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ALT: Digital Widelux project

  
 
sfogg
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · ALT: Digital Widelux project


Over the years I've built a number of multi-camera setups. My first was (3) Coolpix As, a bunch of variations with DXO Ones (2 and 3 camera panoramics and stereo rigs). Both setups that had issues the prevented them from being everyday smooth to use. The Coolpixs would lose their MF position when they slept or turned off. The DXOs could be configured pretty well for focus position and exposure but they didn't have any sort of remote release, their displays in standalone are very basic and the fixed internal batteries could be limiting.

I've been slowly working to come up with a system that is *almost* as easy to use as a typical camera.
I settled on RX0s. First attempts were with 2 cameras mounted alone. Then two wired to fire together, and added an external battery pack.



Results from that were very encouraging.



But I wanted to try and get more height (cameras in portrait orientation) and make everything a little cleaner. After many variations of 2,3 and 4 camera setups changing orientation and angle between the cameras this is my current setup:



The yellow button turns cameras on/off, red fires them and the green is like a half shutter press. You don't have to press the green to fire as both are also wired to the red. I found 2 stage switches so at some point with swap that out.





Magnetically attached LCD sun shade.

The camera is modular in two main parts. The base has the electronics and a USB battery pack in the grip and then there is a top plate that mounts the cameras. That lets me switch camera layouts and angles easily without having to touch any wiring.

Each camera has a battery in it but I never need to swap them out. The USB power bank in the grip will keep them powered and shooting for a long time. The RX0 will charge while firing too. When I charge the USB power bank it also charges the cameras. Each camera is set for the same ISO limits and minimum shutter speed, focus is set at 3 meters which means everything from about 3' to infinity is in focus.

Most difficult part is just dealing with the micro-SD cards. They are tricky to get to under the cable. I wrote a script that copies the files from each card to a temp directory and then I just import that entire directory into Lightroom. That lets me pano merge everything together easier if I shot on multiple days. I set Auto Review to 10 seconds on the camera and won't take another shot till after auto review times out. The clocks in the cameras as synced so once the files are in LR you Auto Stack by Capture time and set that to 9 seconds. Then I just pano merge one stack to set the settings and let it merge. Select all the rest of the stacks and hit pano merge and LR will batch stack them all using the settings of the first one. Processing can take awhile but it just runs in the background. It only takes me a minute or two of actual work.

LR does a great job on exposure blending and usually doesn't have artifacts. They happen more on closer objects with hard straight lines. I have Autopan Giga which does better at avoid artifacts but the exposure blend isn't as good and it doesn't create DNGs like LR.

Results have a very similar look to a swing lens panoramic but with more image height and wider than a Widelux.





May 05, 2024 at 02:24 PM
sfogg
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · ALT: Digital Widelux project


Some sample images:

3 cameras


4 cameras





This is comparing a Widelux test shot to the 4 camera setup







May 05, 2024 at 02:35 PM
flash
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · ALT: Digital Widelux project


This is very very cool. How much does the whole rig weigh? And what resolution are you getting in the stitched files?

Again, I'm super impressed.
Gordon



May 05, 2024 at 04:47 PM
sfogg
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · ALT: Digital Widelux project


Thanks, it is just under 2.3 pounds. The base has strap lugs for a vertical hang and it is very comfortable to walk around with it that way.

Earlier picture with a 3 camera top plate.


It fits into a Thinktank Mirrorless Mover 25i.

Resolution varies a little but typically around 31 or 32 megapixels. I have a lot of overlap between cameras to keep vertical FOV as large as it can be. If the camera it tilted up/down the blend zone will change and you loose vertical FOV.



This version is set to 30 degrees between cameras for more overlap to reduce in close blend errors.
It should give a max of about 144 degrees horizontal field of view. 54 degrees for the base camera and then 30 degrees for each additional camera. That is with it level, pitched that will get smaller.




May 05, 2024 at 05:40 PM
Massinissa
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · ALT: Digital Widelux project


Had you tried PTgui to stitch the images?
Can be faster and have more controls on projections.
https://ptgui.com/

Nice project.



