Buying a PanoGear vs building it myself  

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steve
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Buying a PanoGear vs building it myself

by steve » Wed Dec 15, 2010 4:08 pm

Looking at the PanoGear, it appears to be a Merlin with some useful extras like a Bluetooth module. Are there any modifications to the Merlin as a reason for the price difference? Eg, perhaps a modified mount for the camera to be in portrait orientation - which is important for me!

I plan to use a Nikon D80 or Nikon D7000 with 10.5mm Nikkor on this, so it would be good to know if this is able to automatically rotate for the apex angle, and how much of the mount is visible at the bottom of the 10.5mm fisheye view when the camera is pointed straight ahead?

I currently use a Nodal Ninja, however it is becoming a bit old and wobbles a bit, and I'm also interested in gigapixel photography... so this looks like a great option! I just want to confirm that the PanoGear Merlin is part of a reasonable pricing or if I should get it separately.

Thanks! :)

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by klausesser » Wed Dec 15, 2010 4:41 pm

steve wrote:me!
I plan to use a Nikon D80 or Nikon D7000 with 10.5mm Nikkor on this, so it would be good to know if this is able to automatically rotate for the apex angle, and how much of the mount is visible at the bottom of the 10.5mm fisheye view when the camera is pointed straight ahead?

Hi Steve!

By nature the Merlin has a big footprint - so you definitely have to shoot an extra Nadir or to do massive retouching.
The Ninja´s footprint is much smaller.
I mount the Merlin onto a ballhead and for a Nadir i swing it 90° so that the camera looks downwards and then i pull the tripod aside the distance of the Merlin´s height. Of course you have to compensate the height also.
Sound complicated - but it isn´t :cool:

best, Klaus
Simplicity is the keynote of all true elegance. Coco Chanel

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by steve » Wed Dec 15, 2010 4:48 pm

klausesser wrote:The Ninja´s footprint is much smaller.
I mount the Merlin onto a ballhead and for a Nadir i swing it 90°

Hi Klaus,

Is the Merlin able to swivel the camera for an apex shot, when the 10.5mm lenses (very short) is used, on a Nikon D80/D7000?

I'm not so worried about nadir shots, but I'm wondering if the Merlin is visible when the camera is straight ahead... eg, do you only see the Merlin when you tilt the camera down for a nadir?

I'm still trying to find more information about what modifications may have been done to the PanoGear vs the original Merlin. Google's not of much help here. :)

Thanks!

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by mediavets » Wed Dec 15, 2010 4:58 pm

steve wrote:Looking at the PanoGear, it appears to be a Merlin with some useful extras like a Bluetooth module. Are there any modifications to the Merlin as a reason for the price difference? Eg, perhaps a modified mount for the camera to be in portrait orientation - which is important for me!

As far as I know the Panogear package comprises a standard unmodified non-GoTo Merlin mount with extras. The Panogear package includes a Lithium Ion battery system with charger, and a dovetail rail for mounting the camera in either portrait or landscape orientation, plus the Bluetooth module, and Merlin-camera shutter trigger cable.

Kolor and SkiVR put the Panogear package together to make it easier for users to get started; and a year's warranty is offered on the hardware as I recall.

Prior to this many people assembled systems themselves.

The Lion battery system and dovetail rail are available separately from Kolor or SkiVR, or from the manufacturer.

Likewise the Deltawave-Papymerlin Bluetooth adapter.

I use a very simple low cost dovetail rail with a 1/4inch bolt, washer and wingnut for a camera screw.

I also use an external lead-acid battery pack rather than internal batteries.

I plan to use a Nikon D80 or Nikon D7000 with 10.5mm Nikkor on this, so it would be good to know if this is able to automatically rotate for the apex angle, and how much of the mount is visible at the bottom of the 10.5mm fisheye view when the camera is pointed straight ahead?

I currently use a Nodal Ninja, however it is becoming a bit old and wobbles a bit, and I'm also interested in gigapixel photography... so this looks like a great option!

Some comments:

1. If the dimension from the base of the camera to the centre of the lens mount is greater than 40mm - which I belive is the case with the D80 and D7000 - then you will need to make some modification to the dovetail mount/rail if you wish to position your camera/lens at the NPP (No Parallax Point).

2. What other lenses do you plan to use - you will not produce gigapixel panos using a Nikkor 10.5mm fisheye lens.

3. The Merlin mount has a larger nadir footprint than a Nodal Ninja 3/5 manual pano head.

I just want to confirm that the PanoGear Merlin is part of a reasonable pricing or if I should get it separately.

