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Product Work - To stack or not to stack...?
  
 
leethecam
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Product Work - To stack or not to stack...?


I shoot the occasional product shoot. Usual things, bottles / face cream / shampoo bottles etc...

Usually about 6-7 inches high each item for the next shoot coming up.

In days of old I would shoot these with my beloved Sigma Macro 150mm which is lovely and sharp, and I'd shoot at f16 (because we're shooting for accuracy rather than art) to get everything in focus (including lettering around the curves.

Of late I've been shooting jewellery and using focus stacking to achieve good depth of field, (shooting at f5.6 but combining 10-20 images).

I've been applying this focus stacking to a few recent shoots on the larger (6-7 inch) type items and shooting @ f5.6 but stacking the shots - usually needing just 4-5

I'm using Helicon Focus / Remote, so it is a fairly speedy process.

Just for interest, would others shoot product work with stacking or would you just hit for f16 or so?

I'm aware of the relative merits but sometimes wonder if I'm going a bit mad when I over complicate.

(For the record it takes about an extra 3-4 mins per item to stack and process and the results are certainly quite excellent).

I'm not shooting high volume, but achieving about 25-30 products in a day.

Thoughts / wisdom...?



Apr 27, 2017 at 03:39 PM
c.d.embrey
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Product Work - To stack or not to stack...?


I usually used a Canon 90mm f/2.8 Tilt & Shift lens, on various full frame Canon cameras.

Because of an issue with Capture One, I once did a focus stack. I used the 90mm T&S in the neutral position @ f/16. I did two shots, focused on the nearst edge and the middle. The lens breathes a lot, so the two images were of different sizes. My retoucher combined them in PShop. The software did some extrapolation, and voilą a perfect photo.

I prefer T&S lenses. with focus stacking a distant second.



Apr 27, 2017 at 10:07 PM
leethecam
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Product Work - To stack or not to stack...?


Alas T/S won't improve my shots as I'm shooting fairly head on. The depth of filed issue is only a concern with the curve of the items and the detail / labels on them.

I find with semi-macro work, even f16 doesn't seem to quite do it.

If I was hooting at angles then yes, perhaps a T/S lens would be a solution. (If I had one or could afford one... ha).



Apr 27, 2017 at 10:41 PM
Peter Figen
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Product Work - To stack or not to stack...?


Since I do a LOT of this, I'm voting with the focus stacking. I normally shoot them with the 90mm t/s-e at f/11 in order to get enough overlap in each slice. The tilt is simply not enough in almost every case to get everything in focus, as it only changes the plane of focus, not the amount of depth of field. This image was posted last week in a different section here and was thirty slices with two exposures blended first. I use both Helicon and Zerene, but Zerene is sooo painfully slow. The products here are about six inches long.




  Canon EOS 5DS R    Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L II USM lens    35mm    f/11.0    1s    100 ISO    0.0 EV  




Apr 28, 2017 at 07:14 AM
leethecam
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Product Work - To stack or not to stack...?


Nice image.

Yes I tried Zerene as it was touted as being very good - but oh soooo slow.

The Helicon option for DNG processing isn't quite so great when used in conjunction with Capture One, but with Hot Folders, I can make things work quite quickly.

For more complex items like your example it is a no-brainer to use focus stacking. The depth needed is hard / impossible to achieve with just one shot.

For things like bottles and containers I sometimes feel I'm over achieving with perfect DoF throughout, (with Helicon Remote's little quirks as well), hence my question.

I must admit though, I get great results even with stacks of just 3-4 images and I can shoot more in the mid range of my lens's preferred aperture.

Alas some of my product work feels more "production line" or posh e-commerce and I sometimes wonder if it is worth the extra effort.



Apr 28, 2017 at 09:09 AM
nolaguy
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Product Work - To stack or not to stack...?


leethecam wrote:
Alas some of my product work feels more "production line" or posh e-commerce and I sometimes wonder if it is worth the extra effort.


Are your client's happy to pay for it?





Apr 28, 2017 at 09:23 AM
ross attix
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · Product Work - To stack or not to stack...?


Reply to the OP-It is hard to tell if this is a production job, or single product photography for an ad.

In general, for production work, do you really want to add extra time?

Also, it seems to run the risk that you will spoil you client for anything else, and be stuck always using such technique.



Apr 28, 2017 at 10:13 AM
leethecam
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · Product Work - To stack or not to stack...?


Think of it as about 25 product shots in a day.

So semi-production line I guess.

I've never offered an A vs B grade work so I'm always aiming to achieve the best I can in the time.

For single products or higher end work I've spent hours on a single shot with composites / retouching etc. This job, (and most), are somewhat simpler.

I guess my question was to just to gauge how people would approach such a job. I see things with a very picky eye and it's hard for me to deliver anything less than great. Good-enough is never good enough to my eyes... which often means more work than it should, grrr...



Apr 28, 2017 at 11:49 AM
Peter Figen
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · Product Work - To stack or not to stack...?


The real bottom line is how are the final images going to be used? What size in what media. For online images you can get away with a lot more than in a poster, and you can stop all the way down deep into diffraction territory and never see it. I shoot into Capture One then process tiffs for stacking in either of those applications.


