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Author Topic: Roundshot VR Drive Panoramic Head Review  (Read 4707 times)

LesPalenik

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Roundshot VR Drive Panoramic Head Review
« on: January 17, 2019, 03:14:12 am »

I got my first article published here, it was a nice experience to have it edited by the new team, they helped me to make it better, thanks Josh!
« Last Edit: February 05, 2019, 07:14:42 am by LesPalenik »
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josh.reichmann

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Re: New article published - VR Drive Panoramic Head Review
« Reply #1 on: January 17, 2019, 08:55:34 am »

I got my first article published here, it was a nice experience to have it edited by the new team, they helped me to make it better, thanks Josh!

Thank you Les. Irene was working on a piece on photogrammetry just as you pitched us this. Perfect thematic timing and such a clear and well executed essay. Much appreciated !

Josh
« Last Edit: January 17, 2019, 08:59:58 am by josh.reichmann »
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adri

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Re: New article published - VR Drive Panoramic Head Review
« Reply #2 on: January 19, 2019, 12:30:33 pm »

Aren't there other companies besides Seitz who make similar devices? Would be nice to compare them.
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LesPalenik

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Re: New article published - VR Drive Panoramic Head Review
« Reply #3 on: January 20, 2019, 01:18:17 pm »

When it comes to motorized panoramic heads, I'm aware of the following options:
Gigapan Epic Pro, Clauss Rodeon, and Roundshot Metric.

I looked at the Gigapan Epic Pro which is a well-made product, but it is bulkier and heavier than VR Drive. OK for real-estate shooters, or shooting landscape from a parking lot, but not so practical for hiking. Last time, I looked at their pricing, they seemed less expensive than they used to be. Roundshot Metric is even more expensive, more suitable for very specialized applications.

Then there are smaller and lighter manual units such Nodal Ninja, RRS, and Manfrotto sliding heads but I don't have any experience with them.

faberryman

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Re: New article published - VR Drive Panoramic Head Review
« Reply #4 on: January 20, 2019, 01:34:13 pm »

I started reading the review, saw the price, and skipped to the bottom. I am sure there is a market for these things though.

alainbriot

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Re: New article published - VR Drive Panoramic Head Review
« Reply #5 on: January 22, 2019, 11:37:58 am »

I started reading the review, saw the price, and skipped to the bottom. I am sure there is a market for these things though.

The inexpensive solution, which I am sure you are aware of, is to do a stitched image (an automated process in Lightroom and Photoshop) by taking multiple captures with any digital camera.  No extra cost whatsoever.  The Seitz panoramic head may give a different look from a stitched panorama, however I can't say for sure since I have not tried it.  It would be interesting to see a side by side comparison: Seitz-pano-head pano versus multiple-stitched-captures pano.

In film-days I created a photograph of the Grand Canyon with a Seitz panoramic camera. The camera had a rotating head and could capture a far wider expanse of land than any of the fixed lens panoramic cameras such as the Linhoff or the Fuji 6x17.  When digital came of age I created a new image of the same location by collaging multiple captures in Photoshop.  This second image showed more of the canyon because I was able to create an image that not only captured the width but also the depth of the Canyon.  By taking multiple horizontal and vertical rows of images I could capture the entire depth of the Grand Canyon something I could not achieve with the Seitz film camera.  I would be interested in knowing if the Seitz pano-head offers such capabilities and goes beyond what the Seitz pano film camera could achieve.
« Last Edit: January 22, 2019, 11:59:59 am by alainbriot »
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Alain Briot
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LesPalenik

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Re: New article published - VR Drive Panoramic Head Review
« Reply #6 on: January 22, 2019, 04:11:08 pm »

Alain,

which Seitz model was it?
If it was one of original film Roundshots (35/35, Super 35 VR or Super 220 VR), they all moved only in one horizontal position and filled out the entire film height (typically at zero degrees). With Roundshot VR Drive or Roundshot Metric, you can program two or more vertical rows, i.e. 3 rows with the top row at 35 degrees, second row at 0 degrees, and the bottom row at -35 degrees.

alainbriot

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Re: New article published - VR Drive Panoramic Head Review
« Reply #7 on: January 22, 2019, 06:54:23 pm »

Alain,

which Seitz model was it?
If it was one of original film Roundshots (35/35, Super 35 VR or Super 220 VR), they all moved only in one horizontal position and filled out the entire film height (typically at zero degrees). With Roundshot VR Drive or Roundshot Metric, you can program two or more vertical rows, i.e. 3 rows with the top row at 35 degrees, second row at 0 degrees, and the bottom row at -35 degrees.

