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04-17-2010, 12:44 PM   #1
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K20D and panoramas

Stupid question...can I do panoramas with my K20D?

04-17-2010, 01:20 PM   #2
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Yes. Just download Microsoft ICE, shout your pictures, and assemble them using the aforementioned software. Have fun!
04-17-2010, 01:38 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by Naturenut Quote
Stupid question...can I do panoramas with my K20D?
With my first attempts I made 3 panos of my Father's farm for his walls. Measuring 24"x60" printed and stuck on foam core backing, they came out as perfect as I could have dreamed. I DID have to download and try a number of stitching packages to handle my mistakes in exposure properly. So if ICE cannot do what you need, search for other free stitchers and try them too.

Think about the size of the output you want so you know if you are shooting portrait or landscape shots to stitch. A panning head on a tripod is pretty much a requirement and make sure you test the panning and level it otherwise you will end up cropping a lot off to make a rectangular output.

I had fun with my K20D, your turn now. Enjoy!
04-17-2010, 03:24 PM - 1 Like   #4
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I've been shooting panos for awhile, with the K20D and older P&S's, handheld and tripodded, with and without a pan head. I've only tried a little stitchware -- I've attempted to install ICE but without success so far, although not since my latest system update. Maybe I'll have another go at it.

I'll mention software first, because that somewhat drives the shooting process. My first stitchware was PhotoStitch, free with a Canon printer. It stitches horizontal, vertical, or in a matrix, but it demands rather careful alignment and positioning and overlay of images. And it can produce curious effects when you tell it to do a 360 degree stitch, especially if you've only fed it two headshots! If you want a pano or matrix that LOOKS stitched, PhotoStitch is great. It's also fast, even with big JPG's.

What I use predominantly now is AutoStitch, available for free online and updated at times. AutoStitch is VERY flexible re: alignment, positioning, overlay. Shoot a scene in both landscape (horizontal) and portrait (vertical) modes, at angles, whatever -- AS pulls them all together fairly seamlessly. Point AS to a directory full of images, and it stitches together everything it can, automagically. AS is fairly good at smoothing over parallax errors, exposure differences, etc. It will even blend mixtures of color and B&W shots. AS has a rather forbidding looking page of Edit-->Options, but the only things you need to touch are JPEG Quality and Scale -- set both to 100, or whatever seems right.

AutoStitch is a quality act, but alas, TANSTAAFL -- There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch. It takes many CPU cycles to do things right. Stitching BIG panos from BIG images with LOTS of overlap can take a LONG time, depending on your computer. If you're going for sheer size, set the Scale to 10% and do a test run of any stitchup, to see if it'll produce what you want. Figure out just how big a pano you want, then set the Scale accordingly. For big stuff, run it on an extra computer that you won't need for anything else anytime soon. If I feed AS more than four 14.6mpx images, or twenty 5mpx files, at 100% Scale, I figure I have time for a meal or two, at least on my POS laptop. Your mileage may vary.

And be sure to feed it images BEFORE any PP/shooping, unless you want a Frankenpicture effect. But that's true of any stitchware.

OK, now to the shooting technique. Depending on the warez, your source shots should have 10-20% overlap, maybe more. PhotoStitch does better with more; AutoStitch does better with less; other warez may have their own twitches. Some warez will demand careful alignment etc, others won't. Especially if your shots include nearby detail with lines, parallax error can be bothersome, in which case you need to search on PANO HEAD and NODAL POINT to learn how to minimize the problem.

Shoot about 15-25% or more BEYOND the area you want in your final pano, so you have margin for cropping and perspective correction. Some warez with some settings produce rectilinear output, others are more rounded or even fisheyed. PhotoStitch allows such adjustments; AutoStitch doesn't; other warez... I dunno. Some warez produce output with jagged or lumpy edges; others crop, or give you the option to crop. That's why you need generous margins when you shoot.

