Stack It! And in A Good Way! Olympus!
Part of the v4.0 firmware update for the Olympus E-M1 camera that will be coming in November has to to with close focusing - with the macro capability, if you will.
Macro is mightily popular with enthusiasts - every camera club has regular competitions for images shot in the macro range. It is essential for scientific work and for a number of commercial applications. People need to get close and sharp.The problem with getting close is the optical fact of life: the depth of field gets perilously shallow as you get closer. Many subjects are very difficult to portray as there is never enough DOF to render them in their entirety - something is always fuzzy.
The solution up until now has been to employ a stack of separate images that can be blended in a computer program to feature the sharp plane fore and aft -it gives what is false but what seems real. In any case the sharpness is the reality we wish for so that is what the program makes.
Only works with static subjects and the static really does have to be just that - the object and the camera cannot move about. The focus can be adjusted with the lens in some case and in others complex computer-driven racks have been employed to track the camera and lens in and out on the subject. However it is done, the idea is to present the computer with a variety of images to combine.
Well, it looks like Olympus is going to make it easier. The press release states:
" Two powerful focus stacking and focus bracketing modes assist to improve depth of field for close-up imaging."
That's pretty slim, but encouraging nevertheless. If Olympus have arranged for the camera to do the stack shooting automatically in conjunction with their AF macro lens the way is clear to a lot more better macro shots.
Note the heading mage is also a stack, but a simple three-level one to make the model cars and the background blend together. Not macro but operating on the same principle.