Hey out there
I just was reading this month's Outdoor Photographer and they spent some real time on Gigapano technology.
They talked about some hardware to allow relatively easy to manage large grids of images and then the Autogigapano Pro software to process all of these images. These arrays are huge and represent what is probably the current state of the art for such large panoramas.
What I found really fascinating is the potential to bring the images into a program which allows programs such as GoogleEarth to interact and provide a way to "dive" into the images and find precision spots to focus upon.
I have had no experience with these types of programs but I sure am excited about the potential!
I am sure some of you are already into this technology big time so how about moving down this thread in a way that defines issues and tells those of use who are technology less ept who could learn and progress to huge images that might be unique?
Thanks in advance for your help and thoughts
Last edited by woodyspedden; 1st November 2009 at 15:50.
I was a beta tester for the gigapan project and have spent quite a bit of time making gigapans.
They are really fun to "explore". One really doesn't view them as a normal photograph, but, as you said, "dives" in to find things.
For example, I did a few in Hawaii where only weeks later did I notice the unclothed people in the window of a hotel on the far side of the beach. (I blurred out that window on the gigapan site.)
For the usual "fine art" shots, there is a small impediment. Say a typical gigapan is 40 frames wide and 10 frames tall. This is 400 shots. You need a second or two for the motor to move the head into position. You then need a second for the camera to stabilize. Typically the shutter is pressed with a 2 second delay as longer FL's are being used, and it takes the photo. Depending on the shutter speed you are then up to maybe 6-10 seconds per frame.
Multiply that by 400 frames and you can see that the light can change a lot in the time it takes to finish a gigapan.
This has been the main problem to using these for "fine art" photography. If they are done at sunrise / sunset they tend to be far smaller, or involve literally a ton of post processing work to get things to match up.
So, one needs to get out of the "only take photographs at sunrise / sunset" mindset and look for scenes that will be fun to explore when the light is a little more constant.
Another tech note is that having a longer focal length is typically most significant contributor to the final resolution. So smaller cameras with long zooms such as the Canon S5IS (longest FL equivalent is about 420mm) have been very popular. They are coming out with a model with motors big enough to drive a DSLR later this year. Many of us tried to put DSLR's on the original models, but it burnt out the motors.
As an aside there is another company called "The Gadget Works" which I've heard has a larger motor version capable of driving a DSLR, but I haven't heard any more about it.
On the software end, APP now has a "gigapan" option - other pano software might as well. But the software that comes with the unit (from Carnegie-Mellon and Google) does a fantastic job.
These are really fun to play with. If you haven't go to the gigapan site and "explore" a few. The resolution is a blast.
Subscriber & Workshop Member
I have the Gigapan Epic 100 too and used it with the Panasonic G1/45-200 and Canon G10. It works well but as Steve mentions you do need to commit some time to produce the panoramic grid and need to be meticulous about setting everything up and locking it down in manual mode. I hope to try it with the GF-1 particularly since it's a little smaller. As mentioned, using a long lens helps a lot when it comes to producing giant images with ooodles of detail.
I've used both the Gigapan software and Auto Pano Giga edition. The free software works but it can sometimes mess up the alignment of things like horizons/hill crests & sky etc. It can also be VERY VERY slow on a laptop (in my case I used a MacBook Air on the road and it took hours for a couple of pano's). The Auto Pano Giga edition was a lot faster, although I did run that at home on a beefier outfit.
The other thing to consider is that you need to invest in a bunch of rechargeable batteries and a decent charger because the GigaPan will munch it's way through batteries like you wouldn't believe. I've had it go through a full set of AA's in 1-2 2-300 shot panos. I ended up getting the #1 accessory for the outfit after the Gigapan itself - a monster Maha battery charger/conditioner and a box full of batteries. I've even considered using an auxiliary battery pack instead to keep it running without having to change batteries mid way through a shot.
Btw Steve - you should have left in the nudes - that's the whole point of the GigaPan experience!!
BTW, using an M8 is pushing the limits of the current Gigapan Epic - the new DSLR version should offer more options. OK for smaller P&S size cameras though.
Steve and Graham
Thanks for sharing your experiences and insights
I will continue to look at Gigapanos and decide to wait for the DSLR version.
Subscriber & Workshop Member
You might also want to look at the Gadget Works device too for DSLR support. I hadn't seen this before but it looks a lot more robust than the GigaPan robots and more flexible too. Heck, I'm tempted myself ...
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