For a simple pano, hold or position the camera vertically (portrait mode) and shoot horizontal side-by-side shots with sufficient overlap for your stitchware. Shooting horizontal in landscape mode makes for LONG, THIN panos. You can also do vertical panos of buildings, trees, someone close, etc. And some warez (including both I've mentioned) let you assemble panos from a matrix of shots. PhotoStitch insists that they all line up. AutoStitch has no problem with matrices, but gets weird with vertical panos; you might have to rotate everything sideways to get it all stitched together, then rotate everything back when you're done.

Camera details: Use a fairly 'normal' focal length at first; start around 24-35mm. With AutoStitch you can often (but not always) leave auto-metering on; some warez demand that all the shots have the same exposure, or you get unpleasant light-dark patches. It's usually best to use a narrow aperture for deep DOF. Some folks build 360-panos from fisheye or near-fisheye shots. Give it a try. And sometimes I'll take a video, extract every Nth frame, and let AutoStitch piece them together. Uh oh, here comes the Frankenpicture!

OK, there's my Incomplete Guide To Shooting and Stitching Panos. All omissions are my own damn fault. Have fun.

04-20-2010, 07:53 AM   #5
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Excellent. Thanks so much for the info. guys! I just loving being able to come here and get tips from actual Pentax users!
04-28-2010, 11:35 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by RioRico Quote

What I use predominantly now is AutoStitch, available for free online and updated at times. AutoStitch is VERY flexible re: alignment, positioning, overlay. Shoot a scene in both landscape (horizontal) and portrait (vertical) modes, at angles, whatever -- AS pulls them all together fairly seamlessly.
OK, there's my Incomplete Guide To Shooting and Stitching Panos. All omissions are my own damn fault. Have fun.
What a great post! I've been hankering to try panoramas and have just upgraded to a new computer with 12 GB of RAM and an obscene amount of hard drive space, etc, etc.

So I'll take your advice and give it a whirl. Thanks again.
04-29-2010, 01:29 AM   #7
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Also, don't discard Free and Open software! I use Hugin to stitch and blend upwards of 10 shots. Hugin uses a variety of plugins amongst which Enblend does an incredible job of equalizing exposure differences, with almost no interference from the user.

You can find Hugin here: Hugin - Panorama photo stitcher

A few examples(all are between 5 and 10 shots):
The Washington Monument:


A few winter scenes from my home town:




04-29-2010, 02:50 AM   #8
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Use Hugin! http://hugin.sourceforge.net/
It is very powerful and easy to use. Also it produces very well stiched panoramas.

04-29-2010, 03:40 PM   #9
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My advice would be: try not to use too wide a focal length (to minimise distortion), overlap by 1/3 to 1/2 in each frame, shoot more towards the edges than you think you need to at the time so you have room to move with the final file, and try the photomerge in photoshop, it seems effective and easy for first time users. Watch out for overlaps like people walking from one spot to another while you shoot.

Obviously some sort of tripod swivel head is preferable but hand-held can be fine too.

Last edited by CWyatt; 04-29-2010 at 03:47 PM.
04-29-2010, 04:04 PM   #10
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Oh I forgot one other thing I read which I think is a good idea - for a horizontal format pano, try shooting the frames vertically. Gives you good coverage.
04-30-2010, 06:47 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by newmikey Quote

A few winter scenes from my home town:

Thanks I downloaded it. AND you winter scenes are stunning!

QuoteOriginally posted by CWyatt Quote
Oh I forgot one other thing I read which I think is a good idea - for a horizontal format pano, try shooting the frames vertically. Gives you good coverage.
What a GREAT tip. I never would have thought of that. Can't wait to try it.
04-30-2010, 08:30 AM   #12
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I thought I might share a few things I've learned about how to take the individual photos that will be merged into a panorama. I figure if you can start with better source images, you lessen the burden on the software to make them look good together. Things like distortion, vignetting, and exposure differences can make it tougher to blend images together properly. The problem with vignetting, for example, is that if it's not corrected, it can make dark stripes appear at the stitched areas all across your image. Mismatched exposures can also give a terrible light-dark-light-dark pattern across the image.

