I live in a camper van with a West Highland Terrier for company.
My passion is creating images but it is a work in progress.
I am always willing to share what knowledge I have and can be contacted through the comments on this post or e-mail ADRIAN

Wednesday 15 September 2010

HELICON (15/09/10)

No I’m not going to bore you all with tales of the Muses and their home in ancient Greece. Nor chat about the intricacies of that giant brass or silver band instrument that is worn draped around ones neck like an enormous Boa Constrictor with a humungous gob.

This is about Helicon Focus 5.1 a rather magical bit of software. I’ve only had it for a couple of hours but I’m very impressed. What it does is give one a totally focussed image from front to back. Something impossible to achieve with macro lenses or for that matter wide angle/telephoto lenses. It can be done in Photoshop Elements by stacking multiple images with different points of focus and then erasing the out of focus bits but it is a real pain to accomplish. Photoshop CS4/5, I believe, already has a similar feature so if you are the proud owner of either of those wonders you can forget all that follows.

I’ve got it for thirty days, many thanks for that, then I have to stump up US$115.00 for the privilege of keeping it. We’ll see, after my free time runs out. It comes with a camera control system that lets one connect your camera to the computer and it will auto step the focus for you. I can’t use this as I have no means of connecting camera and lap top. It probably only has an interface for you Cannikonites out there anyway. Olympus seem to be falling behind a little but what the hell I love mine……..Abused as it is it always comes bouncing back. I have even straightened the lens mount with a hammer after it suffered a particularly nasty tumble. It did take it a week or so to get over the trauma but she is now back to normal.

Enough Blather.


I shot just three images with the macro lens. Obviously one has to lock up the mirror and use a tripod and cable release. This is one, BIC writing is in focus the rest is normal for macro. Forgot compact camera users can also jib out. You can’t get shallow DOF.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA    This is shot two the middle of the ink tube in focus……The scribbly bit and the BIC writing way out.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA      The business end almost in focus, the rest, well you have the idea by now.

Bang the images through the software and Hey Presto!…………..

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA     Sharp front to back……….Almost. They say there is no limit to the number of images it can process. So had I not been so impetuous…….read idle…….Then we could be looking at perfect focus on the mouse mat and the Biro. No input from me it does it on it’s own. Even hit pixels in the editor prior to compressing for the post and it would would print A3 no bother. and much larger if run through ‘Genuine Fractules’ Or whatever it’s called.

I really am impressed for once. Nah! I’m easily impressed. Always astounded by the power of software and hardware. This is well worth a look if you are  macro man/lady. I will give it a whirl with landscapes.

It can also produce a magical moving 3D image but it has to be computer connected for the shoot. If the above rocks your boat have a look, it seems in my short acquaintance quality gear.

Every cloud has a silver lining. we are sitting just outside Hawes in wind it is difficult to stand up in, the truck rocking like a storm tossed boat and violent and heavy rain squalls blasting through every quarter of an hour. I have internet and was trolling around when I happened on this wee wonder.

I hope the weather is more clement where you are. Have a good day whatever.


  1. Interesting. I've looked at focus stacking before but never actually tried doing it.

    There is a free Extended Depth of Field plugin available for ImageJ which might do what you want with out the $115 price tag.

  2. In fact there are two ImageJ plugins to play with -- the other one is called Stack Focuser.

  3. Mark I've done it with landscapes and it does work for print, hardly worth it for the web. I'll have a look at Image J. Many thanks for the tip. Free is always a bonus. After the plug Helicon have had they should just send me the code. Can see their problem I only have a handful of readers.

  4. When you have finished with it, could you tell me whether it is good or bad.

  5. Bob I'm impressed. Will give it a serious test tomorrow. Initial impressions are it does the job. It would be OK for static stuff so if it's moths or butterflies then ten minutes in the fridge is their fate. Keeps the little devils still. Will try it tomorrow on a big waterfall. I will shoot maybe two batches of ten frames with exposure for the water and ten for whatever is not water and vary the focal point through out both shots. You can have a look then make up your mind or try it yourself for free. Free for thirty days only.

  6. Looks and sounds interesting so I had a little search round. One free pgm which seems to be well recommended is CombineZP though it may be more awkward to use but some who produce microscope images rate it highly.


  7. John, ta for that it is something I've never really bothered about but has always slightly irked me. I shoot shut right down or have even used focal point formulas. Cameras have limitations, thank the lord that software writers don't.
    Another couple of years and it will come with Elements. Will have a look at combine. This one is intuitive but to get the start images in it's wise to create a new folder for them. Daft old beggars aren't we. Discuss anything from non-skid footware to state of the art software.

  8. Claudia, thanks wet days needn't be wasted days. Endless fun with this. The bonus a post about a pen.

  9. Fascinating Adrian. Had a look at their site; worth a go.

  10. Keith I suspect it is best when used with a microscope. It did the job when I tested it roughly I trialled it very roughly.

  11. Had a quick go with CombineZP this am and it seems to do what it says on the box. Take photos. Put in folder. Point pgm at them. Get it to align then make a pile. Brilliant - especially for free!

  12. John I will give it the biro test thanks.