Automated Stacking With Helicon Remote

I had a first play with’s Helicon Remote tool this evening.  This software allows you to automate the taking of stack photographs with a compatable Camera and Auto-Focus Lens attached to a PC.  In the software you define the start and end points of the stack.  Then using the tool you select the aperture that you want to shoot at, in my case F2.8 on my Canon 100mm Lens.  The program then calculates the optimum number of shots needed to get the two points of focus to stack correctly together.   When happy with your selection, it’s then time to tell the Helicon Remote to start shooting and grab a cup of tea whilst the camera takes its shots.

I experimented with some coins in a simple light tent and  the camera mounted on a sturdy tripod. The software calculated that from front to back the  it need 53 images to get a good stack.  Upon review of the final results I discarded the last 3 as they seemed to me to be out of focus, but I am very impressed with this first try.

Here’s the start and end shots that I used in the stack.


1st Image in Helion Remote Coin ExperimentCanon EOS 50D (100mm, f/2.8, 1/25 sec, ISO400)
1st Image in Helion Remote Coin Experiment

And the last (50th).

Last (50th) Image in Helion RemoteCanon EOS 50D (100mm, f/2.8, 1/30 sec, ISO400)
Last (50th) Image in Helion Remote

Being linked in with Helicon Focus it’s then a matter of sending the images into that part of the software and stacking them together.  Here’s the final stack result (slight levels and colour tweak later in CS5).

Finished Helicon Focus Stack of CoinsCanon EOS 50D (100mm, f/2.8, 1/25 sec, ISO400)
Finished Helicon Focus Stack of Coins

Definitely something I’m going to be experimenting with in future, after all, who now needs to manually focus and stack in the lab!


I've been taking macro photography from 2004. I use both Canon film and digital cameras.

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