Apr 28, 2017 at 05:07 PM
leethecam
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · Product Work - To stack or not to stack...?


That's the fun thing with this upcoming project. Chances are they'll never be used bigger than 200px, but there's a reasonable chance they could be printed 20" or used in magazine work.

So best be sure and work to my best. To be honest, that's how I deliver all my images. I never assume less quality is good enough unless the client insists on a particular use only, and then I'll agree quality limits vs cost.

Otherwise, it had better look good @ 100%



Apr 28, 2017 at 06:43 PM
 

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Peter Figen
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · Product Work - To stack or not to stack...?


For your purposes, and being able to get away with only three or four slices, it's pretty fast. I did the same when shooting the fronts of loudspeakers recently - where they curved around the sides - very similar to your bottles. But sometimes those holes in the speaker grills also throw the software off. There's always something.


Apr 28, 2017 at 07:21 PM
leethecam
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · Product Work - To stack or not to stack...?


Yes it's been a learning curve - particularly which method to merge the images with.

I find that Helicon Remote can sometimes slightly miss the end focus point, so I may often just manually take the last one again.

As a rule I find Method B is usually the best all-rounder, although Method C can be better for cloth / leather textures.

So far no major issues and usually quickly tweaked out on the final merged TIFF. If I get any issues it is usually a secondary glare on some jewellery. Nothing is perfect but my workflow is 10x as fast as when I started using it.

I do find the description of focus stacking is intriguing to clients and seems to have a sales pitch benefit.



Apr 28, 2017 at 08:04 PM
Peter Figen
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · Product Work - To stack or not to stack...?


I found it made a huge improvement in Helicon to go into the preferences and set it to use the slowest, best interpolation possible. Yes, it slows it down, but a really noticeable improvement in image quality. Same thing with Zerene but with Zerene you can also spec how many cores of the processor you want the app to use, and of course, if you tell it to use all of them, you pretty much can't do anything else while it's crunching away.


Apr 28, 2017 at 10:23 PM
leethecam
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · Product Work - To stack or not to stack...?


I'll have a look at that. Could be useful. And of course I can always get it to batch process overnight if I've got lots of images.


Apr 29, 2017 at 05:33 AM
sk66
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p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · Product Work - To stack or not to stack...?


Depends on the camera and delivered file size...

Personally I would push the aperture first and then stack if I still couldn't get enough. As diffraction starts to enter into the picture you start to loose the finest details, but with products there may not be anything that fine to loose. And even if you do loose some fine details, they may not really matter or even be desirable. Plus, at any output under 100% those finer details get negated anyway even if you did record them.

Time ='s Money... and in these cases it's usually <Time ='s >Money



Apr 30, 2017 at 12:16 AM
leethecam
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p.1 #16 · p.1 #16 · Product Work - To stack or not to stack...?


Well, I did a few tests on a simple but typical item - a can of body spray.

I tested with a 150mm lens @ 120cm distance.

Comparing a 6-stack version @ f5.6 and a single shot @ f16

The stacked shot was much the preferred version - by quite a lot. So, stacking it is then...!



Apr 30, 2017 at 06:33 PM
rw11
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p.1 #17 · p.1 #17 · Product Work - To stack or not to stack...?


some mirrorless bodies can focus stack themselves - I often use that for macro work


Apr 30, 2017 at 07:49 PM
elkhornsun
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p.1 #18 · p.1 #18 · Product Work - To stack or not to stack...?


I would invest in a tilt-shift lens and save time and have better images than a small aperture can provide with a standard lens. A 85mm tilt shift makes an excellent "macro" lens.


May 17, 2017 at 09:43 PM
leethecam
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p.1 #19 · p.1 #19 · Product Work - To stack or not to stack...?


Alas a tilt shift lens won't increase the depth of field front to back on my subject matter.

I'm often shooting almost head on to products and aiming for sharpness front to back and I've found that he difference between shooting at say f5.6 and stacking vs f16 is enough to warrant the workload.

T/S is great (and I've used them), for shooting at angles, although there is still a physical distance issue between foreground and background that needs extra attention sometimes. Hence focus stacking. Seems to add about 5 mins per product.



May 17, 2017 at 11:21 PM
Peter Figen
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p.1 #20 · p.1 #20 · Product Work - To stack or not to stack...?


Lee is correct about the tilt-shift lenses. All they do is change the angle of the plane of focus, and sometimes with detrimental effect when off axis images show more optical defects than on axis. They do nothing to increase depth of field but can sometimes be useful in getting a single plane in focus in one shot. Lee's requirements as he's laid them out suggest a simple, several shot focus stack that is not too time consuming and works very well. It doesn't seem to matter what lens I shoot with, I am always focus stacking - well, for most product shots anyway. The more you do it and as it becomes routine, it becomes just another step in your process that you don't think about too much. At least, that's the way it has worked for me. It's just that most of mine are between thirty and fifty images, not three or four. Even with that, it's a batch process in CaptureOne then dump tiffs into Helicon and work on something else while those are processing. People will work out what works best for them based on their level of experience and needs. I can only share my personal experience in this, which, from what I can tell, is fairly extensive.


May 18, 2017 at 02:13 AM







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