Stackable macro photography rig

When taking macro photographs you lose a lot of clarity due to a reduced depth of field. One way to get sharp pictures is to take multiple shots at slightly different distances from the subject and then stack them into one image. There’s software to do this for you, but you still need a set pictures to start with. [Dsvilko] built this setup to easily capture a set of macro images.

He’s using the internals from an optical drive as a sled to carry the subject. A PICAXE drives the stepper motor that moves the carriage, which takes input from an IR remote control. This turns out to be a fantastic method as the sled can move in 0.2mm increments. After he’s got his set of images he uses Zerene to stack them together.

Bonus points to [Dsvilko] who used Linux command line tools to edit together the demonstration video embedded after the break.

[Thanks Twopartepoxy]

Comments

  1. Bill D. Williams says:
  2. sneakypoo says:

    Correction: 0.02mm

  3. Nat says:

    Amazing! Thanks!

  4. Cricri says:

    Alternatively, you could get a Canon camera and install CHDK on it. No effort required. And if you don’t want to pay for Zerene, use CombineZM instead.

  5. Pat_loonytoon says:

    CHDK for Canon point-and-shoot cameras,
    MagicLantern for Canon DSLR cameras.
    Both have focus bracketing.

  6. Martin says:

    Hrm…
    nice job, but, I (personally) feel that the whole point of macro photography is to keep the SUBJECT in focus, and, that the short depth of field only serves to accentuate the macro-ness.

    Nice job though… not knocking it :D

  7. echodelta says:

    Stop down and light up target. I used to do this with an old school vidicon camera, thumbprint filling half of frame in focus and background at infinity in focus.

  8. dsvilko says:

    Just to say hi and thanks for the comments :)
    Even though a nice, shallow DoF can produce a pleasing effect when doing ‘moderate’ macro photography (up to a 1:1 magnification), beyond that and the DoF starts getting ridiculously low (often much less than 0.1mm). Unless you wish to have just one small part of one eye in focus, you have to stack. I usually take about 50 shots and often even that is not enough to cover all of the subject in sharp focus.
    If you are interested in the highest picture quality, stopping down is also not the answer because very soon you start loosing contrast due to diffraction.

    The thing I am most proud of is that I managed to do all this with the smallest (8-pin) PICAxe with 256 bytes of program space :)

  9. wonder if this would work using flatbed scanner lenses on a cheap webcam?

    the small cameras on many newer laptops have a lousy lens to begin with, but replacing it increases the usefulness manyfold.

  10. Sp`ange says:

    Why not put a universal tripod mount on the sled and then mount the sled on a tripod. Then, you wouldn’t be limited on what you could photograph. The stepper should have enough power to move the camera.

  11. dsvilko says:

    @Sp`ange
    Possibly – was considering it. On the other hand the time required to take one sequence of photos (up to a few minutes!) really limits the choice of subject to completely static ones. If they are static then I can just as well bring them home and shoot them in controlled conditions.

  12. Christie says:

    Of course you could enrol on a photography course so you know what you’re talking about. I’m a professional photographer – trust me – this man has no idea what he’s talking about.

    • dsvilko says:

      Please explain (if you are not simply trolling).

      • Don Sutton says:

        Wouldn’t worry about that ridiculous comment dsvilko. He just blew any credibility he might have had. “Professional – Trust me”, Ha! so what? Anyone can charge for a service, That doesn’t make him the font of all knowledge.
        I’ve frequented your posts many times and although I may not follow your route exactly , I will be using something along those lines when I get the time.
        I’m no pro but I do have 50 years experience. Keep up the good work, it got me, and probably a lot more hobbyists, interested.

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