Thanks! :)

You can undoubtedly put a system together yourself for less money - but if you value convenience (and warranty) over cost then the Panogear package is the way to go.

It may also depend on where you live - the Merlin mount is not readily available in some countries, OTOH carriage costs for shipping internationally from Kolor or SkiVR may be high.

See this other related post of mine for more info:
http://www.autopano.net/forum/p73711-2010-12-06-11-04-31#p73711
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 steve » Wed Dec 15, 2010 5:08 pm

mediavets wrote:The Panogear package includes a Lithium Ion battery system with charger, and a dovetail rail for mounting the camera in either portrait or landscape orientation, plus the Bluetooth module.

That sounds worth the difference in pricing, along with the single shipment costs, coverage and single point of contact. I see the railing was cited as being a bit expensive but could also mount in portrait mode, and this is something that I definitely want to do.

2. What other lenses do you plan to use - you will not produce giagapiuxel panos using a Nikkor 10.5mm fisheye lens.

I want to use it in two ways, one is to replace the Nodal Ninja as a means of taking 360's with the 10.5mm... for this the apex shot would be ideal along with no visible Merlin for the straight ahead shot.

The other is to take gigapixels with an 18-200mm, then perhaps with a prime lenses for 300mm... so there is no need for spherical movement with this.

*EDIT* I have found another post from you that shows the results you have with a -10 pitch, with only an edge showing. So it would seem that the Merlin will not be visible for the straight ahead shot, which is excellent for me. :)
Last edited by steve on Wed Dec 15, 2010 5:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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by mediavets » Wed Dec 15, 2010 6:06 pm

steve wrote:I have found another post from you that shows the results you have with a -10 pitch, with only an edge showing. So it would seem that the Merlin will not be visible for the straight ahead shot, which is excellent for me. :)

I always shoot the main row of 6-around at a negative pitch. Why would you choose not to?
.....

The issue with the Merlin that will impact your plans is how best and most easily to modify the Merlin mount so you can position your Nikon D80 and D700 at the NPP with the Nikkor 10.5mm FE lens for shooting sphericals.

There's no adjustment available on the 'lower arm' - unlike the NN pano heads - and without modification of the Merlin dovetail clamp/rail the max. dimension between camera base and centre of the lens mount that can be accommodated with the camera in portrait orientation at NPP is 40mm.

That's fine for my lowly D40 but your D80 and D7000 bodies are larger than that I think.
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 steve » Wed Dec 15, 2010 8:37 pm

mediavets wrote:I always shoot the main row of 6-around at a negative pitch. Why would you choose not to?

In case the upshot doesn't stitch, I still have the 6 around without a larger hole on top. I know that Autopano wants to do everything with SIFT, however the inability to do a manual override means that I've had a number of 360s with plain ceilings or moving trees above me that cannot be stitched unless I drop back to Hugin, and it's just easier to have the single workflow based around the upshot being a nice optional extra.

A nice bonus is slightly more overlap to help with stitching, and many have been just barely able to stitch with that slight extra information, as repeated pounding on the "detect points" with increasingly desperate rectangular selections over the area of interest does sometimes work.

I am hoping that the new Autopano does take the Panowizard positioning information into account and will at least ensure that every photo is within the range specified by the XML file. I think that would have to be the case otherwise the really large gigapanos couldn't exist.

The issue with the Merlin that will impact your plans is how best and most easily to modify the Merlin mount so you can position your Nikon D80 and D700 at the NPP with the Nikkor 10.5mm FE lens for shooting sphericals.

That is a concern. Could someone with a PanoGear confirm that the Merlin has been modified to accomodate larger cameras, perhaps with that expensive but reasonably priced dovetail that was mentioned in another thread?

That's fine for my lowly D40 but your D80 and D7000 bodies are larger than that I think.

I use the D80 for the bracketing, and would use a cheaper model if the PanoGear is able to handle telling the camera what to do. On the other hand, I use the D7000 for video, so I probably just want to use that size anyway.

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by mediavets » Wed Dec 15, 2010 9:14 pm

steve wrote:
mediavets wrote:I always shoot the main row of 6-around at a negative pitch. Why would you choose not to?

In case the upshot doesn't stitch, I still have the 6 around without a larger hole on top. I know that Autopano wants to do everything with SIFT, however the inability to do a manual override means that I've had a number of 360s with plain ceilings or moving trees above me that cannot be stitched unless I drop back to Hugin, and it's just easier to have the single workflow based around the upshot being a nice optional extra.

