Focus Stacking Software Mac Os X Rating: 7,3/10 2497 reviews
Series of images demonstrating a six-image focus bracket of a Tachinid fly. First two images illustrate typical DOF of a single image at f/10 while the third image is the composite of six images.

Dec 18, 2012  I could never get the Mac apps to work correctly. I doubt you're going to get much from stacking a dozen images of Jupiter anyway. Usually those are done by stacking hundreds of frames from video and throwing the bad ones out. I know you're not a Windows person but that's kind of where the software lies today. The hardest part of focus staking photography, taking the series of incrementally focused images, can be easily accomplished if you own a Nikon, Canon, or Sony camera and a smartphone, iPad, android or laptop, using the free hard-wired software, Digicam, or the more sophisticated Helicon software.The best thing about them is that you don't need to touch the camera to take the shots or adjust.

Focus stacking (for extended depth of field) in bright fieldlight microscopy. This example is of a diatommicrofossil in diatomaceous earth. Top left are the three source images captured at three different focus distances. Top right are the three masks used to obtain the contributions of their respective images to the final 'focus stacked' image (black is no contribution, white is full contribution). Bottom is the final 'focus stacked' image.

Focus stacking (also known as focal plane merging and z-stacking[1] or focus blending) is a digital image processing technique which combines multiple images taken at different focus distances to give a resulting image with a greater depth of field (DOF) than any of the individual source images.[2][3] Focus stacking can be used in any situation where individual images have a very shallow depth of field; macro photography and optical microscopy are two typical examples. Focus stacking can also be useful in landscape photography.

Focus stacking offers flexibility: since it is a computational technique, images with several different depths of field can be generated in post-processing and compared for best artistic merit or scientific clarity. Focus stacking also allows generation of images physically impossible with normal imaging equipment; images with nonplanar focus regions can be generated. Alternative techniques for generating images with increased or flexible depth of field include wavefront coding and light-field cameras.


The starting point for focus stacking is a series of images captured at different focus distances; in each image different areas of the sample will be in focus. While none of these images has the sample entirely in focus they collectively contain all the data required to generate an image which has all parts of the sample in focus. In-focus regions of each image may be detected automatically, for example via edge detection or Fourier analysis, or selected manually. The in-focus patches are then blended together to generate the final image.

This processing is also called z-stacking, focal plane merging (or zedification in French).[4][5]

Video example of how focus stacking is applied to images

In photography[edit]

Getting sufficient depth of field can be particularly challenging in macro photography, because depth of field is smaller (shallower) for objects nearer the camera, so if a small object fills the frame, it is often so close that its entire depth cannot be in focus at once. Depth of field is normally increased by stopping down aperture (using a larger f-number), but beyond a certain point, stopping down causes blurring due to diffraction, which counteracts the benefit of being in focus. It also reduces the luminosity of the image. Focus stacking allows the depth of field of images taken at the sharpest aperture to be effectively increased. The images at right illustrate the increase in DOF that can be achieved by combining multiple exposures.

Stacked image of the Curiosity Rovers first sampling hole in Mount Sharp. The hole is 1.6 centimetres (0.63 in) wide and 6.7 centimetres (2.6 in) deep.

The Mars Science Laboratory mission has a device called Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI), which can take photos that can later be focus stacked.[6]

In microscopy[edit]

In microscopy high numerical apertures are desirable to capture as much light as possible from a small sample. A high numerical aperture (equivalent to a low f number) gives a very shallow depth of field. Higher magnification objective lenses generally have shallower depth of field; a 100× objective lens with a numerical aperture of around 1.4 has a depth of field of approximately 1 μm. When observing a sample directly the limitations of the shallow depth of field are easy to circumvent by focusing up and down through the sample; to effectively present microscopy data of a complex 3D structure in 2D, focus stacking is a very useful technique.

Atomic resolution scanning transmission electron microscopy encounters similar difficulties, where specimen features are much larger than the depth of field. By taking a through-focal series, the depth of focus can be reconstructed to create a single image entirely in focus.[7]

Software / Application[edit]

