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Thread: a7R, Gigapans, Big panoramas, stitching software & more fun

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    Senior Member MikeEvangelist's Avatar
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    a7R, Gigapans, Big panoramas, stitching software & more fun

    I've been having a lot of fun shooting large panoramas with the a7R and thought I'd share some of my experiences.

    First, be warned that 650 megapixel images can be addictive.

    I originally bought a Gigapan Epic 100 (on a friend's recommendation). It's an automated pan head that greatly simplifies shooting multi-row and multi-column pans. But it's not really big enough to adequately handle the a7, the trigger device seems to cause camera movement sometimes, and the included software is rather weak. So I sent that back and planned to buy the larger and much more expensive Gigapan Epic Pro. Unhappily, even after I came to grips with the price, I learned that it doesn't yet support triggering the a7 (due to the new 'multi terminal' connector that Sony has switched to.)

    But I was hooked on these big images, so I went hunting for another solution.

    I came across a nifty little product called the Panosaurus. Unlike the Gigapan, it's a manual pan head; but it is nicely made, quite sturdy and only $100. While I was waiting for that to arrive, I also discovered a fantastic stitching software called Autopano Giga, which puts the Gigapan software to shame.

    Still have a lot to learn about the best techniques (choosing focus points in a big pan, exposure considerations, etc) but it's a blast to be able to create these mega images so easily. Now that I've seen the possibilities, I will probably end up ordering the big Gigapan and hacking a shutter release cable myself so I can use it with the Sony.

    Here's a shot of the Minneapolis skyline, stitched from 34 shots. Shot with the 70-200mm zoom at 200mm. The full-size pan is 61,689 pixels by 10,568 pixels (652 megapixesls). Here's a link to a slightly reduced 30,000 pixel wide version in case you'd like to look closely.



    Below are some random 100% crops from the image.
    Last edited by MikeEvangelist; 5th June 2014 at 15:41.
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    Re: a7R, Gigapans, Big panoramas, stitching software & more fun

    I used to use Autopano a lot, I now use PTGUI for most of my work now but Autopano is a lot more user friendly.
    I am not a painter, nor an artist. Therefore I can see straight, and that may be my undoing. - Alfred Stieglitz

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    Re: a7R, Gigapans, Big panoramas, stitching software & more fun

    As for Panosaurus i already have RRS panorama ultimate package, so i will keep that over Panosaurus, but i am really looking at Gigapan Epic as an option for my A7r, i didn't want to buy it for my Canon DSLR, but for Sony it will be more tempting now.

    I have PTGui software already, i may give Autopano a try once and see how good it is compared to PTGui.
    Tareq

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    Re: a7R, Gigapans, Big panoramas, stitching software & more fun

    Mike - you and I followed similar paths, but even though I love the idea of automation, the Gigapan were just too large to tote around. That's when I came across the Panosaurus. Folds up very compact, not too heavy, and PLENTY sturdy. I've used it with my A7 + Nikon 70-200 f2.8 w/adapter. Using that setup in portrait mode is a lot of mass. The Panosaurus was up to the task.

    Do try PTGUI. Like others have mentioned, the interface is somewhat less than intuitive. But once you get the hang of it (some good online tutorials available), it's pretty straightforward. The perspective control and ghost removal is first rate.

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    Senior Member MikeEvangelist's Avatar
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    Re: a7R, Gigapans, Big panoramas, stitching software & more fun

    Quote Originally Posted by dandrewk View Post
    Do try PTGUI. Like others have mentioned, the interface is somewhat less than intuitive. But once you get the hang of it (some good online tutorials available), it's pretty straightforward. The perspective control and ghost removal is first rate.
    I tried PTGui as well, but liked Autopano Giga better, so bought it.

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    Senior Member MikeEvangelist's Avatar
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    Re: a7R, Gigapans, Big panoramas, stitching software & more fun

    Quote Originally Posted by Professional View Post
    As for Panosaurus i already have RRS panorama ultimate package, so i will keep that over Panosaurus, but i am really looking at Gigapan Epic as an option for my A7r, i didn't want to buy it for my Canon DSLR, but for Sony it will be more tempting now.
    I'm a big fan of RRS stuff, but their pan rig was more than I wanted to spend on a manual setup.

