Shooting Panoramas - and a special head for µ43´tiny cameras

Discussion in 'Accessories' started by JoFT, Jul 3, 2015.

  1. JoFT

    JoFT Mu-43 Veteran

    360
    Nov 11, 2014
    Stuttgart
    Johannes
    Shooting Panorama seems to be easy in these days. Every Camera has it build in. But shooting nice Panoramas in the blue hour need more than the build in Panorama functions.




    The normal panorama equipment is much too large for the little µ43 cameras why I did a special composition with Novoflex components. For more details you can see my blog:

    http://delightphoto.zenfolio.com/bl...amas-with-panorama-heads-my-special-equipment
     

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    Last edited: Jul 14, 2015
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  2. JoFT

    JoFT Mu-43 Veteran

    360
    Nov 11, 2014
    Stuttgart
    Johannes
    The Panorama head used here is a combination of some special gear. It works fine an it is pretty lightweight, especially combined with the Gitzo traveler tripod.
     
  3. JoFT

    JoFT Mu-43 Veteran

    360
    Nov 11, 2014
    Stuttgart
    Johannes
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  4. Lcrunyon

    Lcrunyon Mu-43 Top Veteran

    769
    Jun 4, 2014
    Maryland
    Loren
    Very nice panos.

    Unless you are shooting multi row panos (which your kit can do), you don't need the vertical and sideways rails. You only need one rail going forwards/backwards from the tripod head, so that you can adjust for parallax errors. That makes for a much smaller kit.

    But just having the rail is not enough. You have to find the exact point along the rail to set the camera, where the no-parallax point (which for m4/3 lenses is usually a number of centimeters in front of the lens) is directly over the center of the tripod. There is a simple home exercise that can be done to figure out exactly where that point is. My next two blog posts, which are already written but not yet posted, go into this in more detail.

    Here is an example of all you need for a single-row pano...
     

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    Last edited: Jul 16, 2015
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  5. JoFT

    JoFT Mu-43 Veteran

    360
    Nov 11, 2014
    Stuttgart
    Johannes
    Thank You , very nice idea, i was considering this, too. I do prefer to shoot the panos in the portrait mode because I do have more pixels and I can adjust the horizon more easy...
     
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  6. dwig

    dwig Mu-43 Top Veteran

    624
    Jun 26, 2010
    Key West FL
    Personally, I use a simple L-bracket that I've made myself, two actually. One is about 3"x3"x3" and made from plastic salvaged from the leg of an industrial cart and the other is about 4"x4"x4" and made from a section of a square aluminum post, scrap from a sign company I used to work for.

    Each has separate holes drilled for my setup. On hole for the connection to the rotating head that is tapped 1/4-20. The other holes are on the vertical side of the L and are placed for my kit zoom on my Pany G-1 at 14mm and 45mm. These L brackets only work for single row panos, but they are compact and extremely stiff.

    My rotation head is an odd ball head that I've had for years. It allows me to remove the male screw from the ball and insert it into the base. This allows the head to be used inverted with the ball joint below its rotation "base". Combined with a simple clamp, I can use it attached to a fence or sign post and adjust the ball to level the rotation "base".
     
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  7. Speedliner

    Speedliner Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 2, 2015
    Southern NJ, USA
    Rob
    I didn't realize panoramas were so technical. Interesting stuff.
     
  8. JoFT

    JoFT Mu-43 Veteran

    360
    Nov 11, 2014
    Stuttgart
    Johannes
    Normally they are simple. But if you go deeper than you start realizing that there is more behind it, f.i. parallax errors which you can see in the typical smartphone Panoramas as well... And if you want to make it better there is some technology needed ;-)
     
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  9. maritan

    maritan Mu-43 Veteran

    388
    Oct 30, 2014
    Yup, finding the nodal point is critical. I tried and didn't do too well during my first attempt, so I've been letting that sit for a while.

    Thanks to @JoFT@JoFT for the blog post with that info. @Lcrunyon@Lcrunyon, looking forward to your blog post too.
     
  10. dwig

    dwig Mu-43 Top Veteran

    624
    Jun 26, 2010
    Key West FL
    Panos are, in general, simple, but there are issues with parallax errors if the camera is pivoted around a axis that is not located at the lens' nodal point. Often, when the subject is far enough away that the errors are minor, these errors can be fixed by retouching the final result.

