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priceken
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p.1 #1 · Panoramic Images Gear


Hello,

I am interested in doing panoramic images this summer as we travel. I would guess single row panoramic images. When you do panoramic images could you tell me a bit about your setup. I have been doing some reading on the web about it and there seems to be a variety of suggestions that are made with equipment ranging from simple to expensive but most seem to agree on some basics of actually taking the images. Here what I understand and how I try to do it now:

Set Up
1. Things need to be level. I have a bubble level on the tripod. It takes some work to get the tripod close to level but I use it to level the legs.
2. I have a good ball head that will pan but has no bubble level on it.
3. So, after I level the legs I use a spirit hot shoe level on the ball head plate that I attach the camera too and level the plate from side to side and back to front.
4. Next I attach the camera to the ball head plate and check the level using the level in the hot shoe.

What am I missing here.

Thanks,

Ken



Jul 03, 2013 at 03:06 AM
EB-1
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p.1 #2 · Panoramic Images Gear


There are several ways to do pans. For single-row pans you can simply use a nodal slide clamped to the L-bracket on the camera and to the ball head. Generally you will want to pan perpendiculary to the narrow direction of the image (camera typically vertical for horizontal pans) to increase the total pixels on the subject by 2.25x.

The panning base should be parallel to the level ground. However the camera can be aimed upward or downward from level depending on the desired composition. You can move the horizon around later in the stitching software. I prefer to level the tripod with a proper leveling base and then use the normal ballhead base for panning. There are other options, such as using a ballhead with a panning clamp on top. In that case the ballhead itself is the leveler. However that option works best with a full panning rig, such as the RRS, or if the shot is vertically level.

Normally I only bother with the RRS full pano setup for multi-row pans. However you can do multi-rows them without it, albeit with less efficiency. Start with single row pans and gain some experience first. In order to have good efficiency, make sure the panning base of the ballhead has some good incremental markings so that you can establish the correlation between image overlap and number of clicks or degrees to turn between images. Otherwise you will need to look through the viewfinder each time, making for extra contortions, especially if you need to shade the lens to block flares.

EBH



Jul 03, 2013 at 03:37 AM
priceken
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p.1 #3 · Panoramic Images Gear


Thanks for the response. It helps. Thus, to level the tripod with a proper leveling base do you mean an attachment below the ball head that the ball head screws into. It can move a few degrees around to level the base of the ball head. Does this make it easier to level the tripod than by trying to adjust the legs.

If one goes the clamp route then the ball head is rotated head until the bubble in the clamp is level.

But do you still need to do both.

Ken






Jul 03, 2013 at 05:05 AM
MalbikEndar
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p.1 #4 · Panoramic Images Gear


The nodal slide improves the results if you have objects in both foreground and background. Personally I don't use one but then I'm not obsessive.

You could improvise a nodal slide with a long plate on the camera. I thought of trying this sometime.

I have a tripod with a bubble level and the D7000 has a built-in leveling function. The combination works OK.



Jul 03, 2013 at 12:43 PM
Mr Joe
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p.1 #5 · Panoramic Images Gear


Technically you don't need any extra equipment to shoot panos. You'd be surprised what you can do hand held.
If you're shooting in low light, you'll want to use a tripod. If you have objects that are close to the camera, you may want to use a nodal slide -- but today's software is pretty good unless things are really close.

You can level your tripod with just the legs, but that's a pain. Another option is to use a panning clamp on top of your tripod head -- something like the Benro PC-0 or RRS PCL-1. Some ballheads like the Arca Swiss p0 have the panning clamp built in to the head.

Another option is a leveling base. Acratech, RRS, and Nodal Ninja are some brands to look at.

Panoguide has a really nice overview of the equipment options, and their advantages: http://www.panoguide.com/howto/panoramas/gear.jsp

I prefer the RRS 192 FAS nodal slide because it works with superwide lenses and fisheyes. With some other nodal slides you'd get the slide itself in the picture. http://reallyrightstuff.com/ProductDesc.aspx?code=192-FAS-Pkg

Make sure to calibrate properly for the Least Parallax Point (also referred to as No Parallax Point or Nodal Point) -- I find it's helpful to right down my settings for various lenses and leave this in my camera bag.

