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PostPosted: Mon Nov 17, 2008 2:07 pm 
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mediavets wrote:
fma38 wrote:
Trekker also did. I think this is one of the nice usage of the Merlin - shooting spherical in strange locations ;)

You will need a strong pole I think?

1.8-2Kg for head and interface plus weight of camera and lens.

Would the motors and gears work OK if the head was used on its side ie. pole held out horizontally?

Hi!

I used a Manfrotto "Autopole" attached to a stand. The Autopole is very robust and can reach about 4m.
Some heavy weights were attached to the stand. But even this maybe difficult to use outdoors - I stabilized it using 3 thin cords which were easily retouched.
Will look for some shots.
http://www.calumet.de/ctl?ac.ui.pn=search.Search&query=Autopole&x=0&y=0

Also very good is an expandable tube from Manfrotto for background papers.

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 19, 2008 1:00 pm 
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Location: Isleham, Cambridgeshire, UK.
Don't miss this very detailed and fully illustrated blog written by Beezed from New Zealand that covers some of his experiences in creating a working Merlin/Orion + Papywizard robotic pano head:
http://www.brewzone.com/2008/11/diy-pano-head

Nor this fine write-up by Odyssey from Colorado in the USA, which also compares Merlin/Papywizard with the Gigapan Imager robotic head:
http://gigapans.blogspot.com/

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Andrew Stephens
Many different Nodal Ninja and Agnos pano heads. Merlin/Panogear mount with Papywizard on Nokia Internet tablets.
Nikon D5100 and D40, Sigma 8mm f3.5 FE, Nikon 10.5mm FE, 35mm, 50mm, 18-55mm, 70-210mm. Promote control.


Last edited by mediavets on Wed Nov 19, 2008 1:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 20, 2008 4:17 am 
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Location: New Zealand
Hi mediavets - thanks for the promotion of the blog post! I have been trying to catch up for a couple days with all the new material, so I might be able give some worthwhile input. You have been busy.

I have to try the newer software, ( I have 1.2.1) but found the older version to be great for mosaics with my 18-70 and presets with my 10.5mm FE. (Both Nikon). I am using a Nikon D80 at the moment, but will likely try it out with some larger bodies in the future. (I am on the lookout for a FujiPro S3, or a Nikon D200 or 300). I have some ideas for setting up the NPP with these larger bodies, but I need a sample to play with first. I am using the BlueSMIRF set up, partly because it was available in the US and could be easily shipped.

I really liked the slow quiet speed in taking the panos. I was at a local park and several people walked right by without noticing that it was snapping away. (Yes the back up and retake will come in handy.) I was able to easily carry it from position to position and set and take shots very quickly. It is difficult to stay out of the cameras view if you get easily distracted.

My biggest problems have been the batteries and updating the application list on the 770. My rechargeable AA batteries are poor, I guess, as I must charge them the day I want to shoot. Otherwise the head moves very slowly. I also feel that the connections for the battery holders on the merlin/orion are weak, and might break. I am going to work on alternative power sources soon.

Does anyone else have problem refreshing the application list? I can get one catalog to work perhaps every 10 tries. Otherwise it just says "downloading 1kB" and stays that way forever. WHen I cancel, I lose all the application listed. I know I can install from file, but it would be nice to automatically check for updates.

I rarely take spherical panos, but want to explore the possibilities of this new hardware, especially taking shots remotely, and using it as a panning intervalometer. Though very hi-res panos are interesting, internet access in my part of New Zealand means 1MB /minute upload speeds if I'm lucky, and daily caps (with throttling penalties) if I exceed perhaps 1GB of transfer in a 24 hour period. I am frankly scared to try to upload anything big. ( I have considered shipping a disk to a friend in the States so he could upload it for me.) WHen APP 1.9 A4 appears, I will definitely try some larger shoots, just to test things.


