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Author Topic: Help regarding Choice of panoramic camera.  (Read 1434 times)
satybhat
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« on: August 07, 2014, 08:17:11 PM »
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Dear forum,

I currently shoot with an IQ280. I've just landed an assignment to shoot 5 panorama images in the 1:3 format, to be printed big (the rep told me it would be to the tune of at least 2m on the long scale and the company would take care of the printing, so I just have to supply the images).
Since this would be one off trip, I would like to know whether I should consider a 617 film camera (fuji / linhof) - i would be renting or borrowing this - or whether a 6*17 crop from a IQ280 would suffice for image excellence. What are the tradeoffs between fuji and linhof systems if I were to invest in one eventually ?

This being a big company, I would really love to stand up to their expectations for future liaisons. Considering that they have 6 branches, they would probably want more of such images in the near future.

Any previous comparative experience in regards to film panoramics would be helpful here.

Thanks
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DanielStone
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« Reply #1 on: August 07, 2014, 08:39:15 PM »
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(IF) you feel comfortable working with film, then I'd say that both the Linhof 617S/SII/SIII models/lenses and the Fuji GX617 are both quite suitable of producing photographs that can EASILY be blown up to 2m on the long scale. EASY.

If you are in a location that has a rental center nearby with either of these systems in their supply for rental, I suggest that you try before you commit.

Shooting a single, panoramic frame CAN be easier than stitching, epecially if it involves motion that would span across more than one individual frame's "zone" during each exposure(think flowing traffic, water, a parade, etc.)

I've personally made crops from 5x7 film to a 6x17 proportion, and a well exposed, well shot piece of film that large can EASILY deliver the quality for a 2'm sized print. Budget for DRUM SCANS, and make sure to work with a really good operator. A good scan is crucial to getting the most detail from your film.

-Dan
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DanielStone
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« Reply #2 on: August 07, 2014, 08:48:33 PM »
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I've had the opportunity to use both(but never own either), and I'm torn between the two, honestly.

The Fuji is a bit lighter(mostly due to more plastic in construction, vs the all-metal Linhof). I have a "soft spot" for Fuji's lenses. They render very nicely, and have a slightly different(but good, IMO) "look" straight out of the film. The Linhof(Schneider) lenses are a bit more neutral to my eyes. Both lineups of lenses are equally sharp, IMO.

Linhof offers the 72mm Super Angulon XL as an option for their SIII system. It's the widest lens offered for the system. Fuji's widest lens is a 90mm(which is still pretty wide!)

Fuji lenses:
90,105,180,300mm
Linhof 617SIII lenses:
72,90,110,180,250
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nik
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« Reply #3 on: August 07, 2014, 08:49:33 PM »
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Did they also tell you what the typical viewing distance would be and what it will be printed on? Canvas often 'helps' make it look sharper in my experience. I've shot the fuji and linhof and owned a horseman 612 and have printed images unto 6ft on the long edge, no problem. The scans were either drum or imacon/hasselblad 848. A good scan is critical. But, I'd suggest you NOT shoot film, especially if you've not shot much of it before. You've got one of the best backs available, you're familiar with it. I'd say a crop from it would stand up to printing to those sizes just fine. What lens will you use?  Output the 16bit file from CaptureOne at 140-200% if required.  If you're still worried about the crop, rent a stitching solution and do a 2 or 3 shot horizontal stitch and merge in PS. Look at Alpa or any large format camera with shift capabilities on the rear standard.

Sounds like a nice client, good luck.
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Ken R
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« Reply #4 on: August 07, 2014, 09:32:02 PM »
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Is this print similar in size to the ones you plan on doing? I saw it in person and it is STUNNING. Looked good even when I put my nose almost against the glass. It was shot using a IQ180 back and Arca Swiss RL3d camera (w/ 180mm lens). It might be a multi-shot pano though.
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BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #5 on: August 07, 2014, 09:33:09 PM »
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What kind of images are you requested to shoot?

