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