What mount to buy?  

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What mount to buy?

by Jerware » Sat Mar 05, 2011 7:38 am

I know this question has been asked a million times, but here are my personal priorities:

- 360x180 degree panoramic shots (mostly indoors)
- fast, simple ease of use
- likely used with Canon 5DM2
- cost is not a factor

I'm leaning toward a motorized head simply for the ease of use factor. We'll have a few staff members responsible for using this equipment, and I really want it to be "push-button" easy. I know there are fans here of the Merlin/Papywizard combo, but it seems a little intimidating. I'd rather spend extra cash to get something "all-in-one" like the Gigapan Epic Pro, but I don't know how it compares.

I'd certainly welcome any suggestions on what lens woud be ideal too. I'll be using Autopano, which I simply love. I've been using it to stitch together screenshots taken inside PC video games, and it's an absolute dream to work with. Unfortunately I'm relatively new to real-world panoramic photography.

Thanks for any help!
Jeremy

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by mediavets » Sat Mar 05, 2011 8:34 am

Welcome to the forum...

The Gigapan Epic Pro is not really suited to shooting 360x180 panos as it can only shoot a regular grid/matrix of images.

When you say 'indoors' are we talking about domestic interiors, or commercial (eg. hotel, office) interiors or what?

Unless you are seeking very hi-res panos I would suggest that the Canon 15mm f2.8 fisheye is the lens to use.

360x180 panos of interiors are the most challenging sort of panos to make. How much training are you proposing to provide the staff who will be shooting these panos?

Who will be stitching the imand pre/post-processing the inagesd, an what training/abilities will they have?

How do you plan to use the stitched pano images?
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 fma38 » Sat Mar 05, 2011 8:42 am

If your are intimidated by Papywizard, you can buy the T&C controller, which is much plug'n'play...
Frédéric

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by Jerware » Sat Mar 05, 2011 8:42 am

Thanks for the comments. It's interesting that you say the Gigapan product isn't suited to 360x180 panos, since I emailed them and they indicated it could shoot everything but the nadir. If you watch some videos of its menu functions, it even has a 360 degree option. What makes this a worse choice than another mount?

We will primarily be taking photos of indoor office spaces. We definitely don't need super high resolution. In fact, our final panos will probably be reduced to about 4096x2048. We will look into your suggestion of the 15mm f2.8 fisheye -- I've never stitched fisheye photos, but I assume Autopano has no trouble with this...?

The staff will receive basic training, but we really won't have another chance to shoot these interiors if there is a problem with the photos. We need it done right the first time, which is why I'm in favor of automating the process.

I'll likely be stitching the photos, and I'm somewhat experienced with Autopano's control point editor. The final product will be viewed on PCs using custom software.

Jeremy

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by mediavets » Sat Mar 05, 2011 9:39 am

Jerware wrote:Thanks for the comments. It's interesting that you say the Gigapan product isn't suited to 360x180 panos, since I emailed them and they indicated it could shoot everything but the nadir. If you watch some videos of its menu functions, it even has a 360 degree option. What makes this a worse choice than another mount?y

When shooting 360x180 panos it usual to shoot fewer images in rows approaching the poles - zenith and nadir - to avoid excessive overlapping in those areas.
http://www.vrwave.com/panoramic/photography/lens_database.html

The Gigapan range of mounts cannot to do this - they can only shot a regular grid/matrix of images with the same number of shots in every row.
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 » Sat Mar 05, 2011 10:40 am

Jerware wrote:We will primarily be taking photos of indoor office spaces.

Will these offices be furnished and in use? Will there be people in occupation when you are shooting?

We definitely don't need super high resolution. In fact, our final panos will probably be reduced to about 4096x2048.

Then why are you using a Canon 5DMkII?

Are we talking about commercial real estate marketing images/panos here?

Will you also be shooting regular single images with the same camera and on the same visit?

The better you are able to describe what you are trying to achieve and how these images/panos will be used the better we'll be able to advise you.

We will look into your suggestion of the 15mm f2.8 fisheye -- I've never stitched fisheye photos, but I assume Autopano has no trouble with this...?

Autopano Pro and Giga have no problems with fisheye lens images. Most pano shooters use fisheye lenses for 360x180 panos.

If you want to try stitching some fisheye images - here's a set shot (not by me) with the Canon 5D and Canon 15mm fisheye lens:
http://www.chem.ox.ac.uk/oxfordtour/canon5dworkflow/jpgs.zip
The staff will receive basic training, but we really won't have another chance to shoot these interiors if there is a problem with the photos. We need it done right the first time, which is why I'm in favor of automating the process.

