0

I'm currently experimenting with mountain/countryside panoramas, using a Sigma 105mm f/2.5 DG macro HSM lens adapted to my EOS-M5. Here's my set of basic rules for making a set of photos to be stitched together:

  • Fully manual exposure (ISO, Aperture, Exposure time)
  • As small an aperture as is practical
  • Autofocus turned off, and focus fixed for the whole set
  • As far as possible, focus on something at the hyperfocal distance
  • Image stabilisation off
  • Remote control for the shutter
  • Carefully levelled tripod with appropriate head (I use a Manfrotto 3-way geared head)
  • Shoot in portrait orientation (long axis vertical)
  • 50% - 66% overlap between adjacent frames
  • Current stitching software: MS Image Composite Editor

Now, my questions are:

  1. What am I missing, if anything?
  2. What am I doing wrong, if anything?
  3. Beyond the general arguments between RAW anf JPEG, are there any specific considerations for one or the other in relation to panoramas?
  • 4
    What is it that's unsatisfactory using the current method? – Tetsujin May 15 '18 at 14:35
  • @Tetsujin Nothing specific, as yet... – Brent.Longborough May 15 '18 at 17:40
  • 4
    This site doesn't work really well for lists of tips, or for general best approaches. (From the help: can you imagine a book that might cover your question? If so, it's probably too broad.) It'll be much better if you can find a specific question about something you're not happy with. – mattdm May 15 '18 at 18:53
  • @mattdm Yes, on reflection, I accept your criticism. – Brent.Longborough May 15 '18 at 20:22
  • @Brent.Longborough It's not even really meant to be criticism per se. I just want the site to be as helpful as possible to as many people as possible -- and this will help you get better answers too. – mattdm May 15 '18 at 20:32
2

What am I missing, if anything?

  • Shooting RAW, or locking in a non-Auto white balance to avoid color shifting between frames.
  • Bracketing in HDR situations
  • Rotating around the no-parallax point in yaw (and in pitch, if doing multiple rows), to avoid seaming issues in the stitch (but only if there are nearby subjects of interest)
  • A specialized panorama head can help with tracking coverage as well as shooting multiple rows (not to mention zenith & nadir shots for 360x180s).
  • A fisheye lens can be awesome fun if you want to shoot 360x180s.
  • More concern about the post-processing end of things. Panoramas tend to require some more specific tools that are beyond the scope of MS ICE or Adobe's Photomerge tools. Particularly if you like to remap panoramas.
  • Leveling needs to be done in pitch as well as roll. Three-axis hotshoe bubble levels can be fun for this if handholding, or if your camera may not be level while the bubble level on the tripod legs/head says the base/head is level (more typical with a ballhead; with a geared head, it should be ok).

What am I doing wrong, if anything?

  • Turning off IS doesn't really matter if the lens's IS generation is new enough to recognize tripod use.
  • If you are doing mostly landscape panoramas with far-away subjects in good light, you can likely get away with handholding and don't need a tripod. Just shoot more coverage if you think you'll need to crop for correcting a slanted/bowed horizon. Tripod use is only if you need to do long exposure or to rotate around the NPP or track coverage with a panohead.
  • You can shoot multiple rows as well as just turning the camera into portrait for more vertical coverage.
  • Overlap only needs to be about 33% for a good stitch, unless there are no discernible features. 50% might be overkill. But obviously, if you're shooting multiple rows, the overlap needs to be both vertical and horizontal.
  • Don't use ICE if you need to fix things like stitching errors, ghost/clones, or horizon bowing: Hugin (free) or PTGui (commercial) might be better choices.
  • Shoot enough coverage in time as well as space, to avoid ghosts and clones.

Beyond the general arguments between RAW and JPEG, are there any specific considerations for one or the other in relation to panoramas?

Yes. White balance can shift, just like exposure between frames, so you want to shoot RAW or set the white balance for JPEG to a non-Auto setting, so at least the white balance remains constant or can be reset to be constant between frames.

See also:

  • @Brent.Longborough, please take a look at the "best techniques to take 360º panos" Q&A, as my answer there is actually more thorough and better-organized. This answer was more off-the-top-of-my-head. :) It also mentions using a plumbline instead of a panohead for NPP rotation. If you get interested in 360x180, we also have a How are virtual tour photos taken? Q&A. – inkista May 16 '18 at 21:15
3

If you want perfect panoramas, you need to rotate the camera around the "no parallax point" of the lens (usually called "nodal point" by photographers, even though physicists would disagree). This way, front objects won't seem to move when you rotate the camera, and stitching will be easier.

When shooting hand-held, the trick is that you should turn around your camera. When using a tripod, the rotation axis of the tripod may be a good approximation of the nodal point, but you can do better with specific equipment like a nodal slide. There are many tutorials showing how to use them on the web (search "find nodal point camera" or "no parallax point" to find many of them). Here's a good and concise one:

https://youtu.be/1jAhwFLimM0

  • In short, when you rotate around the nodal point, foreground objects do not "move" relative to the background, which makes the stitching a lot easier. – remco May 15 '18 at 15:26
  • Just to be super-pedantic, the nodal point is not usually or necessarily the same as the no parallax point (or entrance pupil location). However, in the context of taking 0-parallax panoramas, the term "nodal point" is often used to refer to the NPP, and it is understood what is meant. – scottbb May 15 '18 at 15:34
  • For some really good illustrations of the difference between rotating the camera around the NPP and around the center of the photographer's body, please see this answer to How do I “focus and recompose” using spot metering?. Although the context there is about focus error due to focus/recompose, the diagrams are helpful for handheld panoramas as well. – Michael C May 16 '18 at 2:18

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.