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In hopes of stretching my horizons (so it speak), I'm experimenting with taking and making stitched panoramas. I've always liked panoramas, but up until now I've only done in-camera ones with the panorama setting in my Sony cameras (JPEG only), which can work surprisingly well but is limited. A couple of questions for you panorama experts. Is it best to shoot images for panoramas in horizontal (landscape) or vertical (portrait) format? I find taking a series of landscape images easier but have read that using portrait format results in higher resolution. Can't say that I've noticed any difference (yet) myself, though.

 

Also, is it worth buying a small panorama head, perhaps to fit on top of a ball and socket? There are lots of inexpensive ones available online. What features should I be looking for in a compact pan head? Currently, I'm using an an old Velbon tripod with a big pan pad head that I bought decades ago. It works OK but is a bit clumsy to use, especially with small mirrorless cameras

 

 

 

 

Edited by John Mitchell
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  • John Mitchell changed the title to Panorama questions and tips

Keeping the camera in portrait mode isn't just about the higher resolution now that the 'long side' becomes the 'short side' but it also means that the geometric change between each step when panning is much less than it would be with the camera horizontal. I've never seen it recommended to do panoramics with the camera horizontal but no doubt the software can cope if it has to. For best results the camera should be rotating around a vertical plane and if you have elements in the foreground then it should also be rotating around the optical axis of the lens rather than where the tripod mount is situated. If you do this then when looking through the camera as it pans then the foreground objects and the background are always perfectly aligned. I've not found that you need one of those panoramic rotating heads marked out in degrees even though I have one. Instead I look for a point about 1/3 into the frame and then turn the camera so that point becomes the edge of the frame. A leveling head is very useful indeed and then you can put your existing head on top of it though admittedly a big pan head isn't ideal with a small mirrorless, some tripods have a leveling arrangement built-in. I use an L-bracket on my cameras so it's easy to put it vertical. I solve the parallax problem with a 'nodal rail', also with an Arca-Swiss fitting. All this doesn't come cheap though, I've accumulated bits and pieces over the years.  It used to be that you had to buy from Kirk or Really Right stuff but now there are a lot of CNC 'aircraft-grade' aluminium accessories coming out of the Far East, SunwayFoto is one brand, Haoge is another.

 

As I said, this is the traditional way of doing things, it may be that the software can sort a lot of this out for you, I haven't tried. I haven't put any panoramics up on Alamy but it's worth noting that a 'panoramic' in Alamy terms is anything with an aspect ratio greater than 2:1, so you could be going to all that trouble and be competing with a simple crop from a standard frame, both will look equally good as thumbnails and indeed as enlarged previews. Far less megapixels from the 'crop' but could it be as saleable in certain circumstances?

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25 minutes ago, Harry Harrison said:

Keeping the camera in portrait mode isn't just about the higher resolution now that the 'long side' becomes the 'short side' but it also means that the geometric change between each step when panning is much less than it would be with the camera horizontal. I've never seen it recommended to do panoramics with the camera horizontal but no doubt the software can cope if it has to. For best results the camera should be rotating around a vertical plane and if you have elements in the foreground then it should also be rotating around the optical axis of the lens rather than where the tripod mount is situated. If you do this then when looking through the camera as it pans then the foreground objects and the background are always perfectly aligned. I've not found that you need one of those panoramic rotating heads marked out in degrees even though I have one. Instead I look for a point about 1/3 into the frame and then turn the camera so that point becomes the edge of the frame. A leveling head is very useful indeed and then you can put your existing head on top of it though admittedly a big pan head isn't ideal with a small mirrorless, some tripods have a leveling arrangement built-in. I use an L-bracket on my cameras so it's easy to put it vertical. I solve the parallax problem with a 'nodal rail', also with an Arca-Swiss fitting. All this doesn't come cheap though, I've accumulated bits and pieces over the years.  It used to be that you had to buy from Kirk or Really Right stuff but now there are a lot of CNC 'aircraft-grade' aluminium accessories coming out of the Far East, SunwayFoto is one brand, Haoge is another.

