Focus Stacking Setup

Click this image to visit the YouTube videos, which will explain how the system
 works, and how any other group or lab can make their own working system. 

What is it?

This page is about our focus stacking setup. I use it to take photographs of tiny plant specimens that are between about 0.2mm and 1cm wide.

Please feel free to copy it.

I am very happy for anyone to build a duplicate system, and have written detail instructions to help people and research labs to do this. If you would like to have a go, please watch the videos, or read the pages linked below. If you do try, I would love to hear from you about how you get on.

How can I do this for £100 if I am in a University or similar? 

My hope in writing this is that an honours student in a University might be able to copy this system for only about £100, with a certain amount of borrowing and scavenging of equipment and parts. If you would like to know how to do this please see the parts and sourcing list.

Where are the building instructions?

OpenPlant Project 2018

GitHub write-up

Hackter write-up

YouTube Channel

Biomaker Challenge 2017 

Hackster write-up

GitHub write-up

To see some of the photos taken with this setup please visit my image library at

The small versions of my images are available free for teaching purposes. For full sized versions of the images for teaching or commercial purposes, please contact me through the form at

Who did this work?

Who built it?

The system was put together in a collaborative effort between a large number of people. The people who worked together to build the system are shown on the GitHub and Hackster pages listed below.

A great deal of technical expertise was contributed by the members of the discussion forum.

The bulk of the work was carried out on a volunteer basis, by me (Jennifer Deegan), and Tim Deegan, working at home, for fun. If you do try to duplicate our system, we hope you enjoy it as much as we do.

Which groups funded it?

Some of the work was funded by two OpenPlant grants, in collaboration with the University of Cambridge and the John Innes Centre. The OpenPlant grant was in turn funded by the BBSRC and EPSRC.

How do I give attribution if I copy it?

In any publications that may arise from duplicate systems, please include in your acknowledgements, our publication of the system method: Deegan, J., and Deegan, T., 2018, The Pteridologist Magazine.

Who inspired this work?

The Photography of Professor M.B. Wilkins

To read more about the photography of Professor M. B. Wilkins, please follow the link at the top right of this page.

The Bratcam by Chris Slaybaugh

To read more about Chris Slaybaugh's Bratcam, on which my system is based, please visit his write-ups on the website. The first volume is here and the second is here.

The Forum

In designing and building my system, I received a great deal of advice and help from the members of the forum. To see the discussions that led to the building of my system please see the thread here.

This work was carried out by Jennifer Deegan in Cambridge. She was working especially with Tim Deegan, but also with the help of many collaborators, who are all listed on the GitHub and Hackster write-ups listed above.