a word on the TC controller  

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a word on the TC controller

by klausesser » Fri Oct 08, 2010 1:02 pm

i put it here from the other thread:


The most compact and the most comfortable solution is the T&C controller. It´s big as a box of cigarettes - you have to type in ONCE at home your camera(s) and your lenses, just like 5D2, 15mm, 20mm, 85mm, 300mm and that´s it.
You don´t have to make any xml-files as presets for spheres - just choose "fisheye" after the 15mm and the TC knows. You must specify the sensor-size, crop and nature of lens before of course and the overlap you need/want generally.
You can store afaik about 100 models of cameras and lenses.

Again: you just have to do this ONCE at home. After that you just choose camera and lenses from the list which you see in the touchscreen.

In the field you:

1) choose on the LCD menue the camera and lens you´re going to use (if you stored more than one) from the list you configured at home - let´s say "85mm".

2) After that you select "sphere", "angle" or "mosaic". In "sphere" mode you have nothing to do but to level your camera and hit "start" after choosing from the menue 5D2, 15mm "fisheye" for example.
(in sphere mode the TC calculates the smaler size of the sphere-segments in the upper and lower rows so you keep a more or less constant overlap)

3) in "angle" mode you type in a vertical and a horizontal angle which you want to cover - let´s say 90° and 45° and the head moves from the center position of this fov left and right. That gives you the opportunity to visualize your fov before shooting - using a viewfinder which covers that fov or just a frame. I sometimes put a variable viewfinder from my LF camera onto the 5D2 to get a feeling what over-all fov the camera sees when it shoots a mosaic.

3a) in "mosaic" mode you move the head/camera to a point low right and a point up left by using the arrows on the touchscreen. The rest the TC calculates.

4) other items to choose (or not) are: mirror up, amount of shots (for bracketing), "dead time" before each shot to let the vibrations go, and the overall time to expose which means that the head waits before it moves the next point.

All this is done in seconds - just like you use a pocket-calculator with "hard-wired" funktions . . which matches quite exactly what the TC is. No software but ROM-stored functions which you can configure ONCE on your PC or Mac (using Windows on it).

Back at home you connect the TC via USB to your computer and download the xml files it wrote from the positions into APG.

After all it´s a device which is completely independent from the user´s skills to deal with dedicated software like Linux, Phyton or just to install it onto the device you use and time after time have to update when the developers
decide to do smething different than last month.

The TC´s firmware you can update when Josef implements new or changes exisiting features - you get an email from Josef, connect the TC to your PC, hit one key and it´s done. No knowledge needed beyond that.

In my eyes the TC is - sorry, Frédéric - the ideal choice . . btw. it´s powered by the head and indicates the power-status of the batteries which lasts about 3000 moves/shots using Josef´s rechargables in his batt. holders.

All in all: best choice to shoot outdoors. Fast to handle and reliable working imho. The display is well readable under all circumstances i had so far. I use it on a 5cm cable hanging on the Merlin - the cable can be 100m afaik and BT or IR can be used also used to fire the camera - there´s a 3,5mm jack and an usb port besides the Merlin-serial port.

Maybe i forgot a funtion . . i´ll check that and correct it here

best, Klaus

P.S.: see here the TC hanging on the Merlin


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by Asher Kelman » Tue Apr 19, 2011 6:22 am

This sounds wonderful, Klaus! You really are a great promoter for Josef's controller. I trust you judgement. However, I'm learning and each of these extra pieces of the puzzle add to the cost. So I'm in catch up mode.

I'm trying to understand the different brain units that have come to control the Merlin head and the DSLR, let's choose the 5DII as that's my favorite. The T&E seems carefully designed for the job of controlling the Merlin. I don't know Joseph, but I'd imagine that he could add whatever functions he feel folk want and need.

but why then do you also need the Promote controller? What does that add that Josef's unit lacks. And then why can't Josef simple add those functions?

After all that extra capability, then why would one want to trigger the camera then with BT?

Is there anything in either of these two controllers used with the Merlin/Orion head not found in the new firmware of Gigapan Epic Pro as of April 16th 2011:

New firmware gives photographers a wider range of functions, including new settings to enhance high dynamic range (HDR) imaging.