So, once you've figured out the focal length you want to use, make sure you're using a lens that doesn't exhibit too much distortion or vignetting at that focal length. For example, the 18mm end of the DA 18-250mm would be a particularly bad choice, because of the major barrel distortion and vignetting at that length. Sure, you can correct these things in your source images to a degree, but thatmeans more processing which could affect image quality. Sufficient overlapping can mitigate this too, but it's still better to avoid these lens effects as much as possible. Shooting with the kit lens at 35mm and at f/8 basically makes it distortion- and vignetting-free. Plus the lens's resolution at that point is excellent.

Also, you can avoid exposure mismatches by picking the exposure for the scene and locking it in for every picture. You can do this with the AE-L button or by shooting in M mode. The problem with letting the camera set an automatic exposure is that two adjacent pictures may have very different auto-exposures, and there will be a discontinuity between them. In such a case, two adjacent pieces of sky which should be exposed equally have a sudden jump from dark to light. Even if this is blended out by the software, it can still create a light-dark undulation that looks unnatural. If the sky is truly brighter "over there", let it be brighter. When you take a single-frame photo of something, it's got one exposure for the whole scene. There's no reason that a panorama shouldn't have the same quality.

Depending on your goals, you may base that exposure on the brightest part of the scene to prevent blowing highlights. Or you may base it on the subject of interest in the scene (like a particular building) and let the sunny side of the of the scene get blown out. The proper exposure depends on your objectives for the photo...but it's important to pick one and use it for all frames.

If you follow those guidelines, then you've got a much greater chance of being pleased with the stitching results. The less correction the software has to do, the better.
04-30-2010, 11:28 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by aerodave Quote
I thought I might share a few things I've learned about how to take the individual photos that will be merged into a panorama. I figure if you can start with better source images, you lessen the burden on the software to make them look good together. Things like distortion, vignetting, and exposure differences can make it tougher to blend images together properly. The problem with vignetting, for example, is that if it's not corrected, it can make dark stripes appear at the stitched areas all across your image. Mismatched exposures can also give a terrible light-dark-light-dark pattern across the image.

So, once you've figured out the focal length you want to use, make sure you're using a lens that doesn't exhibit too much distortion or vignetting at that focal length. For example, the 18mm end of the DA 18-250mm would be a particularly bad choice, because of the major barrel distortion and vignetting at that length. Sure, you can correct these things in your source images to a degree, but thatmeans more processing which could affect image quality. Sufficient overlapping can mitigate this too, but it's still better to avoid these lens effects as much as possible. Shooting with the kit lens at 35mm and at f/8 basically makes it distortion- and vignetting-free. Plus the lens's resolution at that point is excellent.

Also, you can avoid exposure mismatches by picking the exposure for the scene and locking it in for every picture. You can do this with the AE-L button or by shooting in M mode. The problem with letting the camera set an automatic exposure is that two adjacent pictures may have very different auto-exposures, and there will be a discontinuity between them. In such a case, two adjacent pieces of sky which should be exposed equally have a sudden jump from dark to light. Even if this is blended out by the software, it can still create a light-dark undulation that looks unnatural. If the sky is truly brighter "over there", let it be brighter. When you take a single-frame photo of something, it's got one exposure for the whole scene. There's no reason that a panorama shouldn't have the same quality.

Depending on your goals, you may base that exposure on the brightest part of the scene to prevent blowing highlights. Or you may base it on the subject of interest in the scene (like a particular building) and let the sunny side of the of the scene get blown out. The proper exposure depends on your objectives for the photo...but it's important to pick one and use it for all frames.

If you follow those guidelines, then you've got a much greater chance of being pleased with the stitching results. The less correction the software has to do, the better.
AeorDave, you are a jewel. I think you just saved me a lot of mishaps and fumbling around.

Is there such a thing as close-up panoramas? Still-life close, not bug close. For example fitting in a long span of moss, lichens, mushrooms, etc.
05-01-2010, 06:29 AM   #14
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You might also want to look into a panoramic tripod head

The Panosaurus Panoramic Tripod Head Home Page
05-01-2010, 07:15 AM   #15
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not sure if it was mentioned in all the great advice yet, but similar to M exposure, you should have a set WB as well. When WB is set to auto, minute changes between shots mean color discontinuities as well.
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