Enjoy making panos! Here's a recent 360 night panorama from an abandoned ski resort:
http://www.360cities.net/image/abandoned-ski-resort-at-night-california



Jul 04, 2013 at 12:15 AM
dsjtecserv
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p.1 #6 · Panoramic Images Gear


There is a lot of confusion about "leveling" for panoramas. What is actually necessary is just that the axis of rotation be vertical (plumb) or, to put it another way, that the plane of rotation be horizontal. That can be accomplished by either leveling the stage of the tripod (on which the ball head is mounted), or by using a leveling base above the stage, but below the ball head or whatever is used for rotation. Some ball heads (like the GP series from Acratech) can be inverted, so the ball serves as the leveling base and the ball head rotator (with clamp attached) does the rotation. With the leveling done below the means of rotation, the camera can then be pitched up or down (so the horizon isn't dead center).

If you level the tripod legs or use a separate leveling base below the ball head, the ball can serve as the means of pitching up or down. If you use the inverted ball head, you need an additional means of pitching. Using a pano bracket with a vertical arm (such as those from Nodal Ninja, Hejnar, RRS, etc.). You mount the camera on the arm, which allows not only for pitching but all alignment of the No Parallax Point (NPP) of the lens with the axis of ration in both the vertical and horizontal directions.

You will get a range of opinions on the need for precise alignment of the NPP of the rotation axes. But it boils down to this: without alignment, there will be parallax error. For panos with subjects that are all far from the camera relative to each other, this is of little consequence because the parallax shift as the camera is moved is minor to trivial. If you have objects in the foreground as well as others relatively far away (as is likely when a wider angle lens is used) then parallax will be more of a factor. No software can remove parallax -- it is "burned in" to the location of objects relative to each other in adjacent frames. However, most good pano software these days uses sophisticated blending algorithms that can HIDE (not eliminate) parallax so that the resulting stitch is pleasing and the effects of parallax are not apparent. In many cases this is plenty good enough, and you can get away without NPP alignment, but you should be aware there will be exceptions. Also note that the NPP for each lens, and for each focal length for zoom lenses, is unique, and needs to be determined empirically.

And, as Mr. Joe notes, you can often shoot panoramas hand held, without additional equipment. The original images don't really have to be level or or aligned in order to be stitched together -- the software does the math needed to locate them globally and warp them so they can project onto a plane. But doing so means you may need to move them around in the software so that horizontal things (including the horizon itself) are horizontal and verticals are vertical, and you may then need to crop the result to to eliminate non-imaged areas. And parallax will be an issue under the conditions described above. But in a pinch, or where hauling extra equipment is impractical, hand held is an option worth trying.

Joe's tip on writing down the NPP for different lens and focal length combination is spot on. I carry a cheat sheet like the one below for all the lenses and focal lengths I am likely to use. Below is an old version (I haven't used an XTi in years!) for some lenses using a Nodal Ninja 3 pano bracket.







Have fun and enjoy exploring panoramas.

Dave



Jul 05, 2013 at 04:22 PM
priceken
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p.1 #7 · Panoramic Images Gear


Hello,
Thanks for the suggestions. So, based on the suggestions a good match would be the RRS 192 FAS notal rail with two sliding clamps. This would allow attaching the camera body and non-collared lens to be attached to the nodal rail. This would be combined with a Sunwayfoto DDH-03 Large Panning Clamp from B&H where the notal rail would fit.. This clamp seems similar to the RRS clamp but is less expensive.

So, first level the tripod legs then use the ball head to level the panning clamp/ notal rail combination. The panning head could be left off but the cost would be more effort trying to get the tripod legs level.

Ken

Ken



Jul 06, 2013 at 03:31 AM
EB-1
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p.1 #8 · Panoramic Images Gear


The 192 is interesting, though rather heavy if you don't need it for the small/wide lenses. The MPR-CL II is fine for single-row pans. Typically collared lenses have focal lengths and focusing distances long enough that you won't need to put them on a nodal slide.

I think the parts will work. However, as I mentioned before, I'm still not seeing how you will change the elevation if the ball head/panning clamp will be used to level the tripod. dsjtecserv explained it in more detail.

dsjtecserv wrote:
If you level the tripod legs or use a separate leveling base below the ball head, the ball can serve as the means of pitching up or down. If you use the inverted ball head, you need an additional means of pitching. Using a pano bracket with a vertical arm (such as those from Nodal Ninja, Hejnar, RRS, etc.). You mount the camera on the arm, which allows not only for pitching but all alignment of the No Parallax Point (NPP) of the lens with the axis of ration in both the vertical and horizontal directions.
Dave


That is why I prefer a leveling base or full pano rig that puts a nodal slide on a rotating clamp on the vertical axis.

