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Author Topic: Tripod head components for (small) pano stitching  (Read 2273 times)
gnaztee
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« on: December 12, 2013, 08:09:58 AM »
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I have an RX1r as my only full-frame sensor camera, and when packing lightly, I'd like to use it to stitch for shots wider than the 35mm lens. I have been looking at panoramic heads and such, but I'm a bit confused as to what I actually need to make it work. Here's what I know right now:

1) I have a RRS L plate/grip on the camera right now
2) I would like to stitch both vertically and horizontally
3) I am not looking for actual panoramas, just stitching enough 35mm shots to simulate a 14-20mm or so
4) I have the tripod already, and an okay Arca-Swiss style ballhead...though, I am looking to upgrade this
5) I've read a bit about "No parallax point" on the RRS site, but I'm not sure I have a full grasp of necessary equipment yet

So, what else do I need?
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BartvanderWolf
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« Reply #1 on: December 12, 2013, 09:07:04 AM »
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I have an RX1r as my only full-frame sensor camera, and when packing lightly, I'd like to use it to stitch for shots wider than the 35mm lens. I have been looking at panoramic heads and such, but I'm a bit confused as to what I actually need to make it work. Here's what I know right now:

1) I have a RRS L plate/grip on the camera right now

Hi, that's a good start.

Quote
2) I would like to stitch both vertically and horizontally

Make sure if you need to stitch vertically, because that will add a few additional items. By placing the camera in portrait orientation you already get more vertical coverage. Depending on the scene complexity, you might also get away with only a horizontal no-parallax point (NPP) setup, and if need be just pitch the ballhead up for additional coverage and let the stitching software attempt to blend the row transition.

Quote
3) I am not looking for actual panoramas, just stitching enough 35mm shots to simulate a 14-20mm or so

If  the camera in portrait orientation doesn't have enough FOV coverage, you may need to invest in additional components for a multi-row setup.

Quote
4) I have the tripod already, and an okay Arca-Swiss style ballhead...though, I am looking to upgrade this
5) I've read a bit about "No parallax point" on the RRS site, but I'm not sure I have a full grasp of necessary equipment yet

So, what else do I need?

This should get you going for high quality single row Panoramas: Pano-Elements-Package-with-Screw-Knob

It's important to get the rotation plane on top of the stem of the ballhead. You may either replace the current clamp with the PCL-1 clamp or use an additional Dovetail adapter to mount the PCL-1 in the existing Arca style clamp.
The PCL-1 has been succeeded by the PCL Pro, but I couldn't find a package together with the MPR-CL II slide. You may also want to check with RRS if a shorter slide than the MPR-CL II would be better for your specific camera/lens combination, to stay out of the image.

Instead of the MPR-CL II you could also use a short bar and a Mini Clamp Package, which creates a bit more flexibility for lenses with a no-parallax point that's very much towards the front of the lens. It's also  a flexible component for stereo photography, because it allows to rotate the camera clamp in 90 degree increments, and thus allows to slide the camera sideways for two consecutive offset shots.

As said, creating a multi-row setup equires to add a number of components (the Ultimate Omni-Pivot package). You may want to first try if a less complex solution suffices for a relatively modest FOV expansion.

Cheers,
Bart
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gnaztee
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« Reply #2 on: December 12, 2013, 09:42:16 AM »
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Hi Bart,

Thanks for the response!

On the Vertical stitching, I was thinking of the camera in horizontal/landscape orientation and shooting a vertical pan, not using it vertically in portrait orientation.

For the horizontal stitching, I was looking at vertical/portrait orientation with a horizontal pan.

Am I on solid ground on these? Does it change anything you suggested?
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stever
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« Reply #3 on: December 12, 2013, 10:05:19 AM »
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pivoting about the "nodal point" is only critical for objects close to the lens.  before investing a lot of money, I'd do some experimentation with the stitching software you're going to use and try a bit of practice hand - held.

for hand-held stitching use plenty of overlap and don't frame too tightly - try to pivot the camera around it's center (which should not be too far off the nodal point with the 35mm lens) 
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gnaztee
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« Reply #4 on: December 12, 2013, 10:22:23 AM »
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pivoting about the "nodal point" is only critical for objects close to the lens.  before investing a lot of money, I'd do some experimentation with the stitching software you're going to use and try a bit of practice hand - held.

for hand-held stitching use plenty of overlap and don't frame too tightly - try to pivot the camera around it's center (which should not be too far off the nodal point with the 35mm lens) 

How close is "close"? If I have foreground rocks a few feet from me, is it close?
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Isaac
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« Reply #5 on: December 12, 2013, 11:07:40 AM »
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I think a good approach would be to try it and fail, and try a little further away and fail, and try a little further away and succeed.

