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Author Topic: Panoramas and software  (Read 5777 times)

David S

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Panoramas and software
« on: March 13, 2012, 10:05:56 am »

Just about to start trying to shoot panoramas.

I know I can use photoshop but are there other "better" programs to use - on a Mac.

Thanks,

Dave S
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John Nollendorfs

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Re: Panoramas and software
« Reply #1 on: March 13, 2012, 10:25:58 am »

PTGui, but I like the workflow in using PS5 and bridge.
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Ellis Vener

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Re: Panoramas and software
« Reply #2 on: March 13, 2012, 11:59:14 am »

Photomerge in Photoshop CS 5 is pretty good, previous versionso f Photomerge are awful.
I use PTGui Pro 9.1.3.

The real technical tricks with making good quality panoramas are:
- Make sure your camera is in manual everything: ISO, focus, & white balance and turn off anything like Nikon's ADL settings.
- Focus carefully - use live view if your camera has it.
- If you have significant near /far spatial relationships in your composition, use a nodal point rail so you can rotate the camera+ lens around the lens' entrance pupil. This will cure almost all of your parallax problems
- Overlap adjacent frames more than most software and hardware companies and tutorial writers recommend to.
- If shooting landscapes,  work in Pro Photo RGB (and yes that means 16 bit per channel) as there are a lot of colors in nature that are outside the gamut of even the moderately large working space Adobe RGB(1998)
- use Lancroz 256.


But the overriding trick is figuring out where to stand to make the most dynamic composition
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BernardLanguillier

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Re: Panoramas and software
« Reply #3 on: March 13, 2012, 07:32:26 pm »

But the overriding trick is figuring out where to stand to make the most dynamic composition

Accordingly, the most important skill when shooting panos is to be able to imagine a composition without a viewfinder.

It is surprising to notice that many photographers have a really hard time doing this.

Cheers,
Bernard

stever

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Re: Panoramas and software
« Reply #4 on: March 13, 2012, 10:28:11 pm »

leave plenty of extra space for cropping, you've got plenty of pixels - even if your careful and crop too tightly there's nothing more annoying than a missing little wedge that destroys the composition

and for those of us lacking composition skills, i'm always happy to have covered wider angles than i thought were needed, then discovered two or three better compositions than i envisioned at the time
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Edalongthepacific

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Re: Panoramas and software
« Reply #5 on: March 14, 2012, 01:14:22 am »

The thing I like about PTGUI, besides ease of use, is the variety of ways your panorama can be used after you assemble it. I use a Nikon D200 or D7000 with a DX 10.5 and a Manfrotto pano head and tripod. A leveling base for the head is very handy. With the 10.5 I can take about 10 shots for the entire pano 360 x 360. See attached 360 made with PTGUI.
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Tony Jay

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Re: Panoramas and software
« Reply #6 on: March 14, 2012, 01:19:13 am »

All good information so far.

IMHO use PS5 (perhaps PS6 once released) for doing merges at least initially.
The technical challenges referred to need to be mastered first.
When you are shooting well (both technically and creatively) and feel the results with PS5 are not what you want consider other software packages.
It is not a big deal to reprocess the panorama in different software.
I use PS5 and get excellent results (even for massive HDR multishot panoramas I use PS5 for all the merging).

In summary: what you do with your camera is much more important than the post-processing in achieving excellent results with multi-shot panoramas.

Kind Regards

Tony Jay
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Edalongthepacific

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Re: Panoramas and software
« Reply #7 on: March 14, 2012, 01:53:10 am »

It is so true that panorama shooting is a technical challenge. A panorama head can help you find the most efficient photo overlap for later effective stitching of the panorama. Then there is the question of batch processing images for efficiency sake and to re-size. Unless you are careful with size, you can end up with a huge panorama file or Quick Time movie.

I have found it useful to initiate my 360 x 360 panoramas with the shade of a tree or building covering my camera, this way very little of the image is whited out by the sun and I stay cooler as well.