EBH



Jul 06, 2013 at 04:13 AM
 

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dsjtecserv
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p.1 #9 · Panoramic Images Gear


priceken wrote:
Thanks for the suggestions. So, based on the suggestions a good match would be the RRS 192 FAS notal rail with two sliding clamps. This would allow attaching the camera body and non-collared lens to be attached to the nodal rail. This would be combined with a Sunwayfoto DDH-03 Large Panning Clamp from B&H where the notal rail would fit.. This clamp seems similar to the RRS clamp but is less expensive.

So, first level the tripod legs then use the ball head to level the panning clamp/ notal rail combination. The panning head could be left off but the
...Show more

Ken:

I'm not sure I understand your thinking. If you have a rotating ball head and go to the trouble of leveling the legs, then there is no need for a separate rotator above that. By leveling the legs, you are ensuring that the panning of the ball head will be in a level plane. You can then use the nodal rail, inserted in the standard clamp, to pitch the camera up or down so the horizon isn't in the center. The horizon (wherever it is) will remain level because the ball head is rotating in a level plane. There is no need to further level the clamp, nor use it for rotation; the ball head will do the rotation. Now, this configuration is really only good for single-row panos, but in your first post you indicated that is what you are mainly interested in, so you would be all set.

If you have something else in mind, please explain.

Dave



Jul 06, 2013 at 04:43 PM
priceken
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p.1 #10 · Panoramic Images Gear


Dave and EBH thanks For responding and making good points. I will try a stepwise sequence. Let's assume as Dave noted that I will use the ball head to pan.

Let me respond to leveling first. I have used the level on the tripod legs to level the tripod legs. It seems to work but takes time even on a flat surface. In the field it maybe more difficult. I thought adding an additional way to level would make it easier. So if the concern at this time is simply to level the base on which the ball head that is used for rotation sits than a leveling base would work.

So, next comes the nodal rail. I clamp the rail on the ball head. The two versions from RRS MPR CLII (or MPR CL) or MPR 192 both have bubble levels so I check the level again and use the ball head to re-level if needed. Next I clamp the L plate with the 5d with L bracket on to the nodal clamp. I adjust the clamp for nodal point and rotate the ball head to shoot the images.

So, I eliminated the need for another way to pan.

So, if this is correct, I am uncertain which nodal is correct. I am shooting with a 5d MII. My wife has a 7D. Available lens are 17-40, 24-70, and 70-200. Each rail from RRS is of a different length or work differently whether collared or non-collared lens are used. I understand beyond certain focal points parallax is not a problem, If I try to be most flexible for different lens than the 192 seems to be good but it may rarely used when parallax is a issue. If, so than one of the other two nodal would work, MPR CLII (or MPR CL), but not sure which is best. I would to maintain the most flexibility if lens change.

Ken






Jul 06, 2013 at 06:37 PM
dsjtecserv
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p.1 #11 · Panoramic Images Gear


priceken wrote:
Dave and EBH thanks For responding and making good points. I will try a stepwise sequence. Let's assume as Dave noted that I will use the ball head to pan.

Let me respond to leveling first. I have used the level on the tripod legs to level the tripod legs. It seems to work but takes time even on a flat surface. In the field it maybe more difficult. I thought adding an additional way to level would make it easier. So if the concern at this time is simply to level the base on which the ball head that is
...Show more

If you have successfully leveled the legs, you are done leveling. The panning of the ball head will rotate on a level plane. If you aren't confident that you can level the legs, the use a leveling base below the ball head, between the ballhead and the legs.


So, next comes the nodal rail. I clamp the rail on the ball head. The two versions from RRS MPR CLII (or MPR CL) or MPR 192 both have bubble levels so I check the level again and use the ball head to re-level if needed.


Why? By doing that you are defeating what you have done by leveling below the ball head. Having done the leveling below the rotator (which is what you want) you can now use the ball head to frame your shot in the vertical axis; that is, determine what is included in the vertical dimension of your picture. You will determine what is in the horizontal direction by panning and taking multiple shots to be combined later. There is not need for the camera itself, or the nodal rails to be level, and in fact that is undesirable because it would put the horizon smack in the middle of the frame. Use the legs or leveling base below the rotator to accomplish all leveling, then use the adjustment of the ball head to frame you pano aesthetically. (However, see below for the effect on NPP alignment.)