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 20, 2008 8:18 am 
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Location: Grenoble, France
BeeZed wrote:
Does anyone else have problem refreshing the application list? I can get one catalog to work perhaps every 10 tries. Otherwise it just says "downloading 1kB" and stays that way forever. WHen I cancel, I lose all the application listed. I know I can install from file, but it would be nice to automatically check for updates.

It is maybe related to your poor internet connexion?

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Frédéric

Canon 20D + 17-40/f4 L USM + 70-200/f4 L USM + 50/f1.4 USM
Merlin/Orion panohead + Papywizard on Nokia N800 and HP TC-1100


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 20, 2008 11:01 am 
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Location: Isleham, Cambridgeshire, UK.
BeeZed wrote:
I have to try the newer software, ( I have 1.2.1)

Try 1.3.3 it's a development release for Nokia Tablets but seems pretty reliable - it has the 'go-back' and 'skip-forward' functions:
http://trac.gbiloba.org/papywizard/#Developpementversion

BeeZed wrote:
but found the older version to be great for mosaics with my 18-70 and presets with my 10.5mm FE. (Both Nikon).

Do I understand that you are shooting partial panos - i.e less than 360x180 - with the Nikkor 10.5 FE using the Merlin? Are these just a single row cylindricals? If you are currently shooting 6-around then with one more shot you could have a spherical. Here's my custom spherical preset for the Nikkor 10.5mm FE which will work for you with the D80: 6-around at -10 and one-up at +65, it leaves just a small 'hole' at the 'nadir' smaller that the footprint of the Merlin - just make sure your camera body/mounting rail doesn't hit the Merlin base at a pitch of +65 degrees before using this preset! My D40 plus Nikkor 10.5mm FE allows full vertical rotation on the Merlin, but the D80 body is a bit bigger than the D40. I put the 'zenith' at +65 rather than +90 because it means you are more likely to get a good link between the 'zenith' and the main row in most cases. My D40 body measures about 40mm from the base of the camera body to the centre of the lens which give an almost perfect NPP on the Merlin without mods. to the dovetail-clamp with the camera mounted on 'half' the standard dovetail rail. I think your D80 measures about 45mm from base of camera body to centre of the lens so your NPP will be a bit 'off' laterally without mods. to the head?:
Code:
<?xml version="1.0"?>
<papywizard>
<preset name="Nikon DX+10.5mm FE">
<tooltip>Nikon DX+10.5mm FE
6-around at -10 degrees
1-up at +65 degrees</tooltip>
<shoot>
<pict yaw="0.0" pitch="65.0" />
<pict yaw="0.0" pitch="-10.0" />
<pict yaw="60.0" pitch="-10.0" />
<pict yaw="120.0" pitch="-10.0" />
<pict yaw="180.0" pitch="-10.0" />
<pict yaw="240.0" pitch="-10.0" />
<pict yaw="300.0" pitch="-10.0" />
</shoot>
</preset>
</papywizard>

BeeZed wrote:
I am using a Nikon D80 at the moment, but will likely try it out with some larger bodies in the future. (I am on the lookout for a FujiPro S3, or a Nikon D200 or 300). I have some ideas for setting up the NPP with these larger bodies, but I need a sample to play with first.

What advantages/benefits (for pano shooting) do you feel the D200 would have over the D80? the D300 is a larger body still and I think that could be difficult to mount at NPP on the Merlin without major mods to the head. The Fujifilm S3 Pro is also a large body, and I think it is an 'evolutionary dead-end' so personally I'd steer clear of it and stick to Nikon bodies. For pano shooting I'm not sure you would see much advantage/benefit from the D200, D300 or Fujifilm S3 Pro over your D80. For panos I think I would opt for a D90 (same body sixe as a D80 they say) over a D300. My nephew visited recently from Australia with his new D300, I was amazed at how big and how heavy it is compared to my handy and diminuitive D40. I am sure the D300 is an awesome camera but I don't lust after one any more.
BeeZed wrote:
I really liked the slow quiet speed in taking the panos. I was at a local park and several people walked right by without noticing that it was snapping away. (Yes the back up and retake will come in handy.) I was able to easily carry it from position to position and set and take shots very quickly. It is difficult to stay out of the cameras view if you get easily distracted.

