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Panorama lenses

Ilona Lumpkin , Aug 24, 2006; 05:04 p.m.

My husband and I bought a Nikon N55 a couple of years ago. We made photography something like a hobby, it excited him ore then it did me. We are not so good with all the technical suff, and still don't remember all the functions of the camera by heart. But his new thing is wanting to take paorama pictures. Are there lenses out there for this camera that take panorama pictures? Would shure appreciate if someone could come up with an answer. Thanks before hand!

Responses

Michael Axel , Aug 24, 2006; 05:23 p.m.

Panorama is really just the cropping or format of the image area. You can do panorama now by cropping your images (a ration of 16:9 is often used, I think). So what else makes it panoramic? Probably very wide lenses, which Nikon has lots of. The 20mm is very popular, and there are other good ones. I have a 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5 Nikon that covers full frame and is fairly inexpensive, especially with the Nikon rebate program.

Doug Grosjean , Aug 24, 2006; 06:24 p.m.

Actually, most people into panoramic photography feel that a true pano image is one that is very wide angle; not just a cropped image.

Cropping the top and bottom off the image doesn't widen the actual field of view, it just lobs off the top and bottom of the neg.

Probably the cheapest / easiest way is to use the camera and lens you've got. Mount it to a tripod so that the camera can rotate about its nodal point. If nodal point is beyond you, Google on the term - there's tons of stuff out there on the subject.

Take your series of shots, rotating the camera on the tripod, and allowing lots of overlap on the images, and using the same exposure and focus settings for each image.

Scan them all at once, again to limit exposure differences between the frames.

Then Photomerge them together in Photoshop.

Disclaimer: I apply the above techniques to mulitple images using a Widelux, which is a special pano camera with a rotating lens. But even so, the directions above will work - it's just that when I use the techniques to splice multiple Widelux photos, I get 200 degree panoramics. Take a look at:

(link)

Helen Bach , Aug 24, 2006; 10:56 p.m.

Ilona,

You can begin by just taking a series of pictures with whatever equipment you have now, then making a 'joiner' out of the prints or, if you want to have less fun you could do it digitally, by stitching the images together in Photoshop or any other software that does image stitching. If you don't have a tripod, try to keep the camera horizontal, and get plenty of overlap between frames. As already mentioned by Doug, use the camera in manual exposure and focus, and keep the setting the same.

Doug mentioned this business about rotating the camera about the 'nodal point'. The idea of that is so that the camera takes each part of the panorama from from the same place - the place where the camera 'sees from'. Despite popular myth, it isn't one of the 'nodal points' of the lens, the camera sees the outside world from the 'entrance pupil' of the lens. If the camera was a tiny eye, it would be where the lens' entrance pupil is.

It is easy to find the entrance pupil: just look into the front of the lens and note where the iris (aperture) appears to be. You might need to take the lens off the camera and stop it down to see where it is, if you aren't used to recognising it. The thing is that you want to know where it appears to be when you look into the lens, not where it actually is.

Now the challenge is to find a way of rotating the camera about the entrance pupil. If you get into this, you could buy or make a suitable adapter for a tripod head, but why not try it the simple way first? All that happens if you get the point of rotation wrong is that each picture seems to have been taken from a slightly different point in space, and you won't get a perfect match between pictures.

I hope that that is clear enough. Have fun!

Best, Helen

Leon Chen , Aug 25, 2006; 03:39 a.m.

The key to Panorama photography is the Tripod and head, and a distortion-free lense, plus great software after-processing.

As for the lense, don't use a lense (at certain focal length) such as super-wide angle because it can seriously distort the result.

Jan Van Laethem , Aug 25, 2006; 11:22 a.m.

Ilona,

True panoramic equipment (Widelux, Noblex etc.) is rare and quite expensive. The Noblex I own will produce images of approximately 66x24mm and photographs in a 127 degree angle.

If you want to try it with your Nikon, I agree that the best way to do this is to take loads of overlapping pictures and stitch them together on a software program. Some programs do this automatically, others will require some manual work, but it isn't difficult. Do not leave the camera on program mode, but work in full manual mode with a fixed shutter speed and aperture. Otherwise you will end up with slightly lighter and darker pictures, which can be a hassle to correct, especially with a blue sky.

Excellent advice about the nodal point in the previous posts. Apart from this, you have to make sure that your camera is completely level with the horizon. Buy a cheap bubble level and slot that into the flash hot shoe on top of the camera. Pan the camera around on the tripod from left to right and check that the bubble level is absolutely horizontal for all the pictures you are going to take. A slanting horizon, especially with water in the background, looks weird in a normal photograph, but it looks horrible in a panoramic one.

Once your setup is done, take the pictures. It's better to have too many pictures than not enough. I agree about the lens choice, avoid 20 or 24mm lenses, as they will distort too much. Start with 35mm or even 50mm.

Once you have all your images aligned in the software program, you will most certainly have to shave a little bit off the top and bottom of the final image to get it absolutely straight. You can try to shoot all your pictures in the upright portrait format. You will need to take more pictures, but it will be easier to adjust the final image, as you will have more room at the top and the bottom to correct for minor misalignments.

Have fun, once you get into panoramic it's very difficult to stop. You will also find that some scenes are very easy to do in panoramic format, and others are almost impossible, they just don't look right. Once you master the horizontal panoramic format, you can try out vertical panoramics.

Jan

Jan Van Laethem , Aug 26, 2006; 03:32 p.m.

Panorama 1

Shot taken with the Noblex, but stitching several photographs should give you the same result.

Jan Van Laethem , Aug 26, 2006; 03:33 p.m.

Panorama 2

Noblex

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