It was a 120 film camera.  I did not pay attention to the model but it must have been a roundshot.  The camera was not mine.  A customer let me borrow his. This was in my 'poor artist' days when I could barely afford film.  I needed this camera for the shot I had in mind. When I got the 'OK' I went to the location with the camera owner, at the correct time for the light, and shot one roll with it.  In retrospect it my the lowest film-to-product ratio ever since I created a piece from one of the 12 photographs and sold it for several years.

Having the ability to do several rows certainly opens up many possibilities.  However I am unsure about the advantage of this approach vs. doing multiple captures with a camera alone.
« Last Edit: January 22, 2019, 07:00:31 pm by alainbriot »
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Alain Briot
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LesPalenik

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Re: New article published - VR Drive Panoramic Head Review
« Reply #8 on: January 22, 2019, 09:37:07 pm »

It's quite feasible to make decent landscape panoramas even with a handheld camera, especially if it is a far away scene. The more distant is the scene, the less critical is the nodal point setup and any parallax distortion, especially if the picture is to be displayed only in a small format.

On the other hand, the longer the lens, the more important is the precision and stability supplied by a motorized panoramic head. For example, using a 300mm lens with a 30-degree overlap on a FF camera, the vertical coverage is only around 6 degrees and horizontally you'll need about 40 images for a 120-degree image. To shoot 6-10 rows, each with 40 images, you'd need 240-400 properly aligned images, and that would be practically impossible without a solid panoramic head.
« Last Edit: January 22, 2019, 10:33:29 pm by LesPalenik »
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alainbriot

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Re: New article published - VR Drive Panoramic Head Review
« Reply #9 on: January 23, 2019, 07:02:16 pm »

I see the advantage of using a motorized pano head to create panoramics with a long lens, i.e. 300mm for example.  However, besides increased resolution, I fail to see the point of creating a panoramic collage with such a lens.
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Alain Briot
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Panofan

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Re: New article published - VR Drive Panoramic Head Review
« Reply #10 on: January 24, 2019, 05:28:48 pm »

The inexpensive solution, which I am sure you are aware of, is to do a stitched image (an automated process in Lightroom and Photoshop) by taking multiple captures with any digital camera.  No extra cost whatsoever.  The Seitz panoramic head may give a different look from a stitched panorama, however I can't say for sure since I have not tried it.  It would be interesting to see a side by side comparison: Seitz-pano-head pano versus multiple-stitched-captures pano.

In film-days I created a photograph of the Grand Canyon with a Seitz panoramic camera. The camera had a rotating head and could capture a far wider expanse of land than any of the fixed lens panoramic cameras such as the Linhoff or the Fuji 6x17.  When digital came of age I created a new image of the same location by collaging multiple captures in Photoshop.  This second image showed more of the canyon because I was able to create an image that not only captured the width but also the depth of the Canyon.  By taking multiple horizontal and vertical rows of images I could capture the entire depth of the Grand Canyon something I could not achieve with the Seitz film camera.  I would be interested in knowing if the Seitz pano-head offers such capabilities and goes beyond what the Seitz pano film camera could achieve.

Here are 2 points to be consider:
1. Coverage of the old film Roundshot systems depends on the model used. For example, Roundshot 35/35 had a 35 mm lens on 35 mm film, obviously you got less vertical coverage than using Roundshot with 120/220 film and 65 mm lens. Next step were Roundshot 220VR, using 35, 120/220 film. Another step yet were specialty units - so called SuperCamera for 70mm and 5 inch film model with far greater vertical coverage due to larger film format and choice of lenses from 40mm to 500mm (Hasselblad V lenses) .

2. Regarding panoramas of Grand Canyon, I shot one with 70mm film,  on Roundshot 65EL with a non-interchangeable 65mm lens. I got about 59 degree vertical coverage, which gave me about 15% of sky and 85 % of GC looking down. I have recorded Colorado River on bottom of the canyon. The photograph was blown up to 3 x 25 feet, with great detail. I still have the original negative in my archives.

