Advice sought on cameras for use with Gigapan unit  

In the panorama field, hardware is also part of the success. You can discuss here about it: camera, computer, pano head, anything
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Advice sought on cameras for use with Gigapan unit

by Aeriscera » Fri Aug 22, 2008 5:31 am

Hi Everyone,

I have been lucky enough to receive an application to buy a Gigapan unit, but I don't have one of the cameras on their "approved" list. I have to act fast but I don't know the market well enough to know do this. If anyone has the time and knowledge, I'd be very grateful for an answer to the question: Which of the following represents an upgrade on my Sony DSC-H7?

Thanks,

Aeris.


Nikon
COOLPIX P60
COOLPIX P5100
COOLPIX P5000

Pentax
Optio A30

Casio
EX-P700

Sony
Cyber-shot DSC-H3
Cyber-shot DSC-W300

Panasonic
Lumix DMC-LX3

Ricoh
GX200
Caplio GX100

Canon
PowerShot
(model no.’s: G9, G7, SD1100 IS, SD1000, SD950 IS, SD890, SD870, SD850, SD800, SD790 IS, SD770 IS, SD750, SD700, A720 IS, A710, A620, A590 IS, A580, A570 IS, A560, A470)

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by GURL » Fri Aug 22, 2008 11:04 am

So difficult!

I would try to test first cameras I own or can borrow (not recommended ones included.)

Then I would hesitate between one having the largest field of view (example: wide angle complements and even fisheye complements are available for Nikon Coolpix series) and one having the largest dynamic range (alas, there is no Fuji camera in the recommended list.) From experience (using Nikon Coolpix, an old one and the 5000 model): restricted dynamic range resulting in blown out highlights is the most limiting issue.

Which kind of subject ? (if you know, that is...)
Georges

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by Aeriscera » Fri Aug 22, 2008 12:29 pm

GURL wrote:Which kind of subject ? (if you know, that is...)

Good question. Every possible subject in all kinds of lighting, including underwater!

More seriously, I am mainly interested in high-definition panoramas i.e. I want to be able to shoot things far away in is much detail/sharpness as possible, then build up a pano with a large field-of-view using APP (or the gigapan stitcher). I guess I'd like to be able to make out people 2 miles away.

You can see the sort of thing I do at here. Pretty poor stuff by the standards of some people here but until I can afford the Hassleblad they will have to do :-) Of the images I have posted recently, there are only a few where I was really trying (as opposed to taking a quick snapshot because I had my camera on me) and of those the best is probably [url="http://www.gigapan.org/viewGigapan.php?id=7449]A Surprising Castle[/url]. I think I used x4 (or x6?) zoom and it's sharp enough (tm) in the mid-distance. My camera will do x15 but I am not convinced the quality of the images at max zoom are good enough to be worth using.

Someone else pointed out that none of the "approved" cameras is a DSLR. I think this is because in general they are too big for the gigapan unit, but I am going to find out more about this.

Aeris

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by GURL » Fri Aug 22, 2008 1:15 pm

I liked what I saw on Gigapan.org from user Kilgore661. Looks like you don't need a wide lens but rather a long tele-lens!

I use an Olympus 4/3 camera: it's rather light and small and the long lenses are very light (especially when compared to the ones designed for full frame DSLR.) Using Google, I was not able to find the Gigapan size and weight specifications...
Georges

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by klausesser » Fri Aug 22, 2008 2:56 pm

"]Hi Everyone,

I have been lucky enough to receive an application to buy a Gigapan unit, but I don't have one of the cameras on their "approved" list. I have to act fast but I don't know the market well enough to know do this. If anyone has the time and knowledge, I'd be very grateful for an answer to the question: Which of the following represents an upgrade on my Sony DSC-H7?

Thanks,

Aeris."

Hi!
I´d strongly suggest a DSLR - because of generally better dynamics . . which means bigger sensors on a bigger chip and the opportunity to use a wide range of lenses . . which are much better than common compact-camera lenses regarding optical (!) resolution, sharpness geometrical distortions and chromatic abberations.

Some friends of mine use the "little" Canon DSLR models - like a 450D - and are very happy with them - they all had compacts before.

Believe me - you´ll save a lot of labour (correction of lense´s/chip´s faults) and you´ll win a lot of quality!
The camera´s price-ranges are not so far apart that it really compensates the more of problems . .

best, Klaus

P.S.: i saw a gigapan-head on my last journey - i never would buy one. The Merlin head is much better at a comparable or even better price!!
Last edited by klausesser on Fri Aug 22, 2008 3:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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by Aeriscera » Fri Aug 22, 2008 3:02 pm

GURL wrote:Using Google, I was not able to find the Gigapan size and weight specifications...