You can automate aspects of the process but interiors are especially challenging for 360x180 panos because of the typically mixed lighting and dynamic range involved - for example mixed fluorecent and non-flourescnt light sources and daylight through windows. This makes setting the exposure difficult - requiring some skills and knowledge - and extended exposure bracketing is often necessary for optimal results; and this cannot all be reduced to unskilled 'just press the button' photography if you want/need top quality results.

I'll likely be stitching the photos, and I'm somewhat experienced with Autopano's control point editor.

Do you have any experience of using an image editor, say Photoshop, to post-process/edit photo images?

Do you hope/plan to patch the nadir area of your 360x180 pano image so that the viewer will not see the tripod or do you plan to put a logo-style cap over that area?


The final product will be viewed on PCs using custom software.

Is this your own 'custom software' or third-party stuff?

What format and size do the final 360x180 pano images have to be?

Can you point us to any on-line examples of the sort of style and quality you wish to acheive?

...........

I may be quite mistaken but by the sound of it you and your employees currently lack the skills and knowledge required to produce top quality results. If top quality is vital to you perhaps you would be better off outsourcing the work to someone who does have the skills, knowledge and expereinece.
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 klausesser » Sat Mar 05, 2011 2:58 pm

Jerware wrote:Thanks for the comments. It's interesting that you say the Gigapan product isn't suited to 360x180 panos, since I emailed them and they indicated it could shoot everything but the nadir. If you watch some videos of its menu functions, it even has a 360 degree option. What makes this a worse choice than another mount?

We will primarily be taking photos of indoor office spaces. We definitely don't need super high resolution. In fact, our final panos will probably be reduced to about 4096x2048. We will look into your suggestion of the 15mm f2.8 fisheye -- I've never stitched fisheye photos, but I assume Autopano has no trouble with this...?

The staff will receive basic training, but we really won't have another chance to shoot these interiors if there is a problem with the photos. We need it done right the first time, which is why I'm in favor of automating the process.

I'll likely be stitching the photos, and I'm somewhat experienced with Autopano's control point editor. The final product will be viewed on PCs using custom software.

Jeremy

Hi Jeremy!

I strongly suggest to use a 15mm fisheye on the 5D2 and to use a manual head.Why? Because the base - it´s smaller with manual heads and you have less additional work on the Nadir.
Also i suggest a ring-mount for the fisheye like the Agnos for example:
http://www.agnos.com/prodotti.htm?v_lingua=ENG&v_iss_web=0000000011030514263602423350&v_categ_lista=P0000-P0005-P0505&v_cod_art_scheda=MROTATORF#ancorafotoprodbig
The base is very small and you´d have no problems to get a good Nadir.
Another way might be the VR Drive from Seitz without the L bracket: the base also is very small. If you set a fisheye in a ring-mount on it you also have a very wide angle vertical and horizontal.
If you mount the camera in a way it´s slanted you can use the full 180° the Canon 15mm provides diagonally:
http://www.agnos.com/prodotti.htm?v_lingua=ENG&v_iss_web=0000000011030514263602423350&v_categ_lista=P0000-P0005-P0503&v_cod_art_scheda=MROTATORCS

The Merlin is a very fine head for shooting highres. But shooting spherical panos indoors i wouldn´t use it.

Be aware that - Andrew mentioned it already - indoor spheres are the most challenging panos. Because of short distances and usually incoherent lights you need some training to deal with it - and also stitching it isn´t trivial.

For this reason there are some fully automated solutions - no knowledge needed, turnkey system: put into the room, press a button and all is done automatically - that means also the software which puts togehter the images by itself. The quality is very fine.

But the costs are exorbitant: around 30000.-/50000.-€.

http://www.LizardQ.com/
[url]http://www.weiss-ag.info/geschà¤ftsfelder/360-technologie/[/url]
http://www.spheron.com/en/intruvision/solutions/spherocam-hdr.html
http://www.digitalkamera.de/Meldung/Seitz_Phototechnik_praesentiert_Roundshot_VR_Drive_s_/6311.aspx (without bracket - camera with fisheye monted straight on top of the motordrive).