I use a leveling device just below the pano head to get the camera perfectly level. It MUST be perfectly level for best results. Also, there is the question of finding the nodal point for your lens so that the panorama essentially revolves around the, so called, nodal point. However, I have seen good arguments for rotating the panorama around the "entrance pupil." For my 10.5 DX lens I use a point very close to the front of the lens and have had good results. Some experimentation with objects close to the lens can help sort out the optimum spot for your lens.

I have seen homemade pano heads that work well and are inexpensive because they were made for  specific camera/lens and tripod combination instead of a retail "one size fits all" combination that by the nature of its ability to fit many cameras and lenses is very expensive.
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Walter Schulz

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Re: Panoramas and software
« Reply #8 on: March 14, 2012, 02:43:06 am »

Couldn't resist:
"Nodal point" is a common misconception in panorama photography. A single lens construction has 1 nodal point, complex lens constructions (as in "made for photography" for more than a hundred years) do have two and none of them will fit the needs for panorama stitching.
The way to determine the "nodal point" described in several tutorials is in fact the way to determine the entry pupil. Aka: The "no-parallax point."

Doesn't matter much: Because "nodal point" doesn't have a purpose for the common photographers it is clear that it's translated to "entry pupil" for those knowing.
Kind of "A rose by any other word ... " for nerds.

Ciao, Walter
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David S

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Re: Panoramas and software
« Reply #9 on: March 14, 2012, 09:54:56 am »

Thanks to all and especially thanks for the suggestions about learning to see and how to proceed.

Dave S
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Ellis Vener

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Re: Panoramas and software
« Reply #10 on: March 14, 2012, 11:40:08 am »

Just one more bit of advice, maybe a clarification of something various of us have said already. When Ed writes " I use a leveling device just below the pano head to get the camera perfectly level." what he means is that the panning mechanism needs to be perfectly level. 

While you can -if you want to- also put a leveling device like this http://www.adorama.com/BG3416.html or one of these http://acratech.net/home.php?cat=2 beneath your tripod head to level its base, it is important that the the top of the tripod head stay level as you rotate it. A simple way to achieve this is to use your tripod head as a leveling device and put a panning mechanism on top of the head. The Induro PHQ3 head http://www.adorama.com/INDPHQ3.html has panning mechanism at the base and on top of the head built in or you can add a panning  top like this one http://reallyrightstuff.com/ProductDesc.aspx?code=PCL-1&type=0&eq=&desc=PCL-1%3a-Panning-Clamp&key=it or http://www.novoflex.com/en/products/panorama-photography/panorama-plates/ to your existing tripod head.

While having the camera level is not totally essential as you can make some corrections in the panoramic stitching software or if using Photomerge in Photoshop CS5 , then using the transform tool after your stitching is done. Getting the camera level will make your life a lot easier.

As with all things photographic, the more experience you have the more comfortable you can become at breaking this rule when your vision of how you should photograph a subject demands it.
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wolfnowl

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Re: Panoramas and software
« Reply #11 on: March 15, 2012, 01:32:32 am »

I played a bit with PTGui in the early days... I use Autopano Pro myself.  For those on a tight budget, Hugin is open source (free)

Mike.
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spinellino

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Re: Panoramas and software
« Reply #12 on: March 23, 2012, 07:20:15 pm »

I use a totally different approach. I use shift lenses to make panos. I shift the lens all the way to the left, take a photo, then I do the same to the right.
Then I stitch the 2 images with photoshop. The process is a lot easier then doing the same thing with a normal lens.
I use an old nikon 28mm pc and a zeiss jena 80mm  with a shift adapter.