Next I clamp the L plate with the 5d with L bracket on to the nodal clamp. I adjust the clamp for nodal point and rotate the ball head to shoot the images.


That's fine. However, one of the limitations of using just a single nodal rail is that when you pitch the camera up or down using the ball, you move the NPP of the lens (which is located above the ball) forward or backward of the axis of rotation. In other words, the nominal location of the lens NPP over the axis of rotation that you achieved by adjusting the camera position on the nodal rail is defeated. You could always shoot with the nodal rail level, as you discussed above, but they you will be limited to having the horizon in the center -- boring! Instead, you can adjust the camera further front or back on the rail to compensate for the effect of the pitch and return the NPP of the lens to being above the axis of rotation. You could do this precisely with trigonometry, but for most panos if is sufficient to just eyeball it. Before pitching, note what part of the lens is directly over the axis of rotation, then use the ball head to pitch the camera up or down, and then adjust the camera on the nodal slide to return the noted part of the lens to the rotation axis. If you pitch forward, yo will move the camera back on the slide; if you pitch back, you will move the camera forward.


So, I eliminated the need for another way to pan.


Huh? You only need one way to pan horizontally, and that's done by the panning of the ball head. If you want to do multi-row panos, then you will need a vertical arm and a means of rotating around the other axis, and that also solves the problem of moving the NPP when you pitch. But to keep it simple, let's not get into that right now!


So, if this is correct, I am uncertain which nodal is correct. I am shooting with a 5d MII. My wife has a 7D. Available lens are 17-40, 24-70, and 70-200. Each rail from RRS is of a different length or work differently whether collared or non-collared lens are used. I understand beyond certain focal points parallax is not a problem, If I try to be most flexible for different lens than the 192 seems to be good but it may rarely used when parallax is a issue. If, so than one of the other two nodal would work, MPR CLII
...Show more

The best way to determine the NPP for your lens (and how that translates to a rail setting for you practical camera and rail system) is empirically, by setting up a scene with something close against a background with recognizable feature. (I stick a long garden stake with a nail sticking out the top in the ground, with a brick wall as a background.) Then take pairs of pictures with your setup, rotating so that the foreground object is on the left side of one picture, and the right side of the other. Adjust the camera position on the nodal rail incrementally until the position of the foreground object against the background does not change between the pairs.

There are also databases of lens NPPs on the internet -- here's one: http://wiki.panotools.org/Entrance_Pupil_Database. You will need to take the measurements in the database and translate them to your camera and rail combination.

I now this seems complicated, and indeed there is some up-front work to get set up to make panoramas. But one you are past that, it gets much easier and automatic, and you'll enjoy working in a new form of photographic expression. Have fun!

Dave



Jul 06, 2013 at 07:48 PM
Mr Joe
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p.1 #12 · Panoramic Images Gear


I'm a fan of the grid method for finding the no parallax point: http://www.rosaurophotography.com/html/technical7.html

This may be overkill for regular lenses, but gives you extra precision when shooting 360s with fisheye lenses.



Jul 06, 2013 at 10:03 PM
priceken
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p.1 #13 · Panoramic Images Gear


Ok, I think I am getting closer to completing Pano 101, Single Row Images. I think that multiple row images is an Advanced Placement Course.

Good advice. Slowly, understanding in creeping in but incrementally, one mm at a time.
So after a couple of glasses of wine, I have used a leveling base below the ball head or rotator knowing that the base is horizontally level. I attach the nodal plate knowing that it is horizontally level but check the bubble to see that the plate is vertically level (perhaps the ball head is pitched to start).

This is followed by the L bracket with the camera and lens adjusting for the nodal point on the nodal rail of choice. Dave, yes you are right that it is likely to be a boring composition. I did not realize that if I pitch the camera up or down to improve composition I defeat the nodal point adjustment I just made. I can then use the method you suggested to readjust the nodal point. I am assuming that I have to start level to set the nodal point and then as you say readjust. This part will take some practice. Possible, I Alternatively, as you also note this a problem of using a single nodal rail and investment in a vertical arm etc. represents an alternative.

I have tried testing with my body and lens using the methods that are suggested and have observed the parallax problem. I did go to the web site that Dave suggested and calculated the values for 5 and 7d with 17-40 and 24-70. It is not clear how these values translate to the RRS site which also list what they term as no parallax points. RRS list points for the 24-70 but not the 17-40 and http://wiki.panotools.org/Entrance_Pupil_Database#Tripod_Mount_Measurements lists values for the 17-40 but not the 24-70. The one common lens is the 16-35 at 16mm which I calculate at wiki as 117.5 mm while the corresponding value at RRS is 132mm when used with the new MPRCl II clamp. The RRS values refer to the point values for adjustment purposes on their rails which may represent calulations based the values in the wiki table for entrance pupil distance.