Focus stacking software
NamePrimary authorApplication typePlatformLicense
Adobe Photoshop[8] CS4, CS5, CS6AdobeDesktopWindows, Mac OS XProprietary
Affinity Photo 'Focus Merge'SerifDesktopWindows, Mac OS XProprietary
Aphelion with Multifocus extensionADCISDesktopWindowsProprietary, 30-day trial
Amira / Avizo 'Image Stack Projection'[9]ThermofisherDesktopWindows, Mac OS X, LinuxProprietary
CamRangerCamRangerDesktop / MobileiOS, Android, Mac OS X, WindowsProprietary
Chasys Draw IESJohn Paul ChachaDesktopWindowsProprietary
CombineZAlan HadleyDesktopWindowsGPL
Enfuse (combined with align_image_stack or similar)Andrew Mihal and hugin development teamDesktopMultiplatformGPL
Focus StackerAlexander Boltnev, Olga KacherDesktopMac OS XProprietary
Focus Stacking Online[10]Focus Stacking OnlineWeb applicationAllCC BY-ND 4.0
Shutter Stream Product Photography SoftwareIconasysDesktopWindows, Mac OS XProprietary
Helicon FocusDanylo KozubDesktopWindows, Mac OS XProprietary, 30-day trial
ImageJ with Extended Depth of Field PluginAlex Prudencio, Jesse Berent, Daniel SageDesktopUnix, Linux, Windows, Mac OS 9 and Mac OS XPublic domain
MacroFusion[11]Dariusz DumaDesktopLinuxGPL
PicolayHeribert CypionkaDesktopWindowsFreeware
QuickPHOTO with Deep Focus extensionPromicraDesktopWindowsProprietary, 30-day trial
Zerene StackerRik LittlefieldDesktopWindows, Mac OS X, LinuxProprietary, 30-day trial



  • Pepper mill, stack of 28 frames

  • Stacked image of 3 × 2.5 mm electric wires

  • Shaver head, stack of 36 frames, retouched

  • Macrolepiota procera, stack of 15 frames

  • Stacked image of the inner ridge of an orchid blossom

  • Stacked image of two Arecaceae viewed through a hole in a tree trunk

  • Pellet, stack of 32 frames

  • Alluaudia comosa, stack of 10 frames

  • Mold on Litchi chinensis, stack of 20 frames

  • Skull, stack of 6 frames



  • Software creates from the sharpest areas in a stack of sections.

See also[edit]

  • High dynamic range imaging (HDR)
  • Shift-and-add for stacking astrophotos


  1. ^'Malin Space Science Systems - Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) Instrument Description'. Retrieved 2012-12-10.
  2. ^Johnson, Dave (2008). How to Do Everything: Digital Camera (5th ed.). McGraw-Hill Osborne Media. p. 336. ISBN978-0-07-149580-6. There are a number of programs that allow you to get the equivalent of infinite depth of field in your photos, with sharp focus from the foreground all the way back to the rear. How is this possible? By taking multiple photos of the same scene and stacking them afterwards into a composite that features only the sharpest bits of each image. One of the best is Helicon Focus.
  3. ^Ray 2002, 231–232
  4. ^'Afficher le sujet - Proposition d'un terme français pour 'focus stacking' • Le Naturaliste'. (in French). Retrieved 2012-10-05.
  5. ^'Malin Space Science Systems - Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) Instrument Description'. Retrieved 2012-10-05.
  6. ^'MSL Science Corner: Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI)'. Retrieved 2012-10-05.
  7. ^Hovden, Robert; Xin, Huolin L.; Muller, David A. (2010). 'Extended Depth of Field for High-Resolution Scanning Transmission Electron Microscopy'. Microscopy and Microanalysis. 17 (1): 75–80. arXiv:1010.4500. Bibcode:2011MiMic.17..75H. doi:10.1017/S1431927610094171. PMID21122192.
  8. ^'Focus Stacking Made Easy with Photoshop'. Retrieved 2013-07-01.
  9. ^'Avizo User Guide, Module 'Image Stack Projection''. 2018-03-30.
  10. ^'Focus stacking online - free online focus stacking application'. Retrieved 2020-02-22.
  11. ^'GUI to Combine Photos to Get Deeper DOF or HDR'. Retrieved 2017-10-19.
  • Ray, Sidney. 2002. Applied Photographic Optics. 3rd ed. Oxford: Focal Press. ISBN0-240-51540-4.

External links[edit]

  • Which cameras have built-in focus stacking?, Nov. 2019.
  • Media related to Focus stacking at Wikimedia Commons
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For any photographer, it is all about the focus, exposure settings, and most importantly the composition of the photographto get a good snap. But, even if the structure and exposure are set correctly, a photographer, most of the times struggle with the focus and defocus of the snap. When you are shooting outside or taking a macroscopic shot, you will face a problem focusing on the subject. You get all in one complete package in one Focus Stacking Software. Apart from a decent photographic skills, restoring, organizingand viewingsoftwares also play major role in its utility.


