Focus stacking

Just wondering whether PL users have a preferred focus stacking software package, with maximum potential for post-stacking processing and ease of transition out of and back to PL?

Or perhaps an update as to whether focus stacking is to be incorporated in future editions!


I use Affinity Photo which does a great job and is very well priced for all the features you get including HDR, astrophotography stacking and panorama stitching.

Personally, I don’t think you will see PL provide these functions any time soon.


Yes, I use Affinity too … it has a dedicated “wizard” that you’ll find in the File menu.

John M

Hi, I also use affinity photo, and sometimes CombineZP


I use Helicon Focus. It provides three methods, handles the need for trial and error pretty well, and provides some ability for masking (to deal with ghosting and any other layering artifacts). I find it useful and adequate, but not ideal. At some point, I’m going to check out Affinity and see if it’s any better - particularly when it comes to focus breathing and motion-induced ghosting. Last time I went looking, I didn’t find a better solution.

Combine zp and now Silkypix v10 pro for panasonic. (full version is much more expensive.)
Combine zp is old stuff mostly used by astro photographers. It works but only in jpeg and tiff.
User interface is a bit “win 98” it’s origin i think . I used it to stack the 4k stacking clips my panasonic make for internal stacking ooc-jpegs. ( first extract stills out the movieclip then proces those and export as tiff or jpeg load into combinezp. Choose type of stacking hit execute done.
I tried to see if the camera did a good job in auto mode or that a more manual approach is resulting in a better outcome. Manual has more control but needs carefull processing.

Now i have a raw based, it’s workspace tiff i suspect, stacking in different way’s.
Not used often yet. I think i gona in combination with a tube extenders and flowers in the spring. Garden fun in lockdown…
As you can see Here SP holds not only focusstacking but also mutishot combining moving objects or deleting moving objects.

Helicon is also a often used application for stacking.

If they do i think it will be a seperate module like viewpoint and filmpack.
Biggest problem if it’s inside DxOPL workspace is proccesingpower on multi images i think.
Imagine 10 rawfiles pushed through localcorrections and such and then stacked and pushed through deepprime. That needs a beast of a cpu and gpu.

Don’t know if the majority of the dxo users want that.
Besides there are much more important task’s to tackle. :slightly_smiling_face:

What could be a good function is applying a posibility to create a cropping aid in prespective function. A centre pin which you can set to crop multiple images around a fixed point. So stacking afterwards is more easy to aline.


Ps and Affinity photo does it, and there’s many other option, I don’t see PL adding this, I think they already have a long list to cover :upside_down_face:

You can check these:

Paid version:

Open source:

I think PL should focus on raw development, focus stack can be done very well with other tools. I am using mostly Zerene. Also Affinity does a good job but Zerene is better with less alos and less need to retouch by hand.


Hmmm…lots of votes for Affinity. It works pretty well for me. I got the trial version of Helicon and tried using various stacking methods. Affinity seemed as good as the best of those, often better. Yes, there’s little control, but the entire package is $50 and you only pay once. The alternatives are pricier or require continual payment.

There is no special path back to PL, but since I’m already in Affinity, I can do what I need there. I could, of course, open a TIF or JPG in PL. Some features drop out, of course. I just haven’t had a need to do so.

Oh, and my stacking is for macro or extreme macro (2X- 10X). I haven’t tried it for landscapes.

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Thanks to everyone who responded to my question - very useful.


Hi Matthew,
I stack A LOT as a hobby and use DXO PL as my primary ‘digital photo developing software’.

Personally, i have never found a single stacking software to be dynamic enough let alone be an ace at each feature. As a result i have a plethora of software and will use many in a workflow to get one final image. and to emphasise the previous point, there is no one way to get this done i could take many routes it really comes down to personal preference, final use case, hard or software availability, etc.

Some software i use for stacking and personal highlights of each:

Given i shoot with a Sony camera i can take advantage of their free software. Here you can use Remote to stack remotely. Additionally can use Sony’s Viewer software which can automatically combine Sony’s Pixel shifted photos into one file for you.

Other remote software i use is CaptureOne though for me using v12 will not compile the pixel shifted photos together so stick most of the time to Sony’s Remote and Viewer. I do like Capture ones file management though for stacking. Note your camera will need to be able to tether to your computer to use these features.

Next you will have to download the trial version of both Helicon Focus and Zerene stacker and make the call yourself. I personally went for Helicon but i think the community may be better in Zerene. I believe they are more or less the same.

As you know DXO PL gives the tools to get the image how you want it at least remove the faults with the sensor, optics, environment, etc.

Affinity Photo i will sometimes use for its very forgiving in its stacking tolerances. There are times when it does a better job in certain situations than Helicon which boggles the mind (stitching stacks aka panorama).

Above was for stacking on a rail if you stake astrophotography then perhaps look at PIPP its great for arranging images that will be most suitable for a stack based on their sharpness.

…Would be great if DXO supported the RAW file compiled from Sony’s pixel shift.

…Be good for someone to talk about staking on Adobe, never used it.

Just upping this old conversation to add a recommendation for the Mac OS: “Focus Stacker” on the App Store. A low-priced (I can’t see the price anymore since I own it but I seem to remember it is about $US10) but remarkably functional and reliable tool that, recently, I’ve been using in preference to my long-time favorite: Zerene Stacker.

It does what you want (including corrections that can be ‘brushed in’) quickly without fuss and with a very simple interface. I have found it just great for merging stacks of TIFF files out of DXO (then saving the result to DXO as a TIFF).

I can also strongly recommend the Developers’ other tool Panorama Stitcher (also on the App Store) that has a similar philosophy: fast, straightforward, accurate and really, really simple (but not ‘simpler than necessary’). Again, very reasonably priced. I also use the very sophisticated PT-GUI but I can honestly say that this little APP is always easier and almost always flawless.

Please experiment (at these prices, why not). I think you will be pleasantly surprised.

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Very interesting. €14,99 but, not bad at the price. And it seems to do a good job.

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Thank you for the tips.
Unfortunately the latest update is from 2 years ago… hopefully it will be updated soon…

And don’t forget Picolay (windows only) and Affinity photo

Hi Marc,

Yes both the apps are 2-4 years old now. But both work just fine under the latest versions of the OS and I’m not sure what could be added without ruining their real ‘asset’: they Don’t Suck (™ – Bbedit of course). They’re great because they work. Simply.

What worries me is that Apple keeps “breaking” its own OS with unnecessary complications every year or so when it produces a new version. Sooner or later this breaks every app and the developers have to update to get around the new restrictions and twists that Apple has introduced.

So far, however, these simple apps seem to be really durable.

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Hi Peter,

Thanks. I totally understand.
It is hard to find a balance between no changes and innovation.
I am just afraid the developers disapeared so I will drop them an email to check.
Today I still use a Mac-Intel but tomorrow I will have an Apple silicon Mac and I wish the apps I get today will have (a free or paying) update for this purpose too :nerd_face:

I’m like Peter. I like software which is well enough written that it doesn’t require constant updates and just works. If simple apps work as planned now, why should the developer be busy adding complications and calling them features?

All the (64 bit) apps I tested work on my M1 MacBook Air thanks to Rosetta 2. The first start takes a second or two, but after that, all GUI things work with no apparent loss of performance. Nevertheless, universal binaries or Apple Silicon specific versions should run even better.

BTW, I also use a few iPad apps on the MBA.

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