After trying out the Auto-Blending in Photoshop CS4 I wanted to compare this method with my other favorite focus stacking software CombineZ. There are quite a few tutorials out there on usage of the CombineZ. I highly recommend the great tutorial from Brian at Digital grin. Brian is one of the greatest Macro specialist I have seen. he as also a great teacher you can check his work at http://www.flickr.com/photos/lordv/ & http://www.lordv.smugmug.com
I tried the same set of files which were used for the Auto-Blending in Photoshop CS4 Tutorial. The result was far better with CombineZ. Also the alignment of the various layers was perfect in CombineZ, which in CS4 you need to run auto-align layers separately.
Then I tried manual hand stacking in CombineZ as well as CS4. This is a method which is well explained in CombineZ help file is useful when softwares find difficult to align several layers. CS4 does not provide any such method. If auto-blending is unsuccessful by cs4 there is very little you can do as the masks which are produced by CS4 are quite complicated. Here CombineZ wind hands down.
To conclude CS4 auto-blending is easy and quite fast, where as CombineZ produces far better result. CombineZ also allows manual stacking and to top it all it is free.
The beetle you see with this picture is the same set as my Auto-Blending in Photoshop CS4 Tutorial. Here I have used CombineZ to stack photos compare the photo with the one I posted here