 

As I said, this is the traditional way of doing things, it may be that the software can sort a lot of this out for you, I haven't tried. I haven't put any panoramics up on Alamy but it's worth noting that a 'panoramic' in Alamy terms is anything with an aspect ratio greater than 2:1, so you could be going to all that trouble and be competing with a simple crop from a standard frame, both will look equally good as thumbnails and indeed as enlarged previews. Far less megapixels from the 'crop' but could it be as saleable in certain circumstances?

 

Thanks for this. I'll have to bone up on my vertical and optical planes, parallax, etc. Having a level in the pan head sounds like a good idea. I've also been overlapping about 30% between frames. Shooting verticals (portrait format) certainly makes sense when you think about the geometry and extra cropping room. I'm using the Affinity Photo software that I just purchased for creating panoramas. It appears to do an excellent job with the stitching. Hope to have a couple worth uploading soon. The Sony in-camera panoramas can be quite good. I have a few up on Alamy. I've had a few zooms but no takers so far. Here's an example of the in-camera JPEG variety. I probably should have lightened up the shadows (or increased exposure) more but was afraid of revealing noise:

 

panorama-of-english-bay-west-end-skyline

 

Edited by John Mitchell
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I didn’t know that Harry was so knowledgeable about panoramas but as he says he is talking about traditional methods. That is about panoramic perfection though and unnecessary for the types of panorama that I do. 
 

Because of what can be done with relative ease in software, I take a much simpler approach. In fact I will often shoot handheld panoramas and get very good results. If I use a tripod which I do less often nowadays, having a camera with excellent IBIS or lenses with stabilisation,  I don’t worry about exact levelling or nodes or whatever. It is definitely best to shoot in portrait format as it gives a lot more image to crop from and this is easier handheld than with a tripod. 
 

I do the stitching in Lightroom on the raw files. I used to do it in Photoshop but Lightroom is way better as the resulting image is a DNG so effectively raw. 
 

I have sold very few panoramas on Alamy though. 

Edited by MDM
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3 minutes ago, MDM said:

I didn’t know that Harry was so knowledgeable about panoramas but as he says he is talking about traditional methods. That is about panoramic perfection though and unnecessary for the types of panorama that I do. 
 

Because of what can be done with relative ease in software, I take a much simpler approach. In fact I will often shoot handheld panoramas and get very good results. If I use a tripod which I do less often nowadays, having a camera with excellent IBIS or lenses with stabilisation,  I don’t worry about exact levelling or nodes or whatever. It is definitely best to shoot in portrait format as it gives a lot more image to crop from and this is easier handheld than with a tripod. 
 

I do the stitching in Lightroom on the raw files. I used to do it in Photoshop but Lightroom is way better as the resulting image is a DNG so effectively raw. 
 

I have sold very panoramas on Alamy though. 

 

My in-camera ones are all handheld. I realize that stitched panos don't exactly fly off the shelves. However, it's always motivating to try something new, especially since, like everyone else, I seem to be suffering from the Pandemic blues.

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Just now, John Mitchell said:

 

My in-camera ones are all handheld. I realize that stitched panos don't exactly fly off the shelves. However, it's always motivating to try something new, especially since, like everyone else, I seem to be suffering from the Pandemic blues.


Definitely do it. I love doing new things. I started doing video around this time last year during the initial phase of the pandemic. It has been a really positive thing. I am almost at my 1 year anniversary of getting Covid in fact. Looking back on that time, learning video was the about the only positive thing (on top of surviving that is). 

 

The main point I was making really is that it is not necessary to have loads of kit or to take it down to a fine mathematical level to get good panoramic images. 