A nice bonus is slightly more overlap to help with stitching, and many have been just barely able to stitch with that slight extra information, as repeated pounding on the "detect points" with increasingly desperate rectangular selections over the area of interest does sometimes work.

I am hoping that the new Autopano does take the Panowizard positioning information into account and will at least ensure that every photo is within the range specified by the XML file. I think that would have to be the case otherwise the really large gigapanos couldn't exist.

I am going to make several separate responses to cover your questions.

So....

1. I've never had a problem stitching sphericals shot with a Nikkor 10.5mm fisheye on a DX (cropped sensor) body using one or other of these alternative shooting patterns.

Indoors; 6-around at about -10 to -15 degrees pitch, plus 6-around at about +50 degrees pitch. Sounds odd I know but I've found I get perfect stitches even when shooting in the smallest room with plain walls and celings.

Outdoors; 6-around at about -10 t0 -15 degrees pitch and 1, 2 or 3 shots at about +65 degrees pitch (and 120 degree yaw separation if shooting 2 or 3 'zenith' shots). You should then always get a good link between the 'zenith' shot(s) and the main row if you choose the yaw for the the 'zenith' shot(s) carefully.

2. Autopano Pro/Giga V2.5 allows the placement of manual control points as well as SIFT-based automatic CP detection.

3. Yes Papywizard can create a data file which records the co-ordinates of all the shooting positions in the pano. And APP/APG can use this data to assist in placing 'featureless' image sthat would otherewise be left out of the stitch.
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 mediavets » Wed Dec 15, 2010 9:37 pm

steve wrote:
mediavets wrote:The issue with the Merlin that will impact your plans is how best and most easily to modify the Merlin mount so you can position your Nikon D80 and D700 at the NPP with the Nikkor 10.5mm FE lens for shooting sphericals.

That is a concern. Could someone with a PanoGear confirm that the Merlin has been modified to accomodate larger cameras, perhaps with that expensive but reasonably priced dovetail that was mentioned in another thread?

The dovetail clamp (also referred to as the 'crown' in many forum posts) is unmodified on the mount included in the panogera package.

The most common use for Merlin/Papywizard (aks Panogear) is for partial panos of landscapes with longer focal length lenses where it's not that critical to set the camera/lens at the NPP. But may be possible to mount the camera/lens centred on/over the yaw axis with the camera in a landscape orientation which is 'workable' for shooting partial panos where you are not seeking to use high positive an negative pitch values.

What are the camera-base-to-centre-of-the-lens-mount dimensions of the D80 and D7000 bodies.

There are a number of different approaches one can take to the modification of the dovetail clamp depending on how much greater than 40mm that dimension is.

steve wrote:
mediavets wrote:That's fine for my lowly D40 but your D80 and D7000 bodies are larger than that I think.

I use the D80 for the bracketing, and would use a cheaper model if the PanoGear is able to handle telling the camera what to do. On the other hand, I use the D7000 for video, so I probably just want to use that size anyway.

There are a number of ways to get a more extensive range of exposure bracketing than that offered by built-in AEB which is often inadequate to cover the dynamic range presented by many pano scenes.

The principal alternatives are tethered shooting using software running on a PC with a wired connection to the camera via USB, or a hardware-based solution using the Promote Control device triggered using the Snap conector on the mount by Papywizard or the Panogear Touch Controller.

Users report that the Promote Control works very well with Merlin/Papywizard and Panogear.
http://www.promotesystems.com/products/Promote-Control.html
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 steve » Wed Dec 15, 2010 10:18 pm

mediavets wrote:What are the camera-base-to-centre-of-the-lens-mount dimensions of the D80 and D7000 bodies.

http://wiki.panotools.org/Entrance_Pupil_Database shows 42.8mm, however my eyeball+ruler says 44mm. I don't have a D7000 to measure yet.

There are a number of ways to get a more extensive range of exposure bracketing than that offered by built-in AEB which is often inadequate to cover the dynamic range presented by many pano scenes.

