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StackShot 3X Macro Rail Package

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The StackShot 3X Macro Rail Package is a completely configurable automated system for capturing images for focus stacking. StackShot makes focus stacking repeatable, fast and easy.

What's Included:

1 x StackShot 3X Controller - USB and Wi-Fi equipped
1 x StackShot macro rail
1 x 6ft (2m) long motor cable
1 x AC adapter (available in 4 different styles US, EU, UK and AUS) - choose below

This controller offers all of the focus stacking features of our original single axis controller with the addition of an easy to use touch screen interface and two additional motor control channels to allow for additional functionality like virtual object creation, giga-pixel imaging, shoot move shoot time lapse movie making and real-time video motion.

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StackShot 3X Macro Rail Package

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StackShot 3X - Automated Macro Rail for Focus Stacking (the next generation)

Macro-photography is a fascinating sub-set of the photographic world. It brings to life detail that the human eye all too often misses. Unfortunately macro photographs often suffer from a narrow depth of field. How do photographers capture that stunning shot at high magnification and still have great depth of field? Enter focus stacking. Focus stacking is the art of digitally combining a series of images with a narrow depth of field into a single image with an extended depth. The images are usually collected with a macro rail and combined using a software program such as Zerene Stacker or Helicon Focus. Ideally each of these images is taken at a fixed distance interval.

Most macro photographers are familiar with using a macro rail to adjust the camera’s position relative to the subject of interest. These macro rails allow the distance to be adjusted and provide a crude manual method for taking the series of shots required for focus stacking. Unfortunately there are several drawbacks. There is a lack of accuracy, reproducibility, speed, and precision. Additionally, sub-millimeter steps are difficult at best. This is where StackShot comes in, it is an automated focusing rail for repeatably collecting images for focus stacking.

StackShot 3X takes automated focus stacking to the next level by featuring a touch screen interface for easy setup and two additional motor control channels to make even the most complex stacking operations and motion control moves easy to execute. By adding additional rotary tables and linear rails the system can be configured to capture virtual objects, do panoramic focus stacking, create giga-pixel images, make shoot move shoot time lapse movies or do real time video moves. StackShot 3X features all of the stacking modes in the original single axis StackShot and a whole lot more. Here is a quick comparison of the two controllers.

The StackShot 3X Macro Rail package includes everything you will need to automate the image collection process for focus stacking except the camera specific shutter cable. The shutter cable is the communication link between the camera and StackShot. It allows the StackShot controller to control your camera to make the image capturing process completely automated. The shutter cable is required if using StackShot stand alone (with no computer) or with Zerene Stacker. No shutter cable is required if used with Helicon Remote.

Repeatable Collection of Images for Focus Stacking - StackShot

StackShot is an electronically controlled macro rail system that coordinates the movement of the macro rail and the triggering of the camera. StackShot’s simple user-interface makes the automation of the entire image collecting process for focus stacking very easy.

What are the advantages of StackShot?

Accuracy: Step size adjustment from full length of the rail 100 mm down to 2 um.

Repeatability: The “automatic return” feature allows adjustments to the exposure settings between stacks captured with the same position and step size as the previous run with a single button press.

Speed: No more manually adjusting the rail position, pressing the shutter button, and hoping you didn’t bump the camera. Everything is automated and fast. This enables focus-stacking for critters that may not be willing to stay in the same position for very long. See Scott Linstead's guest post on the stacking of live spiders for an example.

Completely Configurable: The StackShot 3X is completely user configurable. Timing (both on, off and settle), number of pictures per step (useful for HDR –, maximum speed, ramp time, camera settle time, etc. All the flexibility you will ever need for focus stacking.

Can be battery powered for use in the field. Check out our Li-Ion Battery Kit.

Focus Stacking Modes:

Click or tap a mode to see StackShot's behavior.

Automatic: (Auto-Dist)
Use the FWD and BACK buttons to adjust the rail's start/stop position. Enter the distance of each step. Then go!

Total Distance:
Select the total distance you want the rail to travel along with the number of steps desired in that distance.

Manual Step:
A button press is required to move the rail the specified distance. Only one step occurs for each button press. Useful for cameras with no electronic shutter release.

Distance Per Step:
Similar to Total Distance, except that you enter the distance desired for each step, and then the number of steps.