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49 minutes ago, John Mitchell said:

 

My in-camera ones are all handheld

This is the type of thing I was thinking about for your A6xxx Sony. Your camera is very small so parallax won't be a big deal unless there's anything close in the foreground and it wouldn't matter at all for the type of distant panorama you've shown above. That looks great and it's pretty extreme at 4.4:1. One downside is that on Alamy the previews are a fixed width so they don't look as impressive as they should do considering their resolution.

 

Of course then you'd need an 'Arca-Swiss' ball & socket head but there are plenty available from the Far East. I have spates of doing panoramas but I don't imagine they're all that saleable, I marvel at the amount of detail it's possible to capture though, like MDM I use Lightroom but I tried Affinity and that seemed very good as well.

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1 hour ago, MDM said:


Definitely do it. I love doing new things. I started doing video around this time last year during the initial phase of the pandemic. It has been a really positive thing. I am almost at my 1 year anniversary of getting Covid in fact. Looking back on that time, learning video was the about the only positive thing (on top of surviving that is). 

 

The main point I was making really is that it is not necessary to have loads of kit or to take it down to a fine mathematical level to get good panoramic images. 

 

You really had the COVID blues. I hope you're doing fine now with no lingering symptoms. I'm light on gear because I'm also light on cash, so no worries there. Chances are I won't be dabbling much in the math either.

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11 minutes ago, Harry Harrison said:

This is the type of thing I was thinking about for your A6xxx Sony. Your camera is very small so parallax won't be a big deal unless there's anything close in the foreground and it wouldn't matter at all for the type of distant panorama you've shown above. That looks great and it's pretty extreme at 4.4:1. One downside is that on Alamy the previews are a fixed width so they don't look as impressive as they should do considering their resolution.

 

Of course then you'd need an 'Arca-Swiss' ball & socket head but there are plenty available from the Far East. I have spates of doing panoramas but I don't imagine they're all that saleable, I marvel at the amount of detail it's possible to capture though, like MDM I use Lightroom but I tried Affinity and that seemed very good as well.

 

That's pretty cool. Another gadget to check out. I thought it was a flash bracket at first. Yes, the stitch pano previews aren't that great-looking on Alamy. I understand the basics of parallax -- the old view from the moving train thing. I hadn't thought of it in this context, though. Thanks for the tips. Looking forward to getting out and doing some more "panoramming" now that spring is springing in Vancouver

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Before Covid stopped us in our tracks I was starting to do timelapses and bought one of these gizmos, Syrp Genie - https://syrp.co/uk-en/genie-mini-ii-sy0033-0001/

 

as well as timelapse it will also shoot panoramas, all controlled from a smart phone (or tablet).  You just set the angle, number of shots, overlap etc. etc. then hit the button and it does its thing.

Edited by Vincent Lowe
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27 minutes ago, Vincent Lowe said:

Before Covid stopped us in our tracks I was starting to do timelapses and bought one of these gizmos, Syrp Genie - https://syrp.co/uk-en/genie-mini-ii-sy0033-0001/

I saw some neat ‘floral mandalas’ in a magazine. Looks like that would be just the job for those as well if it was set up with a turntable.

 

e.g.

https://www.cupoty.com/elizabeth-kazda-mandala-with-miniature-tulips

Edited by Harry Harrison
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A search of AoL for %panorama% brings up about 600 searches by clients during the past year, while a search for %stitched% %panorama% brings up zero searches. I imagine that most of the time people are probably looking for regular wide angle views rather than panoramas.

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3 hours ago, John Mitchell said:

while a search for %stitched% %panorama% brings up zero searches

I think 'stitched panorama' would be too much of a technical term for most people looking for images.  The word 'panorama' is a little ambiguous in that it can refer to just a view, you often see viewing points for 'panorama' on scenic routes. I think Alamy are probably correct to think that when searching for pictures it will be the aspect ratio of the picture that more determines a 'panorama', or 'panoramic' in fact. The second term 'panoramic' is a filter on the main Alamy search under the 'Image' dropdown. Does AoA show up when these filters are used? It's actually grouped as 'Orientation' along with 'Portrait', 'Landscape' & 'Square'. That isn't strictly true, it's not an orientation, you can have vertical panoramics though I don't know how you'd find them on Alamy assuming they exist. That's the downside to treating it as as an orientation. it should be a separate category so that you could find 'portrait' and 'landscape' panoramics separately.