Exposure Bracketing for HDR Capture – Works with your camera’s AEB (automatic exposure bracketing) firmware to capture multiple exposures per position. Can exceed the camera firmware's brackets and exposure separation when in 'Bulb' mode.
Dedicated Mirror Lock-up Setting – Helps prevent blurriness in photos when using larger, heavier lenses, where lack of settling is amplified by optical magnification.
Time Display – Displays the hours and minutes it will take the EPIC Pro to capture a panorama, based on your settings. Ideal for time-sensitive shoots, such as events, or when remaining daylight is limited.
Time Lapse Panoramas – Allows you to capture a sequence of panoramas over a set period of time with a new timer.
Additional Aspect Ratios – Provides custom values (0.50:1, 0.55:1… through 2.00:1) in addition to standard values: 1:1, 3:2, 4:3, 16:9.

With these advances, (and the fact that Arca Swiss female mounts can be purchased as a regular produce from Really Right Stiff for the Gigapan Epic Pro), what would one be missing compared to the Merlin system with the A&E controller and the Promote remote.



Kind wishes,

Asher
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by mediavets » Tue Apr 19, 2011 10:00 am

Asher,

The use of the Promote controller enables vastly extended exposure bracketing capability - completely superceding the very limited capability of most DSLRs including your 5DMkII. I understand that the way it does this is rather more sophisticated than the Epic Pro's use of Bulb mode.

You just place/cable the Promote in-line between the shutter control connector on the Merlin and the camera.

Bluetooth is not used directly to trigger the camera directly - the Bluetooth connection provides a wireless connection between Papywizard and the Merlin mount, the shutter trigger cable is connected from Snap connector the Merlin mount to the camera (with the Promote in-line if present). The Nokia Internet Tablets can only connect to Merlin via Bluetooth, but you can set up a wired serial connection from other host platforms if you wish.

.......

As far as I know the Gigapan Epic Pro can only shoot a regular matrix/grid of images.

This is fine for the type of partial panos - with a pano FOV of less than 360x180 - such as distant landscapes that the Gigapan series of robotic heads were designed for.

It's not so good if you also wish to shoot spherical panos wher it is desirable to reduce the number of shots per r9ow as yoh approch the zenith and nadir to avoid excessive overlapping at hight pitch values.

Both Papywizard and the T&C/Panogear Touch controller can handle this - Papywizard allows the user to define an aribitrary sequence of shooting positions and so can shoot any pattern in Preset mode; the T&C/Panogear Touch controller has a special mode where it automatically calculates a suitable shooting pattern for spherical panos.

IMO the Gigapan Epic Pro is not suitable for shooting hi-res spherical panos.
.........

Gigapan Epic Pro is considerably more expensive than Merlin-based systems.

.........

Gigapan Epic Pro does not offer a wired or wireless remote conrtoller capability merely, as I undersatnd it, the option of a remote (wired) 'start shoot' function.
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.

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by vincen » Tue Apr 19, 2011 10:44 am

mediavets wrote:As far as I know the Gigapan Epic Pro can only shoot a regular matrix/grid of images.

exactly the grid is fixed dimension with Epic Pro ! so you get "waste" of pictures near nadir and zenith !

mediavets wrote:Gigapan Epic Pro does not offer a wired or wireless remote controller capability merely, as I understand it, the option of a remote (wired) 'start shoot' function.

Right again :) the remote port on it is used just to start a new pano, but you can't do anything else with that remote port !

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by mountaintb » Tue Apr 19, 2011 12:35 pm

One question Clauss : is it the same controller that is sold by Kolor with the Panogear??? The Battery Holder looks exactly like the one that is in the Panogear, is it the same???

BEST, THIERRY

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by vincen » Tue Apr 19, 2011 12:39 pm

mountaintb wrote:One question Clauss : is it the same controller that is sold by Kolor with the Panogear??? The Battery Holder looks exactly like the one that is in the Panogear, is it the same???

Yep the Panogear kit sold by Kolor & SkiVR uses the T&C Controller :) it's an option you have to select when you order the Panogear kit or you can buy the controller alone if you have already the head !

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by klausesser » Tue Apr 19, 2011 1:48 pm

Hi Asher!

