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Reader Comments: Stitching and Panoramas

See my wish lists at B&H Photo including my Nikon wish list.

See reviews of tilt/shift lenses in DAP.

Colin H writes:

Thank you for the new material on stitching with tilt-shift lenses.

I have not had much success stitching images made with Canon tilt-shifts and then stitched using either the Camera Raw panorama stitcher or photoshop (current versions of both) as the Canon tilt-shift lenses do not show up in the lens correction tables of Camera Raw and therefore make stitching more difficult, if not impossible (for good results). I can understand the challenge for software engineers as the T/S lenses do not offer a consistent image to correct because they are adjustable.

I essentially gave up trying to stitch with T/S lenses and returned to standard lenses that show up in the profiles to avoid that problem and allow me to successfully stitch.

Are you using a different program to post-process the stitch, or do the Nikon lenses show up in the correction tables?

DIGLLOYD: I made the examples in my review of the Nikon 19mm f/4E ED PC-E using Adobe Photoshop Auto Align Layers (reposition) plus Auto Blend Layers.

As for lens corrections, correction of what exactly? ACR raw conversion is smart enough to correct lateral chromatic aberration but the Nikon 19/4 PC-E has only traces of it. The 19/4 is too new to say if an ACR lens correction profile will arrive for it.

So I presume the question is about distortion. But for that I see no need with Nikon 19/4, barring hyper demanding work. I offer as evidence the mosaic examples as well as the stitched composites on the Shifting for Stitching: Double the Camera Megapixels page, both of which have the straight lines of man-made structures. BTW, one should not confuse optical distortion with perspective distortion, which is not distortion at all but a result of the inverse square law.

Really Right Stuff
Multi-Row Pano Package

Damian S writes:

I'm surprised to hear you're just now ordering RRS' pano head - it is an AMAZING piece of hardware. I have done extensive stitching with that head all the way up to Nikon's old MF 800mm lens. Zeiss' 135mm apo is particularly well suited to that setup. The deal is, with the new PC lens, it's like large format and front vs. rear movements.

If Nikon had put a tripod mount on the lens you could do a stitch without parallax errors by moving the 'rear standard' or the camera in this case. Having to rotate around what RRS calls the no-parallax point makes the new lens not as attractive since you pay a weight and complexity penalty for the T/S functionality which is of no help to stitching if you have the RRS pano setup along anyway.... The Hartblei 45mm T/S solves this by having the mount on the lens barrel.

I'm excited to see you play with these toys and hear your recommendations. I'd also advise trying stitching with the Otus 55 and 85 - you can get INCREDIBLE images with those. The biggest issue with stitching and longer FLs is that you pay a DOF penality to get more pixels for the same scene - there is a trade off between virtual sensor size and DOF and your focus stacking becomes a good alternative to get as much detail in the scene as possible. Then, of course, the idea of focus stacking AND stitching comes into play.... Let's see what you come up with.

DIGLLOYD: I have to earn a living and can’t own even 1/10 of what I’d like to have on hand, so it is somewhat of a handicap in terms of free-flowing gear evaluation over time. But the RRS Multi-Row Pano Package with gimbal head is likely to become permanent.

“No parallax point” is a layman’s term that speaks to the benefit versus the cause—the entrance pupil position being centered about the point of rotation.

Hartblei makes a tripod collar for the Canon TS-E lenses, but to my eyes it looks like a wobbly akward affair, and just not attractive for my work.

Ideally there would emerge a lens adapter for Sony that supports Nikon “E” lenses (electronic diaphragm control) along with a shift mechanism and tripod foot of its own. Then the whole parallax issue is made moot. But so far, no lens adapters for Sony even support Nikon “E” lenses (only “G” lenses), let alone with a shift capability. The Cambo Mini View Camera is one option, but it’s just far too bulky for me to carry and it does not support “E” lenses either.

I have the RRS Lightweight Multi-Row Pano Elements Package Pro. Even that is too much bulk and weight for most of my hikes, so I have not done much rotational stitching in recent years. The RRS Multi-Row Pano Package with gimbal head is probably best of all, and I look forward to seeing it soon, but it remains to be seen if it is viable for the types of hikes I do since it is even heavier—and it’s not just weight but a stuff-full pack and these pano rigs exceed the weight threshold my arm can tolerate (I carry the tripod in one hand while hiking, always).

Jason W writes:

I own the RRS Lightweight Multi-Row Pano Elements and have also owned the Multi-Row Pano Gimbal. The reason I sold the heavier gimbal version was not only weight, but also form factor.

I shoot primarily with the BH-55, but carry the Lightweight Pano Elements disassembled in my backpack. The Lightweight Elements breaks down flat into a small space in the LowePro Flipside 300, leaving room for 3 prime lenses and Sony body. The Pano Gimbal cannot be broken down flat, and therefore takes up a lot more space.

DIGLLOYD: those are the core issues: size/stowability and weight.

Really Right Stuff Lightweight Multi-Row Pano Elements Package Pro
Really Right Stuff Lightweight
Multi-Row Pano Elements Package, LR

Panorama shooting gear for rotational stitching

The gear for rotational panoramas also has use for vertical shifts.

For my field work, I shoot mostly still frames and I prefer not to carry and then add/remove a special pano heads, so something that adds on works best for me. And even the lightest pano setup adds a lot of weight (again, a strong argument for using a ballhead if the primary goal is shift-lens stitching). However, a pano setup also provides the flexbility of rotational stitching, which makes sense if the goal is a stitched image but some lenses to be used are not shift lenses. Choice include the following:

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