Stacking raw files isn’t anything new. We’ve been able to do it in Photoshop for years. But doing it in Photoshop requires some legwork. If you’ve got moving subjects in your shots, you need to mask things out, which can take a lot of time depending on the shot. Kandao’s new Raw+ software, however, figures it out automatically.
There are multiple reasons why you might want to stack images. The two most common are to increase the range of focus in your final shot (macro & landscape stacking) and to reduce noise (where you stack multiple shots of the exact same scene). The latter is what this software is for.
Designed primarily to work with their own range of QooCam and Obsidian 360° cameras to offer increased quality in stacked stills, it will actually work with other brand raw files, too. It uses the same sort of computational photography techniques that many of our phones use these days to reduce noise in jpg images from the raw data. I know on my phones, whenever I shoot raw+jpg, the jpg always looks pretty clean straight out of the camera compared to the DNG raw. Techniques like this are why.
When you bring in a selection of raw files for stacking, you pick one image as a reference, and then it auto-aligns the rest. It then combines them all together and actually spits out a new 16Bit DNG raw file, not a flattened 8Bit JPG. The company claims that this offers up to 4 stops increased dynamic range.
The automatic fixing of “ghosts”, blurry artifacts caused by things moving between each of the shots in the stack, is very impressive. I’m going to have to experiment with this and really see what it can do.
It’s nice to start seeing some of the computational photography power of our phones coming to the desktop for more serious applications.