The TC controls JUST the Merlin´s moves and fires the camera. That´s what it was designd for and that´s what it does perfectly.
It´s NOT designed to do time-lapse or so and it doesn´t make a fine espresso (my standard speach for meaning redundant options :P).
That´s why it is VERY small and very clever: you don´t need a script for presets - it calculates everything from lens- and sensorsize values.
That includes lesser amounts of shots in uper/lower rows.
Adding features like Promote´s features would make the TC bigger and more complicated - you don´t always need extended bracketing and not everybody needs it at all. So i think it´s wise not to offer it. It´s the reduced but perfect and effortlessly working features what makes TC intresting especially for shooting in the field. It´s set very quick for shooting.

PromoteControl does something else: it expands the bracketing capabilities. On a 5D2 you have 3 steps of bracketing. Using the promote you can have 21 steps and more (that´s redundant really then) and it does perfect time-lapse. Ok: PromoteControl too expensive in Europe as i find - but it´s a very clever and well made device.
With a 5D2 you can use a mode that keeps the mirror locked while shooting a bracketing-sequence. Let´s say you shoot 7 or 9 steps of EV - instead of 9 times locking the mirror it´s locked once. That reduces camera-vibrations.

Comparing Merlin and Gigapan: i tested GigapanPro after first seeing it on Photokina. It´s big, it´s expensive (here in Europe at least) and it´s a bit floppy i mean. Merlin is cheap, more versatile, smaller and provides landscape AND portrait-mode without problems and extra-brackets (besides your camera needs it due to it´s dimensions).

Gigapan is ok with teles, but not so clever for spheres shot with fisheyes. Merlin does it all ;).

I don´t know why Arca- or other mounts are such a big theme - i fix my 5D2 on the rail by tightening the camera screw and that´s it. Never did it in another way - neither with my Hasselblads, Nikons, Canons nor with my Linhofs, Silvestri, Fuji or Wista.

The only good reason to use QRPs is with viedeo-ENG (ElectronicNewsGathering) cameras - because here you must be able to switch from tripod- to shoulder-use in seconds.

I would understand the use of QRPs on pano-heads better when the photographer uses different cameras and is forced to change them in seconds.
I also understand when somebody works with templates and must fix the camera 100% identically to the head each time.
Robotic heads writing a positioning script also profit from exactly fixing the camera always in the same manner - but i realized that simply use a camera-screw does fine . . because actual stitchers are tolerant here.

best, Klaus
Last edited by klausesser on Tue Apr 19, 2011 2:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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by klausesser » Tue Apr 19, 2011 2:07 pm

mountaintb wrote:One question Clauss : is it the same controller that is sold by Kolor with the Panogear??? The Battery Holder looks exactly like the one that is in the Panogear, is it the same???

BEST, THIERRY

Yep! Vincen mentioned it.

best, Klaus
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by Asher Kelman » Tue Apr 19, 2011 5:45 pm

Thanks Andrew and Klaus!

These are very generous and helpful replies. The spherical pano pried open is my special interest. So I have indeed suffered excess overlapping at the zenith and nadir when I tested the Gigapan Epc Pro and in the other two models I have. That prolongs stitching in APG and, I suspect, creates more errors as there is some slight "give" in the Gigapan mechanics. Still, the Gigapan epic Pro is available to me for just $425 and now does HDR bracketing and mirror lockup. Still, not having a true remote, (one can trigger by blue tooth to start a sequence), is a major absence. I do work at night 15 stories up on a roof and ended up taking many panos of myself as the buttons are confusing - inner and outer non lit adjacent buttons! :)

I was thinking of pulling out the controls from the Gigapan Epic Pro and putting them in a box on the end of a tethering cable. However, since there appears to be an emerging new head from Josef at T&I, so I should consider that too.

In the meanwhile, are there programs to calculate the angles needed for a sphere for use in a manually controlled head so one does not have excess rows and overlap in each row? No doubt there must be, but I can't find them!

I use the 8mm fisheye, 24mm TS, (but without and T/S) and a 50 mm for my panos, only occasionally longer. A RRS Gimbal 2 axis head and a Sunway clickstop rotator on a Large format Sunway leveling platform on a large Manfrotto tripod. So my spheres should be perfect. However, it's tedious and smooth sky as well as portions of featureless metal get orphaned, of course!