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

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by mediavets » Sat Mar 05, 2011 3:43 pm

klausesser wrote:I strongly suggest to use a 15mm fisheye on the 5D2 and to use a manual head.Why? Because the base - it´s smaller with manual heads and you have less additional work on the Nadir.
Also i suggest a ring-mount for the fisheye

A ring mount with a fullframe fisheye for shooting 360x180 interior panos?
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 klausesser » Sat Mar 05, 2011 4:08 pm

mediavets wrote:
klausesser wrote:I strongly suggest to use a 15mm fisheye on the 5D2 and to use a manual head.Why? Because the base - it´s smaller with manual heads and you have less additional work on the Nadir.
Also i suggest a ring-mount for the fisheye

A ring mount with a fullframe fisheye for shooting 360x180 interior panos?

Yes - i tried it: great! Camera about 15° downwards tilted plus 1 Zenith shot. The Nadir is extremely small then. I used the NN R1.
But i also used the Agnos ring only with the camera slanted and no extra Zenith or Nadir shot. You get a very, very small hole on Zenith and Nadir which you can retouch in seconds. I did 6 shots 360° - i´d have needed less - and it worked very good.

Usually i take the 15mm fisheye on my 5D2 in regular portait-mode with 6 + 2 shots because of resolution for zoomable panos with my manual Manfrotto modified SPH. I think about to change to an Agnos- or NN ring for use with the 15mm fisheye and a slanted mount for shooting in crowded places.

best, Klaus
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by mediavets » Sat Mar 05, 2011 4:11 pm

klausesser wrote:Yes - i tried it: great! Camera about 15° downwards tilted plus 1 Zenith shot. The Nadir is extremely small then. I used the NN R1.

No problem stitching when the zenith shot is not taken with camera/lens at NPP when shooting indoors with the Nodal Ninja Ultimate R1?
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 klausesser » Sat Mar 05, 2011 4:27 pm

mediavets wrote:
klausesser wrote:Yes - i tried it: great! Camera about 15° downwards tilted plus 1 Zenith shot. The Nadir is extremely small then. I used the NN R1.

No problem stitching when the zenith shot is not taken with camera/lens at NPP when shooting indoors with the Nodal Ninja Ultimate R1?

No - the 15mm Canon has 180° diagonal. Taking 6 instead of 4 shots works great.

Another example: http://www.agnos.com/dati/download/experiences/Vendegna_eng.pdf

best, Klaus
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by klausesser » Sat Mar 05, 2011 4:29 pm

sorry - Andrew i overread your post too quickly.


You can match the NPP with the R1.

best, Klaus
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by Jerware » Sat Mar 05, 2011 10:07 pm

Thanks for the great suggestions, but I need a little more education.

klausesser wrote:Also i suggest a ring-mount for the fisheye like the Agnos for example:
http://www.agnos.com/prodotti.htm?v_lingua=ENG&v_iss_web=0000000011030514263602423350&v_categ_lista=P0000-P0005-P0505&v_cod_art_scheda=MROTATORF#ancorafotoprodbig
The base is very small and you´d have no problems to get a good Nadir.

What does a ring mount do? Does it help get the nadir somehow?

klausesser wrote:Another way might be the VR Drive from Seitz without the L bracket: the base also is very small. If you set a fisheye in a ring-mount on it you also have a very wide angle vertical and horizontal.
If you mount the camera in a way it´s slanted you can use the full 180° the Canon 15mm provides diagonally:
http://www.agnos.com/prodotti.htm?v_lingua=ENG&v_iss_web=0000000011030514263602423350&v_categ_lista=P0000-P0005-P0503&v_cod_art_scheda=MROTATORCS

Wow, this is a very intriguing option. The site says you can capture a full sphere in 3 shots using an 8mm lens. Is there really enough overlap to stitch a panorama with three shots? Can you capture the full 180 vertical with the 15mm you mentioned only using a full frame sensor like the 5D Mark 2, or would it work with an EF-S lens too (Rebel XT, T2i, etc.)? How many shots would the 15mm require for the full sphere?

Thanks!
Jeremy

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by mediavets » Sat Mar 05, 2011 10:27 pm

Jerware wrote:
klausesser wrote:If you mount the camera in a way it´s slanted you can use the full 180° the Canon 15mm provides diagonally:
http://www.agnos.com/prodotti.htm?v_lingua=ENG&v_iss_web=0000000011030514263602423350&v_categ_lista=P0000-P0005-P0503&v_cod_art_scheda=MROTATORCS

Wow, this is a very intriguing option. The site says you can capture a full sphere in 3 shots using an 8mm lens. Is there really enough overlap to stitch a panorama with three shots?

