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2017 iMac Pro: Helicon Focus

The data on this page and others was painstakingly obtained, made possible by the support of OWC / and B&H Photo. Please order through our links via these companies and/or subscribe—thank you.

See the MPG recommendations for iMac Pro, backup, peripherals. Not sure which Mac to get or how to configure it? Consult with MPG.

Helicon Focus is an alternative to Zerene Stacker for focus stacking.

Helicon Focus, version 7.0.0 Jan 15 build

The prior version did not scale at all (see results further below); this new version is awesome, scaling to 10 CPU cores as well as one can hope for with a real program, given the drop in clock speed of a 10-core CPU (Turbo Boost reduction) and the overhead of using all those cores.

This test is for the new improved “Method B”, which the developer says is slower but much better with difficult stacks. It uses 28 16-bit 45-megapixel images from the Nikon D850. See Nikon D850 'Focus Shift shooting' feature for Easy Focus Stacking.

The 2017 iMac 5K takes 88% longer than the iMac Pro 10-core or in reverse, the iMac Pro cuts the stacking time by 47%. The iMac Pro is visibly remarkably blazingly fast—fun to watch even, as the stacked image takes shape.

2017 iMac Pro vs others: Helicon Focus version 7.0.0 Jan 15 build
f9 @ 8.0 sec, ISO 31; 2017-10-23 18:20:34 [focus stack 28 frames]
NIKON D850 + Nikon AF-S 105mm f/1.4E ED

[low-res image for bot]

Helicon Focus, version 6

Version 6 did not scale across CPU. Also, ecause of a bug in command-line rendering the GUI was used, which is what most people would use anyway.

Helicon Focus behaves strangely on the iMac Pro, utilizing about half of its CPU time in system calls—this suggests poor scalability, perhaps by busy-waiting code.

As can be seen, the 2017 iMac 5K beats out both the 2013 Mac Pro and the iMac 10-core showing plainly that the value of more CPU cores depends heavily on the software.

2017 iMac Pro vs others: Helicon Focus

Recommended Items for iMac Pro and iMac 5K

See the recommendations page for details on why these items are recommended.

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