Iam looking to improve my panoramic work, id appreciate thoughts on a good set up....what softwear? do i need a pano head? currently using a geared head...... tips/advice in general much appreciated. I hear Autopan is good? and the pano heads seem very expensive for what they are...can i make decent images without one?
There's been quite a lot of discussion on this site about the topic, some of it quite recently. I seem to recall a fairly lengthy thread on exactly this topic in the last couple of months.
As to your specific quesions, opinions vary, of course, but:
AutoPano Pro and PTGui are both excellent; they have minor differences in their strengths and weaknesses. I use APP, for no very good reason. PS CS5 does a pretty respectable job as well: you can see Jeff using it in one of the C2P2 videos.
No, you don't need a pano head, save if you're planning to include objects in the near foreground, in which case rotation about the lens's nodal point (or entry pupil, depending on whom you read) is very important to avoid parallax errors. You don't even really need a tripod: it's perfectly possible to get a really good panoramic shot handheld, even with more than one layer. It just takes a lot of concentration.