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Thread: Nikon D5000 & Gigapan Epic 100

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    Nikon D5000 & Gigapan Epic 100

    Hey guys, I wanted to share my experience with the Gigapan Epic 100 and the Nikon D5000.

    The Epic 100 is a robotic pano head that automatically shoots the scene for you. You set it up by mounting the camera and then panning the horizon to the top and bottom of the frame to tell it the field of view that your lens has. Once you've set the lens field of view you then proceed to pan to the top left corner of your pano and then to the bottom right. After that it begins to shoot the pano for the number of rows and columns required to obtain the photos needed for the panorama.

    The Epic 100 has a weight limit of 3lbs which is pretty much exactly where the D5000 combined with the 70-300mm VR are at. It's really more aimed at mounting point and shoot cameras but overall I've found it works quite nicely with this setup as long as you have calm conditions to avoid camera shake. The D5000 doesn't have mirror lockup but it does have a 1 second delay you can set which seems to be just enough to avoid shake.

    So, with that said I thought I'd share a quick and dirty 250 megapixel pano I shot. The whole thing probably took about 10 minutes from the time I set up the tripod and it began shooting. I uploaded the pano to the gigapixel site and you can zoom and pan within it to get an idea of the level of detail.

    For some reason the gigapan view will let you zoom in closer than the actual resolution and it looks pixelated. To see the real level of detail I created a snapshot of a bus within the pano that you can click on which will zoom you to a bus within the scene. The snapshot is just under the pano so if you click on it you will zoom to that detail level.

    Oh, and one more thing, I'm finding the D5000 to be a great little camera when I don't want to haul one of the bigger guns with me. The focus system on it absolutely nails focus on all my lenses with complete consistency and overall it's a blast to use. One of the funnest camera's I've used in a long time!

    Here is the pano:

    http://share.gigapan.org/viewGigapan.php?id=22331

    Enjoy,

    Greg

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    Subscriber & Workshop Member GrahamWelland's Avatar
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    Re: Nikon D5000 & Gigapan Epic 100

    A few more degrees left and you'd have captured a view of my old Portland townhouse at RiverPlace Also fun to see how many times the dude with the green shirt turns up walking across the dock by the dragon boats too

    I've been looking longingly at the Gigapan Epic 100 but so far I've held off given the rumours of a DSLR version. Maybe I'll rethink and start using my Canon G10 that's been languishing around doing nothing for a while. Were you the person in Portland who tried this with the Leica M8 too? (My other portable weapon).

    Have you tried loading the images into one of the Panorama software packages as well as the Gigapan site? I'd be interested to hear how this works out.

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    Re: Nikon D5000 & Gigapan Epic 100

    Hi Graham,

    Yeah, by default the Gigapan shoots in column order so it gives people more of a chance to get picked up on each new sweep. Like you said, it can be pretty funny to spot the same person moving around the scene.

    I think this shot was something like 7 rows high and each frame was set to shoot for 5 seconds so it ends up on the next column same row about every 35 seconds. Just about right for someone meandering along! I should try shooting in row order to see how that effects the outcome.

    This pano was actually stitched in AutoPano Pro which worked very well. One of the things it did really well was blending the exposures. In the past I've shot with a fixed aperture and shutter which of course ends up blowing out the sky or underexposing elsewhere unless the dynamic range of the scene is fairly small.

    With this pano I went ahead and let the camera meter in aperture priority mode for each photo and AutoPano did a great job of blending things where the exposures transitioned. It also does a pretty darn good job of eliminating ghosts - much better than the software that comes with the gigapan.

    I don't have an M8 but seems like it would work fine. You'll want to make sure that the camera can be put into a 2 second or so shutter delay mode (and stay in it throughout the pano). You need this because of the way the gigapan manually presses the shutter each time. You need a bit of time for the rig to settle before the shot is actually taken. The D5000 has the delay but it only lasts for one shot. Fortunately you can use the psuedo mirror lockup mode where it delays 1 second each time after the mirror comes up. It would have been nice if was a little longer but didn't cause me any problems in this pano. When I get the chance I'm going to try some night panos to see how things work out.

