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Snook

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Panoramic Gear/Stitching Help
« on: June 30, 2009, 07:46:02 pm »

Hello all, I have been wanting to get into more panoramic shooting and stitching shooting.
I was wondering if I need to get something special for stitching and will just a normal 12" inch rail work for panos?
I have seen a bunch of Rails lately on ebay and was wondering how they are different from the RRS pano plate?

Any suggestions.
Also if I will be stitching using medium format like the AFDII Mamiya, do I need any special size Stitching adaptors.

Any further information would be appreciated.
Thanks a lot,


Snook

PS> when stitching is it as important to be on the nodal as with shooting Pano's?

Thanks in advance!!
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AndrewKulin

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« Reply #1 on: June 30, 2009, 10:03:39 pm »

I cannot speak about these rails, though I suppose it would work if you can configure it properly.  You want the nodal point of the lense rotating about the rotation point of your tripod to minimize/eliminate parallax.  I think the thing with the manufactured pano heads (and I have a Nodal Ninja 5 - which I think is fantastic) is that they will be machined to tighter tolerances (but cost $$$) and will have things like scales on the rail and on the doo-hickey that connects your camera to the assembly (the correct term for this piece escapes me).  These are helpful if you use different lenses or different zooms on a zoom as the nodal point changes with the zoom amount or lens.  So if you write down the distance that works for a particular lens or zoom amount you can quickly re-set your pano head to the correct setting next time you use that lens.

Do you need to be on the nodal point for panos?  Not necessarily - in scenes where you do not have near objects it is not as critical - e.g., if you are shooting a panorama of a distant vista it's not going to make much, if any difference if you are not rotating about the nodal point - the parallax will be too small to see.  But if you have say a group of flowers in the foreground of that distant vista then you will have parallax difficulties when stitching.

A couple of important things to remember no matter how you shoot the panorama are:

1.  keep the camera level while rotating (A tripod helps)
2.  do not use a polarizing filter - it will be obvious why if you do this.

Also check www.panoguide.com as this is a good resource on the subject

Andrew
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Anders_HK

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« Reply #2 on: June 30, 2009, 10:47:54 pm »

Snook,

There are several ways to make panoramas. Tripod is obvious recommended. All depends on your preference and actual use;

1. Rotate camera on the panoramic base of ballhead. Simple and cheap.

2. Use e.g. Really Right Stuff;s PCL-1 Panoramic Clamp. Rail for nodal point is not necessary - if subjects are not near.

Above are spheric captured panoramas (recalculated by e.g. CS4). Thus when using wide angles you will run into stretching & clipping of captures except for center most frame.

If you prefer flat stitching;

3. Use of e.g. Mamiya 50mm shift lens. With this you will need to slide camera in opposite direction and equal dimension to your shift of lens (can suffice to slide the camera;s L-bracket on quick-release). This leads to limited width of panos due limited shift..

4. Use of a stitching/sliding adapter for a large format camera.


In above, 1-2 in particular lends to that you cannot accurate compose the image but will need to imagine it in head and as you rotate camera. I bet you will find some post below that claim this can be made to same good as 3-4. Can it? Use your eye to judge photos posted across forums. Personally I have found near no such images with pleasing composition (except if heavy trimmed?), the notable exception being a gentleman that used a viewfinder to compose with a long lens (utilizing half horizontal frame of viewfinder).

Personally I am at 4 above and am current test shooting a custom made adapter. Tolerances on such adapters are extremely important due to the shallow depth of focus, in particular for wide angles. Thus a number of brands charge outragous prices for such adapters... Further, my experience is that unless you want top Leica type sharpness, traditional SHARP large format lenses can suffice for my Aptus 65 (read Schneider, Rodenstock). My Nikkor 75 4.5 is a question mark due diffraction, but still investigating. Per posts online digitar large format lenses brings top Leica sharpness, but very limited width due 60-125mm image circles.

B.t.w. do you still have a P30? If so, P30 does not accept lens movements etc due to its micro lenses, and you may need to go with 1-3 and consider 4 only if not for wide.

I hope above helps.

Regards
Anders
« Last Edit: June 30, 2009, 10:57:44 pm by Anders_HK »
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Panopeeper

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« Reply #3 on: June 30, 2009, 11:28:18 pm »

Quote from: Snook
I was wondering if I need to get something special for stitching and will just a normal 12" inch rail work for panos?

