Pages: [1]   Go Down

Author Topic: Best focal lengths for shooting panoramas?  (Read 717 times)

Brookie

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 112
Best focal lengths for shooting panoramas?
« on: September 25, 2018, 09:15:53 AM »

I first posted this under ďLandscape and NatureĒ but it isnít getting any traction there so I guess I should have posted it here.

While you can take a pano with any focal length lens I am curious what people who shoot lots of panos have found to be the optimum focal length(s). Often stitching images from wide/ultra wide angles can be difficult. Also, using too long a focal length can severely limit depth of field. Personally I have used focal lengths from about 24mm to 200mm (usually from zoom lenses, except for a 105) to make panos of anywhere from 2 to 30 frames. I am wondering if primes of 35mm, ~50mm, and 85mm may be the best option. Partly because the lighter weight prime lenses will be more stable on my RRS PG01 pano bracket which is pretty light, but nice on the back when you are tramping around all day long. So, I am trying to decide if I need to get a prime in one of these focal lengths and if so which focal length would be most useful.

FWIW I shoot Nikon full frame. Also, for the sake of conversation letís assume that the entire subject is NOT at infinite distance - if it were we wouldnít care about depth of field and could use a 500mm if we wanted. Also, letís assume that we are not trying to capture foreground elements at our toes and so require an ultra wide lens. Also, letís assume that we are using an appropriate nodal slide, etc.

Curious to know what lenses those with more pano experience find most useful.
« Last Edit: September 25, 2018, 09:32:25 AM by Brookie »
Logged

BernardLanguillier

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 12066
    • http://www.flickr.com/photos/bernardlanguillier/sets/
Re: Best focal lengths for shooting panoramas?
« Reply #1 on: September 25, 2018, 09:45:59 AM »

I have stitched a lot with 55mm, 100mm and 180mm.

Cheers,
Bernard

LesPalenik

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 1722
    • advantica blog
Re: Best focal lengths for shooting panoramas?
« Reply #2 on: September 25, 2018, 02:57:41 PM »

The most impressive pano I made was done with a 400mm lens. Low-horizon 360-degree of Georgian Bay island chain (part of Lake Huron) in Ontario.
Used on Seitz 220 Roundshot with film, it yielded almost a 50 ft print. Printed on a specialized Roundshot enlarger and processor where the paper moved in sync with the film.

guido

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 533
Re: Best focal lengths for shooting panoramas?
« Reply #3 on: September 25, 2018, 05:32:45 PM »

I have had nice results using a Tilt/Shift 90mm. (and even adding the 1.4 converter)

The tilt lets you control the plane of focus and the shift lets you do a 3 shot pano with near zero distortion. Works fine with the nodal slide/rotating rigs too...
« Last Edit: September 25, 2018, 06:13:31 PM by guido »
Logged

armand

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 2951
    • Photos
Re: Best focal lengths for shooting panoramas?
« Reply #4 on: September 25, 2018, 05:39:11 PM »

I don't do much pano although I think about it often  ;)

The first question that you should ask yourself is single row vs multi row. I use no specialized equipment therefore stay away from multirow. For single row if I have a zoom I always shoot vertical and try to fill most of the frame while leaving some space for stitching errors, so this determines the exact focal length for that image. If you want a prime for all occasions from what I see a normal to short telephoto (40 to 70mm) is the most convenient.

elliot_n

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 768
Re: Best focal lengths for shooting panoramas?
« Reply #5 on: September 25, 2018, 10:58:48 PM »

I mainly use an 85mm prime, shooting a 3x3 grid to match the field of view of a 35mm lens. Depth-of-field is an issue, but it can often be resolved with focus-stacking.
Logged

Brookie

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 112
Re: Best focal lengths for shooting panoramas?
« Reply #6 on: September 26, 2018, 11:12:15 AM »

I mainly use an 85mm prime, shooting a 3x3 grid to match the field of view of a 35mm lens. Depth-of-field is an issue, but it can often be resolved with focus-stacking.

Interesting. Do the multiple focus points cause any problems with stitching?  I assume you process each frame for focus stacking before you merge the pano. But, unless your base focus point is at infinity, I would think that there would always be some variation in the reproduction ratio as an artifact of the different focus points in different frames and that this would make stitching more problematic?  In fact, because of that, Iíd never really considered focus stacking for a pano. Are you using LR or PS for your stitching or another software? 
Logged

Brookie

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 112
Re: Best focal lengths for shooting panoramas?
« Reply #7 on: September 26, 2018, 11:13:43 AM »

Thanks to all for your input. Interested in hearing more.....
Logged

elliot_n

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 768
Re: Best focal lengths for shooting panoramas?
« Reply #8 on: September 26, 2018, 01:43:47 PM »

Interesting. Do the multiple focus points cause any problems with stitching?  I assume you process each frame for focus stacking before you merge the pano. But, unless your base focus point is at infinity, I would think that there would always be some variation in the reproduction ratio as an artifact of the different focus points in different frames and that this would make stitching more problematic?  In fact, because of that, Iíd never really considered focus stacking for a pano. Are you using LR or PS for your stitching or another software? 