    I did manage to mount my 5D Mk II with a 100mm lens and it just barely fits but does indeed do a decent job. I think a small bit of wind would probably bounce things around too much. Realistically the D5000 or a Canon Rebel XSI or T1i are the upper limit of what I'd generally want to shoot on it. Both have live view which is nice to get the focus dialed in on the longer lenses. I have a G10 and it works very well on the gigapan so you should be fine there.

    Greg

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    Re: Nikon D5000 & Gigapan Epic 100

    I confess that I cracked over the weekend and ordered a Gigapan Epic 100 Now I just have to wait for it to arrive and go play with it. I've got a Big Sky road trip coming up soon with a friend of mine and I'm thinking that this might be a fun way to add to the photo mix along the way.

    Keep 'em coming. There's another Portland shooter over in the Leica forums who has also been shooting with the Epic and I thought perhaps that was you. Soon that'll be at least three of us!

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    Re: Nikon D5000 & Gigapan Epic 100

    That's great. You shouldn't have to wait long to receive it since they ship from Portland. Looking forward to your panos taken with it. Let me know if you have any questions once you receive it and I'll see if I can answer them.

    One tip is to pick up some Sanyo eneloop batteries - Costco has them on sale at the moment if you shop there. I'm able to get about 2000 shots from one set of freshly charged batteries which is better than I expected. As backup I carry an extra set with me since I wouldn't want to run out in the middle of a pano. The gigapan is smart enough to continue on where you left off if you have to swap batteries in the middle which is nice.

    Greg

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    Re: Nikon D5000 & Gigapan Epic 100

    I posted these in the Canon forum but since they're related to this thread I thought I'd show them here as well.

    A couple of night Portland skyline panos.

    Here's a link to the full panos followed by the images themselves:

    http://gigapan.org/viewGigapan.php?id=22788

    http://gigapan.org/viewGigapan.php?id=22789




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    Re: Nikon D5000 & Gigapan Epic 100

    Nice - looks like I'll have to venture elsewhere for some creative panoramics

    You weren't kidding about the delivery speed - I was shocked when it turned up practically next day. I didn't realize at the time that it was being sent from Portland.

    I think that this is going to be a more useful tool for urban vs pure landscape, although I'll give it a play at the weekend. Too busy during this week to play with the new toy!

    One thing I did notice even when I mounted my Leica M8 on the unit was that the arm is pretty leveraged and even with this camera I'll have to seriously watch out for sag. Hmm, maybe time to pull out the D70s for a play ...

    Now when they do bring out the full DSLR version I'll be very interested in seeing what pixel busting damage I can do with my D3X

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    Re: Nikon D5000 & Gigapan Epic 100

    Greg, I must say that I have never been so fascinated with a gizmo as this one.

    Could you please explain where the stuff moves (in two directions, I suppose)? I could not get that from the Gigapan site.

    TIA.
    Last edited by Vivek; 9th May 2009 at 14:45.

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    Re: Nikon D5000 & Gigapan Epic 100

    Quote Originally Posted by Vivek View Post
    Greg, I must say that I have never been so fascinated with a gizmo as this one.

    Could you please explain where the stuff moves (in two directions, I suppose)? I could not get that from the Gigapan site.

    TIA.
    Vivek, the camera sits on a platform connected to a vertical arm. This arm has a pivot point that rotates the camera up and down vertically - i.e. pitch. At the base of the gigapan is another pivot point where it attaches to your tripod and rotates the platform horizontally left and right - i.e yaw.

    When you set things up you tell it the field of view of your lens by aligning the horizon with the top of your viewfinder and then the bottom of your viewfinder. This gives it your field of view so it knows how much to move each time. Once you've set this as long as you use the same focal length you don't have to change it.

    Whenever you want to make a new pano you use the cursor keys on the gigapan to scroll to the top left corner, hit ok, then do the same for the bottom left corner. At that point it knows the range you want covered and computes the number of rows and columns needed, you hit ok and it begins taking shots and moving the camera for each position. As an advanced option you can tell it to proceed in column wise or row wise order.

    Hope this helps explains how things work. Let me know if you want any more info.

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    Re: Nikon D5000 & Gigapan Epic 100

    Thanks a bunch, Greg!

    Yes, very helpful explanation.

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