PS> when stitching is it as important to be on the nodal as with shooting Pano's?
This is a recurring issue. I tried to compile some considerations with explanation in http://luminous-landscape.com/forum/index....mp;#entry289042

Quote from: AndrewKulin
A couple of important things to remember no matter how you shoot the panorama are:

1.  keep the camera level while rotating (A tripod helps)
I wonder how you are shooting the scenery from the top of a mountain or from a tall building. Plus, generally, how are you shooting a multirow pano?

(No, the camera does not need to be level; in fact, often it can not be level.)
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Gabor

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« Reply #4 on: July 01, 2009, 12:29:41 am »

Quote from: Snook
Hello all, I have been wanting to get into more panoramic shooting and stitching shooting.
I was wondering if I need to get something special for stitching and will just a normal 12" inch rail work for panos?
I have seen a bunch of Rails lately on ebay and was wondering how they are different from the RRS pano plate?

Any suggestions.
Also if I will be stitching using medium format like the AFDII Mamiya, do I need any special size Stitching adaptors.

Any further information would be appreciated.
Thanks a lot,


Snook

PS> when stitching is it as important to be on the nodal as with shooting Pano's?

Thanks in advance!!

What do you mean by stitching and pano? To me, stitching is the act of putting separate images together (using software) into a panorama or a mosaic.  A mosiac is just a multi-row panorama.
Panoramas can be created by:
 1. Rotating the camera around the entrance pupil (some call it the nodal point, but it actually isn't)
 2. The camera being shifted in relation to the lens.
 3. The camera and lens shifted together horizontally (Orthographic )
 
1 & 3 could easily be done with a rail if you only want to do single row images.  I don't think a rail will allow you to do mosaics.

Good stitching software can take any of the shooting types listed above and create panoramas/mosaics with different projections like spherical, cylindrical, Mercator, rectilinear, etc.

p.s. Orthographic images are the hardest to do well because of parallax.  It is, however, the best way to create images of flat objects like paintings.


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AndrewKulin

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« Reply #5 on: July 01, 2009, 11:29:10 am »

Quote from: Panopeeper
This is a recurring issue. I tried to compile some considerations with explanation in http://luminous-landscape.com/forum/index....mp;#entry289042


I wonder how you are shooting the scenery from the top of a mountain or from a tall building. Plus, generally, how are you shooting a multirow pano?

(No, the camera does not need to be level; in fact, often it can not be level.)

For me, shooting from the top of a mountain would require a helicopter rental and that is not going to happen!  

What I meant to say was the left-right rotation should be level for single row panoramas.  The camera can be tilted up-down to capture what you want to get in your photograph.

For me this works pretty well in single row landscape panoramas which generally meets my needs.  I have pasted a single row panorama below (4x1) using this set-up, stitched with PtGUI - rectilinear, with no cropping.

[attachment=15015:4x1_sing...Panorama.jpg]

To answer your second question, my Nodal Ninja unit has an upper (rotatable) rail to permit multi-row shots and the example below is the same as the one above with a second row adding more sky (and yes, in this example the second row does not add much other than allow me to crop a bit less in the centre of the single row panorama).

[attachment=15016:4x2_doub...Panorama.jpg]

Andrew
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Snook

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« Reply #6 on: July 01, 2009, 12:12:38 pm »

Hey Guys THANKs for all the great information.
I do however have a couple of quesitons.
I have the RRS BH 55 ball head which at the base turns for Panos. Do I need to buy just the Nodal rail thingy, or do I "have" to have the other swivel bas that goes on top of the tripod head? I do not understand why one would need this but I do not know much about shooting panos. The basic yes...:+]

Also I have a Mamiya AFDII and would probably be using the 55-110 or 80mm as I have heard wide angle like the 35mm is not great for shooting Panos or Multi row panos.
Another thing I want to achieve is to be able to shoot a subject and be able to stitch it to print really BIG with best quality. Not necessarily Panos. I saw someone here shoot a beverage bottle in studio with a 5d to be able to print REALLY big.

Do I have to buy the really expensive and Big attachment in order to shoot for stitching up and down not only panos?

The really right stuff webpage is slow and I do not know what exactly I need to get started.
I have a AFDII with a P30 back and would like to get my hands wet at panos and especially stitching.
Could some one lead me to the right product I need to start?
Like I said I have a BH55 head from RRS already.
Ofcourse I would like to buy less than more right now and they have stuff from 125.00 to 750.00 for starters.

Could I get by with just the Nodal slide rail to start with and how could I do vertical or stitched photography as well.

Thank you guys very much for the help.
Snook


PS. are there any alternative makers besides RRS? For Medium format?

