Macro Photo part 2!

I’ve been playing around with macro photography lately, and today, I decided to try to make an angled approach the top side of a SSD.

In order to maximize image quality, I removed as much external lights as possble (read: dark room), and added my own light sources. I took a few sample shots at full auto (no flash) setting to get a rough idea of what the correct exposure was, then switched to manual mode and adjusted it slightly further. I ended up at 0.4s at f/2.8 (ISO 200). I wanted a consistent exposure setting in order to prevent the individual photos from looking too different. I also used a tripod, which is mandatory for this kind of photography.

The field of focus is less than 1mm, which is really small to say the least. I ended up having to take 108 photographs to cover the entire area I wanted to photograph; And I still missed a few spots. :(

Macro Photo, single frame

Can you see the tiny focus field? Try looking to the top left of the SATA connector.

This is one of the 108 photos. The ‘front to back’ direction of the image is roughly 7cm (2.8″), while the ‘left to right’ direction is roughly 4cm (1.6″).

Here’s a video to give an even better impression of the scale:

Now that I have all these 108 photos, I need to do something called ‘focus stacking’. This can be done easily in Adobe Photoshop by following this guide. That works in most cases; But in some cases, such as this, Photoshop is unable to auto-align the photos correctly. In which case one may want to consider more specialized software. However, out of curiosity, I tried to have Photoshop stack these 108 18MegaPixel photographs anyway. It exhausted my 32GB of RAM (!) about 1/3 through the auto-blending, then at about 70% said it was unable to perform the blending because my 100GB-ish scratch disk was full. No go on Photoshop for this kind of heavy stacking, in other words; Over to a trial of Zerene Stacker!

Stacking in progress

Zerene Stacker showing work in progress

Since Zerene Stacker only supports TIF and JPG input files, I had to export my DNG’s as TIF to get this to work. After loading the TIF files into the program, I selected Stack -> “Align & Stack All (PMAX)”. It started working hard. Very hard. It kept on working for a couple of minutes, showing progress along the way. It never exceeded 3GB memory consumption.

And the result can be seen below.

Composite image of 108 photographs. I might have overexposed it slightly.

The photographs were taken with a Canon EOS 60D and a Canon EF100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM lens at approx. 30cm distance.

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