I am not surprised. If you don't have a gigapan unit you don't have access to their information and the whole thing comes across as some sort of secret society :-(

A

PS "Kilgore" is my other nom de plume

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by Aeriscera » Fri Aug 22, 2008 3:05 pm

klausesser wrote:Believe me - you´ll save a lot of labour (correction of lense´s/chip´s faults) and you´ll win a lot of quality!
The camera´s price-ranges are not so far apart that it really compensates the more of problems . .

best, Klaus

P.S.: i saw a gigapan-head on my last journey - i never would buy one. The Merlin head is much better at a comparable or even better price!!

I'd like to move up to a DSLR although it's arguable that I don't even know how to use the camera I have already got, but for the moment, gigapan unit compatibility is the issue.

Thanks for the heads-up on the Merlin though - I will look for prices. I'm being offered a gigapan for $279.

Aeris.

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by gerardm » Fri Aug 22, 2008 3:28 pm

The Newest canon -G9 was used with the teleconverter on xrez's yosemite project. The RAW files seem ok for a PS.

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by klausesser » Fri Aug 22, 2008 4:37 pm

gerardm wrote:The Newest canon -G9 was used with the teleconverter on xrez's yosemite project. The RAW files seem ok for a PS.

as far as i know they used a Canon 1DsMkII . .
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by klausesser » Fri Aug 22, 2008 4:48 pm

Aeriscera wrote:
klausesser wrote:Believe me - you´ll save a lot of labour (correction of lense´s/chip´s faults) and you´ll win a lot of quality!
The camera´s price-ranges are not so far apart that it really compensates the more of problems . .

best, Klaus

P.S.: i saw a gigapan-head on my last journey - i never would buy one. The Merlin head is much better at a comparable or even better price!!

I'd like to move up to a DSLR although it's arguable that I don't even know how to use the camera I have already got, but for the moment, gigapan unit compatibility is the issue.

Thanks for the heads-up on the Merlin though - I will look for prices. I'm being offered a gigapan for $279.

Aeris.

The Merlin head starts at about 150.-€ w.o. tripod - coming from Austria. I got mine for 240.-€ from Astronomie France in January.
Frédéric has developed a phantastic open source program to control it in any way specialised on panophotography.
The head triggers the camera, provides external power and works precisely.
The gigapan uses a ridicoulously looking mechanical shutter release which i wouldn´t trust for one second . . :rolleyes:

In my eyes the gigapan is a toy. But maybe i´m completely wrong . . make your own experiences.
Last edited by klausesser on Fri Aug 22, 2008 4:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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by Aeriscera » Fri Aug 22, 2008 4:55 pm

klausesser wrote:The Merlin head starts at about 150.-€ w.o. tripod - coming from Austria.

A timely post Klaus - I was just googling for the Merlin - without success - when this post arrived. Do you have a URL please?

Also, looking at an old thread about the Merlin elsewhere on this BB, it seems the Merlin is not self-contained in the sense that you need some sort of PC to control it. Is this right?

A

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by GURL » Fri Aug 22, 2008 4:57 pm

Automate robotic pano head inventor Donfrench exchanges with potential users on Max Lyons forum and the links it includes (Outbackphoto test, his own web site) are very interesting.

http://www.tawbaware.com/forum2/viewtopic.php?p=30040
Georges

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by klausesser » Fri Aug 22, 2008 5:39 pm

GURL wrote:Automate robotic pano head inventor Donfrench exchanges with potential users on Max Lyons forum and the links it includes (Outbackphoto test, his own web site) are very interesting.

http://www.tawbaware.com/forum2/viewtopic.php?p=30040

Unsuitable for pano-photography. Not NPP adjustable, not precise enough.
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by klausesser » Fri Aug 22, 2008 6:04 pm

Aeriscera wrote:
klausesser wrote:The Merlin head starts at about 150.-€ w.o. tripod - coming from Austria.

A timely post Klaus - I was just googling for the Merlin - without success - when this post arrived. Do you have a URL please?

Also, looking at an old thread about the Merlin elsewhere on this BB, it seems the Merlin is not self-contained in the sense that you need some sort of PC to control it. Is this right?

