Getting started in panoramic photography….

As is normal for me and my hobbies I have a tendency to invest more time and effort in kitting myself out than actually doing the hobby itself… it was the same with my drums… spent more time building the kit than playing… hopefully this ratio will change with my photography…

With that in mind I recently ‘invested’ time researching panoramic photography and it ticks a few boxes for me… always had an interest in landscape images and pano’s seem a decent technical challenge over the normal landscape type photography…

Decent pano heads are massively expensive but generally consist of a rotating ‘L’ bracket… The one I really fancy is the Roundabout-NP Deluxe 5R… its around the £230 mark but built from girders and can handle 360 degree pano’s… I am not really interested in 360 pano’s and don’t really want to spend £230… even though it is a thing of billety goodness…

Roundabout-NP Deluxe

So I settled on spending very little and anticipating having to do a little work to make it usable…

Cheap Pano Head

It was just over £18 from Amazon and had all the basics there so all good apart from a few little things… the rotational mount was wobbly and the extended arm would sag a little with the weight of the camera on it so I set about doing a few mods…

First up the rotational mount… this was only clamped in one position and had a locating pin 90 degrees to it… with the weight of the camera it was a little unstable…

Rotational Mount

So I drilled and tapped the base to add some screws in and ground the ends on the bolts to a point to help locate in the track of the other half of head…

Modded head

Next up I wanted to sure up the extended arm…

Extended arm

I drilled and tapped the slide mount so I could add a couple of screws to stiffen up the arm…

Tapping the mount

…and voila!…

Modded extension arm

Unfortunately the rotational mount was still rubbish and fearing for my camera I bought something that was still cheap but more suitable for the job…

Pano Mount

All I can say is its simply perfect for the job… lovely smooth rotation, 15 degree markings to make it easier to pan and as stable as a stable thing…

With this fitted I proceeded onto setting the mount up properly to get the lens centred to the mount and to find the no-parallax point of the lens.

I found a few sites explaining this and have posted the links below as it will be easier to read them than me duplicate the info here but you essentially set the camera that to the entrance pupil of the lens is the centre point of rotation for the pano image… this prevents the images from distorting when stitched

I had already marked the centre of the mount so I used a needle and tread as a make shift plum bob to set the lens central to the tripod…

Centering the lens

I then used a bit of card on my other tripod to create a ‘sight’ to line up the entrance pupil of the lens… first dead ahead and centred…

Centered entrance pupil

Then 30 degrees off centre…

30 degrees off centre

…which as you can see it was out a bit… so moved the camera back on the extended arm until it was lined up in the sight…

Entrance pupil at 30 degrees

I also checked 30 degrees off centre in the opposite direction and was the same so happy that its all where it should be…

All done and ready to take panoramas…

Pano head setup

I took a couple of pics at the weekend including a near 360 (horizontally) of the Badger 5 workshop…

Badger5 Workshop

So for just under £45 and a small amount of tweaking have a fairly decent pano head…

As for software I have been using a fairly early version of Lightroom and Photoshop for quite a while but since acquiring a Macbook Air (will blog about this soon) I have started using the Adobe Creative Cloud on a photographers plan which gives me the latest version of both and some other benefits…

Canon supply Photostitch with the camera but it didn’t seem to do a brilliant job… Photoshop however seems to be able to do this with ease using the Photomerge automation…

I have some time off coming up so hoping to get out and try some proper scenic pano’s with the rig… will post up the results as and when they happen 😀

Links…

Panoramic bracket:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00OBASVZQ

Panoramic head:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00RK2DVJI

Useful sites:
http://www.johnhpanos.com/epcalib.htm
http://wiki.panotools.org/Entrance_Pupil_Database
http://digital-photography-school.com/creating-a-panorama-with-photoshop-and-photomerge/
https://photographylife.com/panoramic-photography-howto

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