Once I actually tried, I was surprised how well (for my purposes) hand-held photos could be stitched -- and usually my problem was not parallax but failing to make sure there was enough coverage at the top of the scene.

Making mistakes trying something out in photography is so low risk / low cost, and you learn so much more from the experience.
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Ellis Vener
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« Reply #6 on: December 12, 2013, 02:26:52 PM »
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"1) I have a RRS L plate/grip on the camera right now
2) I would like to stitch both vertically and horizontally
3) I am not looking for actual panoramas, just stitching enough 35mm shots to simulate a 14-20mm or so
4) I have the tripod already, and an okay Arca-Swiss style ballhead...though, I am looking to upgrade this
5) I've read a bit about "No parallax point" on the RRS site, but I'm not sure I have a full grasp of necessary equipment yet"

1) good start
2) What kind of subject matter? exteriors or interiors? Landscape or architecture? If it is architecture my advice is to go with the RRS Ultimate-Pro Omni-Pivot Package. This will have everything you need: a pair of rotators, on e for the horizontal and one for the vertical planes, a bar to align the lens' entrance pupil (sometimes called "nodal point") with  the horizontal plane's  rotation axis; a lateral displacement bar, and a vertical riser.
3) that's fine. I do that regularly. whenever possible it's really nice to have higher resolution wide angle views than just using a a lens that covers the same angle.
4) Either the Arca-Swiss Z1 or RRS BH-40 and BH-55 heads are terrific.
5). I think you do but conceptually you may not quite get how all of it works together.

There are other pano kits but the thing I really like about RRS gear is that it is modular and you can use the components for non-panoramic work like still life and macro photography.
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Ellis Vener
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bjanes
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« Reply #7 on: December 12, 2013, 02:43:55 PM »
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This should get you going for high quality single row Panoramas: Pano-Elements-Package-with-Screw-Knob

It's important to get the rotation plane on top of the stem of the ballhead. You may either replace the current clamp with the PCL-1 clamp or use an additional Dovetail adapter to mount the PCL-1 in the existing Arca style clamp.
The PCL-1 has been succeeded by the PCL Pro, but I couldn't find a package together with the MPR-CL II slide. You may also want to check with RRS if a shorter slide than the MPR-CL II would be better for your specific camera/lens combination, to stay out of the image.

Instead of the MPR-CL II you could also use a short bar and a Mini Clamp Package, which creates a bit more flexibility for lenses with a no-parallax point that's very much towards the front of the lens. It's also  a flexible component for stereo photography, because it allows to rotate the camera clamp in 90 degree increments, and thus allows to slide the camera sideways for two consecutive offset shots.

As said, creating a multi-row setup equires to add a number of components (the Ultimate Omni-Pivot package). You may want to first try if a less complex solution suffices for a relatively modest FOV expansion.

Bart,

I have the RRS basic pano setup for single row panos. With the camera in portrait orientation, single row is usually sufficient but some times I have to point the camera up or down to include the scene elements that I want. The full RRS pano setup would be ideal, but is costly and I have improvised using a monopod head as shown below. What am I losing with the setup?

Bill
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ErikKaffehr
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« Reply #8 on: December 12, 2013, 03:00:33 PM »
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Hi,

You loose very little, as far as I know. I mostly don't even use a nodal slide, if I am shooting at distance. Optimally the lens would rotate around the nodal point, and the nodal point moves when you tilt, but that would be a small movement, so I don't think it matters.

Best regards
Erik

Bart,

I have the RRS basic pano setup for single row panos. With the camera in portrait orientation, single row is usually sufficient but some times I have to point the camera up or down to include the scene elements that I want. The full RRS pano setup would be ideal, but is costly and I have improvised using a monopod head as shown below. What am I losing with the setup?

Bill
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BartvanderWolf
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« Reply #9 on: December 12, 2013, 05:16:56 PM »
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Bart,

I have the RRS basic pano setup for single row panos. With the camera in portrait orientation, single row is usually sufficient but some times I have to point the camera up or down to include the scene elements that I want. The full RRS pano setup would be ideal, but is costly and I have improvised using a monopod head as shown below. What am I losing with the setup?