This is a rather heavy pano head. The overlaps are small. It was designed specifically to enable the capture of close to 360x180 coverage with a minimum number of shots (3 shots vs. 4 shots with the same Sigma 8mm fisheye lens using a more conventional pano head) using a cropped sensor DSLR camera, in the days before the fullframe sensor digital body.

You can find sample images sets here and see if you can stitch them:
http://www.agnos.com/samples.htm?v_lingua=ENG&v_iss_web=0000000011030522211258447517&v_menu_lista=MSXDX-MENSX-MSD03-M0302

Can you capture the full 180 vertical with the 15mm you mentioned only using a full frame sensor like the 5D Mark 2

No. The 15mm FE on a fullframe sensor produces a fullframe fisheye image with approx. 180 degrees FOV on the diagonal.

How many shots would the 15mm require for the full sphere?

Conventionally you require a minimum of 8 shots to cover the full 360x180 pano FOV using a 15mm fisheye on a fullframe sensor.
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 klausesser » Sat Mar 05, 2011 11:51 pm

mediavets wrote:Conventionally you require a minimum of 8 shots to cover the full 360x180 pano FOV using a 15mm fisheye on a fullframe sensor.

Yep - this is the safest method. But mounting the camera tilted down a bit and using a head with a small footprint you can do fine without an extra Nadir shot. That´s what i usually do - that means 7 shots:

http://www.klausesser.de/360impressions/Eller/SchlossEllerTour.html

best, Klaus
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by Jerware » Sun Mar 06, 2011 12:44 am

Ok, I guess I hadn't considered a fisheye lens because I was scared of the lost detail, but in truth there's plenty in there given our final resolution of 4096x2048. If I'm using fisheye, a manual mount does seem much more practical, and less complicated for our staff than I initially thought (only ~6 photos or so). So, now that I'm on the same page as you guys about using a manual mount....

For my purposes, would you recommend the NN3, NN5, or NNR1?

Also, where can I find sample images using a conventional method like the Nodal Ninja to try my hand at stitching fisheye panoramas (preferably both 15mm and 8mm examples, on cropped and full-frame sensors)? Something like the thumbs on this page, but full resolution.

http://www.red-door.co.uk/pages/which_head.html

Finally, how is the Nadir usually taken when using something like the Nodal Ninja? Seems like a challenge to shoot freehand and keep legs out of the picture, not to mention match NPP.

Thanks again!
Jeremy
Last edited by Jerware on Sun Mar 06, 2011 12:49 am, edited 1 time in total.

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by mediavets » Sun Mar 06, 2011 1:30 am

Jerware wrote:For my purposes, would you recommend the NN3, NN5, or NNR1?

I'd recommend NN5 for 15mm FE on Canon 5D2 but they are no longer in production although you can still pick up some 'factory irregular' models - just cosmetic issues.

http://www.360tacticalvr.com/rotators/nodalninja/nn5.html

http://www.red-door.co.uk/pages/productpages/nodal-ninja-panorama-head-nn5-2009.html

http://www.red-door.co.uk/pages/productpages/nodal-ninja-panorama-head-nn5-d16.html

Also, where can I find sample images using a conventional method like the Nodal Ninja to try my hand at stitching fisheye panoramas (preferably both 15mm and 8mm examples, on cropped and full-frame sensors)? Something like the thumbs on this page, but full resolution.

http://www.360precision.com/360/index.cfm?precision=products.camlensinfolist

10.5mm FE on a cropped sensor delivers same sort of fullframe FE image as a 15mm FE on a fullframe sensor.

You'll find more FE image sets linked from the bottom of this page:

http://www.360precision.com/360/360.cfm
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 Destiny » Sun Mar 06, 2011 6:06 am

Klaus, you are a wealth of great knowledge and I mostly understand what you do.. Your VR is wonderful... if only I could find a location to take a pano like this.. I need to ask you so many things... I might send you an email later with some questions and advice...

D...

klausesser wrote:Yep - this is the safest method. But mounting the camera tilted down a bit and using a head with a small footprint you can do fine without an extra Nadir shot. That´s what i usually do - that means 7 shots:

http://www.klausesser.de/360impressions/Eller/SchlossEllerTour.html

best, Klaus

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by klausesser » Sun Mar 06, 2011 2:16 pm

Destiny wrote:I might send you an email later with some questions and advice...

You´re welcome!

best, Klaus
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