From what you are saying about efficient minimalism, Kalus, it seems that the coming T&I head will not do mirror lockup and better bracketing than the 3 exposures the Canon 5DII can do natively. Is that true. then t seems one would also consider adding the Promote Remote.

Again, your sharing of experience appreciated,

Asher
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by fma38 » Tue Apr 19, 2011 7:49 pm

Asher Kelman wrote:In the meanwhile, are there programs to calculate the angles needed for a sphere for use in a manually controlled head so one does not have excess rows and overlap in each row? No doubt there must be, but I can't find them!

Have a look at:

http://www.autopano.net/forum/t8100-papyspheric-a-python-program-to-build-templates-for-panospheres
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by mediavets » Tue Apr 19, 2011 8:15 pm

Asher Kelman wrote:Still, the Gigapan epic Pro is available to me for just $425 and now does HDR bracketing and mirror lockup.

It's not clear to me that it offers more than built-in AEB unless it works entirely in bulb mode which probably limits the fastest shutter speed?

Still $425 is a nice price - you could always sell it for more than that I guess.
Still, not having a true remote, (one can trigger by blue tooth to start a sequence), is a major absence. I do work at night 15 stories up on a roof and ended up taking many panos of myself as the buttons are confusing - inner and outer non lit adjacent buttons! :)

Dunno why but I thought I'd read that the Epic Pro had illuminated controls.

In the meanwhile, are there programs to calculate the angles needed for a sphere for use in a manually controlled head so one does not have excess rows and overlap in each row? No doubt there must be, but I can't find them! I use the 8mm fisheye, 24mm TS, (but without and T/S) and a 50 mm for my panos, only occasionally longer.

This provides guides for shorter focal length lenses - I reckon you could use the values for the 20mm for your 24mm, at lest try those values as a starting point:
http://www.vrwave.com/panoramic-lens-database/
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.

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by Asher Kelman » Tue Apr 19, 2011 8:31 pm

mediavets wrote:Still $425 is a nice price - you could always sell it for more than that I guess.

not a bad idea! So I have no risk!

mediavets wrote:Dunno why but I thought I'd read that the Epic Pro had illuminated controls.

It does have an illuminates panel, but at an angle, so hard to see from the ground. Worse, the buttons are easily confused in the dark as thy are arranged in an inner and outer set.

mediavets wrote:This provides guides for shorter focal length lenses - I reckon you could use the values for the 20mm for your 24mm, at lest try those values as a starting point:
http://www.vrwave.com/panoramic-lens-database/

Thanks, that's a great link!

Asher
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by klausesser » Tue Apr 19, 2011 8:42 pm

Asher Kelman wrote:I use the 8mm fisheye . .

The problem is: you can save some few shots - but you have a definitely more significant loss of pixel amount/resolution . . and the optical quality/optical resolution of the Canon 15mm FE is really good
(i don´t know which 8mm you use).
So i would suggest to start here: thinking about the lens for shooting spheres and which size/zoomfactor you want to use. An 8mm on a fullframe means: it works very close to it´s limits - no lens can work good close to it´s limits. Some compensation/enhencement using DXO or familiar apps can be achieved - but that means compromises nevertheless.

Guess Josef will give me a head for testing end of the week. I´ll keep you informed. It´s not as cheap as the Merlin or Gigapan of course - we talked about around 1000.-€ some time ago . .

best, Klaus
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by Asher Kelman » Tue Apr 19, 2011 9:05 pm

I use the 8mm Sigma fisheye for quick 360 degree sketches of 360 degree panos I might want with higher resolution. I already own 2 Gigapans, the original and the epic. The Gigapan Epic Pro is a hefty verson that handles all the DSLR bodies and lenses well. RRS has a QRP in Arca Swiss style and this allows me to grab my camera in the middle of a shoot and get some video or stills when something interesting happens.

Otherwise I'm so surprised that for all the thousands of Gigapan users, no one seems to have published mods to enhance it! I'd have thought that some techie would have already made a remote for controlling it and the needed connections inside the Gigapan. It's a very sold unit and some further engineering mods would make it a superb machine. I can't even find a website dedicated to improvements or workarounds! folk seem to have just bought into the Gigapan vision of global coverage linked to Google and not to professional work. If anyone knows of mods, I'd love to learn of them!