PSII. Andrew in your second image in the river to the right of center there is a Ghost of what looks to be a Pole from the fence or a dead tree.. not sure if you saw that..

« Last Edit: July 01, 2009, 12:20:44 pm by Snook »
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Anders_HK

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« Reply #7 on: July 01, 2009, 12:30:38 pm »

Quote from: Snook
Do I have to buy the really expensive and Big attachment in order to shoot for stitching up and down not only panos?

Snook,

My best advise is for you to start off by using what you already have. Then to see how and if it works for you and what you think are shortcomings in your system, thus see what you will need more to complement or complete modify it!

I seen tons of your posted images, you have an eye photography, the gear is secondary.    If you find shortcomings in what you have, we can all help.

The RRS pano clamp will only make it simpler rotate the camera on top of the angle you set your ballhead to ( you could even do that with fiddling your tripod setup, not as simple, but less gear to carry!). The RRS pano clamp is like the pano base but mounts on top of ballhead. Before waste $$, test to see what you think you need. I did panos first on my ballhead pano base, then decided flat stitching was for me. Been test shooting my custom digital adapter today, it go in for second adjustment of tolerances of depth of focus tomorrow (fingers crossed will come back perfect!), else it is simply a ball to shoot panos to me. It has a 118mm x 80mm groundglass on it, that is way works for me perfect with up to 118mm width, but all of use are a tad different in our preferences.

Enjoy your panos!  

Anders
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Snook

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« Reply #8 on: July 01, 2009, 12:46:34 pm »

Thanks Anders for the Help and the compliment..:+}

I am going to try some things in the next couple of days.
One last question. Is it workable to do Multi rows on a tripod or is it best to hand hold if I do not have a multi row adaptor. Seems to me that handle held were work best.
I guess your right I should just go try some.
The problem is with were I live there is nothing and I have to import everything from the US and it takes a while, specially if I do not want to pay ridiculous shipping and import taxes. I usually have someone bring things and I actually have some friend there now and would be perfect for them to bring me some thing.
I thought just the basic Nodal slide would be a must to start as I have not idea otherwise how I could get my lens/camera in the nodal point with my current head and KirkBracket. I have some old Bogen slides for a flash but they are not very stable and I would rather buy a 125.00 slide then try to manufacture one myself..

Thanks for all the good information.
Snook
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Panopeeper

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« Reply #9 on: July 01, 2009, 12:46:55 pm »

Quote from: AndrewKulin
What I meant to say was the left-right rotation should be level for single row panoramas.  The camera can be tilted up-down to capture what you want to get in your photograph
This sounds much better. Yes, the plane of rotation/swiweling has to be level, not the camera.

Quote from: Snook
I have the RRS BH 55 ball head which at the base turns for Panos. Do I need to buy just the Nodal rail thingy, or do I "have" to have the other swivel bas that goes on top of the tripod head? I do not understand why one would need this but I do not know much about shooting panos. The basic yes...:+]
Ball heads are not suitable for shooting pano frames. The plane of rotation must be level; with ball heads it is just upside down, literally.

There is one exceptions I know of, an Acra Swiss, which is an "upside down" ball head, the rotating part is on top. The other option is to buy the PCL-1 panning clamp to the BH 55. The combination has two planes of rotation, you have to use the PCL 1 (which is on the top). For you this is the natural solution, as you have the base; this costs "only" $235.

Quote
Do I have to buy the really expensive and Big attachment in order to shoot for stitching up and down not only panos?
Stitching is stitching, only the ortographic shooting makes a huge difference. The term "pano" used for vertical combinations as well; the technique is the very same.

If you need any special equipment depends on the setting. I described it quite detailed in the post linked above.

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Gabor

AndrewKulin

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« Reply #10 on: July 01, 2009, 12:50:10 pm »

Quote from: Snook
PSII. Andrew in your second image in the river to the right of center there is a Ghost of what looks to be a Pole from the fence or a dead tree.. not sure if you saw that..

Wow you really looked that over in some detail.  I slapped these together in 5 minutes just to show how the stitching together using a pano head can look before cropping, letting the software do its stuff automatically w/o any input from me to improve the stitch.  But I took a close look zooming in and the only thing I could see is in the river, immediately right of a fir tree - there is a reflection of a post where the separateion (darker/lighter) of the water/grass in the water meet (and I think a post is actually there but hidden by that fir tree in the foreground).  Is that what you refer to?  I would never have noticed, and if I was to print this image at 300 ppi it would be about 12 x 18 and that "post" would be about 1/16th inch high.