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    Re: a7R, Gigapans, Big panoramas, stitching software & more fun

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeEvangelist View Post
    I'm a big fan of RRS stuff, but their pan rig was more than I wanted to spend on a manual setup.
    Its ok, i never heard about that Panosaurus before, so RRS was definitely my first choice, if i knew about Panosaurus before i may go with it and not going with RRS, but i feel somehow lucky and happy to go with RRS because i love their products and the design is great and it served me very well, so i never thought a mili-second to buy their Pano tool.
    Tareq

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    Re: a7R, Gigapans, Big panoramas, stitching software & more fun

    I have the Epic 100, but like you I found that it is not ideal for the A7R, but it works well with the A6000. I'm now using the Rhinocam with my A7R + MF lenses and it is working well. I'm shooting primarily 8 shots per scene for stitching with AutoPano Pro3 which is excellent. I can just dump a folder full of images into AutoPano Pro3 and it will sort out the panos and do the stitching for several panos at once without intervention. I'm doing this not for mega panos, but rather for moderately large files with gobs of fine detail for making large landscape prints. My final print files are usual about 150 MP. Waiting now for the Cambo Actus to ship which will also give me more lens options and the bigger plus of tilt/shift capability for the A7R with some excellent glass out front.
    Carl
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    Re: a7R, Gigapans, Big panoramas, stitching software & more fun

    I have the Acratech pan head. Very light, strong. Use a rail to adjust for paralex. I have been very happy with that, but I am looking to up the game. I am using a cheap Ebay adapter to mount my A7r to a Sinar P. I will use the geared movements on the Sinar to stitch using large format lenses. I need a mod from S.K. Grimes. Then I will be in business. The classic way to stitch was to use rear movements on a view camera and not move the lens. Zero stitching issues except for movement of the subject. I expect to be able to make gigapixel images this way.
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    Senior Member MikeEvangelist's Avatar
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    Re: a7R, Gigapans, Big panoramas, stitching software & more fun

    Took the plunge and bought the Gigapan Epic Pro. Fabricated a release cable so it could trigger the a7R and added the Really Right Stuff replacement slider rails.

    Fabulous, fun tool.

    This 998 megapixel shot is the James J. Hill Reference Library in St Paul, Minnesota.

    a7R with Zeiss 85mm f1.4 ZE @ f10. 40 shots, stitched with Autopano Giga software.



    Larger version here - https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5520/...bd55519f_o.jpg
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    Re: a7R, Gigapans, Big panoramas, stitching software & more fun

    Quote Originally Posted by Thomas Fallon View Post
    I have the Acratech pan head. Very light, strong. Use a rail to adjust for paralex. I have been very happy with that, but I am looking to up the game. I am using a cheap Ebay adapter to mount my A7r to a Sinar P. I will use the geared movements on the Sinar to stitch using large format lenses. I need a mod from S.K. Grimes. Then I will be in business. The classic way to stitch was to use rear movements on a view camera and not move the lens. Zero stitching issues except for movement of the subject. I expect to be able to make gigapixel images this way.
    I'm doing exactly the same with my Oly E-M5 on a P2 rear standard from SINAR (occasionally also mounting my FS modified Panny G1 with IR filters)
    Works a charm and very inexpensive ... if you already have a SINAR

    Portability = 0 however ...

    C U
    Rafael
    E-M1/GH2/G1 Full Spectrum & lots of lenses
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/f6cvalk...th/9226689839/
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    Re: a7R, Gigapans, Big panoramas, stitching software & more fun

    @ Mike. Have you done anything with wide lenses? I am still in the experimental stages on spherical stitching with my Acratech head and waiting on an adapter mod for the 4x5 - stitching by moving the back. My worry is that the spherical stitching is weak with wide angles and that the lf lenses on the big camera are not the equal of the Zeiss lenses on the Sony directly. Can anyone confirm or refute either?

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    Senior Member MikeEvangelist's Avatar
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    Re: a7R, Gigapans, Big panoramas, stitching software & more fun

    Quote Originally Posted by Thomas Fallon View Post
    @ Mike. Have you done anything with wide lenses?
    I've just used telephotos (primarily Zeiss 85mm & Leica 135mm) since I'm after maximum quality/high shot density.