Disclaimer: I am exclusive distributor of Roundshot panoramic systems in Americas.

alainbriot

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Re: New article published - VR Drive Panoramic Head Review
« Reply #11 on: January 24, 2019, 08:20:12 pm »

Interesting.  Thank you for this detailed information.
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LesPalenik

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Re: New article published - VR Drive Panoramic Head Review
« Reply #12 on: February 05, 2019, 07:06:21 am »

I see the advantage of using a motorized pano head to create panoramics with a long lens, i.e. 300mm for example.  However, besides increased resolution, I fail to see the point of creating a panoramic collage with such a lens.

Quite correct, normally one wouldn't use such a long lens for a typical panorama. However, I used a long lens with good success in the following situations:

1. Making a very long panorama. In one case I made a 30 ft pano, overlooking city of Hamilton in southern Ontario, and in another case I made a 50ft long pano of a group of low-laying islands and shoals in Georgian Bay, a large arm of Lake Huron. In both situations, I used a 400mm lens.

2. Photographing some distant objects, i.e. group of cottages on the other side of lake. In such situations you can't use your feet for zooming and shooting from a tripod positioned in a bobbing boat is not ideal. Using a wide angle lens and then cropping it vertically would make the distant objects very small. Sometimes, I would find some rocks or shoals on to which I could get closer with a boat and set up my equipment there, but if that spot was not close enough to the shore for a use with a 35-50mm lens, the only way to get a decent image from a greater distance was to shoot with a longer lens.

3. Photographing large buildings, such as castles or lighthouses on a hill. Shooting such an object in panoramic view from a 1km distance using a 200-300mm lens at a zero angle yields a drastically different view than photographing it from a close distance aiming the camera upwards.
« Last Edit: February 05, 2019, 07:54:16 am by LesPalenik »
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Panofan

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Re: New article published - VR Drive Panoramic Head Review
« Reply #13 on: February 06, 2019, 01:11:16 pm »

Here are 2 points to be consider:
1. Coverage of the old film Roundshot systems depends on the model used. For example, Roundshot 35/35 had a 35 mm lens on 35 mm film, obviously you got less vertical coverage than using Roundshot with 120/220 film and 65 mm lens. Next step were Roundshot 220VR, using 35, 120/220 film. Another step yet were specialty units - so called SuperCamera for 70mm and 5 inch film model with far greater vertical coverage due to larger film format and choice of lenses from 40mm to 500mm (Hasselblad V lenses) .

2. Regarding panoramas of Grand Canyon, I shot one with 70mm film,  on Roundshot 65EL with a non-interchangeable 65mm lens. I got about 59 degree vertical coverage, which gave me about 15% of sky and 85 % of GC looking down. I have recorded Colorado River on bottom of the canyon. The photograph was blown up to 3 x 25 feet, with great detail. I still have the original negative in my archives.

Disclaimer: I am exclusive distributor of Roundshot panoramic systems in Americas.


Following on my earlier post, here is a last year pano from Iceland which I made with VR Drive and Fuji XH1 with 55-200 lens. Actual focal length 120mm, F11, 1/200s, 100ISO.  Printed 5 feet high, the full pano would stretch to 55 ft.
« Last Edit: February 06, 2019, 02:44:00 pm by Panofan »
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alainbriot

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Re: Roundshot VR Drive Panoramic Head Review
« Reply #14 on: February 06, 2019, 01:21:51 pm »

Interesting.  It reminds me of a panoramic photograph of Grand Canyon for sale in one of the gift stores, the Kolb Studio if I remember correctly.  The print was so long that they had to display it 'wrapped' around the room along the ceiling.  It started on the right side of the entrance door, went along the right side wall, the back wall, the left side wall, the front wall and ended on the left side of the door.  While certainly interesting in itself as a panoramic tour de force, I wondered how well it sold given the display challenge it presented.
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Panofan

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Re: Roundshot VR Drive Panoramic Head Review
« Reply #15 on: February 06, 2019, 04:58:17 pm »

This particular shot I did not sell yet. I did not put it for sale, as it was from Iceland and probably would not sell in S Florida. However, I have quite a few WOW effect shots in mainly business locations-longest single print used to be in Las Vegas Helicopter scenic trips company waiting room.  It is a panorama -about 330 degree of Grand Canyon, taken with Roundshot 65/70 EL and is about 24 feet long from Pima Point.

