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denoir -- I was hoping you'd start posting some of your super-clean evening panos!
Jim, sorry to disappoint, but that's basically the only one.
I have something else though of a technical rather than artistic nature.
When you started this thread I got an idea for a test. I'd take the worst possible lens, do a massive pano and then compare the result (resized) to the best wide angle lens I have. My theory was that if I did a sufficiently large pano, the crappy lens would outdo the good one. In short, this is a test of using panoramas to increase image quality.
So, the equipment.. For the pano I used my worst lens, the Sigma 18-200 OS. It is impossible to describe in words how bad this lens is. It's an old consumer grade super zoom - it really can't get worse. I keep it around because I can on occasion use it for test shots like this one and the alternative would have been to chuck it into the nearest garbage bin. While it's best performance is at 200mm, which is what I shot at, you can see from the following 100% crop just how bad it is:
The camera used for the pano was a Canon 7D and I shot it at ISO 800.
My choice of wide angle was the Zeiss 25/2.8 Biogon ZM. The reason for choosing this lens is that according to Zeiss it's the only production lens in the world that hits the diffraction limit at f/4 - i.e it can't theoretically be sharper. The camera used for the single shot was a Leica M9 and I used ISO 160 (base ISO for the M9). The theory here of course is that the lens should not be the limiting factor.
The panorama consists of a whopping 396 images making the final image a 7 Gigapixel shot. Before you ask, no, I'm not a crazy person with infinite time on my hands - the panorama was shot automatically using a Gigapan Epic Pro robotic panorama head.
Wide angle shot:
396 image Pano:
And now to the results and the goal of this test - how do the images compare when the pano is resized to the size of the single WA shot:
100% crop near the center of the image:
WA on the left, pano on the right:
The arrows point out that in the pano the blinds in the window are distinguishable while they are not in the other shot. The resized pano shot using a Sigma 18-200, one of the worst lenses imaginable mounted on a 7D cropper and shot at ISO 800 clearly outresolves the single M9 + ZM 25, ISO160 shot.
The result is perhaps not so surprising given that the former is a 7 Gigapixel shot resized to 18 megapixel, but I wanted to try it in practice and as the panorama was shot automagically it required very little effort on my part.
Generally speaking a smaller panorama resized to the camera's native resolution using a high quality lens can be used to simulate a theoretically perfect lens - i.e where the MTF is maxed out at all detail levels.