Or looking at it another easy the Merlin/papywizard system enables the photographer more easily to appear in his/her panos. Many film directors amuse themselves by playing small roles in their own movies, now we can do that to in our panos.

BeeZed wrote:
My rechargeable AA batteries are poor, I guess, as I must charge them the day I want to shoot. Otherwise the head moves very slowly. I also feel that the connections for the battery holders on the merlin/orion are weak, and might break. I am going to work on alternative power sources soon.

Lead/acid gel battery packs are probably best for external battery power - there are some already 'packaged up' for use with telescope mounts and the like - this one is not too cumbersome, I plan to get one of these soon:
http://www.pulsar-optical.co.uk/prod/Skywatcher/generalaccessories/7ahpowersupply.html
And there's a (much) bigger one:
http://www.pulsar-optical.co.uk/prod/Skywatcher/generalaccessories/17ahpowersupply.html

These seem to be very widely available from telescope retailers under a number of brand names.

BeeZed wrote:
I rarely take spherical panos,

You have a fine lens for sphericals in the Nikkor 10.5mm FE. The only issue is mounting the camera at the NPP on the Merlin. My small Nikon D40 body fits just fine but larger Nikon bodies may need some mods to the standard dovetail mount to achieve NPP. Mounting at correct NPP is not an issue if using longer focal length leneses to shoot mosaic panos of distant scenes with nothing much closer to the camera than 100m, but for sphericals with FE lenses it is important, if you are to get a good stitch.

BeeZed wrote:
Though very hi-res panos are interesting, internet access in my part of New Zealand means 1MB /minute upload speeds if I'm lucky, and daily caps (with throttling penalties) if I exceed perhaps 1GB of transfer in a 24 hour period. I am frankly scared to try to upload anything big. ( I have considered shipping a disk to a friend in the States so he could upload it for me.) WHen APP 1.9 A4 appears, I will definitely try some larger shoots, just to test things.

Most consumer Net connection services have caps here in UK now - this is the result of increasing popularity of data-heavy Net activities such as video on demand and music downloading. Typical consumer/domestic ADSL connections in the UK deliver about 3Mbps download and around 480Kbps (at best) upload. While pano player technologies now allow the downloading/playing of very his-res panos for anyone with a broadband connection, the uploading (and in some cases the playing) of these files is still a problem/issue for many with data caps on their Net connection. The other issue for me would be having enough computer power (and/or patience) to stitch those hi-res gigapixel panos with tolerable processing times.

_________________
Andrew Stephens
Many different Nodal Ninja and Agnos pano heads. Merlin/Panogear mount with Papywizard on Nokia Internet tablets.
Nikon D5100 and D40, Sigma 8mm f3.5 FE, Nikon 10.5mm FE, 35mm, 50mm, 18-55mm, 70-210mm. Promote control.


Last edited by mediavets on Thu Nov 20, 2008 12:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 20, 2008 8:45 pm 
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the 10.5 FE -I used the 6 around (and less successfully the 4 around) presets with the FE, when I was trying things out, so I did get sphericals. I was just experimenting, and left the camera at the 18mm NPP. When I shoot manually I often crop back to 120 degrees on the vertical, and the horizontal FOV depends on subject matter. My current rail is to long for the 10.5 FE: it either hits the Merlin, or gets in the photo - or both. I have saved your preset, and will give it a try when I make a shorter rail. Yes the D80 is a bit off center, but I only found small stitching errors on typical problem areas. Smartblend to the rescue!

mediavets wrote:
For pano shooting I'm not sure you would see much advantage/benefit from the D200, D300 or Fujifilm S3 Pro over your D80.