May 06, 2024 at 03:04 AM
sfogg
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · ALT: Digital Widelux project


Thanks, I used it a long time ago but haven't really tried any of the current paid versions. Would need the pro version to get batch functions which is kind of steep. I purchased Autopano Giga shortly before they shut down so that makes me hesitant. Esp. because I already have LR, Autopano Giga, Affinity, Hugin and Photoshop to do stitching. LRs auto statcking makes the process very easy. MIght give the trial a run to see how it compares regarding blend errors vs. LR.


May 06, 2024 at 03:51 PM
Massinissa
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · ALT: Digital Widelux project


One nice thing of PTgui is that you can create a stitch template, so with your setup, it would be quite easy to achieve good stitching and yes the PRO version is quite expensive.


May 07, 2024 at 09:04 AM
 


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Desmolicious
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · ALT: Digital Widelux project


What a cool project!


May 07, 2024 at 10:33 AM
sfogg
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · ALT: Digital Widelux project


Massinissa wrote:
One nice thing of PTgui is that you can create a stitch template, so with your setup, it would be quite easy to achieve good stitching and yes the PRO version is quite expensive.


I tried the latest beta version last night and either I was doing something very wrong (probable) or it is *really* beta. I was getting stitches that weren't even aligning the images in the same orientation. Tried again with the current release and it didn't have that problem but was showing stitching errors fairly similar to what I get in LR.



May 07, 2024 at 07:03 PM
sirimiri
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · ALT: Digital Widelux project


I love some good tinkering!!


May 07, 2024 at 11:05 PM
Massinissa
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · ALT: Digital Widelux project


sfogg wrote:
I tried the latest beta version last night and either I was doing something very wrong (probable) or it is *really* beta. I was getting stitches that weren't even aligning the images in the same orientation. Tried again with the current release and it didn't have that problem but was showing stitching errors fairly similar to what I get in LR.


with a setup like yours, creating a template is the best thing you can do it, the parallax between each camera is very large.
On PTgui you can tweak the sticthing point and with the Pro version you can manage the parallax quite a bit, using the "Viewpoint correction".
https://ptgui.com/examples/vptutorial.html

Honestly, to create a digital Widelux, you just need one camera and a rotating plate with camera positioned on the "NPP":
https://www.johnhpanos.com/epcalib.htm
Obviously, it will take more time to take a picture, even if i had really good result doing it handheld too.



May 08, 2024 at 02:28 AM
sfogg
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · ALT: Digital Widelux project


Massinissa wrote:
with a setup like yours, creating a template is the best thing you can do it, the parallax between each camera is very large.
On PTgui you can tweak the sticthing point and with the Pro version you can manage the parallax quite a bit, using the "Viewpoint correction".
https://ptgui.com/examples/vptutorial.html

Honestly, to create a digital Widelux, you just need one camera and a rotating plate with camera positioned on the "NPP":
https://www.johnhpanos.com/epcalib.htm
Obviously, it will take more time to take a picture, even if i had really good result doing it handheld too.


I will try the template to see if it helps.

I've shot panos rotating a camera too. That trades parallax for shots at different times (time distortion?) and limits what you can shoot. Also much more difficult handheld and you loose the snapshot nature of this setup. One of the goals of this was point and shoot simple.




The train was moving fast.





Last one was by my Coolpix A setup.

Realistically, some of these wouldn't have worked on a Widelux either due to the sweep time at 1/15. One of the reasons I have the HorizonT instead now.



May 08, 2024 at 04:55 AM
Massinissa
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · ALT: Digital Widelux project


Yeah, i understand your observations; i shooted many times with the Widelux handheld and sometimes is really tricky on moving subjects.
on PTgui, tweak the stitching points and use the Viewpoint correction to manage the parallax, once happy with the result, save as template and apply the same template to other pics.

I don't use Photoshop stitching tool so much since, lately, i'm more on 360 pictures.



May 08, 2024 at 07:37 AM







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