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To overcome this problem, there is software available online from where you can download, install and use it for getting a well-focused photograph. Things are made more manageable for the photographer to reduce their effort and time focusing on the subject of their composition. And furthermore, we have deduced a list of 5 best Focus Stacking Software for your Windows PC.


  • 1 Top 5 Focus Stacking Software

Top 5 Focus Stacking Software

This is a well combined list of top 5 focus stacking software.


The software is small in size with lots of amazing features installed in it. The stacking by a focus stacking software is carried out very smoothly; just you need to add a couple of photos focusing on different parts, and then the processor will itself stack them together by evenly focusing them. Picolay best works for macro or microscopic images shot from a fixed distance.

Once you install the software, it will provide you with some tips and tricks so that you get familiar with the software and know how to make your pictures ready for stacking by this Focus Stacking Software. Once you get through the tutorial, you can now entirely rely on the app for focusing and piling up your photos. You can also create GIFs from a set of images.

Getting started with Picolay:

Focus Stacking Software Mac Os X
  • Click on File and add images. Select those photos which you want to focus stack. The attached pictures will be displayed as a bunch, and you can also preview them.
  • After adding your photographs, go to the stack operation and click on Stack with current parameters. This will generate the focus stack of your pictures and gives you the output within a concise amount of time.
  • You can also change the stack operation settings according to your wish from the settings.
  • Once you are done and satisfied with the out, you can now save the pictures in many formats; jpg, png, gif, tiff, etc.

Visit: Picolay

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TuFuse is a free command-line software with many surprising features loaded in it. It combines the best-focused parts of numerous shots and produces a sharp and evenly focused image. Not only the focus, but it also helps in exposing your photograph somewhat by combining the well-exposed parts from multiple shots.

As a result, you will get a well focused and a correctly exposed picture in the output. It does not have a GUI, so, in that case, you will have to give commands yourself for adjusting the parameters. There is an alternative way; you can install another software; PTAssembler, which acts as a GUI for TuFuse.

How to stitch photos in TuFuse:

  • Open the software from the location Download is now complete.
  • After opening, transfer your pictures to TuFuse folder.
  • In the address bar, select all and delete the folder path to replace it with CMD. Press Enter. This will open the file using the Command Prompt with the TuFuse directory.
  • Now, you will have to enter a command and keep in mind that the command follows a specific order; tufuse-o output.tif input1.tif input2.tif…, and press Enter. Here, an output is the output file name, and input1, input2 are the input file names.
  • Processing and saving of output is in the TuFuse folder. But the output will always be in TIF format only despite being whatever the input format may be.

Visit: TuFuse

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It is an open source software that has multiple platforms to work on with your images. The software runs on Java. Pre-installation of features takes place in the software; the user will have to use the plug-in from the ocean of the plug-ins that the software offers. A very popular add-on for this software is Stack Focuser.

The process for creating a focus stack is simple. But, at first, you will have to download the plug-in. Once you download it, now you can open the software and transfer images one by one. After they are in transfer process, click on the “Stk” button on the Toolbar of ImageJ and again click on the Image to Stack option.

Best Mac Os X Software

This will help you to create all the transferred images to pile up together. Click on the Stack Focuser; a small dialogue will appear “Ok,” click on that and the images will convert into focus stacked output. You can save it in any format including gif.

Visit: ImageJVoice recognition software reviews mac.

Combine ZP

Combine ZP is a remarkable focus stacking software. The user interface of this program is straightforward and easy to use for anyone. Just load the images from your computer and select “So Stack” followed by a click on Go. You can also align the photos before you go on with the stacking with this Focus Stacking Software and then proceed further as above.

An output folder processes at the time of installation of the software where your renderings will be saved automatically after they have been successfully in focus and stack. This Focus Stacking Software, along with focus stacking the pictures, it also offers a lot more to its users, and in case if any user faces any problem, there is also a help option in the software.

Visit: Combine ZP

Chasys Draw IES

Chasys Draw IES is a free to use image editing software. The software has a wide range of tools like any other editing software. One of the features is focus stack images on PC. All you need to do is open the photos you want to pile up. Once they are opened as a stack, go to the Processes>>Stack>>Focus Stacking.

On the workspace, the editing image displays on screen in real time, and if it meets your requirements, then you can save the image in any of your favorite formats by merely clicking on the File option and then Save. The software also has features like image averaging, Image HDR, Moving objects, etc.

Visit: Chasys Draw IES

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As discussed here, these are the top 5 focus stacking software. In case you know about some more of these, kindly comment and let all of us know too.

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