No advantage for pano shooting for any of these, but I have been buying and reselling used gear, and I think it would be worthwhile to try these bodies to see the limitations. Ideally I want to create an adjustable rail or crown that will work with any body I might buy in the future. I tried (and sold) a D60, so I am still looking for a small carry camera. The larger bodies are good for my manual focus lenses. I had an Fujifilm S2 for a while and really enjoyed using it. Used S3 bodies are similar prices to a used D70s and are a good value. I will probably end up with an older "semi pro" body and a D90 in the next year. For non-panos I find myself using available light in low light situations, so the newer cameras are helpful.

mediavets wrote:
Lead/acid gel battery packs are probably best for external battery power - there are some already 'packaged up' for use with telescope mounts and the like...

Those skywatcher packs are similar to the ones used for emergency boosts of a flat battery. I imagine they are heavy. That's why the cordless drill batteries intrigue me. They are smaller, and more modular. Plus I might be able to get used ones for very little money at my local recycle centre.

Gigapixel panos - I just want to do it once as an experiment. It would be nice to share it if I did, and it worked. When we can use the GPU power, it might be faster...


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 20, 2008 9:37 pm 
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Location: Isleham, Cambridgeshire, UK.
BeeZed wrote:
the 10.5 FE -I used the 6 around (and less successfully the 4 around) presets with the FE, when I was trying things out, so I did get sphericals. I was just experimenting, and left the camera at the 18mm NPP. When I shoot manually I often crop back to 120 degrees on the vertical, and the horizontal FOV depends on subject matter. My current rail is to long for the 10.5 FE: it either hits the Merlin, or gets in the photo - or both. I have saved your preset, and will give it a try when I make a shorter rail. Yes the D80 is a bit off center, but I only found small stitching errors on typical problem areas. Smartblend to the rescue!

Here's my D40 and 10.5mm FE mounted on 'half' of the standard Merlin dovetail rail - just undo the two bolts that hold the two parts of the L-shaped dovetail rail together. It has plenty of clearance when positioned for a +90 shot, and none of the rail gets in the shot.

Is the D80 body so much bigger that it won't clear the head at +65 degrees pitch? - that is the max. pitch my spherical preset for the Nikkor 10.5mm FE on a Nikon DX body requires.

You'll notice I've chopped (literally with a soldering iron) the big plastic knob off the camera screw on the 'half' dovetail rail to gain more clearance which enables you to achieve greater pitch.

It is possible to remove the knob in a more elegant manner:
http://www.autopano.net/forum/p31985-2008-11-04-16-52-52#p31985

I managed to get the screw out but for whatever reason I couldn't remove the knob. I got frustrated and 'attacked' the knob with the soldering iron - the fumes from the plastic were quite unpleasant.



_________________
Andrew Stephens
Many different Nodal Ninja and Agnos pano heads. Merlin/Panogear mount with Papywizard on Nokia Internet tablets.
Nikon D5100 and D40, Sigma 8mm f3.5 FE, Nikon 10.5mm FE, 35mm, 50mm, 18-55mm, 70-210mm. Promote control.


Last edited by mediavets on Fri Nov 21, 2008 12:13 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 24, 2008 11:25 am 
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Posts: 5826
Location: Grenoble, France
I created a page on the wiki where Merlin/Orion/Papywizard users can give feedback (as summary) of their usage of that project:

http://www.autopano.net/wiki/action/view/Merlin-Orion-Papywizard_users_feedback

_________________
Frédéric

Canon 20D + 17-40/f4 L USM + 70-200/f4 L USM + 50/f1.4 USM
Merlin/Orion panohead + Papywizard on Nokia N800 and HP TC-1100


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 24, 2008 9:11 pm 
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Location: New Zealand
Frédéric, That is a great idea. Perhaps we can get an idea of how many users there are...


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