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    Re: a7R, Gigapans, Big panoramas, stitching software & more fun

    Another one of my favorite local libraries, the St Anthony Park branch library in St Paul, Minnesota. It's one of the classic Carnegie libraries.

    Sony a7R with Zeiss 85mm 1.4 ZE @ f16 - 20-shots stitched together.



    10,000 pixel-wide version here - https://farm4.staticflickr.com/3848/...3d6e319a_o.jpg

    And finally, the gear -
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    Re: a7R, Gigapans, Big panoramas, stitching software & more fun

    Hi Mike

    I am so glad you have posted this thread.... great photos!!
    Are you able to share how you went about fabricating a release cable?
    I am completely new to the world of Gigapan - any tips would be greatly appreciated.
    I am using a Sony A7 and A7r. From what I have seen, the Epic Pro is what I think I would need to purchase. Is there anything else I would need to buy? Software seems to be provided, however it seems you prefer to use Autopano?

    Appreciate and help/tips you can provide

    Regards
    Dan
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    Senior Member MikeEvangelist's Avatar
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    Re: a7R, Gigapans, Big panoramas, stitching software & more fun

    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Brisbane Australia View Post
    Are you able to share how you went about fabricating a release cable?
    I am completely new to the world of Gigapan - any tips would be greatly appreciated....
    From what I have seen, the Epic Pro is what I think I would need to purchase. Is there anything else I would need to buy? Software seems to be provided, however it seems you prefer to use Autopano?
    Dan,

    To make a compatible release cable, you basically have to cannibalize one of the several cables which come with the Epic Pro, and splice it to one that fits the remote connector of the A7 - such as: remote shutter cord for A7

    That cord has only three wires inside. When you cut off the end with the mini plug, you should be able to determine which color is which by using this guide:

    common/ground -> outer ring
    focussing -> middle ring
    release shutter -> tip

    The Epic Pro cord is a little trickier. Whichever one you choose to sacrifice, you'll have to find of the configuration of its pins to match up to the other cord. For example, if you decide to use one of the Nikon-compatible cords, you'd search for a pinout diagram for that type of Nikon remote connector, and that will allow you to figure out which wires in the Epic cable you need to use.

    Once you've determined which wires in each half of the cable correspond, you just splice them together and away you go.

    You definitely want the Epic Pro, and not the smaller models. It's much sturdier and can handle the A7 with just about any lens. (I usually use an 85mm or 135mm for pans.)

    The software which comes with the pan head is basic, but does the job. No need to spend the money on Autopano until you've at least tried the bundled stuff.

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    Re: a7R, Gigapans, Big panoramas, stitching software & more fun

    any ways of stitching raw files together without converting first... much easier to have it stitch first to have the overall picture available, then do all the adjustment to colours and recovery.... but i will probably need a 200 cores i9 processor with 1TB ram....
    Keep It Simple.
    XQ2 / A7r / 15mm / 25mm / 28-35-50mm
    EOS M3 / 18-35mm

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    Re: a7R, Gigapans, Big panoramas, stitching software & more fun

    Quote Originally Posted by UHDR View Post
    any ways of stitching raw files together without converting first...
    The AutoPano Giga software can accept raw source files, but it still needs to process each one individually before stitching. The better approach is to use its Lightroom plug-in. You do your adjustments in LR as usual, then select the group and export them to 48-bit TIFF images which are automatically passed to the stitching program. After stitching you can save the resulting pan as a 48-bit image, preserving most of your ability to tweak it later. (be warned however, these files can get monstrous; I have some that are 15GBs!)

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    Re: a7R, Gigapans, Big panoramas, stitching software & more fun

    Got away with one here. i was on a 10 foot ladder so it was handheld with my 85mm ZA lens from about 300 yards away but I shot 4 shots going left to right and it lined up perfectly. Guess Im pretty steady.

    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

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    Re: a7R, Gigapans, Big panoramas, stitching software & more fun

    Quote Originally Posted by Guy Mancuso View Post
    it lined up perfectly. Guess Im pretty steady.
    Nice one!