If stitching is applicable, a good pano spherical head (this one for example) and software will deliver a level of image quality with your IQ280 significantly higher than scanned 6x17.

Please find after the link some images I have shot with this technique, this may help figuring our whether your applications could work or not.

As far as panoramic cameras go, my personal favorite is the Ebony 617. You have all the advantages of full movement on both standards and can use any LF lens.

Cheers,
Bernard
« Last Edit: August 07, 2014, 09:36:01 PM by BernardLanguillier » Logged

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douglevy
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« Reply #6 on: August 07, 2014, 09:54:19 PM »
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Have you considered renting a gigapan? May not work depending on your desired result (and I'm not sure it'll work with a non SLR), but the results can be stunning.
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ErikKaffehr
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« Reply #7 on: August 07, 2014, 11:32:34 PM »
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Hi,

I would also suggest the spherical pano solution.

A couple of reasons:

  • With spherical panos resolution only depends on number of images.
  • In general, I don't think it is possible for small size film to outperform same size digital, except possibly for special emulsions and scanning at 10000 PPI. What I say that you get better image quality from the IQ-180 than what would be possible from 645 from film. Unless you use a very sharp film and scan at extremely high resolution.
  • With a spherical pano, only the central parts of the image are used, and pretty normal lenses can be used. The ultra wides used for panoramic film cameras are not very sharp in the corners.
  • There are cameras with rotation built in, Seitz and Noblex come to mind, these may deliver better results, but they are limited to cylindric projection. With spherical panos there is a choice of planar, cylindrical and spherical projection and possibly others.
  • Planar projection is not practical beyond say 110 degrees

An advantage of panoramic cameras is that composition is made at shooting time. Shooting multiframe panos is more like workmanship. You shoot the pices, final assembly is made in the computer.

Best regards
Erik




What kind of images are you requested to shoot?

If stitching is applicable, a good pano spherical head (this one for example) and software will deliver a level of image quality with your IQ280 significantly higher than scanned 6x17.

Please find after the link some images I have shot with this technique, this may help figuring our whether your applications could work or not.

As far as panoramic cameras go, my personal favorite is the Ebony 617. You have all the advantages of full movement on both standards and can use any LF lens.

Cheers,
Bernard

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Joe Towner
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« Reply #8 on: August 07, 2014, 11:47:01 PM »
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2m on the long edge isn't huge - figure really good quality from 2-3 overlapped images.

Having a method to shoot it with film while there would be fun, but I tend to think you'll have your IQ280 there anyway.  What mount is your IQ?  If it were a H mount I'd say grab the HTS and a few primes and shoot away.
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satybhat
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« Reply #9 on: August 08, 2014, 01:34:00 AM »
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The subject matter is seascapes, lighthouses and falls. I intend to get a bit of water as the main subject. Unfortunately, stitching doesn't appeal here. (as well, I don't like it due to a chronic neck and back ache that I suffer afterwards from stooping on the computer ). The experience has kind of made me a purist at heart. So for now, my options are limited to a one shot technique. ie, either a crop from a IQ280 ( about 36 MPs ) or a film panoramic. not sure whether the crop will satisfy a discerning eye at close inspection for a 2m print.
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stevenf
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« Reply #10 on: August 08, 2014, 02:59:32 AM »
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I use a Horseman 617 with Schneider lenses 72, 110 and 180 with velvia 50 film. We have sold numerous prints over ten feet in length and the images look great. My 2 cents the Horseman and the Linhof with the schneider glass are superior to the fuji, just me opinion.

I also shoot with a Hasselblad h4D50 and agree with others suggestions to test a image from your existing back 280 and see if cropping it works for you. Seems like a lot of money to spend for just a few images.

Steven

http://www.friedmanphoto.com
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Chris Barrett
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« Reply #11 on: August 08, 2014, 05:47:04 PM »
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A few years ago I was hired to make an image of Wrigley field during a Cubs v Pirates game that would be printed as a 10 foot wide mural.  I did a 14 panel stitch with my P65+ that rendered amazing detail.  Looking back, I wished I'd just shot the damn thing on 8x10.  I spent at least a day compositing the image and I'm pretty quick with Photoshop.