Andrew
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JeffKohn

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« Reply #11 on: July 01, 2009, 01:35:06 pm »

Quote from: Panopeeper
Ball heads are not suitable for shooting pano frames. The plane of rotation must be level; with ball heads it is just upside down, literally.

There is one exceptions I know of, an Acra Swiss, which is an "upside down" ball head, the rotating part is on top. The other option is to buy the PCL-1 panning clamp to the BH 55. The combination has two planes of rotation, you have to use the PCL 1 (which is on the top). For you this is the natural solution, as you have the base; this costs "only" $235.
There's a big downside to using the Arca-Swiss P1, or a traditional ballhead with the PCL panning clamp: you can't tilt the camera up/down without affecting the axis of rotation. If one is not going to be using a full multi-row pano setup, you're probably better off using a leveling base underneath the ballhead rather than a PCL-1 clamp. That way you can level the head and use it's built-in panning mechaism, while still using the ball/platform to tilt the camera as needed. Acractech makes a nice leveling base (and it's cheaper than the PCL-1, too).


Quote
Stitching is stitching, only the ortographic shooting makes a huge difference. The term "pano" used for vertical combinations as well; the technique is the very same.
To me the term "pano" implies a wider-than-normal aspect ratio. It can certainly be vertical, but I don't think the term accurately applies to images at "normal" ratios such as 3:2 or 5:4. After all the term panoramic pre-dates digital, and was traditionally use for describing 6x17, Hassy XPan, or other specialized panoramic cameras that captured a very wide image format.  For multi-row stitched images that still have fairly normal aspect ratios, terms such as 'stiched' or 'mosiac' make more sense IMHO.
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Snook

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« Reply #12 on: July 01, 2009, 01:40:35 pm »

Quote from: AndrewKulin
Wow you really looked that over in some detail.  I slapped these together in 5 minutes just to show how the stitching together using a pano head can look before cropping, letting the software do its stuff automatically w/o any input from me to improve the stitch.  But I took a close look zooming in and the only thing I could see is in the river, immediately right of a fir tree - there is a reflection of a post where the separateion (darker/lighter) of the water/grass in the water meet (and I think a post is actually there but hidden by that fir tree in the foreground).  Is that what you refer to?  I would never have noticed, and if I was to print this image at 300 ppi it would be about 12 x 18 and that "post" would be about 1/16th inch high.

Andrew

I attached what I am talking about here.
[attachment=15021:4x2_doub...amasmall.jpg]
I did not know it was a 5 minute job and thought you would want to know.. That is all..
I have a very critical eye.

Snook
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Panopeeper

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« Reply #13 on: July 01, 2009, 02:33:10 pm »

Quote from: JeffKohn
There's a big downside to using the Arca-Swiss P1, or a traditional ballhead with the PCL panning clamp: you can't tilt the camera up/down without affecting the axis of rotation
That setup is useful only with some pano bracket or at least with an L-bracket; if someone spends $575 on the ball head and clamp, then one will spend some money on the bracket as well. (This is my guess only; I am using a three way head with a self made bracket.)

Quote
To me the term "pano" implies a wider-than-normal aspect ratio. It can certainly be vertical, but I don't think the term accurately applies to images at "normal" ratios such as 3:2 or 5:4. After all the term panoramic pre-dates digital, and was traditionally use for describing 6x17, Hassy XPan, or other specialized panoramic cameras that captured a very wide image format.  For multi-row stitched images that still have fairly normal aspect ratios, terms such as 'stiched' or 'mosiac' make more sense IMHO.
This is correct in principle. Likewise, the meaning of "changing ISO" pre-dates digital, it means replacing the film or the back. Neither the shooting technique, nor the process of stitching depends to any degree on the orientation, nor on the proportion of the dimensions; thus I have no reservation to apply the term "pano" to anything made out of several frames.

(In fact, I had been using a stitcher for years ago, which did not support vertical "panos". I rotated the frames and processed them side by side, and rotated the result back to vertical.)

The terms "stitched" and "mosaic" equally apply to the wide format, thus they can not be used as a characterisation distinguishing between the formats (beside, "stitched" is not a noun :-).
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elf

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« Reply #14 on: July 01, 2009, 02:55:38 pm »

Quote from: JeffKohn
There's a big downside to using the Arca-Swiss P1, or a traditional ballhead with the PCL panning clamp: you can't tilt the camera up/down without affecting the axis of rotation. If one is not going to be using a full multi-row pano setup, you're probably better off using a leveling base underneath the ballhead rather than a PCL-1 clamp. That way you can level the head and use it's built-in panning mechaism, while still using the ball/platform to tilt the camera as needed. Acractech makes a nice leveling base (and it's cheaper than the PCL-1, too).