Yes, each tile is focus-stacked before stitching. For stitching, I use the latest version of PTGui. It handles the focus-stacked tiles very well - i.e. there are no stitching errors. AFAIK, it manages this by not assuming that each tile is shot with the identical focal length.
Logged

NancyP

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 2495
Re: Best focal lengths for shooting panoramas?
« Reply #9 on: September 26, 2018, 02:04:56 PM »

LesPalenik  - 50 FOOT PRINT? Holy Cow! You get the award for most impressive feat of panorama shooting for today. And where did the customer hang the 50 foot print?
Logged

LesPalenik

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 1722
    • advantica blog
Re: Best focal lengths for shooting panoramas?
« Reply #10 on: September 26, 2018, 03:41:13 PM »

Nancy,

the print was displayed at the Art Gallery of Hamilton in Ontario. The really impressive feat was them making a simple wooden frame around the entire print, right on location, in the exhibition hall. The actual print (I believe, on Fuji paper) was made by Peter Lorber of Custom Photo Images in Boca Raton, Florida.

BartvanderWolf

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 7413
Re: Best focal lengths for shooting panoramas?
« Reply #11 on: September 26, 2018, 06:40:58 PM »

Interesting. Do the multiple focus points cause any problems with stitching?  I assume you process each frame for focus stacking before you merge the pano. But, unless your base focus point is at infinity, I would think that there would always be some variation in the reproduction ratio as an artifact of the different focus points in different frames and that this would make stitching more problematic?  In fact, because of that, Iíd never really considered focus stacking for a pano. Are you using LR or PS for your stitching or another software?

Hi,

Focus-stacking already changes the magnification factor of the individual slices, otherwise they wouldn't fit seamlessly. Capable stitching software, such as PTGUI, can take care of the rest by tweaking the individual 'focal length' (and thus also magnification) settings for each of the tiles.

Although I like a 50mm on a 35mm full frame sensor for stitching (still lots of DOF but with more magnification than a wide angle), it is not how I choose the focal length. The anticipated output size of the image dictates the combination of focal length and number of tiles.

I've done stitches with focal lengths from 15mm to 200mm for specific reasons, only some of the longer focal length required focus stacking.

Cheers,
Bart
Logged
== If you do what you did, you'll get what you got. ==

Brookie

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 112
Re: Best focal lengths for shooting panoramas?
« Reply #12 on: September 27, 2018, 09:30:49 AM »

Guido, Elliot, Bart - good info, thanks for your input.
Logged

Brookie

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 112
Re: Best focal lengths for shooting panoramas?
« Reply #13 on: September 27, 2018, 09:34:49 AM »

Les, do you have a photo of your big pano as it was displayed?  If you have one you could share that would be interesting to see.  More for curiousity though, I certainly havenít got anything like that in mind.
Logged

LesPalenik

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 1722
    • advantica blog
Re: Best focal lengths for shooting panoramas?
« Reply #14 on: September 27, 2018, 10:38:29 AM »

Regrettably, I never took a picture of the framed picture on the wall. The exhibition took place about 17-18 years ago. I still should have the negative which was the entire length of the film roll (about 6 ft long). Unfortunately, the photo lab where they made the print, doesn't have the Roundshot enlarger anymore.

Actually, I made a mistake when describing the scenery. That 50 ft long print was of the Hamilton surroundings photographed from one of the city parks. The Georgian Bay scene was a different print, about 30 ft in length. Both were made with the Seitz Roundshot rotational camera and a 400mm Sigma lens.

Joe Towner

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 985
Re: Best focal lengths for shooting panoramas?
« Reply #15 on: September 27, 2018, 10:50:34 AM »

It's all about the final product - the longer the prime, the larger the scene, the bigger the file.  I've used lenses as short as 55mm (43mm eq) and as long as 400mm (312mm eq) on the 645z.  If there is a lot of motion possible I go shorter, but I tend to go for the 150 & 200mm lenses the most when generally shooting.  I gave up on manual heads and got a Gigapan unit - it makes everything much easier, though I wish it moved faster.
Logged
t: @PNWMF

elliot_n

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 768
Re: Best focal lengths for shooting panoramas?
« Reply #16 on: September 27, 2018, 10:50:55 AM »

The anticipated output size of the image dictates the combination of focal length and number of tiles.

Indeed. A 3x3 grid shot with an 85mm lens (Nikon D800) produces a 200MP stitched file. I'm making 40x50 inch prints, and 200MP is the file size I need if I wish to avoid interpolation.
Logged

NancyP

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 2495
Re: Best focal lengths for shooting panoramas?
« Reply #17 on: September 28, 2018, 10:41:04 AM »

Here's a little history on a few panoramas, photographed and painted:
A "moving" (cranked scroll) panoramic painting of the Mississippi River Valley in the 1800s (I have seen several sections, as the painting was shifted fairly frequently during display: http://www.slam.org/collections/panorama.php

The famous Gettysburg Cyclorama (I remember seeing this as a child): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gettysburg_Cyclorama

Panoramic painting in general:https: //en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panoramic_painting

Short section on pre-digital panorama technique: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panoramic_photography

Library of Congress summary and links to holdings: https://www.loc.gov/collections/panoramic-photographs/articles-and-essays/a-brief-history-of-panoramic-photography/

Sample item from LOC, selected for personal interest (historical view of St. Louis waterfront, 1907): https://www.loc.gov/item/2007663368/

Another digital collection summary: https://content.lib.washington.edu/panoramweb/history.html


Logged
Pages: [1]   Go Up