A

http://www.teleskop-austria.at/prod.php?tid=4&lng=de#foto-mottri-nn

Frédéric uses a Nokia N770, i use a Nokia 800 to control the head via Bluetooth.
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by beeloba » Fri Aug 22, 2008 6:05 pm

Here are explanations and pictures on how Jason Buchheim modified the Gigapan head for his D200, with few kind of lenses.
He also advises how much it's not always reliable for all lens/focal/weight/counterweight couples.
The trick for using the automatic gigapan trigger system is to use it separately on a wireless shutter remote.

Image
Image


Source: pictures and texts are on flickr
http://flickr.com/photos/odysseyexpeditions/sets/72157603862623798/

How to mount a D200 to the Gigapan unit.

OK, here is the scoop. The modifications only work with certain lens combinations and sometimes only to a certain degree of tilt. You need to minimize the torque on the elevation gearbox/servo or the servo will not hold.

I have good luck with the following as far as not causing slipping 10.5mm, Sigma 15mm, Sigma 60mm macro, Nikon 105mm macro with the lens not extended out for macro focus, and 500mm Samyang mirror lens. You have to find the sweet spot for balance when mounting all of these combinations. For the wide angle lenses, the camera is NOT moving about its lens nodal point so there WILL be stitching errors on close objects. The camera really needs to sit back a few inches to put the center or rotation in the sweet spot, but the servo will never be able to hold that torque. This has not bothered me so far as I have just been taking photos of distant objects.

I am using a $3 L bracket from True Value is all (really!), plus a remote IR setup for the D200, some nuts and bolts.

I mount the IR transmitter to the camera mount tray and let the button pusher push the transmitter. Sometimes I mount the reciever onto the tray or sometimes just leave it atop the camera. The transmitter just hangs from its power cord and strap (need to mount it somewhere but I like it hanging as it minimizes any vibrations.

When I use the 500mm lens I need to use mirror lock up and the Gigapan Unit can not do the double shutter push, so I just do the shutter releases manually (its an option under expert gigapan options on the units menu). You have to push 'next' on each frame on the gigapan unit.

To mount the L bracket I took out one of the four black screws on the elevator gear (the one next to where the thumb screw for the camera bracket) and using a longer screw mounted the L bracket here, and used the thumb screw next to it for additional support.

As I said, some lens combinations will overwhelm the servos holding power. It will slip. This is not hurting the Gigapan unit or its gears, its the servos electromagnets that are not able to hold so there is no damage being done to the gigapan unit (it will sound scary though, but its just like moving the unit when it is powered up). When the Gigapan powers down be careful that your camera does not crash into the unit as there will be no holding torque when its off.

I have also mounted a Glass Sigma 500mm lens to the unit, mounting the L bracket firmly to the Unit so no elevation rotation is possible and doing the elevation rotation by hand on the lens-Lbracket interface with a thumb screw holding the lens to the L bracket. Really need to minimize vibration with this heavy lens setup so mirror lock up is mandatory, strong tripod, etc. Its a heavy lens. I use the gigapan unit then just for horizontal movement of the lens (1.8 degrees field of view set on gigapan setup) and I have the lens rotated in its bracket so that the photo sequence will work with the gigapan stitcher (which is expecting top left down and accross to bottom right, so I rotate the camera90 degrees to the left and start with the bottom left, each row moving up to finish at top right, then the stitcher has no problems putting it all together like always).
Last edited by beeloba on Fri Aug 22, 2008 6:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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by Aeriscera » Fri Aug 22, 2008 6:20 pm

Interesting Beeloba! Thanks for that.

I have just clicked the "purchase" button for the gigapan. I figure there's a lot of people out there already using it so a lot of experience to draw on and DSLRs are coming down in size so even if I can't use my compact with it I'll have the perfect excuse to go out and blow loads of money on a new camera.

Thanks to all who responded.

A

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by klausesser » Fri Aug 22, 2008 6:34 pm

"For the wide angle lenses, the camera is NOT moving about its lens nodal point so there WILL be stitching errors on close objects. The camera really needs to sit back a few inches to put the center or rotation in the sweet spot, but the servo will never be able to hold that torque."

source: "How to mount a D200 to the Gigapan unit."

