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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Olympus TG3 Focus Stacking

Yesterday I got a new point and shoot waterproof camera , and today I ran it though its paces.  It did great!

It's an Olympus Stylus TG3 and it is actually the third Olympus 'tough' camera that I have owned.  I also had the TG1 and TG2.  Both of those cameras now belong to our kids Nora and Stuey, and both are still going strong.

As an archaeologist I take a lot of close up photographs of artifacts, and I think the 'tough series' in general and the TG3 in particular are very good at close up macro pictures. In fact, year in and year out they have done a much better job than my big SLR and its dedicated close up macro lens.  

And the TG3 takes it one step further by taking multiple pictures at different focal lengths and then stitching them together into one photo that keeps it as sharp as it can be throughout the whole photo.  It's called 'focus stacking', and it's something Ansel Adams could never have imagined in his wildest dreams - perfect focus throughout the entire image and no need for a tripod or for a way closed down aperture (and correspondingly super slow shutter speed).

When the camera does a 'focus stacking' stitch the first photo is also saved unadulterated.  So for the images below the first image is without 'focus stacking' and the second is after the camera took 10 separate pictures at varying focal lengths and then stitched them together into one image.

What's really impressive is that you don't really need a tripod to get good results.  I took the 2 images below during a walk in the park and I did not use a tripod for either photo.  Click on the photos and see - it is sort of amazing how sharp the 'focus stacked' images came out as compared to the 'normal' images.  It solves the problem of the 'slightly out-of-focus' close up - the picture that was almost, but not quite perfect.  There is nothing quite  like the wrong stuff out of focus to ruin a picture (like the closest parts of the raspberry in the top photo).

And finally it is sort of amazing and scary how close the camera can take an excellent close up in 'microscope' mode.  You can literally stick the camera to within a 1/2 centimeter of the object to be photographed, AND then ZOOM IN further with the camera controls.  And then everything is in focus too.  Absolutely amazing.



Cottagemuse said...

Amazing photos using Photo Stacking with the Olympus T3 - I want to buy one, because of this feature, as I love doing macro. You said that these two photos were hand-held? How did you not get camera shake while the camera took 10 photos? How fast does it take them? I really love your photos, and hope to do the same.

Zoya, Patrick, Nora and Stuart said...

It takes the photos amazingly quickly and does a 'smart' job stitching them so that a little wobbling does not seem to matter. Pretty amazing actually. Patrick

Cottagemuse said...

Thanks! That's incredible.