Focus-Stacking Cosmetics

Photographing small products often presents problems related to depth of field. One way to overcome these issues is focus stacking.

In this live photography workshop, Karl demonstrates how to photograph a close-up macro shot using the technique of focus stacking, explaining what exactly focus stacking is, when and how to use it and how to get the best results.

He covers concepts such as magnification, tilt-shift, hyper-focal distance and more. In addition to showing you how to do a complete focus stack, from selecting the best aperture to changing your focus points and putting it all together in post, Karl also gives a quick run-through of the lighting setup used for the shot.

In this class:

  • What is focus stacking
  • How to focus stack images for greater depth of field
  • Magnification
  • Hyper-focal distance
  • Tilt-shift photography vs focus stacking
  • Lens diffraction
  • Software for focus stacking

Questions? Please post them in the comments section below.


  1. Hello Karl, regarding the black background used in this shot was it a matte acrylic that was used or any other material if you can please specify thank you..

  2. As far as Tethering Software, a good one I use with my Sony A7RIII is SmartShooter 4 from Tether Tools.
    Works with Canon, Nikon, Sony etc. and supports LiveView and focusing from the software. You can even use it as a PlugIn for Lightroom and has a script for automating FocusStacking. A lot better than Sonys original Imaging Edge Remote Software.

  3. John F

    Karl, I just started doing some cosmetic shooting and I knew I had to come back to understanding how to do focus-stacking. Wow! What a show! I learned a lot and can’t wait to do stacking. Thanks.

  4. Hi Karl

    But with Phocus by Hasselblad is it possible to do focus stacking instead of buying extra programs?

    Thanks for your reply

    1. Hi, recently they introduced the ability to shoot the focus stacks but not the actual process of the software merging the stack. Currently I find Helicon the best and fastest at doing that but Photoshop can also do this but it is slower.

      1. Hi Karl

        Thank you for your reply.

        Then it’s better to do Focus Stacking with Phocus and then merge it with Helincon.

        What is your plan with Helincon?

        Thank you and Happy New Year 2022
        I hope no more COVID


        1. Hi yes you can take the shots in a more automated way using Phocus or Capture One just to capture all the shots you need for the focus stack. Then you drop those shots into Helicon and it will automatically create your final image from all of the shots.

  5. Great advice on implementing detailed and specific costing for pricing.
    Good accountants can explain how to build all your overhead costs into your pricing structure.

  6. Hello Karl
    Beautiful light.
    Any chance you can do this on a 5×4 view camera ? Using film.
    No focus stacking nonsense
    No Photoshop compositing
    Just once do it for real, all in camera
    The world is is sick to death of overkill Photoshop masks etc
    This is not proper photography in the pure sense

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