For those Gigapan Epic Pro owners who are troubled by wobble in the head, there's a video for "at your own risk, warranty losing fix for the malady" here.

Asher
Last edited by Asher Kelman on Tue Apr 19, 2011 9:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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by gkaefer » Tue Apr 19, 2011 9:33 pm

addon to Klaus T&C Handcontroller info:

if you own the promote control AND the T&C Controller & a merlin/Orion/Panogear Head you can ask for an individual firmware from T&C to enable following feature:

only using Merlin->T&c->Camera - per default a bracket with x images set in T&C it will shoot x images on your camera (xml logfile at T&C contains all images...)
using Merlin->T&C->Promote Control->Camera - per default T&C set to one image and Promote Control HDR Menu set to x images the logfile of the T&C does only log 1 image.

with the individual firmware for the T&C just behaves like described above, but if you choose following alternative cabling (T&C connected to Merlin as usual, but the shutter cbale is not plugged into T&C but into shutter plug of merlin T&C will recognize this. from merlin shutter plug cable goes to promote control accessory port. promote control shutter plug and usb plug goes to cameras shutter plug and usb plug.) - By choosing this alternativ cabling the T&C can be set to same number of your brackets number choosen at the promote control, the T&C will log x images in the xml logfile but the shutter is only released once (the HDR sequence at the promote will be initiated). So finally the logfile of the T&C contains all images of your HDR brackets and so this logfile can be used without manual editing with the import wizard of APG (papywizard import wizard is used) containing all images. and so APGs fusing/stacking feature can be used in combination with xml files for a proper alignment of the images...

I know general workflow for stacks is in general done with photomatix, enfusegui or any other related tool and stacked images than are used for creating the pano...
... but for me this gives me more fleibility. some panos are easier done with the one or the other method... so I've the freedom to choose the best fitting method...

Liebe Gruesse,
Georg
Last edited by gkaefer on Tue Apr 19, 2011 9:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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by klausesser » Tue Apr 19, 2011 9:46 pm

gkaefer wrote:I know general workflow for stacks is in general done with photomatix, enfusegui or any other related tool and stacked images than are used for creating the pano...
... but for me this gives me more fleibility. some panos are easier done with the one or the other method... so I've the freedom to choose the best fitting method...

Right! I forgot to mention this.

best, Klaus
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by mediavets » Tue Apr 19, 2011 10:03 pm

klausesser wrote:
gkaefer wrote:I know general workflow for stacks is in general done with photomatix, enfusegui or any other related tool and stacked images than are used for creating the pano...
... but for me this gives me more fleibility. some panos are easier done with the one or the other method... so I've the freedom to choose the best fitting method...

Right! I forgot to mention this.

best, Klaus

There's a special version of Papywizard to do this - one shutter release for multiple images shot and recorded in the XML data file - too. Will work for Promote and also cameras that can function this way with AEB
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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.

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by klausesser » Tue Apr 19, 2011 10:05 pm

mediavets wrote:There's a special version of Papywizard to do this - one shutter release for multiple images shot and recorded in the XML data file - too. Will work for Promote and also cameras that can function this way with AEB

Good to hear! Will try it!

best, Klaus
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by mediavets » Tue Apr 19, 2011 10:07 pm

klausesser wrote:
mediavets wrote:There's a special version of Papywizard to do this - one shutter release for multiple images shot and recorded in the XML data file - too. Will work for Promote and also cameras that can function this way with AEB

Good to hear! Will try it!

best, Klaus

Check with Frederic - I think it may currently be only for Windows.
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Nikon D5100 and D40, Sigma 8mm f3.5 FE, Nikon 10.5mm FE, 35mm, 50mm, 18-55mm, 70-210mm. Promote control.

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by klausesser » Tue Apr 19, 2011 10:11 pm

mediavets wrote:Check with Frederic - I think it may currently be only for Windows.

:|:(:rolleyes::cool:

best, Klaus
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by fma38 » Tue Apr 19, 2011 10:20 pm

The current subversion is ready for the 2.1.21 release, so the MacOS version can be packaged...

The windows version is already there:

http://www.papywizard.org/static/download/win32/Papywizard_2.1.21_Install.exe

I will package the maemo/debian versions soon.
Frédéric


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