Shoot on a fine grain neg at 8x10 or 6x17 (I'm liking Rollei RPX 25 right now for B&W), have it drum scanned at 4k dpi and you will have more than enough detail for a 2m print. 

FWIW, I recently tested Portra 160 against my IQ 260 and found the files to have near identical DR.


IMO,
CB
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BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #12 on: August 10, 2014, 02:48:53 AM »
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A few years ago I was hired to make an image of Wrigley field during a Cubs v Pirates game that would be printed as a 10 foot wide mural.  I did a 14 panel stitch with my P65+ that rendered amazing detail.

Hi Chris,

If you have 30 minutes free time one of these days, I'd be really curious to see how long you'd need to do the same with PTGui Pro 10 on recent hardware.

The stitching time itself shouldn't be more than a few minutes.

In fact, I could even do the test for you if you don't mind uploading the full res jpgs to a dropbox shared folder. I'll provide my email over PM if you are interested.

Cheers,
Bernard
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Ajoy Roy
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« Reply #13 on: August 10, 2014, 08:41:00 AM »
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It all depends on how fine a detail the client wants the image to be. If it is at your nose level, then you need 300 DPI, if it is a poster to be diplayed at a distance, then even 100 DPI will be excessive.

At a conservative 2000 DPI for scan, you need a film of 12 x 4 inches, hard to find a camera that can take this size (apart from finding film this size). So a stitched panorama is your best bet. At 300 DPI you need about 24,000 x 8,000 pixels, easily accomplished in five overlapping images with your IQ 280.

Regarding spending computer time for stitching, as pointed out days have changed. Even on my 5 year old Xeon workstation a stitch of this size will take less than half a day including trying out various projections and adjustments. Most software do an excellent job of matching the images and colour anyway.
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Chris Barrett
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« Reply #14 on: August 10, 2014, 09:20:21 AM »
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Bernard, I didn't have any issues lining up the images, but needed to paint careful masks around people walking up and down the aisles of the stadium ( to avoiding making ghosts out of people).  I didn't try PTGui on this.  I did later try it on a panoramic church interior I shot and it just could not get everything lined up correctly.  After spending half a day trying to get it to work I ended up doing that by hand in Photoshop.

Again, a 6x17 image drum scanned at 4k dpi will yield more than enough resolution for the OP's 2m prints.  Also, his subjects all include moving water and while that CAN be blended in a stitched image, it's pretty obvious to me that a single capture will create the most sensible workflow.

I love all the tools available to us and I'm no purist or luddite, I'm now on my 4th digital back, just built a 16 core 3.4 Ghz PC with 128 GB of RAM and 48TB of storage.  I fully embrace technology, but you can't get hung up on it.  Know all of your tools well so that you can pick the best one for each job.

IMO,
CB
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ErikKaffehr
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« Reply #15 on: August 10, 2014, 10:40:44 AM »
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Hi,

That comment makes a lot of sense…

Best regards
Erik

Again, a 6x17 image drum scanned at 4k dpi will yield more than enough resolution for the OP's 2m prints.  Also, his subjects all include moving water and while that CAN be blended in a stitched image, it's pretty obvious to me that a single capture will create the most sensible workflow.

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Paul2660
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« Reply #16 on: August 10, 2014, 01:08:53 PM »
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As a person who stitches just about everything I shoot, either nodal or tech camera, I would use the 280, what a great tool.  The tech solution would be around a 20mm stitch on each side to get where you are trying to be and only a few of the best lenses will get there, (wides).  You could easily do a multi-row stitch with a Schneider 60XL on your 280 and have a huge amount of resolution to work with.  Pano ratio's tend to be 1:3 and you can get there with either of these with your 280.

