Stellar clusters are highly useful as tools for determination of distances, ages and abundances of heavy elements of galaxies, also at larger distances. Their utility for these purposes has, so far, been severely limited, mainly due to image crowding. The introduction of Extremely Large Telescopes (ELTs) with full adaptive optics (AO) and near diffraction limited performance should imply a drastic improvement concerning the usefulness of clusters and the limiting distances of high quality data. We have made a study of stellar clusters as probes of distance, evolution and chemistry of galaxies at distances from one to twenty Mpc. From data on the Stromgren uvby system, partly from direct measurements taken from the literature, we have synthesized test clusters, one open and one globular, as well as galactic backgrounds. The clusters have been embedded in the backgrounds and located at distances between one and twenty Mpc. Here, vby data have been measured, reduced and analyzed. Color-magnitude diagrams (CMDs), metallicity diagrams (MDs) and luminosity functions (LFs) have been constructed. They have been evaluated absolutely and compared to the corresponding template data. We conclude that with a 50 m AO ELT, for open as well as globular clusters, MDs are of high quality for clusters out to and beyond 5 Mpc and useful out to 10 Mpc. CMDs are of very high quality well beyond 5 Mpc. They are of high scientific value out to and beyond 10 Mpc and valuable for clusters even out to 20 Mpc. LFs are highly informative well beyond 10 Mpc and still rather valuable at 20 Mpc. With sufficient measurement data available, LFs are useful for clusters in galaxies even beyond 20 Mpc.