7 Best Focus Stacking Software in 2023
Try these selected programs and choose what suits your needs best
- Focus stacking software is ideal for combining different images in order to create a sharp photo.
- They are also called photo stacking software because the effect is achieved by superimposing the images.
- The best focus stacking software on our list comes from Adobe, a great tool for advanced users.
- You should check all the software from our selection as you will also find free focus stacking software.
Every photographer knows the importance of an image that shows all the details of a captured scene. This becomes particularly difficult while taking close-range shots (macro photography) using a camera.
If you have come across some impossible-looking macro photography work for product placement, you would be wondering how did it happen?
This particular trick is called Focus Stacking. Focus Stacking is the process of using multiple images of the same object with different focus points and merging them into one single image to get an extremely sharp image.
The concept of Focus Stacking is like magic in the hands of a photographer, and Focus Stacking software is the wand that you need to get it done.
Now if you are looking around for the best want a.k.a. Focus Stacking software, we have made the search easier for you.
In this article, we take a look at the best free and paid software for focus stacking to help you showcase every inch of your image in detail to your audience.
What is focus stacking?
Focus stacking refers to a technique designed to achieve a deep depth of field by blending multiple images together. The depth of field means all the details – from meters to millimeters.
Image stacking software can help you keep a specific item in focus without spending a lot of time and effort to reach your goal.
You get more control over your editing skills, such as managing the depth of the blur for the underlying images, customizing the layering, cleaning the background, and many others.
In this guide, you’ll find in-depth details about the following focus stacking software:
- inPixio Photo Studio – Easy object removal
- Adobe Photoshop – Customizable interface
- Helicon Focus – Smart retouching
- CombineZP – Simple app
- Affinity Photo – 360-degree image editing feature
- PICOLAY – Various image enhancement tools
- Zerene Stacker – Large images supporter
|Product name||Photo retouch tools||RAW format support||Image blur control|
|inPixio Photo Studio||✅||✅||✅|
What is the best software for focus stacking?
inPixio Photo Studio Pro 12 – Easy object removal
inPixio Photo Studio Pro 12 is not only a great tool for focus stacking but it also has an impressive array of features that you only meet in more expensive software out there.
It has an Erase feature that allows you to delete any object or person from your image without damaging its quality. This tool includes an automatic detection of colors that helps you retouch the image.
You don’t need to have any advanced editing skills even for apparently complicated procedures like removing some unwanted imperfections on a portrait or restoring an old photo.
It’s also an easy job to make cutouts in any photo without having to be very precise on the edges. The built-in special algorithms will automatically follow the right edge even if you didn’t do it exactly.
Actually, all the procedures on inPixio are extremely simple to do and the user interface makes the software even easier to master.
With this tool, you are able to change your background or even erase it to make it look like you are somewhere else.
Other key features include:
- Easy correction for errors in photos
- Share button for Facebook and Twitter
- New backgrounds available
- Erase objects with one click
Photo Studio Pro 12Do your photo stacking and any other photo editing in just a few clicks by using this straightforward tool.
Adobe Photoshop – Customizable interface
Adobe Photoshop is a very powerful app and one of the best stacking software of the moment. It can be used in a variety of fields, from game-character designs to car model creations, and beyond.
Its versatility is well known across the globe, and it also allows you to create beautifully deep and clear Focus Stacking images.
The incredibly diverse and powerful tools contained in this software will allow people with minimal image editing skills to produce incredible results.
The best feature that can be applied in Focus Stacking is the ability to control the depth of the blur for the underlying images, and also customize how the layering is performed.
Another great characteristic is the raster-based image editing and splicing that allows you to produce professional results.
In addition, with this software, you can take full advantage of an easy-to-use and customizable interface that allows the fast-changing of tools and properties.
You can draw, paint, and doodle with thousands of digital brushes, pens, and pencils that work just like the real ones. You can even create your own brush and use it exactly how you want.
Adobe Photoshop also allows you to replace the sky in your landscape with dramatic clouds, and sunsets or even mash up two landscapes to create a whole new photo.
Take a look at other impressive features:
- Control the color of an image
- Removing people or objects
- Add texts to images
- Repairs flaws, such as red eyes
- Advanced layer management
Adobe PhotoshopMake the best of your photography process with prolific software that helps you create amazing images!
Helicon Focus – Smart retouching
Helicon Focus is a focus stacking software that allows you to create eye-catching images using multiple images taken at different focus distances and stacking them together.
Helicon Focus is a premium tool and comes in 3 versions. You can use the demo version of the tool for evaluation. Being a premium tool, Helicon Focus offers tons of features for pro users.
The latest version of the software comes with the Run Benchmark tool that allows you to evaluate your hardware performance and Folder Monitor features to assess and process the stack automatically.
The software processes the images with 16-bit precision to preserve all the hues and details offering an excellent rendition of colors.
It is also capable of handling RAW files and offers adjustable development tools along with built-in and manufacturer’s codecs to satisfy even the most demanding users.
