Problems photographing flies. 2. To stack or not to stack?

female Aenigmatias

As I showed in the last post, at high magnifications you can only have a small amount of your subject in the sharpest focus because diffraction limits useable depth of field. Now you have two choices: stacking or settling for some different compromise.

The image above is a blended stack of 25 images, all of which only have a bit of the fly in focus. I used a program called Zerene Stacker to do this, but there are other options. You can make some phenomenal images this way (just look at the forums at, especially using tens to hundreds of source images, but there is a catch – your subjects have to be motionless, preferably dead. Some field photographers can get short stacks of a few images of resting flies, but generally flies are 2. active. For me, it is better to pick a compromise lens setting like f 8-11, as discussed last time, to get good shots of lively, moving flies. If you want more information on stacking, though, see the free resources at

Next: how do you get enough light to use f 11?

5 comments on “Problems photographing flies. 2. To stack or not to stack?

  1. Trying to get a sense of scale on that cool looking fly…just how big is it?

  2. Jeff Bjorck says:

    Great image! I love the crispness, particularly the eye!

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