Photo Stacking for June Flowers

I did a lot of focus bracketing and stacking in June. Most of the 18 flower images below were taken at a local arboretum and a local botanic garden.  A few were in our yard.  I used mFT camera bodies by Olympus (E-M1) and Panasonic (GX80/85).  Most were taken with the Olympus 60mm macro lens.  Some were taken with the Olympus 12-100mm zoom.  

Both my Olympus and Panasonic cameras have a focus bracketing feature that allows me to focus on the closest part of the flower with the first shot, followed automatically by sequentially further-focused shots.  The beauty of this feature is that this is done with one press of the shutter and at a speed of approximately 10 frames per second.

May's images and post about photo stacking flowers mentioned I had assembled the May images using Zyrene Stacker. In June I instead used photoshop, and I prefer the results it gave me. And of course, for those who already subscribe to Photoshop and Lightroom, there is not the additional expense of buying a plug-in like Zyrene Stacker.

Basically, I find Photoshop does a better job aligning the flowers.  As a result there is rarely any ghosting, something I more than occasionally found using Zyrene Stacker.

Generally, I shot 20 images at a time, starting by focusing on the closest point of the flower.  In Lightroom I viewed each image and deleted any that were focusing further than the farthest point of the flower.  In some cases all 20 images were useable.  In one case, I only used the first seven images.

In all but two of these stacked images I shot wide open at F2.8 (60mm macro) and F4 (12-100 zoom).The two exceptions were at F4 on the macro lens.

Nine more:

With a couple of exceptions I sought hazy or cloudy days.  Light of any kind is good, but diffused light is the best!



My Sony A6000 has been Languishing. Perhaps that will end in July?

I have owned the Sony A6000 for over three years. I (mostly) love the body shape and ergonomics.  My main peeve is the thumb dial on the back plate.  I find this to be awkward to use and very finicky. I have no problems with the other buttons and dials and the menu system works fine for me.

So why have I not been using the A6000 much?  After all it has that fine 24mp Sony sensor, whereas my preferred Olympus and Panasonic systems have a smaller sized mFT sensor and are only 16mp. (I don’t own any of the 20mp Olympuses and Panasonics.)

Well, for starters my collection of Olympus and Panasonic lenses is larger and I am very happy with their performance and quality.  I use them interchangeably on Olympus and Panasonic bodies. Not counting my cell phone, 90% of my images are from my Olympus and Panasonic gear.

The lenses available for the A6000 pale (IMO) in comparison to what I have for mFT. The kit 16-50 (24-75mm equivalent) is okay if all you want are snapshots.  Wanting better image quality, I bought two Sony Zeiss 16-70mm zooms, one after another.  I was hopeful. I found both samples to be equal in sharpness to my Olympus PRO lenses, but the Zeiss was noticeably softer in the corners and edges and suffered terribly from CA. That was too bad, because I am primarily a zoom guy and the 16-70 on the A6000 would have made a nice looking and nice feeling combo. But it couldn’t compete with my Olympus gear. Back the lenses went to the retailer.

What I have done with the A6000 is “cobble” together a collection of primes, but I find I rarely use the system. Nevertheless, I have decided to invest in one more lens. It's on pre-order. Shipment is expected this month (July, 2018).

My current collection of prime lenses for the A6000 come from three companies. From left to right:

12mm F2 Rokinon for E mount
35mm F1.8 Sony
50mm F1.8 Sony
100mm Nikkor F2.8, with Nikon-to-E Mount adapter

The pre-ordered lens:

I am excited about the  lens I have pre-ordered.  It is another Chinese-made Rokinon lens.  It is a 24mm F2.8 autofocusing FE lens designed specifically for the Sony full frame cameras. On the A6000 that is the equivalent of 35mm.

When it comes to primes, I think the 35mm equivalent focal length is my favorite.  I am hoping it will do the trick for me and that I will pull my Sony kit out of the bottom drawer.  

The lens should work fine on the cropped sensor A6000 as it is the same mount as the full frame mount.  I'm expecting it to be nicely sharp even in the corners and along the edges because the A6000 sensor covers only the middle 2/3 of a full frame sensor. Therefore the (expectedly) weaker outer edges of the lens will not come into play on the A6000.  

Full frame lenses are often too big and heavy to handle well on the smaller, lighter APS-C camera. I don’t think this will be the case here, as this lens is only 1.5” long and weighs just 4.2 ounces. A lot of the weight and size is a function of the F2.8 maximum aperture (as opposed to something bigger like F1.4 or F2). The "slow" F2.8 aperture is also, I assume, one reason for the modest offering price of $399. 

From camerasize.com
The pre-ordered Rokinon 24mm FE is on the right with hood attached.
On the left is the Sony 35mm F1.8 without the hood attached.

[I wouldn't be surprised to see in maybe a year that the price will drop from time to time to something like $299.  This is what happened with the $349 Rokinon 12mm I own.  I bought it during a seasonal sale for $249 from a large and reputable New York retailer.]

I love the 35mm equivalent focal length and am pretty stoked about getting my hands on this new lens.  That being said, if the image quality doesn’t impress me, it will get returned.