This first crop is the output file which at first glance looks promising - the card and the distant hedge are both looking reasonable,but there is a bit of a dark halo around the black lines as well as a thin line in the centre of the black line which is darker than the rest.
Clearly there is detail in the stack that does not make it through the process...
Here is a quick go with two other obvious contenders for focus stacking:
Read on for info on how enfuse and photoshop get it so wrong, and why Helicon focus looks to be the best option.
Enfuse - where did it all go wrong?Enfuse has a nice option to output the masks it uses. With the hardmask option on (and focus stacking without hardmask is not sensible) we get a set of masks which show the selection of individual pixels from each image in the stack. The strange things here is that in almost all areas of the picure it is picking a few pixels from almost every image.
Here are resized images of the masks from the final few images in the stack. The hot spots in the image show that enfuse was sort of getting the right area, but still picks random pixels from pretty much the whole image.
Finally for enfuse here are masks from a few images before the 5m flag was in focus, the in focus image and a few images after. This really just confirms the story, far too much random pixel selection going on for a good result
Photoshop - epic failIt is diffcult to understand what on earth Photoshop thinks it is doing here. Below are a group of adjacent masks from around the centre of the stack. While the overall hotspots are sort of clustered around the right areas, they appear to have been overlaid with what I can only describe as a random splodge generator. I suppose with some stack this might result in an interesting artistic effect, but for what I am trying to do here, this can only be described epic failure.
Helicon focusWell many folks say this is the best answer, and the default try gave by far the best results so far. The depth mask which it can output are a very good guide to what is going on, in that each shade of gray represents a layer used to populate the final image, so they are a sort of combined version of the masks I've shown above.
Method C - pyramidPyramid mode shows a tendency to flip between images on the cards, and also on the sloping tape measure in the foreground
Method B - depth map (default)This is the method used for the example at the top of this post. It looking pretty good, but is still not perfect - for example it misses the cable running across the top
Method A - weighted averageOverall this isn't really helping - depth map is stil;l the best.
The depth map method here is looking pretty good, but not perfect, so two things could help - changing the parameters used by this method / retouching in Helicon