had some ideal Canon Powershot G7 RAW images with significant lens distortion that might have proved this one way or the other, however they consistently cause ACDSee Ultimate 2023 to crash back to desktop during the Focus stack process. I've raised the issue with Support, but will now have to look for alternative shots.

              Edit: Have been able to establish that Focus stack does not apply lens distortion correction to RAW images. But if the images have been through Develop first and the Lens correction applied and recorded in the xmp sidecar files, then the corrected images are used in focus stack.
              Last edited by Greyfox; 11-20-2022, 04:40 PM.

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              • #8
                Ah! That makes sense and I have just run a test to confirm it - thanks.

                EDIT: No, actually I can't confirm it. More testing needed!
                Last edited by AliGW; 11-20-2022, 11:19 PM.

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