That's an interesting option that makes the D40 more viable, though I have my D80s already and want the D7000 for video. Ah well. :)

EDIT: And http://www.autopano.net/wiki-fr/images-fr/3/37/All_Camera_to_be_pub_V3.pdf but my ruler still says 44mm. :)
Last edited by steve on Wed Dec 15, 2010 10:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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by claudevh » Wed Dec 15, 2010 10:38 pm

"A dimension" of the Nikon D80 = 42.8 mm

No info's for the D7000 yet !
:cool: Claude :cool:
Merlin + Papywizard on Windows 7 & Nokia 770 § N810 & Acer (Netbook) + PanoramaApp Androïd + Deltawave PapyMerlin BT + Autopano
Spherical Pano (180 x 360) with Canon 40D + Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 Zoom & Pôle Pano with Canon 5D MK2 and shaved Tokina 10-17 3.5-4.5 AF DX Fisheye
Gigapixel photography with Nikon D200 + Sigma 70-200 F 2.8 EX DG APO HSM

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by claudevh » Wed Dec 15, 2010 10:42 pm

:cool: Claude :cool:
Merlin + Papywizard on Windows 7 & Nokia 770 § N810 & Acer (Netbook) + PanoramaApp Androïd + Deltawave PapyMerlin BT + Autopano
Spherical Pano (180 x 360) with Canon 40D + Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 Zoom & Pôle Pano with Canon 5D MK2 and shaved Tokina 10-17 3.5-4.5 AF DX Fisheye
Gigapixel photography with Nikon D200 + Sigma 70-200 F 2.8 EX DG APO HSM

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by steve » Wed Dec 15, 2010 11:11 pm

claudevh wrote:"steve" I believe that you live in Australia ...
You can buy a Merlin mount via Ebay:
http://cgi.ebay.com.au/Skywatcher-MERLIN-SynScan-AZ-Goto-Tischmontierung-/370394941547?pt=Optik_Zubeh%C3%B6r&hash=item563d42486b#ht_1360wt_905

The best price I can find for the mount alone is Aus$600, and no specifications to show if it's got the camera port, whether it's the Goto or not, and would still need to get the other bits and pieces. Buying from Autopano is Aus$800 with the shipping cost included, and the other bits and pieces.

So it looks like Autopano's offering a good deal, especially with the Australian dollar being better than usual. (eg, a banana and a half :) )
Last edited by steve on Wed Dec 15, 2010 11:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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by mediavets » Wed Dec 15, 2010 11:30 pm

claudevh wrote:"A dimension" of the Nikon D80 = 42.8 mm

Steve,

If that's correct (or even if it's 44mm) then I think a simple home made rail will provide the additional clearance with no additional mods. required.

Here's an idea for a simple, cheap and effective wooden rail:

http://www.autopano.net/forum/p37570-2009-01-24-23-56-43#p37570
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 steve » Thu Dec 16, 2010 12:46 am

mediavets wrote:Here's an idea for a simple, cheap and effective wooden rail:

http://www.autopano.net/forum/p37570-2009-01-24-23-56-43#p37570

That's a great suggestion. Wood isn't a problem for a piece that size, and has the benefits of a custom plate for the camera model.

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by marco.lanciani » Thu Dec 16, 2010 1:47 am

Hi Steve,

given that you have a D80+10.5mm, you might be interested. Please, have a look:

http://www.autopano.net/forum/t10759-merlin-panohead-360precision-camera-arm

Regards,
Marco

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by tived » Thu Dec 16, 2010 2:05 am

with the wooden plate, try add some weight to it!

Henrik

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by klausesser » Thu Dec 30, 2010 3:33 pm

steve wrote:
klausesser wrote:The Ninja´s footprint is much smaller.
I mount the Merlin onto a ballhead and for a Nadir i swing it 90°

Hi Klaus,

Is the Merlin able to swivel the camera for an apex shot, when the 10.5mm lenses (very short) is used, on a Nikon D80/D7000?

I'm not so worried about nadir shots, but I'm wondering if the Merlin is visible when the camera is straight ahead... eg, do you only see the Merlin when you tilt the camera down for a nadir?

I'm still trying to find more information about what modifications may have been done to the PanoGear vs the original Merlin. Google's not of much help here. :)

Thanks!

Hi Steve!

Sorry for responding so late! What do you mean with "apex shot"? A Zenith-shot? Yes - the Merlin can do it. A Nadir-shot? Yes - the Merlin can do that also . . but the footprint is very big.

With my configuration of a Canon 5D2 and a Canon 15mm (180° diagonal) fisheye the horizontal orientated camera doesn´t show the Merlin´s foot.

With the TC controller i have 5 shots horizontal using 20% overlap and one Nadir shot - Merlin/TC does it automatically.
For a Nadir shot - if there has to be one - i use the method i described above.

best, Klaus
Simplicity is the keynote of all true elegance. Coco Chanel


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