Helicon Focus Review

Helicon Focus is software for focus stacking.

In this Helicon Focus Review we’ll find out if Helicon Focus does what it says. Focus stacking is a great tool for all types of photography. Our Brisbane Photographer uses it all the time. Helicon Focus bought to us by Helicon Soft makes focus stacking the simplest thing in the world and produces outstanding images. The images come out sharp from the front to the back, with the click of the render button.

What is focus stacking.

Focus stacking is a method of combining images. To create an image which is sharp from front to back usually most people use a super small aperture like f22. The problem with using a small aperture is that as lens diffraction kicks in  the images starts to soften. Not really ideal. Even at f22 it’s still hard to get the whole image in focus and it’s now soft. This is especially true when working close to the object, like in product photography , or when there’s a great distance between the foreground and backgrounds, as in landscape photography. Really for maximum sharpness you need to shoot at around f8 for most lenses. One way around this is to shoot lots of images at f8 but focused at different distances and combine them in software.  What this Helicon Focus Review tests is the ability of Helicon Focus to combine many image taken at different focus lengths well.

Method to using Helicon Focus

For an example we decided to do a nice shot of the Fossil Grant Watch, mainly because I was wearing it at the time and it’s got moving parts which should test the software to the limit. Firstly we set it up and then photographed it at f4, 2.5 Seconds, ISO200. We took 24 shots of the watch at various focusing distances, so that part of the watch would be in focus in each of the different shots.

Here’s 4 examples from our series of shots for the Helicon Focus Review. See how only part of the photo is in focus.

Combining the shots in Helicon Focus.

We loaded the series of photos we took into Helicon Focus by simple drag and drop. Then comes the hard part. To combine the images you’ve got to press the “Render” button on the screen. After we managed this incredible feat of clicking the button, the focus stacking software went to work. It produces a nice graphic as it works showing with parts of the images it’s decided were the sharpest.  Give you something to watch while waiting, nice.Helicon Focus Review at Work

In our Helicon Focus Review we found that the render time is really good, 15 seconds or so to render 24 images together. We tried it out on quite a few images in the Helicon Focus Review  and found it gets consistently sharp results every time. Only once did it fail to render the image, and that was operator error, we loaded two series of images in at the same time. Failure on our part.

So here’s the results of the above focus stacking render. We’re pretty impressed as I’m sure you will be. What was really impressive was the software did a pretty good job of rendering the moving sections of the watch. These sections were blurry because of the slow shutter speed and they’re combined images. Usually this is a recipe for disaster in automatic software.  Helicon Focus has done an excellent job. The section of the shot is blurred but looks good, it gives the sense of natural movement, without breaking up too much.

Helicon Focus Review

The Helicon Focus Review Conclusion

Considering I use this software almost everyday, you could say this is a bias review. But we showed how easily the software dealt with a really complex series of shots and came out with a workable image. Helicon Focus just works, is super fast and delivers the result that professional photographer require. If you require Depth of Field in your photos, focus stacking is the only way to really get a sharp image. Helicon Focus makes focus stacking so easy. That’s what you need from software just, apps that just do their job. Helicon Focus come for Mac and PC, we obviously used the Mac version, because I’m an Apple fanboy. We assume the PC version is just as good.
You can download it for a month free trial, so get to it and start stacking. One you start you just can’t stop.
Hope you enjoyed our Helicon Focus Review.