Move the camera the specified distance without stopping in steps.
StackShot automatic mode

Macro Rail Highlights

  • Fully automated - Controller handles the coordination of the rail and the camera
  • Standard macro rail has 100 mm of travel, see the Extended Rail for the 200 mm version.
  • Very precise control - to 2um in high precsion mode.
  • Guide rails and ACME threaded rod made from stainless steel
  • Constructed from lightweight 6061 aluminum
  • Durable matte black anodized finish
  • Stainless steel fasteners throughout
  • Engineered plastic bearings require no lubrication - Long life and no messy lubrication.
  • Designed for vertical or horizontal use, the rail will lift a 10lb (4.5kg) load vertically
  • Light weight 2.4lb (1.1kg)
  • Base includes 3 different tripod mounting options. 1/4-20 threads, 3/8-16 threads, or ARCA style dovetail mount machined in.

Controller Highlights

  • USB equipped for computer control or updating firmware
  • Wi-Fi Enabled for use with our Remote Control or remote computer control
  • Durable extruded aluminum housing
  • Touch screen user interface - easy number entry and easy configuration
  • Adjustable motor torque - turn down the torque to save on battery life
  • Adjustable macro rail speed
  • Configurable auto return - the rail will return to the start after the captures are complete
  • Configurable settle time in between captures
  • Capture multiple photos at each step (exposure bracketing or mirror lockup)
  • Includes a time lapse mode for capturing time lapse stacks
  • Optional battery power for field shooting, operates at 12VDC
  • Settings presets - Save up to ten different setups and recall them as needed
  • Shutter disable feature allows a preview of Stack without actually taking pictures
  • Includes 6ft cable from motor to controller - can be extended if required
  • Controller is easily held and operated with one hand
  • Change the lighting or exposure and run your last stack with a single button press
  • Compatible with either RCA or 3.5mm shutter interface cables

StackShot 3X Results

Ant Stack Captured by Patrice Grille
Focus stack created by ©Patrice Grilli, you can see his full setup and more of his work on his Flickr Page.

Stack Captured by Kent Loeffler of Cornell University
Focus stack created by ©Kent Loeffler of Cornell University

Other Applications for The StackShot 3X Controller

Virtual Objects

Shoot Move Shoot Time Lapse

Real Time Motion

Giga-Pixel Imaging

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StackShot 3X Resources

Owner's Manual

Owner's Manual (PDF) 

Firmware Updates

StackShot 3X Firmware Updates (ZIP) StackShot 3X Firmware Release Notes (PDF)

3X Computer App

StackShot 3X App Downlaod (Mac) StackShot 3X App Downlaod (PC)

Computer App Notes

The StackShot 3X application is written in Java, and you will need to make certain you have Oracle's Java installed. The StackShot 3X Application will let you know if you need to update your version of Java. You can find the latest version here:



StackShot Controller Dimensions: 120mm L x 103mm W x 31mm H

Standard Macro Rail Dimensions: 200mm L x 86mm W x 80mm H
Rail Travel: 100mm

Extended Macro Rail Dimensions: 300mm L x 86mm W x 80mm H
Rail Travel: 200mm

Hole Pattern Dimensions: Download Drawing
The Extended Rail Dovetail Base length is 260.35mm (10.25") with the hole pattern centered on the base.
This hole pattern is identical to the standard rail (see above drawing).

Field Weights

StackShot Controller: 0.34kg (12.0 oz)

StackShot Macro Rail (standard length): 1.12kg (2lb 7.4oz)

Controller Carrier Kit (including Wimberley Arm): 0.28kg (9.9oz)

Battery Kit (not including charger): 0.26kg (9.2oz)

Total Weight: 2.0kg (4.4lbs)
Add 0.24kg (8.6oz) for the Extended Rail

Other Specs

Specifications MIN NOM MAX UNITS
Input Voltage 12 12 24 Vdc
Input Current (12Vdc in) - 150 6000 mAdc
Input Current–Power-saving modes active - 50 - mAdc
Shutter Output Current Sink - - 1 Adc
Operating Temperature -20 25 70 C
-4 77 158 F

StackShot 3X Resources

Owner's Manual

Owner's Manual (PDF) 

Firmware Updates

StackShot 3X Firmware Updates (ZIP) StackShot 3X Firmware Release Notes (PDF)

3X Computer App

StackShot 3X App Downlaod (Mac) StackShot 3X App Downlaod (PC)

Computer App Notes

The StackShot 3X application is written in Java, and you will need to make certain you have Oracle's Java installed. The StackShot 3X Application will let you know if you need to update your version of Java. You can find the latest version here:

How To

StackShot 3X Accessories:

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