Landscape is all I shoot and water is in about 85% of my work, water is so easy to stitch, it always blends.  With the 280, you can find a nodal solution pretty quickly, and with landscape, it it's not exact, it really doesn't matter a the warp will get it together.  I realize with a fixed architecture this is not as true as you are dealing with straight lines, and such.  Single row CC will get it most of the time, multi-row Pt-Gui or Kolor's solution may do better.   Nodal requires a level camera and your scenes may not work with this, but the tech solution would for sure as you are moving the back not the lens.  I realize you don't have a tech camera but they are available for rental, and you should be able to also use your large format rig with the right adapters.  

I started landscape stitching with a zork adapter in 2004 on my 1ds and have done it ever since, in an attempt to gain overall resolution without uprez.  

With the 280, I would consider either a 55mm AF Mamiya or the newer LF lens, in the vertical orientation stitching across in verticals to gain a single landscape image.  The main issue you will have with the 55 is pretty limited DOF, until you are at F11 or more.  So you will need to check your images to makes sure you have a good hyperfocal range.  

You could also use the 35mm AF, it's not stellar, and you will need to crop into the images as the edges will not be as sharp.  However again at F11 and up it's an OK lens and will get the job done.  

Paul
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Paul Caldwell
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Enda Cavanagh
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« Reply #17 on: August 10, 2014, 02:22:13 PM »
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I'm in aggreement with Paul. It's actually quite easy to stitch water seamlessly. The trick is to just monitor the tide as it rises and recedes so that you get similar movement as you go from one image to the next. A nodal stitch will probably work best at 3:1 because a stitch with shift will possibly look quite stretched due to the need to max out the amount of stitch. A lighthouse to the side of a 20mm shifted image on a wide angle lens would look quite stretched.
I'm on holiday so I can't upload the image but here's a link to an image on my website which is from memory a 6 to 8 position nodal stitch. It's a wide pano with similar subject matter to your project. Ie water and lighthouse. Each position had 4 exposures to get the full dynamic range. There's waves crashing in on rocks and it was printed in vinyl at 3m high for an office fitout. I shot it on a Hasselblad H3D 39 on a Cambo wide Ds. I bought an arca Swiss RL3D shortly after that which much simplified stitching. I use the arca Swiss cube head and just need a monorail to slide the camera back to achieve the point of zero parallax. I just take the back off and put it in portrait position to maximize the pixel dimensions of the image. Stitching in ptGui is a doddle. Sometimes you may have a bit of a glitch in a wave. If you can't resolve it in PTGui you can always determine which of the images are used in that area from one of the PtGui tabs and than you can just layer mask it in, in photoshop.

Arca swiss have a setup for nodal stitching if you want to use the IQ280
on the Phase one camera. That's your simplest option in terms of minimal additional outlay or you could rent an RL3D or RM3d initially at least. I think it would be crazy to invest in a 6 x 17cm camera when you already have a camera with fantastic image quality and ultimately more creative control because of the multiple exposure aspect when shooting the scene.

A multi row stitch would not make sense because you're going for a 3:1 aspect ratio. All you would be doing is reducing the aspect ratio.

http://www.endacavanagh.com/wide_panoramic/sunset_photo_old_head_lighthouse_old_head_golf_club_cork_ireland
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Shrev94412
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« Reply #18 on: August 22, 2014, 08:54:23 PM »
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I recently sold my Fuji GX617 Panorama Film Camera and my Imacon Scanner. I own A nikon D800E and D4, a Hasselblad H4D-40 Kit and just recent acquired a Phase IQ180 back with an Alpa STC and an Alpa 32mm SB17 lens.

The answer is that after shooting all three of these systems over the past years (Since they came out) the IQ180 resolution and sharpness with the 32mm Alpa lens blows all the other systems out of the water. I have NEVER seen so much detail. Yes it is way more cumbersome to work with (LCC and such) but, its worth the effort.
 
I would either use a Pano head or use a camera body with your IQ180 and use shift with LCC Calibration. What lens you use is extremely important. Your client will be amazed. I still love my Nikons and Hasselblad, but the  Phase coupled with that lens is simply amazing.

I will never consider film as an option again.

Just my humble opinion.

Good Luck!

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