Handheld Macro In-Camera Focus Stacking with Olympus OM-D E-M1X

By Thomas Stirr

One of the interesting capabilities of the Olympus OM-D E-M1X is its in-camera focus stacking function. This feature allows a photographer to capture a range of focus stacked images and process them in-camera. The output is a jpeg file.

Other Olympus cameras like the OM-D E-M1 Mark II and E-M5 Mark III also have In-Camera Focus Stacking. What makes using this feature with an E-M1X even more interesting is utilizing its outstanding IBIS performance. 

This article features a selection of 12 handheld macro in-camera focus stacked images. These types of photographs are a testament to how Olympus technology is redefining what is possible. I used the maximum number of focus stacked images allowed by my E-M1X which is 15. Depending on the photograph I used a focusing differential of either 5 or 3 for the images displayed in this article. 

Let’s start by having a look at some handheld macro in-camera focus stacked images that were captured at the Royal Botanical Gardens in Burlington Ontario.

A red and orange flower
Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 60 mm f/2.8 macro lens, f/2.8, 1/320, ISO-640, subject distance 295 mm, handheld macro in-camera focus stacked image, out-of-camera jpeg adjusted to taste in post
A yellow flower up close
Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 60 mm f/2.8 macro lens, f/2.8, 1/250, ISO-100, subject distance 225 mm, handheld macro in-camera focus stacked image, out-of-camera jpeg adjusted to taste in post
The stigma of a flower
TheOlympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 60 mm f/2.8 macro lens, f/2.8, 1/250, ISO-400, subject distance 200 mm, handheld macro in-camera focus stacked image, out-of-camera jpeg adjusted to taste in post
A pink flower petal
Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 60 mm f/2.8 macro lens, f/2.8, 1/250, ISO-200, subject distance 275 mm, handheld macro in-camera focus stacked image, out-of-camera jpeg adjusted to taste in post

The following four images were captured at the Niagara Butterfly Conservatory in Niagara Falls Canada. Again, all of these macro focus stacked images were captured handheld with an E-M1X. 

A brown butterfly up close
Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 60 mm f/2.8 macro lens, f/2.8, 1/250, ISO-1000, subject distance 235 mm, handheld macro in-camera focus stacked image, out-of-camera jpeg adjusted to taste in post
A brown butterfly up close
Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 60 mm f/2.8 macro lens, f/5.6, 1/250, ISO-3200, subject distance 260 mm, handheld macro in-camera focus stacked image, out-of-camera jpeg adjusted to taste in post
A white and yellow butterfly's face
Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 60 mm f/2.8 macro lens, f/5, 1/250, ISO-1600, subject distance 210 mm, handheld macro in-camera focus stacked image, out-of-camera jpeg adjusted to taste in post
Two orange butterflies
Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 60 mm f/2.8 macro lens, f/5, 1/320, ISO-3200, subject distance 245 mm, handheld macro in-camera focus stacked image, out-of-camera jpeg adjusted to taste in post

Our final four handheld macro focus stacked images are of one of my guitars. These photographs were captured in my living room at home. 

Guitar strings up close
Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 60 mm f/2.8 macro lens, f/5, 1/50, ISO-3200, subject distance 580 mm, handheld macro in-camera focus stacked image, out-of-camera jpeg adjusted to taste in post
A coil up close
Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 60 mm f/2.8 macro lens, f/3.5, 1/200, ISO-2000, subject distance 245 mm, handheld macro in-camera focus stacked image, out-of-camera jpeg adjusted to taste in post
A guitar machine head
Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 60 mm f/2.8 macro lens, f/2.8, 1/50, ISO-500, subject distance 300 mm, handheld macro in-camera focus stacked image, out-of-camera jpeg adjusted to taste in post
Guitar strings up close
Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 60 mm f/2.8 macro lens, f/5, 1/50, ISO-1250, subject distance 610 mm, handheld macro in-camera focus stacked image, out-of-camera jpeg adjusted to taste in post

Many people criticize the size and weight of the Olympus OM-D E-M1X. What they don’t appreciate is how stable and secure it feels to hold and use this camera. It really shines with a wide range of handheld macro photography.

Rather than pigeon-hole the E-M1X as a “sports and wildlife” camera photographers should be viewing it as an all-round image creating tool. For anyone who is interested in handheld macro photography the E-M1X, used with the M.Zuiko 60mm f/2.8 macro lens is simply superb. The combination of the Olympus in-camera focus stacking and the IBIS performance of the E-M1X expand the realm of what is possible with handheld macro photography.

To see more of my work you can visit https://smallsensorphotography.com.

Article and all images are Copyright 2020 Thomas Stirr. All rights reserved. This article was created for use by Mirrorlessons.com on an exclusive basis. If you see it reproduced anywhere else it is an unauthorized and illegal use. 

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