So these could be really dumb questions but i guess i need some simple directing and answers please! Im very interested in getting into shooting panos and possibly the 360by180 views as i guess it is called, and my question is is there extra equipment needed to do this effectively? i shoot with a rebel xsi and multiple lenses and i guess my question is does this work off a tripod for simple panoramas? i assume that you must have to keep your focal length as dead on as possible for each picture correct? hopefully i am making some sense and could someone please help me out as i could not really find any info about actually composing the photos. thanx a lot!
Not sure there's any such thing as a 'dumb question' - we all had to start somewhere - but there is such a thing as a 'dumb answer'. However you won't get dumb answers from members of this forum.
For shooting partial panos - panos with less than 360x180 degrees FOV - you can just use a tripod IF there's nothing in the scene closer than about 100m.
Otherwise you require a special pano head which mounts on the tripod. This positions the camera/lens at the so-called NPP (No Parallax Point) to avoid parallax issues between neighbouring images which will otherwise make it impossible to get an accurate stitch.
You can shoot panos with any lens - the longer the focal length the more images you need to cover any particular Field of View (FOV). An automatic robotic head is particularly useful when shooting with long focal length lenses.
Most people use fisheye lenses to shoot 360x180 FOV panos destined for display on-line because you require many fewer images to cover the scene using a fisheye lens. The Sigma 8mm f3.5 FE and the Tokina 10-17mm zoom FE are popular choices for Canon cropped- sensor DSLRs like your XSi.
For partial panos destined for large hi-res prints people tend to use longer focal length standard/rectilinear lenses.
When shooting panos use full manual camera settings - aperture, focus, shutter speed and white balance - for best results, keeping the settings the same for every image in the pano set.
Andrew Stephens Nikon D40, Nikkor 10.5mm fisheye, Sigma 8mm f3.5 fisheye, Nikkor 18-55/50/35mm lenses, Nodal Ninja 5 Lite, Nodal Ninja 4 with R-D16, Agno's MrotatorTCS short. Nikon P5100, CP5000, CP995, FC-E8, WC-E63,WC-E68, TC-E2, Kaidan Kiwi 995, Bophoto pano bracket, Agno's MrotatorA. Merlin/Orion robotic pano head + Papywizard on Nokia 770/N800/N810 and Windows 8/XP/2K.
Andrew is technically correct in that you need a panohead to get great results, but I've gotten pretty good results by being really carefull when handholding to shoot a pano. (I use the string method.) Here's an example of a 360x180 pano I took handheld http://www.hankkarl.com/SummerCamp/Dakota1/Dakota1.htm You can see some stitching errors, but overall its not too bad.