These figures are important since RRS suggest one size plate when No-Parallax Point is less than 4.3 in / 110 mm from sensor (MPR- CL) and another if the optical center of your lens is greater than 110mm forward of the film plane or digital sensor (MPR-CL II). So if the No Parallax Point of RRS is the distance from the senor is the same as the Entrance Pupil Distance then distance varies from 107.5 to 110.5 for the 17-40 which suggest two different rails for one lens. RRS also suggests adjustments for different L plates for different camera bodies and for clamps that are not RRS in the values to use for alignment on their nodal clamps.

So, where am I? Trying to be precise in what to do for leveling is one set of issues and trying to be precise in what to buy is also an issue. I am even sure to what extent the degree of precision trying to reach in matching camera, lens, and rails, if off by a mm or two, makes a difference in stitching together different images. I also realize that buying gear without a clue how to use it makes no sense or buying gear without a using it makes no sense. So, rather than use cell phone for pano shots I will try muddle on.



Jul 07, 2013 at 04:25 PM
EB-1
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p.1 #14 · Panoramic Images Gear


Unless you have an issue with the nodal slide being in the picture with very wide lenses or use a very small lens, you cannot have one that is too long. I use the MPR-CL II most of the time but also have an extra long macro rail (B-200, no longer made) which has a geared movement. It's not that difficult to eyeball a nodal slide length "correction factor" for elevation. The lower the profile the head+body, the less is needed. However, that is one reason to use a full panning rig, which does not have that limitation.

EBH



Jul 07, 2013 at 05:02 PM
cherubino
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p.1 #15 · Panoramic Images Gear


You do not have spend a fortune on a panorama head. Here is a DIY of wood that works very well. [url] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xRcXneC78lk[/url]
Good luck and have fun!
Cherubino



Jul 07, 2013 at 05:44 PM
dsjtecserv
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p.1 #16 · Panoramic Images Gear


Ken:

The nodal slide doesn't have to be level when you attach the camera. Just note what part of the lens is over the calculated distance for the NPP of the lens at the focal length you will be using and, after pitching for composition, return that point of the lens to be directly over the axis of rotation. Remember to refer to the middle of the lens. For most situations you don't need to be more exact than that.

The PanoTools database indicates that the NPP for the 17-40 varies from 69 to 72 mm measured from the base of the lens (which is tight against the flange of the camera). Since the flange distance of all Canon cameras using EF and EF-S lenses is 44 mm, that means the NPP varies from 133 to 116 from the sensor plane. I'm not sure how the markings on the RRS rail and how you locate the clamp relative to the sensor position, but you should use those numbers for your calculation. Also, for what its worth I find that most lenses require a generally shorter NPP than the 17-40. For instance, the 24-105 runs from 74 mm at 24 mm to 55 mm at 50 mm and 25 mm at 105 mm. The 70-200 f/4 IS, on the other hand, is all over the place -- 100 mm at 70 mm and 15 mm at 200 mm! I don't have the 24-70, but I wouldn't be surprised if it is also less than the 17-40.

Precision is always good, but it may not be necessary in the areas you are getting into. Leveling is important in that it eliminates the need to manually correct for a curved horizon in processing, and for having to crop of part of your scene to exclude non-image areas. Similarly the NPP is important when using wide angle lenses to include foreground and background, less so when primary distant subjects. Both are worth being prepared to do right, but they shouldn't dominate or get in the way of your shooting process. I would suggest either:

-Start with a leveling base (or even omit that and level with the tripod legs to start), and a nodal slide sufficient for your 24-70. That will be enough to get you started and is sufficient for most applications, and you'll learn what aspects need to be upgraded through experience.

-Start right off with pano bracket that provides for both horizontal and vertical axis rotationand adjustment. Nodoal Ninja and Hejnar are two sources that may be less expensive than and RRS set up. The BIG advantage of this is that you don't need a leveling base; you would use the ball head to rotate, and the rotator that comes with the pano kit for the rotation. Pitching without losing the NPP is much easier when done with an upper arm.

Either way, have fun!

Dave



Jul 07, 2013 at 11:28 PM





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