Have you been stacking with Dmap in Zerene? I could swear that is what you have been doing judging by your results.
Seriously, I never obtained such horrible pictures in Zerene as the ones you have shown in your tests, except when I had tried Dmap, they look like typical Dmap stacks. I always stack in Dmax since I never understood how to work out Dmap (and I seem not to be the only one) and it always produced images like the ones you have shown, seems like only Rik understands the obscure science of Dmap! lol That is why I stick to Dmax.
Can you enlighten me?
My program does not have a Dmax, but it does have a Pmax and a Dmap. When I first tried Zerene, I used both Pmax and Dmap, and got horrible results. Then, when I sent the images to Rik, he advised me specifically to use Dmap ... which (you are correct!) provided all of those images.
I have run 2 stacks now using strictly Pmax, and both of them came out better by far than Dmap, though they still fell short of CS5 IMO. I am going to bed now, but tomorrow I will update my blog with the "alternative" stacks and let you and the others be the judge of these, but indeed your point here seems to be very well-taken, based on the first 2 stacks that I have run on the .tiff files. Will do the rest tomorrow ...