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OldRoy

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Re: Panoramas and software
« Reply #13 on: March 24, 2012, 09:54:52 am »

............I use a leveling device just below the pano head to get the camera perfectly level. It MUST be perfectly level for best results.
Here we go again...
I'll be less diplomatic that the other contributors. This statement is simply wrong.
Roy
Edit. OK, I'll qualify that statement before someone else challenges its applicability to a specific situation. If you're shooting outdoors with no pronounced reference verticals or, sometimes, horizontals, then it's useful to level the head. I'm thinking here about VR panoramas, as referred to in this thread, where this consideration tends to be more critical - or at least more apparent. Not that I imagine many people on LL are likely to be interested in doing exterior VR panos.
« Last Edit: March 24, 2012, 10:28:44 am by OldRoy »
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Ellis Vener

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Re: Panoramas and software
« Reply #14 on: March 25, 2012, 01:31:55 pm »

In light of what Roy wrote
let me amend my earlier post:

I wrote: Just one more bit of advice, maybe a clarification of something various of us have said already. When Ed writes " I use a leveling device just below the pano head to get the camera perfectly level." what he means is that the panning mechanism needs to be perfectly level. 

The precise idea I was trying to get across is a simple one:

If you want your horizon to be level, the sensor plane has to be perpendicular (at a right or 90 degree angle)  to the horizon.

The easiest way to achieve that is to level the tripod head platform that the camera directly rests on. if you are shooting multi row panoramas you need a Really Right Stuff PG-02VA or similar device that allows you to tilt the camera for your rows. But as you pan, the base that vertical arm and pivot is attached to should be level. 

If you decide to rely on just leveling the base of your tripod head and not using a rotating clamp on top of your tripod head, unless you can guarantee from experience that you can get the plane of top of the tripod head  platform parallel with that level base and that it remains parallel as you rotate the head to take in the panoramic vista you may end up needing to find the horizon and likely crop some off the top and the bottom of the total area captured by your stitched panorama.

Depending on your needs that may or may not make a difference to you. My needs are based on getting as much resolution as I can in a stitched panorama so it can be printed very large at the ideal printing resolution of my printers and those of my clients and stock agency with a minimum amount (preferably none) of upwards interpolation. You may not have that need and I respect that.
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thewidereye

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Re: Panoramas and software
« Reply #15 on: March 27, 2012, 04:02:01 pm »

Hi Dave

just joined this forum and saw your post.

I've used them all at this stage. PTGui is by far streets ahead of everything else on the market, in my opinion.
A second choice would be Hugin
and if you're really stuck use Photoshop

good luck on your journey.

Peter
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David S

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Re: Panoramas and software
« Reply #16 on: March 27, 2012, 05:34:29 pm »

Again many thanks to you all for your suggestions.

Dave S

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Kirk Gittings

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Re: Panoramas and software
« Reply #17 on: March 27, 2012, 05:42:52 pm »

Accordingly, the most important skill when shooting panos is to be able to imagine a composition without a viewfinder.

It is surprising to notice that many photographers have a really hard time doing this.

Cheers,
Bernard


Not surprising at all really.
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Thanks,
Kirk Gittings

Peter McLennan

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Re: Panoramas and software
« Reply #18 on: March 29, 2012, 11:44:53 am »

A dedicated pano head and an absolutely level camera are not prerequisites for quality panos.  Many have posted that they can produce excellent panos hand-held. I agree.

Nor does the horizon need to be in the middle of the frame.  I frequently put the horizon along the bottom third in order to maximize the sky area.  I must credit the "warp" function in PS5, though.  : )

I have several hand-held, stitched 44" wide prints hanging on my walls.
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Tony Jay

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Re: Panoramas and software
« Reply #19 on: March 29, 2012, 08:39:01 pm »

Peter is not wrong in his post but it does depend on the composition.

If there are large tolerances in the composition that allow for extensive cropping then Peter's approach is absolutely doable and excellent results can be had.

If however ones compositional tolerances are tight then a levelling head and preferably a panoramic head may be the only way to achieve the result - content-aware fill notwithstanding.

Regards

Tony Jay
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