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10 hours ago, John Mitchell said:

Having a level in the pan head sounds like a good idea

For me the best leveling head by a country mile is made by Acratech, it has a giant spirit level, it's very light and extremely smooth & easy to use. I have it mounted under my ball-head on my tripod all the time as  setting up any shot on a tripod is quicker and easier if the base of rotation is level.

 

https://www.acratech.net/acratech-leveling-bases-fast-tripod-leveling/

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I use LR for panorama stiching, but, if you are a windows user there is the excellent 'hidden' feature which is ICE (Image Composite Editor) which it's very powerful.

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17 minutes ago, mickfly said:

I use LR for panorama stiching, but, if you are a windows user there is the excellent 'hidden' feature which is ICE (Image Composite Editor) which it's very powerful.

Wow. Thanks for that.

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9 hours ago, John Mitchell said:

A search of AoL for %panorama% brings up about 600 searches by clients during the past year, while a search for %stitched% %panorama% brings up zero searches. I imagine that most of the time people are probably looking for regular wide angle views rather than panoramas.

 

 

there is also about 400 searches for %panoramic%  and most appear to be looking for panoramas 

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5 hours ago, meanderingemu said:

 

 

there is also about 400 searches for %panoramic%  and most appear to be looking for panoramas 

 

Merci beaucoup. Just noticed that I neglected to include "panoramic" in some of my images' keywords.

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6 hours ago, spacecadet said:

Wow. Thanks for that.

 

I didn't know about ICE either.

 

I found some info and download links here. The various projections sound interesting.

 

UPDATE: Uh-oh, the downloads appear to be no longer available.

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23 minutes ago, John Mitchell said:

 

 

 

UPDATE: Uh-oh, the downloads appear to be no longer available.

The archive links in the second post here

https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/answers/questions/252274/how-to-download-image-composite-editor-20.html

are kosher. That's where I got it. It works on quite a few RAWs, including my Sony .arw, so you'd probably do the stitch first, then export a TIFF back to LR/PS, then process.

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4 minutes ago, spacecadet said:

The archive links in the second post here

https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/answers/questions/252274/how-to-download-image-composite-editor-20.html

are kosher. That's where I got it. It works on quite a few RAWs, including my Sony .arw, so you'd probably do the stitch first, then export a TIFF back to LR/PS, then process.

 

Thanks. I'll have a look.

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1 more tip.  Shoot matrix, with huge overlap   It can be done handheld.  This has many advantages;  capture anything you want (easy to crop later),  higher resolution, etc.   It really works for shadow areas with small sensor cameras.  This was Rx100,  3x5 matrix.  Was even able to do selective HDR toning with masks for shadow areas to bring out detail in forest, without causing noise

scenic-sunset-sky-landscape-over-three-s

 

 

This was 2x4 but with SLR, also handheld;  allowed me to color tone in postprocessing any way I wanted

scenic-bow-river-panoramic-landscape-wit

 

 

This was some crazy # of frames;  think 4x6.   Although end result is not particularly spectacular,  resolution is amazing -- blow to 150% & it is still clean on pixel level.   Would work well for print I believe

wide-panoramic-landscape-of-scenic-helen

 

 

Using this technique,  that pano across Burrard Inlet to Stanley from Maritime Museum would look infinitely better.   Naturally this works only with still subjects, i.e. nature. If something is moving, nada

 