Well - for a device that´s even more expensive than a Merlin . . :rolleyes:

Frédéric bought a Nokia N770 for about 70.-€ to control the head via Bluetooth - that´s about 220.-€ including the head when you buy a Merlin from Teleskop-Austria at 150.-€.
The Merlin carries up to 300mm lens including a DSLR without problems and positions it precisely, the Papywizard program is perfect and very comfortable.
Controllable via Bluetooth at some 10 meters distance when mounted on a high-level pole or fixed in a remote place . .
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by beeloba » Fri Aug 22, 2008 7:07 pm

klausesser wrote:Well - for a device that´s even more expensive than a Merlin . . :rolleyes:

I agree with you Klaus, this is a very difficult choice to make… I'm waiting for the DSLR gigapan head, but its a very long expectation since the public beta version is not even a final one.

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by beeloba » Fri Aug 22, 2008 7:18 pm

Aeriscera wrote:Interesting Beeloba! Thanks for that.

I really appreciate that its helping you Aeriscera… I have spent a year in Bath and really loved it…
I'd really love to see an exceptional view of Pultney bridge, not from the outside view, but a view took from the bridge's street itself, showing the shops… which is the most pleasant view of that old bridge.
BTW I love your picture of the Royal Crescent, even with lack of sun :)

You have so many nice places around Bath, even Bristol with red bricks is interesting… Just go ahead :) :)
Last edited by beeloba on Fri Aug 22, 2008 7:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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by klausesser » Fri Aug 22, 2008 7:23 pm

beeloba wrote:
klausesser wrote:Well - for a device that´s even more expensive than a Merlin . . :rolleyes:

I agree with you Klaus, this is a very difficult choice to make… I'm waiting for the DSLR gigapan head, but its a very long expectation since the public beta version is not even a final one.

I´m using the Merlin for half a year now - and i´m very demanding with my hardware: the Merlin is a GREAT tool. especially with Frédéric´s open source controlling program Papywizard.
Because i don´t like to carry Laptops around ii bought a used Nokia N800 which runs Papywizard very well.

Precision and stability of the head and the software are stunning related to the price of about 250.- or 280.-€ version with bluetooth for the complete setup (head from Teleskop Austria).

I need to loose two screws and could mount my Canon 20D with lenses from 10,5mm up to 300mm without any problem and without additional mounting items.
Of course it can be tuned - but it hasn´t to be.

The gigapan is far behind it - i saw one working last month . . . . and to be honest i was all but impressed . . :rolleyes:
You can´t shoot spheres at all - that´s a no-go.
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by GURL » Fri Aug 22, 2008 9:30 pm

Klausesser, I'm sorry, but I don't agree with you. :)

Visiting www.gigapan.org is enough to see that Gigapan device is not a "no-go" (though not all displayed panos on this site were shot using the less expensive Gigapan prototype.)

Ditto for Auto Mate wich is not, as you said, "unsuitable for pano-photography". The test published by Uwe Steinmueller is just a proof of the contrary.

I certainly would not buy an Auto Mate because it would not fit my own needs. About the Gigapan light version, I don't know for sure. To argue the pro and cons of those heads for the kind of panos one shot and stitch is something very useful but, I presume, what you said slightly exceeded what you really think.

For motorized pano heads the common rule is to reach a compromise between what is possible and what is not. This includes the more expensive ones where compromises are a heavy weight and a high cost. This includes the less expensive ones where many more compromises are needed to reach a lower cost and a lower weight...

I hope this is not the beginning of a flame war: :)
Georges

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by Aeriscera » Fri Aug 22, 2008 9:50 pm

beeloba wrote:I'd really love to see an exceptional view of Pultney bridge, not from the outside view, but a view took from the bridge's street itself, showing the shops… which is the most pleasant view of that old bridge.

Really? To hear is to obey (when it comes to taking custom panos in Bath) but if you are on the bridge between the shops then all you see is a street of unremarkable tourist shops. Don't you? Or have I lived here too long and there is something unique and/or charming that I have long-since stopped seeing?

I assume you have seen this pano of the bridge? Personally I prefer this view. I would *so* like to be able to go back and retake that shot properly (I am still *amazed* that it stitched at all), but you'd need to take a carpenter and a ton of timber to build a suitable platform. Oh well, when I achieve my Grand Plan of World Domination By Panoramic Photography, I can do just that :-)

A

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by Aeriscera » Fri Aug 22, 2008 9:59 pm

beeloba wrote:I'm waiting for the DSLR gigapan head, but its a very long expectation since the public beta version is not even a final one.

