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Duncan | all galleries >> Macro pictures >> Focus stacking tests > Cicada stack edited.jpg
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Cicada stack edited.jpg

I live in northern Virginia, in the DC suburbs. We were supposed to have an invasion of "Brood II" 17 year cicadas, but they never showed up.

I got a small break yesterday when I found an annual cicada (similar in appearance to the 17 year variety but lacking the striking red eyes.)

It was still alive, but barely. I waited until it expired, and then took it down to my basement focus stacking station.

I shot it with my D600 Tamron 90 mm f/2.8 1:1 macro lens, and lit with an older Elinchrom Style 300s studio flash fired through a too-large softbox. (Its the only softbox I have.)

I think I will try for a smaller light-source next time. The softbox is TOO big a light source. I'll probably try firing my studio flash into a diffuser, perhaps through a snoot. That gives directional light with soft-edged highlights that look quite natural.

This first shot, a head-on of the cicada, consisted of some 120 exposures. I think the focus step was smaller than it needed to be, but my trial copy of Helicon Remote had expired, and I have not heard back from them on a license for just the remote software.

I used Camera Control Pro 2 instead, and it's focus control is much more crude. The original image was a full front--to-back focus stack, but I've cropped it quite a bit for posting online. Even still, it's a HUGE image.

I continue to be amazed at the detail and clarity you can get out of focus stacks.

The second shot, the profile, was made from "only" about 56 images. It used less both because the depth of focus was narrower and because I increased the focus step for most of the shots. Nikon Camera Control's focus control is pretty brain-damaged. There is a slider control that lets you change the focus step amount, but the stupid thing resets to it's (too small) default setting after every shot. I continue to be underwhelmed by Nikon's computer software, especially on Macintosh.

Helicon Remote lets me set the near and far focus points, calculates a recommended focus step, and then will shoot the entire sequence automatically. Nikon Camera Control, on the other hand, requires that I click a shoot button, click to change the focus step slider, click the focus change button, then repeat, over and over and

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JB24-Jul-2013 09:29
Wow! Amazing detail.