    The Pano in this post https://www.mu-43.com/posts/599842/ was done handheld and needed some significant fixes to the brick pavement. and a few spots on the railing. I also had to fix the water at a few of the seams and deal with people that moved around a seam.
     
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  11. Lcrunyon

    Lcrunyon Mu-43 Top Veteran

    769
    Jun 4, 2014
    Maryland
    Loren
    Agreed. I also prefer to shoot in portrait orientation so that 1) I have more leeway on the top and bottom, as these will generally have to be cropped after the software has merged all the shots together, and 2) because I think it makes for a more proportional image, which is especially important when displaying digitally.

    I use an L-plate (shown below) for my camera so that I can switch from landscape to vertical orientation with ease. RRS makes plates and L-plates that fit like a glove to a specific camera, including many of the popular m4/3 bodies. The one shown below is for the E-M1. I also use it to connect via a small RRS Arca Swiss clamp to my Black Rapid sling, which is both incredibly convenient as well as more reliable than the normal way.

    As for the rail, there are even simpler, more compact designs than this, such as having the clamp built-in. I chose the rail and double-clamps shown, however, because the clamps can be used separately or they together can be re-aligned with the hex tool so that they can accept camera plate orientation or lens foot orientation, and still be facing the same way on the rail. The earlier pic shows camera alignment, the below one shows lens foot alignment position. I use that rail and clamp package (Really Right Stuff's 192 Precision Plus Package) for a variety of purposes, including balancing heavier lenses and my spotting scope over my ball head, as well as extra reach for macro. It's very versatile.

    I'll publish those posts tonight. It's about time to get them up.
     

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    Last edited: Jul 16, 2015
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  12. JoFT

    JoFT Mu-43 Veteran

    360
    Nov 11, 2014
    Stuttgart
    Johannes
    I know this problem, too. I made a Pano in Yerba Bueno Garden with the big stuff and the large Pano head in March.

    http://delightphoto.zenfolio.com/p84127688/h389a98b8#h389a98b8

    And i did not adjust the nodal point correctly. It took me hours to correct thin in Photoshop...

    And water - it´s another pain in the ass... really! especially with long exposures... I do have 2 excamples:


    http://delightphoto.zenfolio.com/p84127688/h17aab51f#h17aab51f

    http://delightphoto.zenfolio.com/p860544112/h61768317#h61768317
    The last one is not the final version but it shows the problem... a corrected version is this one
     
  13. JoFT

    JoFT Mu-43 Veteran

    360
    Nov 11, 2014
    Stuttgart
    Johannes
    This looks great!!!
     
  14. Lcrunyon

    Lcrunyon Mu-43 Top Veteran

    769
    Jun 4, 2014
    Maryland
    Loren
    Well, I needed to do a post on long exposure first, and it's a lot of work to get everything publishable. So, the Panos post will have to wait until tomorrow night.
     
  15. oldracer

    oldracer Mu-43 All-Pro

    Oct 1, 2010
    USA
    I don't completely disagree with this but I do think that the sense of this thread, that shooting stitch panos is difficult and requires a lot of hardware is very misleading.

    First, the light level ("blue hour") doesn't affect panos in any way. With low light you have to use a tripod, certainly, but the light level itself doesn't affect whether you need pano hardware or not.

    Pano hardware is increasingly required when the composition includes foreground objects. It is only with foreground objects where parallax effects from pivoting somewhere other than the no-parallax point ("nodal point" not being the technically correct term of course.) begin to cause issues. Even then the degree of issues depends on the actual foreground and on the distance of the no-parallax point from the pivot point. Some lenses, for example, have no-parallax points that are very close to the tripod socket on the camera body -- hence they will not require pano hardware so much when pivoted on a tripod.

    From what dwig said, apparently his bricks were enough of a foreground presence that pano hardware would have been desirable. JoFT's "Yerba Bueno Garden" photo also illustrates.

    I have had no problem shooting scenery by simply holding the camera and pivoting my body. In low light, by pivoting the camera on its tripod mounting point. For example, this "blue hour" shot stitched just fine after being shot off a tripod:


    Speedliner, they can be as technical as you want to make them. Where the pano is indoors, for example the interior of a business, it can be very technical. (Check out the equipment requirements to be a "Google Trusted Photographer.") Where the pano is outdoors with few foreground objects (like several of the OPs images), just grab your camera and shoot away!
     