Hi Bill,

Indeed, doing a horizontal Yaw rotation with the camera in portrait orientation will combine a reasonable vertical FOV from the long dimension of the individual image frame(s), with the required horizontal FOV coming from multiple images.

When you adjust the camera Pitch for an additional horizontal row of vertical FOV coverage without a full multi-row kit, the entrance pupil will move up (or down) and (usually) back a bit (how much, depends on the distance of the rotaton axis away from the NPP). That will cause vertical parallax and reduced optimizer accuracy if both rows are optimized together. It would be possible to first optimize each row, and then isolate the pitch optimization between rows as a separate step, and add an optimization of the vertical offset between rows (approx. the same values for all tiles in a row).

The good thing is that in many images there will usually be fewer subject matter that is both close-up and far away, and with enough features to cause impossible parallax issues. But as always, in tradition with Murphy's law, the errors will become impossible to blend away when you can absolutely not use that ...

Cheers,
Bart
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gnaztee
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« Reply #10 on: December 12, 2013, 08:43:01 PM »
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Ellis, speaking to number 2, it would be 99 percent landscapes.

Bill, this is what I'm thinking, at least for now. Get the panning plate to go on top of the ballhead, get the rail, or whatever it's called, and use the ball head itself to move between horizontal and vertical.

To all, your help is much appreciated so far, thanks!
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Ellis Vener
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« Reply #11 on: December 14, 2013, 01:14:35 PM »
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Bill, for landscape work probably you are losing nothing as long as you dont have a llarge near/far ratios with your subject., but if that is the case I wonder if you are gaining anything atthe expense of less stability. have you tried simply tilting the larger tripod head?
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Ellis Vener
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bjanes
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« Reply #12 on: December 14, 2013, 03:10:35 PM »
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Bill, for landscape work probably you are losing nothing as long as you dont have a llarge near/far ratios with your subject., but if that is the case I wonder if you are gaining anything atthe expense of less stability. have you tried simply tilting the larger tripod head?

Ellis, I don't quite understand. I adjust the main ball head to level the PCL-1. If I tilted this head, I would lose the leveling and panning would no longer track parallel to the horizon. I haven't tried your suggestion, but that is what my gut feeling is.

Bill
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Ellis Vener
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« Reply #13 on: December 14, 2013, 08:26:22 PM »
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I get your point about leveling the head, but by tilting the camera and lens you are moving the len's entrance pupil (nodal point) away from the rotational axis. If are not seeing or having to make special efforts to resolve parallax errors  then that's fine.
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Ellis Vener
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MrSmith27
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« Reply #14 on: December 15, 2013, 02:32:46 AM »
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I have an RX1r as my only full-frame sensor camera, and when packing lightly, I'd like to use it to stitch for shots wider than the 35mm lens. I have been looking at panoramic heads and such, but I'm a bit confused as to what I actually need to make it work. Here's what I know right now:

1) I have a RRS L plate/grip on the camera right now
2) I would like to stitch both vertically and horizontally
3) I am not looking for actual panoramas, just stitching enough 35mm shots to simulate a 14-20mm or so
4) I have the tripod already, and an okay Arca-Swiss style ballhead...though, I am looking to upgrade this
5) I've read a bit about "No parallax point" on the RRS site, but I'm not sure I have a full grasp of necessary equipment yet

So, what else do I need?


I have been doing (and selling) landscape panoramas for years. I love gear, everybody does. However when it comes to taking panoramas equipment is massively overrated. You don't need all this stuff. The only thing you will actually need is a tripod-attachment that makes sure you horizontally rotate your lens around its no-parallax point (also known as "nodal point"). Here's a $12 thing that does that just fine: http://www.amazon.com/DSLRKIT-Macro-Focusing-Slider-Camera/dp/B007L41QZG/ref=pd_cp_p_1

For example you would screw your camera to the rail, then screw the rail unto your tripod. Then you move the rail with the camera backwards a couple of centimeters. For example for using my DP3M the correct distance is, I believe, 3.2 centimeters. However anything between 3.2 and 3.7 centimeters tends to work just fine. (Why? For reasons of physics you will want to rotate the camera around what is roughly the middle of lens, not the middle of it's body. By rotating just around this point you do not get parallax errors. What a parallax error? Hold up one finger an arms length away from your eyes and look at it with only one eye at a time. Finger jumps around. That's a parallax error if your eyes were a camera.)

The angle of horizontal movement doesn't matter. You'll want to take shots so that they overlap about 1/3. If they overlap a 1/4 that's just fine. If they overlap 1/2 it's fine too. You just throw these shots into a software like Hugin and in 9 out of 10 cases it's Automatic Alignment will do the job just fine.