You can process these RAW files in native color space and save the result as a DNG file. The color balance and highlights clipping can be done after focus stacking is completed thanks to this feature.
Helicon Focus also has a helping grid feature that allows you to do a precise retouching of the 100% scale high-resolution image.
Other great features:
- Multi-core processing
- RAW-in-DNG out mode
- Smart retouching
- Command line
HeliconEnhance your creative process with editing software that challenges your imagination!
CombineZP – Simple app
CombineZP is free software that is designed to manage, process, and organize digital images that are identical in dimension.
One interesting bit about CombineZP is that it was originally developed to be used with Microscopes; however, the software is reasonably capable of handling focus stacking as well.
The software is fairly easy to use for basic focus stacking tasks. However, for advanced users, you can tweak the advanced menu to get more out of the software.
CombineZP is easy for basic stuff and may feel daunting for some advanced uses; however, there are a good number of tutorials from the likes of Lord V explaining the use of CombineZP.
After launching CombineZP, you either jump into the editing board and start stacking your images or reach through the instructions for different use cases provided in the software.
CombineZP does not offer too many options like its premium counterparts, but it is an excellent tool for increasing Depth-of-field in your macro shots if you don’t want to spend a fortune buying premium software.
Affinity Photo – 360-degree image editing feature
Affinity Photos is a premium image editing software that also comes with the Focus Stacking feature. When compared to Photoshop, the process of focus stacking feels a lot easier on Affinity Photos.
To use the focus stacking feature, open Affinity Photos, and click on File > New Focus Merge. Now select all the images that you want to use and click OK.
That’s it. The software will do the rest of the job and automatically complete the process of focus stacking using all the given images while showing its progress on the screen.
If the final results have any errors, you can edit the layers to correct the mistakes. Affinity Photo does an excellent job of focus stacking provided that the images are of sufficient quality to create a perfect stack.
In addition, Affinity Photos also offers features like Raw editing, HDR merge, Panorama stitching, professional retouching, batch processing, PSD editing, digital painting, 360-degree image editing, and more.
Affinity Photos is a multi-purpose premium image editing software with a built-in Focus stacking feature and is an excellent choice if you want software with straightforward focus stacking elements.
PICOLAY – Various image enhancement tools
PICOLAY is another freeware portable software for focus stacking. Similar to CombineZP, PICOLAY was also developed to work with the microscope.
However, the software is capable of image processing, slide shows, animated gif images, focus stacking, etc.
PICOLAY can be installed on your hard drive or USB flash drive and used on any computer as it does not require installation. If you prefer installation, PICOLAY also offers an installer on the official website.
Using the software does require some getting used to – although there aren’t too many features to explore, it still warrants some time to give good results.
You can add multiple images of the same size and dimension from the same folder.
To edit the images, you can use Enhance feature to tweak light and color contrast, color saturation, rotate and flip, and other properties of an image.
You can also use the Mouse tools that offer Paintbrush, blur, clean background, clone, and more tools for image enhancement.
After loading the images, run the program to get a stacked image. The final result can be saved in multiple formats including bitmap, jpeg, png, and gif format.
Zerene Stacker – Large images supporter
Zerene Stacker is a premium focus stacking software designed for macro photography to create rich-in-detail images using the focus stacking technique.
As mentioned earlier, Zerene Stacker is a premium product and comes in four versions.
The cheapest of all is the student version, and the license is valid until your graduate from the accredited institute so you need to purchase the personal or pro version to continue the use.
Other versions are directed at users who do casual photography or professionals using it for commercial use. All the license except the Student edition is perpetual and comes with unlimited free upgrades.
Zerene Stacker is optimized to create high-quality images in less time using the Focus Stacking technique.
It also offers unlimited stack depth from 2 to 1000 frames, can handle large images up to 200 megapixels, full control of all stacking parameters, automatic alignment and scale correction, and advanced algorithms.
For Lightroom users, Zerene Stacker offers an optional Lightroom plugin making the integration process simpler.
You can also generate stereo and 3D rocking animations from a single stack of images irrespective of the difficulty of the subjects.
From Hasselblad to Nikon, the software is compatible with images taken on all kinds of digital cameras. It also supports multiple methods of focusing including camera and subject movements.
It is also a multiple-platform software, so you can use it on Windows, macOS, and Linux computers.
While the software is fully compatible with both 32-bit and 64-bit machines, the 32-bit is limited by resources and won’t be able to take full advantage of the software.
When you want to click an image of a product for the client, the client demands to focus on the complete product. This is where focus stacking comes into play.
The technique makes it easy for the photographer to deal with macro shots without having to compromise on the focus. With the right stack focusing software, the process becomes much easier.
All the software listed in this article support focus stacking. If you are looking for free software, PICOLAY and CombineZP offer just enough to get you started and also get great results when you are ready to go through the learning curve.
While premium options like Helicon Focus and Zerene Stacker are industry standard when it comes to stack focusing, Affinity Photos offers a straightforward one-click solution to create stunning images from focus stacking.
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