An easier (and cheaper) method is to mount the ballhead upside down.  This puts the slewing ring on top where it belongs and doesn't add more height or instability to the setup.
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Panopeeper

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« Reply #15 on: July 01, 2009, 03:41:12 pm »

Quote from: elf
An easier (and cheaper) method is to mount the ballhead upside down.  This puts the slewing ring on top where it belongs and doesn't add more height or instability to the setup.
The bottom of the ball heads comes with a threaded hole (a "nut"), and there is a threaded stud on the top (the "screw"). In order to turn it upside down, one needs an adapter underneath and one (of the same type) on the top. Is there such an adapter on the market? Perhaps I should specialize to make them (I am a hobby mechanics with maschinery).

RRS offers a small package for $30: the BH-PF 55 platform, it includes one such screw, although that may not be suitable for changing in the field.
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Snook

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« Reply #16 on: July 01, 2009, 07:03:20 pm »

Does anybody know if this would work?
I just need to get my lens on access and will probably use the same lens everytime.
Also my BH55 seems to pan quite nice if I just get the thing level when camera is attached which does not seem to difficult really.

Can some one let me know if they think this would work.

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewI...em=330340067802

Thanks
Snook

So this would be my set up basically. this is a picture of an 8" plate.
again this is to get my hands wet and see if it is for me..:+]
[attachment=15025:169959488_o.jpg]
« Last Edit: July 01, 2009, 07:07:08 pm by Snook »
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elf

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« Reply #17 on: July 01, 2009, 10:02:37 pm »

Quote from: Snook
Does anybody know if this would work?
I just need to get my lens on access and will probably use the same lens everytime.
Also my BH55 seems to pan quite nice if I just get the thing level when camera is attached which does not seem to difficult really.

Can some one let me know if they think this would work.

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewI...em=330340067802

Thanks
Snook

So this would be my set up basically. this is a picture of an 8" plate.
again this is to get my hands wet and see if it is for me..:+]
[attachment=15025:169959488_o.jpg]

It will sort of work.  You will probably be able to get the entrance pupil of the lens fairly close to the rotation point, but unless the rail is exactly parallel to the slew ring of the ballhead, you will have parallax issues or will need to crop a lot. Both of which kind of defeat the concept of stitching for higher resolution.  

These problems would disappear if the ballhead were mounted upside down.

You should also check to see where the entrance pupil is located on the lens you will be using to make sure it is within the 8" length of the rail.  The entrance pupil is at the apparent position of the diaphram when viewed from the front of the lens. In some lens the entrance pupil is pretty static, in others it may change pretty dramatically when changing focal length and/or focus point. My 70-300mm lens has an entrance pupil about 18 inches behind the camera when it's at its closest focus distance at 300mm and close to the front of the lens at 70mm.
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BernardLanguillier

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« Reply #18 on: July 02, 2009, 04:55:55 am »

Quote from: Anders_HK
1. Rotate camera on the panoramic base of ballhead. Simple and cheap.

2. Use e.g. Really Right Stuff;s PCL-1 Panoramic Clamp. Rail for nodal point is not necessary - if subjects are not near.

...

In above, 1-2 in particular lends to that you cannot accurate compose the image but will need to imagine it in head and as you rotate camera. I bet you will find some post below that claim this can be made to same good as 3-4. Can it? Use your eye to judge photos posted across forums. Personally I have found near no such images with pleasing composition (except if heavy trimmed?), the notable exception being a gentleman that used a viewfinder to compose with a long lens (utilizing half horizontal frame of viewfinder).

Anders,

1 and 2 are in fact very different in terms of ease of checking a composition. The ability to pan relative to a vertical axis with the PCL-1 makes it much easier to confirm the composition when using a pano head.

Cheers,
Bernard

marcmccalmont

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« Reply #19 on: July 02, 2009, 10:39:02 am »

1. Capture One has lens corrections for the 35mm Mamiya lens so don't hesitate to use it for stitching
2. A leveling base saves me a lot of time.
3. I have never used a "nodal" mount but have had great results on distant subjects.
Marc

PS I think everyone underestimates how good the stitching software is, I have several hand held panos that came out nice.

[attachment=15091:Observat...Panorama.jpg]
[attachment=15092:Rice_Pady_Bali.jpg]
« Last Edit: July 02, 2009, 07:39:47 pm by marcmccalmont »
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