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    Re: a7R, Gigapans, Big panoramas, stitching software & more fun

    Thanks Mike
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

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    Re: a7R, Gigapans, Big panoramas, stitching software & more fun

    No stitch but the gear is ready.

    Happy Halloween!



    Sony A7r, Rokinon 8mm f/2.8 (hood shaved), ISO3200, f/5.6, 1/13s

    My thanks to John here for the selling this gem.
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    Re: a7R, Gigapans, Big panoramas, stitching software & more fun

    Nice shot
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

    www.guymancusophotography.com
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    Re: a7R, Gigapans, Big panoramas, stitching software & more fun

    Something different this year instead of candy. My wife decided to buy these really cool glow sticks that light light up all different colors. Now either they will love them or think we are nuts. Lol
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

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    Re: a7R, Gigapans, Big panoramas, stitching software & more fun

    Mike,

    I have been searching for good information on using a Gigapan with a Sony a7R, and you seem to be the only person I can find with solid information on cabling the two together. So, thank you for posting this. I have rented a Gigapan EP in the past, but now I'm looking at purchasing one for a rather large job that is coming up. Before I take the plunge, I am wonder if I can inconvenience you with some questions.

    -Now that you have had the Gigapan EP for a while, are you still happy with how it is working for you? Do you still think that it is the best affordable solution for shooting large stitched panos?

    -I noticed that you have replaced the Gigapan rail with one from Really Right Stuff. Can you elaborate on how you did this? Is it a simple process to replace the original rail. I have the Really Right Stuff hardware that I have used for manual panos, so it would be great if I could easily replace the Gigapan rail with what I already own and create a more stable platform for my camera.

    -Since you wrote the explanation on how to create a Sony cable, have you heard of anyone who is actually making and selling them? I have had little luck finding one online.

    Any feedback that you can provide is greatly appreciated.

    Thanks very much,

    Phil Nelson

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeEvangelist View Post
    Took the plunge and bought the Gigapan Epic Pro. Fabricated a release cable so it could trigger the a7R and added the Really Right Stuff replacement slider rails.

    Fabulous, fun tool.

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    Senior Member MikeEvangelist's Avatar
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    Re: a7R, Gigapans, Big panoramas, stitching software & more fun

    Quote Originally Posted by pnelson3 View Post
    Now that you have had the Gigapan EP for a while, are you still happy with how it is working for you? Do you still think that it is the best affordable solution for shooting large stitched panos?
    Yes, still happy with the gear. If you can find one to buy, I'm sure you'll like it.

    The Gigapan company seems to have folded, and the products have been picked up by this place - Omega Brandess. Not sure if they're going to keep it going, or just sell out existing stock.

    I noticed that you have replaced the Gigapan rail with one from Really Right Stuff. Can you elaborate on how you did this?
    Yes, it's easy, RRS offers a kit - GigaPan Clamp Bar. A big improvement in solidity.

    Since you wrote the explanation on how to create a Sony cable, have you heard of anyone who is actually making and selling them?
    No, haven't seen anyone offering that sort of thing. Hopefully if the new company continues the products, they'll decide to make a Sony cable for it, eventually.
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    Re: a7R, Gigapans, Big panoramas, stitching software & more fun

    Anything you don't like about it?
    With best regards, K-H.

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    Re: a7R, Gigapans, Big panoramas, stitching software & more fun

    Quote Originally Posted by k-hawinkler View Post
    Anything you don't like about it?
    The control interface is a little clunky, but it gets the job done. Mechanically, it's excellent.
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    Re: a7R, Gigapans, Big panoramas, stitching software & more fun

    Mike

    How have you got on with the Gigapan batteries? I've had an Epic Pro for a few years but the biggest problem is that I seldom use it and I ended up with three batteries that basically discharged and bit the dust.

    I'll check out the Omega Brandes site to see if they have any batteries. I was tempted to abandon the battery route and just go with an external power source instead. As you know, those big panos can use up a lot of juice.

    Highly recommend the RRS rail too. A world of difference to the std mount. I also use the RRS dovetail baseplate for the BH-55 on the base too so that it's easy to mount on an Arca compatible head.
    Last edited by GrahamWelland; 6th April 2015 at 23:57.
    Remember: adventure before dementia!

