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2022 Mac Studio M1 Ultra: Zerene Stacker Focus Stacking
Related: 2019 iMac 5K, 2019 Mac Pro, 2020 iMac 5K, 4K and 5K display, Apple Mac Studio, Apple Silicon, computer display, CPU cores, focus stacking, iMac, iMac 5K, Mac Pro, Macs, video, Zerene Stacker
Unsure which Mac to get or how to configure it? Consult with Lloyd, and see recommended Macs for photographers and videographers.
MPG tested the $7999 Apple Mac Studio M1 Ultra 20-core CPU / 64-core GPU/ 128GB / 8TB SSD , provided on loan for review by B&H Photo, an authorized Apple Mac dealer. Please buy your gear at B&H Photo and OWC/MacSales.com using any link from this site.
For my photographic work, I use Zerene Stacker heavily for focus stacking and it takes minutes to do some stacks, so speed here matters. Zerene Stacker is not the fastest stacking software out there (see Helicon Focus results), but minimizing touchup work is far more important and that’s where Zerene Stacker shines by yielding results that minimize the need for retouching and my retouching time is far more important than the computer time.
Zerene Stacker is outstanding at using all CPU cores. Being Java-based, it does not use the GPU.
See for example Nikon D850 'Focus Shift shooting' feature for Easy Focus Stacking.
Zerene Stacker DMAP: focus stack 20 X 150 megapixel and 28 X 45 megapixel 16-bit TIF.
Test restuls for MBP M1 Max were with macOS 12.1 and an older non-optimized version of Zerene Stacker, yet the M1 Max results are much faster than the M1 Ultra!
The 2022 Mac Studio M1 Ultra delivers a puzzling and disappointing performance, inferior to the 2021 MacBook Pro M1 Max tested a few months prior. Something has changed. No M1 Max was available to retry the speed now.
53% slower than the 2019 Mac Pro.
This looks like a software issue. OTOH, the CPU scalability with Zerene Stacker shows that the 2019 Mac Pro achieves its dominance only past 20 CPU cores.