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  16. Lcrunyon

    Lcrunyon Mu-43 Top Veteran

    769
    Jun 4, 2014
    Maryland
    Loren
    I've shot plenty of panos hand-held. Once parallax is understood it's not an insurmountable problem. Sometimes those attempts havent stitched well, however, so some technical solutions can help. But yes, I agree, a ton of extra, expensive / encumbering gear is not absolutely necessary.
     
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  17. dwig

    dwig Mu-43 Top Veteran

    624
    Jun 26, 2010
    Key West FL
    Exactly, I've done quite a number of successful handled stitched images, mostly panos, but a few 2 row by 2-3 column images to substitute for not having a wider lens. The handheld images generally require some touch-up, but it is generally minor when there's nothing too close in the picture.

    Indoors it is a different story. Things are too close to do a decent pano without a good bracket that pivots accurately around the proper lens nodal point. These pix are of my small DIY bracket, the smaller plastic one I mentioned earlier in this tread. I've used it quite successfully a number of times.
    163358-edit. 163806-edit.
     
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  18. Lcrunyon

    Lcrunyon Mu-43 Top Veteran

    769
    Jun 4, 2014
    Maryland
    Loren
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  19. RAH

    RAH Mu-43 Veteran

    271
    Dec 1, 2013
    New Hampshire
    Rich
    Loren, I like your blog posts about making panoramas, but I do have one criticism/suggestion. You seem to go from one extreme to the other in your instructions and recommendations. I mean, on the one hand you say that you only buy Really Right Stuff equipment (and go into the usual reasons about buying the best, don't skimp, etc, etc). But on the other hand you then give alternatives and talk about how you can even hand-hold in a pinch. And you recommend Hugin, a freeware program.

    I think that this greatly diminishes how much you help people trying to do panos. I mean, Really Right Stuff, is REALLY EXPENSIVE STUFF. That nodal kit you recommend is $180. I mean, that's just going to stop people like myself right in their tracks. Do you realize this?

    It seems to me that perhaps you could give us mere mortals on a budget some perhaps slight less "right" stuff - perhaps "somewhat right stuff" or "moderately right stuff" that is a little less expensive - moderation in all things, perhaps.

    I mean, for example, will a rail like this:

    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1007338-REG/desmond_dnr_120_nodal_rail_120mm.html

    be a cheaper and workable alternative? I don't really know, because I kind of stopped reading your blog after looking at the $180 really wrong price on that kit. I expected it (having seen their prices before), but I do wish you'd give some help to people in the middle. :)

    Is one rail like that enough to get better results with a portrait-oriented camera? Do I need a second rail? I'm sorry that I haven't read every part of your very detailed blog on this stuff, but as I said, I kind of got sticker shock and stopped reading. Can you scale back a little?
     
  20. oldracer

    oldracer Mu-43 All-Pro

    Oct 1, 2010
    USA
    Rich, I think the bottom line on simple stuff like rails, L-brackets, etc. is that there are no hidden virtues worth worrying about. If you look carefully at pictures to get an idea of thickness, number of holes or slots (that weaken the item) that you don't need, you can get an idea of whether a more expensive item is worth the money. Pretty much all of them have laser-engraved scales (because that is the cheap way plus it is good) and are made of very vanilla aluminum like 6061-T6. Machining accuracy IMO is not a big deal; an Arca rail is about 38.3mm wide and the angle of the side cut is about 45 degrees. Either anodizing or powder coat will work for a finish unless you're planning a lot salt water immersion. End of story.

    As the L-brackets and plates get customized to a particular camera rather than being universal, costs rise. In addition to design and prototyping costs to be recovered over a small production volume, the machining itself can be fairly complex, which means extended, expensive CNC time. RRS seems to specialize in this area, with complex custom shapes. That's a lot of work that they have to get paid for.

    Like any marketers, though, RRS is going to use their reputation on high-end things like ball heads as a credential to justify high prices/high margins on the simple stuff. Loyal customers' natural confirmation bias (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confirmation_bias) will tend to support that as well. So IMO the key is to pay up when you are getting something worth the extra money and to buy elsewhere where you're not.

    Re that B&H rail, I'd buy it or something like it and start playing around with finding your lenses' no-parallax points and shooting some landscape-format panos. That will teach you a lot. Then, as you learn, you will be better equipped to answer some of your questions for yourself. An ounce of experience trumps a pound of speculation and theory.

    At the end of your journey you may find yourself owning a Nodal Ninja Ultimate or you may find yourself happy with your $30 rail. Only experience will tell.
     
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