    As Oscar Wilde said, "my tastes are simple, I only like the best"
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    Re: a7R, Gigapans, Big panoramas, stitching software & more fun

    Quote Originally Posted by GrahamWelland View Post
    How have you got on with the Gigapan batteries?
    So far my two batteries are holding up. But down the road it could get a little complicated if the product is orphaned.

    I also use the RRS dovetail baseplate for the BH-55 on the base too so that it's easy to mount on an Arca compatible head.
    Me too. It's excellent. Round-Dovetail-Plate.html

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    Re: a7R, Gigapans, Big panoramas, stitching software & more fun

    Batteries are a real problem with the Epic Pro 100 that I have. It uses 6 AA batteries and they just don't have enough power to do more than one pano. I carry 3 sets on a multi pano shoot and usually use them all. If there is an alternative power supply available I would appreciate hearing about it.
    Carl
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    Senior Member MikeEvangelist's Avatar
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    Re: a7R, Gigapans, Big panoramas, stitching software & more fun

    Another thought on the Epic Pro batteries - although the outer plastic case for the battery pack is sealed shut, I managed to crack open a dead one to see what it's made of. The cells are standard C-size, so it shouldn't be too hard to re-cell once the need arises.

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    Senior Member MikeEvangelist's Avatar
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    Re: a7R, Gigapans, Big panoramas, stitching software & more fun

    Quote Originally Posted by scho View Post
    Batteries are a real problem with the Epic Pro 100 that I have. It uses 6 AA batteries and they just don't have enough power to do more than one pano.
    Wow, that's inconvenient. The special battery pack for the Epic Pro has c-size cells, so runs somewhat longer than that. My pans are typically under 40-50 shots, so I'm certainly not stressing the system. (and, I never leave home without at least two fully charged packs.)

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    Re: a7R, Gigapans, Big panoramas, stitching software & more fun

    Mike,

    Thanks for the quick reply. I did not realize that it was going to be difficult, maybe impossible, to purchase a Gigapan Epic Pro. I ran down the list of Gigapan's North American retailers from their website, checking for availability, and not one of them has a unit available. I checked Omega Brandess as well and did not get a strong indication that this product is going to be continued.

    I proceeded from there to search for other motorized systems and the only reasonably priced alternative I could find is the Kolor Panogear. From what I read at Kolor's web site and elsewhere, I am not confident that this is a strong alternative to the Gigapan. Other than renting a unit, I believe my only other course of action is with a manual solution like the Nodal Ninja.

    If you, or anyone reading this, has knowledge of where to purchase a Gigapan Epic Pro, experience with the Panogear or Nodal Ninja, or thoughts on other reliable solutions, I would love to hear from you.

    Thanks much,

    Phil

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeEvangelist View Post
    Yes, still happy with the gear. If you can find one to buy, I'm sure you'll like it.

    The Gigapan company seems to have folded, and the products have been picked up by this place - Omega Brandess. Not sure if they're going to keep it going, or just sell out existing stock.



    Yes, it's easy, RRS offers a kit - GigaPan Clamp Bar. A big improvement in solidity.



    No, haven't seen anyone offering that sort of thing. Hopefully if the new company continues the products, they'll decide to make a Sony cable for it, eventually.

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    Senior Member MikeEvangelist's Avatar
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    Re: a7R, Gigapans, Big panoramas, stitching software & more fun

    I haven't used the Panogear, but looking over the specs, etc, it seems like it might be a viable option. Kolor is a good company, and their Autopano Giga software is extremely capable (it's what I use to stitch my pans.)

    That said, I'd probably still go for the Gigapan if you can find one.

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    Re: a7R, Gigapans, Big panoramas, stitching software & more fun

    Yeah, thanks. I might have to start looking outside North America. From what I have read of the Panogear, I would much prefer the Gigapan.

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeEvangelist View Post
    I haven't used the Panogear, but looking over the specs, etc, it seems like it might be a viable option. Kolor is a good company, and their Autopano Giga software is extremely capable (it's what I use to stitch my pans.)

    That said, I'd probably still go for the Gigapan if you can find one.