I think you're right about that Beeloba. But there are two things I have found out that may be of interest. First, I believe it is the relatively large size of old DSLRs that has been the problem, and they are getting smaller all the time. Although sticking a, say, 400mm lens on the front will clearly not help. Second, people have already worked out how to attach DSLRs to the current beta. I am told there is plenty of experience in doing this. (I can't confirm that until I can get access to the private forum).

I am starting to think that drilling holes in bits of metal and attaching them to the robot is all part of the Gigapan Beta Owner Experience. I'd much rather do that than have to use Linux or buy a mobile phone (aka spawn of satan) to control my robot, but that's just me :-)

Aeris
Last edited by Aeriscera on Fri Aug 22, 2008 10:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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by klausesser » Fri Aug 22, 2008 11:10 pm

GURL wrote:Klausesser, I'm sorry, but I don't agree with you. :)

Visiting www.gigapan.org is enough to see that Gigapan device is not a "no-go" (though not all displayed panos on this site were shot using the less expensive Gigapan prototype.)

Ditto for Auto Mate wich is not, as you said, "unsuitable for pano-photography". The test published by Uwe Steinmueller is just a proof of the contrary.

I certainly would not buy an Auto Mate because it would not fit my own needs. About the Gigapan light version, I don't know for sure. To argue the pro and cons of those heads for the kind of panos one shot and stitch is something very useful but, I presume, what you said slightly exceeded what you really think.

For motorized pano heads the common rule is to reach a compromise between what is possible and what is not. This includes the more expensive ones where compromises are a heavy weight and a high cost. This includes the less expensive ones where many more compromises are needed to reach a lower cost and a lower weight...

I hope this is not the beginning of a flame war: :)

Hi GURL!

I wrote i saw the gigapan in action. Live. And touched it and could examine it a bit. To align a camera ( a DSLR) correctly seems to be (if any) an adventure and needs intensive tooling - but even then it´s impossible to shoot spheres. Of course we don´t all want to shoot spheres all day :cool: i think it SHOUà–D be possible with a motorized panohead.

With the AutoMate i can´t detect any way to align a DSLR with different lenses around their lense´s NPP. Sorry - but that´s clear when you have a closer look at it. Uwe Steinmueller or not . . :P

"For motorized pano heads the common rule is to reach a compromise between what is possible and what is not. This includes the more expensive ones where compromises are a heavy weight and a high cost. This includes the less expensive ones where many more compromises are needed to reach a lower cost and a lower weight..."

correct - and therefore the Merlin is the most preferable device. Ask some guys who really understand the theme . . ;) - or ask somebody like me who does professional work with it.
I´ve worked with some very expensive panoheads before - like Seitz (around 2000.-€ one axis motorized) or Dr. Clauss (starting at 3500,-€, two axis) and the PixOrb (around 6000.-$ http://www.xrez.com/services/spher/xRez_spher1.html ) which i worked with in a co-production with another photographer.

My first choice would be the Dr. Clauss Rodeon head http://www.dr-clauss.de/rodeonvrhead.htm and http://www.xrez.com/services/spher/xRez_spher2.html but for 3500.-€ i do panos not often enough. But you can build your own one - the motors alone just are 800.-€ each . . .
My second choice definitely is the Merlin/Orion - here you can see that it CAN be perfectly NPP aligned (in the pictures it´s not). And mounted in portrait-mode with any DSLR.
http://www.360panos.fr/monture/MontureOrion.html

Here´s a perfect aligned and setup Merlin controlled by a Bluetooth-device (picture by Frédéric - hope you dot mind, Fred. but i didn´t find the link)

Don´t forget: including (!) the Bluetooth-controlling device it´s around the price of the gigapan!
And no - it´s not a cell-phone but a so called "internet-Pad" from Nokia - which runs Linux)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nokia_N800 (you can use it for al lot of things - it´s got also W-LAN)


"I hope this is not the beginning of a flame war: :)"

No - it´s just to understand things right . . :cool:


Last edited by klausesser on Fri Aug 22, 2008 11:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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by klausesser » Fri Aug 22, 2008 11:37 pm

Aeriscera wrote:Personally I prefer this view.

Sorry, man - but this is of terrible quality.

See here how it CAN look like:
http://www.xrez.com/contact/boston_demo.jpg

or this one in the gallery:
http://www.autopano.net/forum/viewtopic.php?pid=28292#p28292

just a question of the lens and camera and head - as i wrote spmetomes before . . ;):cool:
Last edited by klausesser on Sat Aug 23, 2008 12:04 am, edited 1 time in total.
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