And yes, for in-camera automatic stitching vertical orientation works better.  I only flip right to left, left to right, depending on scene.  This was recent in-camera Rx100 stitch, vertical left to right.  Enough light allowed HDR toning for forest band,  even with small sensor.  Single Reduce Noise filter pass afterwards

p2199139531-6.jpg

 

Edited by Autumn Sky
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5 hours ago, Autumn Sky said:

1 more tip.  Shoot matrix, with huge overlap   It can be done handheld.  This has many advantages;  capture anything you want (easy to crop later),  higher resolution, etc.   It really works for shadow areas with small sensor cameras.  This was Rx100,  3x5 matrix.  Was even able to do selective HDR toning with masks for shadow areas to bring out detail in forest, without causing noise

scenic-sunset-sky-landscape-over-three-s

 

 

This was 2x4 but with SLR, also handheld;  allowed me to color tone in postprocessing any way I wanted

scenic-bow-river-panoramic-landscape-wit

 

 

This was some crazy # of frames;  think 4x6.   Although end result is not particularly spectacular,  resolution is amazing -- blow to 150% & it is still clean on pixel level.   Would work well for print I believe

wide-panoramic-landscape-of-scenic-helen

 

 

Using this technique,  that pano across Burrard Inlet to Stanley from Maritime Museum would look infinitely better.   Naturally this works only with still subjects, i.e. nature. If something is moving, nada

 

And yes, for in-camera automatic stitching vertical orientation works better.  I only flip right to left, left to right, depending on scene.  This was recent in-camera Rx100 stitch, vertical left to right.  Enough light allowed HDR toning for forest band,  even with small sensor.  Single Reduce Noise filter pass afterwards

p2199139531-6.jpg

 

 

Those are all very nice panoramas. I should probably rework the English Bay one that I posted. However, the original is a JPEG made in-camera, so I might just go back on a sunny day and re-shoot a similar series in RAW . I'm not sure what you mean by "shoot matrix."

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18 minutes ago, John Mitchell said:

 

I'm not sure what you mean by "shoot matrix."

Shoot a matrix of individual photos, then stitch them later in post-processing.   For instance you could decide to shoot English Bay in 3 rows, 5 columns = 15 individual frames.  Lock exposure somewhere in center, then just shoot 1, 2, 3 down (first column done).  Move bit right, shoot second column, can go up now. etc etc until you have 15 photos.    

 

1 6 7 12 13

2 5 8 11 14

3 4 9 10 15

 

Each number is single photo;  ordinal is shooting sequence  Exposure locked around in center (i.e where 8 or 11 are).  50% overlap for super resolution (i.e. when you move from 1 to 2, overlap 50%.  When you move from 1st column to second, from 3 to 4, overlap by 50%. Etc etc.)

 

It does take bit of getting used to but it is way too superior to what in-camera stitching can do.  You don't even need to decide before hand "I am going to do 5 or 6 or 7 columns;  just keep moving until you covered entire scene. Whole thing can be done very fast once this way of shooting panos becomes second nature.

Edited by Autumn Sky
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11 minutes ago, Autumn Sky said:

Shoot a matrix of individual photos, then stitch them later in post-processing.   For instance English Bay I'd probably go 3 rows, 5 columns = 15 individual frames.  Lock exposure somewhere in center, then just shoot 1, 2, 3 down (first column done).  Move bit right, shoot second column, can go up now. etc etc until you have 15 photos.     It does take bit of getting used to but it is way too superior to what in-camera stitching can do.

 

1 6 7 12 13

2 5 8 11 14

3 4 9 10 15

 

Each number is single photo;  ordinal is shooting sequence  Exposure locked around in center (i.e where 8 or 11 are).  50% overlap for super resolution (i.e. when you move from 1 to 2, overlap 50%.  When you move from 1st column to second, from 3 to 4, overlap by 50%. Etc etc.)

 

Thanks. Sounds intriguing, but I'll have to do some research. It's a lot for my tiny brain to digest at this hour in Van. :huh:

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