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    Senior Member MikeEvangelist's Avatar
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    Re: a7R, Gigapans, Big panoramas, stitching software & more fun

    They show up occasionally on eBay, but that takes some patience.

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    Re: a7R, Gigapans, Big panoramas, stitching software & more fun

    Mike - I love your posts, would you mind if we used the pic of your Epic Pro in front of the library on the Gigapan Facebook page?

    PNelson - Epic Pro's are back in stock, you can get them from OmegaBrandess Directly or B & H Photo to name a few. Send me a message if you need more information.

    OmegaBrandess will in keep creating the products and continue to develop and evolve the product lineup as well. The Epic line of product and the accessories will continue to be available for a very long time.

    I love all this discussion and passion for the products!

    Jason Larson
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    Senior Member MikeEvangelist's Avatar
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    Re: a7R, Gigapans, Big panoramas, stitching software & more fun

    Quote Originally Posted by GigapanJ View Post
    Mike - I love your posts, would you mind if we used the pic of your Epic Pro in front of the library on the Gigapan Facebook page?
    Feel free. Larger version here - https://www.flickr.com/photos/mikeev...t/17221468435/
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    Re: a7R, Gigapans, Big panoramas, stitching software & more fun

    (I shared this in the 'fun' thread earlier, but thought it should be in the pano thread as well.)

    Shooting big panoramas handheld/freeform used to cause big stitching problems (at least for me), but the Autopano Giga software seems to handle nearly anything I throw at it.

    For example, I shot this manually with the Tamron 150-600mm @ 300mm using a monopod and just 'eyeballing' a 4 x 24 matrix of shots. Autopano ended up using 68 of the shots for this result -



    Click here for a 15,000 pixel version.
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    Re: a7R, Gigapans, Big panoramas, stitching software & more fun

    Autopano Giga is indeed the top software for handheld pano. However, with carefully adjusted, non-parallax Pano, PTGui Pro yields better results, since Autopano Giga surprisingly produces more error with these.

    Here is non-parallax 38-pict pano using a 55mm to produce a rectilinear 8mm FOV:

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    Re: a7R, Gigapans, Big panoramas, stitching software & more fun

    ^^ I presume that "non-parallax" pano means one shot without consideration for rotation around the parallax point of the lens.

    I shoot handheld panos quite often, will have to explore the software you've mentioned. I have found that Lightroom stitching does a reasonable job on some images but misses on the horizon line often.

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    Re: a7R, Gigapans, Big panoramas, stitching software & more fun

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeEvangelist View Post
    For example, I shot this manually with the Tamron 150-600mm @ 300mm using a monopod and just 'eyeballing' a 4 x 24 matrix of shots. Autopano ended up using 68 of the shots for this result -
    Mike,
    How did you do the rows? Always start from the left or right or one from left next from right etc?

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    Re: a7R, Gigapans, Big panoramas, stitching software & more fun

    Quote Originally Posted by dmward View Post
    How did you do the rows? Always start from the left or right or one from left next from right etc?
    I usually do a zig-zag (left to right, right to left, left to right, and so on). But Autopano Giga can sort them out even if they are in random sequence (usually).

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    Re: a7R, Gigapans, Big panoramas, stitching software & more fun

    For single row panos, I never need a pano/tilt head as long as I don't use a long (~150+mm) lens. I just carefully place my front foot and slowly pan around.

    For anything else, the Panosaurus comes out.

    I haven't updated this gallery in awhile, but here are some of my shots, mostly hand held and all using PTGui Pro:

    https://dandrewk.smugmug.com/Panoramas/i-C9ZH2GW

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    Re: a7R, Gigapans, Big panoramas, stitching software & more fun

    Quote Originally Posted by dmward View Post
    ^^ I presume that "non-parallax" pano means one shot without consideration for rotation around the parallax point of the lens.

    I shoot handheld panos quite often, will have to explore the software you've mentioned. I have found that Lightroom stitching does a reasonable job on some images but misses on the horizon line often.
    It's actually the non-parallax point . With that shot, if you don't have a pano head and the lens is adjusted to the non-parallax point, you wouldn't be able to get the foreground right(around the MFD of my 55, 0.6m).

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