Now alternatively you can buy Gitzo's solution. Chances are the resulting pictures will be identical in nearly 10 out of 10 scenarios. Sure the Gitzo will outperform everything in what I would call high-parallax-scenarios, but in almost all case you will be good using the above mentioned solution. Not good as in "picture looks the same on Facebook" but good as in "picture looks the same at 100% on a calibrated screen".

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/765692-REG/Gitzo_GH5130RC_GH5130RC_Series_5_Athena.html
« Last Edit: December 15, 2013, 02:41:45 AM by MrSmith27 » Logged
BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #15 on: December 15, 2013, 06:09:07 AM »
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Now alternatively you can buy Gitzo's solution. Chances are the resulting pictures will be identical in nearly 10 out of 10 scenarios. Sure the Gitzo will outperform everything in what I would call high-parallax-scenarios, but in almost all case you will be good using the above mentioned solution. Not good as in "picture looks the same on Facebook" but good as in "picture looks the same at 100% on a calibrated screen".

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/765692-REG/Gitzo_GH5130RC_GH5130RC_Series_5_Athena.html

Hum...

This Gitzo head offers no additional value for panoramic work compared to a RRS pano kit, be it for "parallax situations" or others. It is way too heavy for field way and too expensive as well.

It was designed for sports events where there is a need to remote control the orientation of a camera set up under a ceiling for example.

There are better/cheaper pano centric robotic heads, the most famous high end one being the Claus Rodeon. If you want to go for lower end, the gigapan is one of the most popular ones, although they haven't released anything new for years.

Cheers,
Bernard
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MrSmith27
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« Reply #16 on: December 15, 2013, 07:23:26 AM »
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Hum...

This Gitzo head offers no additional value for panoramic work compared to a RRS pano kit, be it for "parallax situations" or others. It is way too heavy for field way and too expensive as well.

It was designed for sports events where there is a need to remote control the orientation of a camera set up under a ceiling for example.

There are better/cheaper pano centric robotic heads, the most famous high end one being the Claus Rodeon. If you want to go for lower end, the gigapan is one of the most popular ones, although they haven't released anything new for years.

Cheers,
Bernard


I would assume that if you were to shoot a multi-row panorama in a crowded place -- say a tiny Asian alley with all sorts of signage, power cables in the foreground -- the Gitzo could be an ideal solution because the complete freedom of oriental while maintaining rotation around the nodal point. Having the camera in what seems like a gyroscope appears easier to use to me that another setup where you have to adjust multiple axes one by one. Also Gitzo's built quality is amazing. Imagine you add a motor to this, it could be a really cool setup. Still as I wrote earlier it's way too expensive and for the OP's demands (and actually probably almost anyone's). A simple rail/slide will be all that is needed.
« Last Edit: December 15, 2013, 07:25:00 AM by MrSmith27 » Logged
bjanes
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« Reply #17 on: December 15, 2013, 08:58:40 AM »
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You don't need all this stuff. The only thing you will actually need is a tripod-attachment that makes sure you horizontally rotate your lens around its no-parallax point (also known as "nodal point"). Here's a $12 thing that does that just fine: http://www.amazon.com/DSLRKIT-Macro-Focusing-Slider-Camera/dp/B007L41QZG/ref=pd_cp_p_1

For example you would screw your camera to the rail, then screw the rail unto your tripod. Then you move the rail with the camera backwards a couple of centimeters. For example for using my DP3M the correct distance is, I believe, 3.2 centimeters. However anything between 3.2 and 3.7 centimeters tends to work just fine.


Your setup works fine for you, but I see a couple of drawbacks. You do not say how you level the panning head so that the yaw axis of rotation is perpendicular to the ground. One could have a leveling head on the tripod, or else adjust the tripod legs, but latter process is cumbersome. I use the RRS PCL-1 for this purpose. The focusing rail serves well as the nodal slide, but it attaches with screws. For mounting my equipment, I have standardized on the ARCA Swiss style system, which simplifies mounting and reduces the possibility of dropping one's equipment in the field. Also, an L bracket enables use of the camera in either landscape or portrait orientation (the latter is best in most situations).

I already had a focusing rail, but the purchase of the RRS basic pano kit was worth it for me. It is relatively expensive, but the build quality is first rate and I do not regret the purchase. The RRS multi-row setup is overkill for me.

Bill

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