Helicon Focus, the industry standard in terms of focus stacking, has three ways to analyze and stack your photos into one. You may have seen the words “Weighted Average”, “Depth Map”, “Pyramid” in the software. Have you ever wondered in what way were they different? Well, here’s a quick explanation of each.

Method A, or “Weighted Average”, basically judges each pixel’s sharpness using its contrast to the surrounding pixels. Then, it makes an average per image and blends all of the sharpest parts into one file. This method will conserve the file’s original contrast and colour worke

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Method B, namely “Depth Map”, registers the areas in an image where it’s the sharpest. It then proceeds to blend all of the images’ sharpest parts together. This technique is really proficient when the surfaces in the photos are smooth and present no sudden changes. Also, it works really well when there is glare or when you absolutely have to persevere accurate colours. The shots have to be in consecutive order for this one to work.

Finally, Method C, called “Pyramid”, constructs a final image by stacking the images together like in a pyramid, one on top of the other.  It works really well when there is a lot of contrast and strong lines in the shots but increase total contrast and glare and, thus, affects the colours. It’s particularly good when the images has a lot of crossing lines and when the stack is very large (more than a hundred images !).

Those are the three methods Helicon Focus employs in order to stack your files. Of course, there are a few sliders to change settings in order to fine-tune your results. If you’re not sure about which method to use, why not render a file using all three algorithms and start from the one that gives you the best results?

What focus stacking software do you use? Zerene Stacker? Do you focus stack at all? Share your opinions in the comments below!