Most of them are mounted like tripticks - 3x 4x6 feet each. I have a shot of Zabriskie Point in my living room - 3x 40in x 5 feet  plus 4th section which I could not put up as my living room is not big enough. And another good  fact is, that as long as you have the full view taken, you do not have to sell it full, customer many times pick a part of it, which fits his needs. I have sold a lot of prints of South Beach, taken with Roundshot Super Camera 70 mm film with 250 Superachromat. Ratio on  this is about 10 : 1, I took it maybe 20 years ago, maybe 25 and  South Beach still selling.

The marketing of those WOW images, as I call them is not difficult, as few photographers AFAIK shooting those huge files panoramas.
I will put a few of those "oversized" panoramas up here later this week. And I forgot to say, I just love those huge files created with multi row images,  weather 35 mm or MF. In mid seventies I got a Fuji 617- the first "portable" panoramic camera I used with large format film Actualy, the film was medium format, only size of final negative was large format. That when my love afair with panoramic photography started. Way to go FUJI!!!

I know that this is quite uncharted territory, as I am teaching panoramas on my workshops and my clients/photographers are coming from all over the word just to learn how to work with Seitz VR Drive and produce WOW panos.

LesPalenik

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Re: Roundshot VR Drive Panoramic Head Review
« Reply #16 on: February 06, 2019, 06:37:48 pm »

Interesting.  It reminds me of a panoramic photograph of Grand Canyon for sale in one of the gift stores, the Kolb Studio if I remember correctly.  The print was so long that they had to display it 'wrapped' around the room along the ceiling.  It started on the right side of the entrance door, went along the right side wall, the back wall, the left side wall, the front wall and ended on the left side of the door.  While certainly interesting in itself as a panoramic tour de force, I wondered how well it sold given the display challenge it presented.

Alain, there are indeed not many display opportunities for the extremely long panoramas. But if you reduce the above Iceland pano to one foot in height, the horizontal dimension would be only 11 ft, and cropping it slightly on both ends it could be reduced further to 10 feet or less. 8-10 ft long pictures can be finished easily and inexpensively as laminated plaques and can fit in many rooms or hallways.

As Peter says, selecting just one section from a long pano and cropping it to a shorter dimension can be done quite easily. Another option, if you don't like the skinny look (1:10 ratio or longer), is to print the original pano let's say as a 12ft long print in 1ft height, cut it in half, and display both sections underneath each other. I have used such vertical diptych or triptych method with success in various sizes.
« Last Edit: February 06, 2019, 09:40:34 pm by LesPalenik »
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alainbriot

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Re: Roundshot VR Drive Panoramic Head Review
« Reply #17 on: February 09, 2019, 04:23:03 pm »

Hi Les,

Thank you.  Very interesting.  Both you and Peter have enough material for a follow up essay on panoramic photography, either from a field photography or from a marketing perspective, using the information in your follow-up posts. 
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kers

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Re: Roundshot VR Drive Panoramic Head Review
« Reply #18 on: February 09, 2019, 06:55:48 pm »

I can understand the need for such a roundshot or other mecanical panorama device if you use long telelenses, but for all my work they are not suited.
I need to react on what i see and shoot that part. i like the total freedom of a basic setup used by hand.
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Panofan

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Re: Roundshot VR Drive Panoramic Head Review
« Reply #19 on: February 13, 2019, 06:03:32 pm »

Hi Les,

Thank you.  Very interesting.  Both you and Peter have enough material for a follow up essay on panoramic photography, either from a field photography or from a marketing perspective, using the information in your follow-up posts.

Alain, thank you for your suggestion.
I'm going in a few days to Costa Rica, conducting there a panoramic workshop, and I'll be taking with me the Roundshot VR-Drive and my Fuji cameras. While there, I'll have an opportunity to compare also several other new cameras shooting the panoramas. When I come back, I'll write a summary of my observations.
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