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Open Access Focus stacking: Comparing commercial top-end set-ups with a semi-automatic low budget approach. A possible solution for mass digitization of type specimens

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In this manuscript we present a focus stacking system, composed of commercial photographic equipment. The system is inexpensive compared to high-end commercial focus stacking solutions. We tested this system and compared the results with several different software packages (CombineZP, Auto-Montage, Helicon Focus and Zerene Stacker). We tested our final stacked picture with a picture obtained from two high-end focus stacking solutions: a Leica MZ16A with DFC500 and a Leica Z6APO with DFC290. Zerene Stacker and Helicon Focus both provided satisfactory results. However, Zerene Stacker gives the user more possibilities in terms of control of the software, batch processing and retouching. The outcome of the test on high-end solutions demonstrates that our approach performs better in several ways. The resolution of the tested extended focus pictures is much higher than those from the Leica systems. The flash lighting inside the Ikea closet creates an evenly illuminated picture, without struggling with filters, diffusers, etc. The largest benefit is the price of the set-up which is approximately € 3,000, which is 8 and 10 times less than the LeicaZ6APO and LeicaMZ16A set-up respectively. Overall, this enables institutions to purchase multiple solutions or to start digitising the type collection on a large scale even with a small budget.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2014

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