Professional photographers usually resort to a trick to create high-quality macro images, which is called focus stacking. It’s a procedure that involves taking multiple photos of the same object and combining them into a single image to achieve better sharpness.
If you’re interested in this technique, you can turn to a powerful focus stacking software solution like CombineZP. Dedicated to Windows computers, it gives you the possibility to process and manage multiple images of the same size.
- Rich features for focus stacking
- Create and use macros
- Free to use
CombineZP was initially designed to analyze microscope images. Nevertheless, due to the similarity between the two operations, it can be just as conveniently used to analyze and merge multiple photos into one.
There are no special system requirements for CombineZP, so it should be able to run on any Windows edition. Although the project hasn’t been updated for a significant amount of time, we didn’t have any trouble getting it to work on Windows 10, as can be noticed from the screenshots on this page.
Check out the limitations, installation, interface, and features provided by CombineZP before getting our final verdict for this focus stacking solution.
CombineZP free version
The software program is free and open-source, which means that you can modify the source code and distribute it further. However, CombineZP still has some limitations:
- 16-bit images are unsupported
- Images must be loaded by height (closest to furthest)
- Limited image formats are supported
- Works only on Windows systems
How to install CombineZP
The application is wrapped in a lightweight package that can be quickly downloaded and installed on your Windows PC. During setup, you can change the default install path. Keep in mind that administrative rights are necessary to set up the image stacking tool.
At startup, CombineZP opens the help document and loads two windows: an empty one for displaying photos, and another one for controlling settings. Judging from the look of the interface, CombineZP is clearly outdated. On the bright side, it has intuitive buttons.
Focus stacking software
To conclude, CombineZP is a versatile focus stacking application with rich options and configuration settings. Even if it’s primarily oriented toward microscopic images, it can be successfully applied to photography. As such, you can freely use it to align images, reduce blur, and increase sharpness, in order to produce high-quality photographs.
CombineZP uses minimal system resources and presents no compatibility issues with Windows 10, although it’s outdated. It might take a while getting used to it, but you can consult the offline help documentation to see exactly how CombineZP works.
- Is CombineZP free?
Yes, CombineZP is free and open-source. However, it still has some limitations, as stated above.
- Is CombineZP safe?
There’s no malware bundled with CombineZP, so it’s safe to use.
- What’s the best focus stacking software?
CombineZP is our first choice when it comes to the best focus stacking software tools for your Windows 10 PC. If you’re interested in alternative solutions, we suggest checking out PICOLAY, Helicon Focus, and Zerene Stacker.
Overview of CombineZP features
- Load PNG, JPG, JPEG, BMP, GIF, TIF, and TIFF images
- Take all frames from a stack and align them together
- Alternative focus stacking modes, such as Do Stack, Do Soft Stack, Do Stack with Weighted Average Correction, and Pyramoid Maximum Contrast
- Perform image stacking to reduce noise and increase the exposure time
- Enhance the dynamic range of stacked images
- Add scale lines and use an external graphics editor, like IrfanView
- Use 3D methods to stack images, adjust color and brightness, and replace frames
- Use and edit macros, including nested macros and macro loops, set conditional macro commands
- Stack images by color using a Do Stack macro, creating a colored depth map, and reducing the color range
- Apply color correction by reducing the intensity of small local color patches
- Tidy a sequence of microscope pictures
- Perform image stacking operations in batch
- Software Version
- focus stacking