lens recommendation for panorama stitching?

Discussion in 'Canon EOS' started by kevin_b.|2, Jan 1, 2010.

  1. What is a good lens for stitching together panoramas? I thought I remember that telephotos work well? 35mm to short on a crop sensor?
  2. I used the long end of a 17-50 on a crop sensor -- vertical format
  3. Just keep plenty of overlap and avoid lenses/focal lengths that have a lot of barrel or pincushion distortion.
  4. Kevin,
    I should think that the 50mm f/2.5 macro would be excellent. Superlative image quality, no distortion, fantastic corner performance, and so on and so on.
  5. In general, the idea is to use a FL that will let you end up with an image width/height similar to that which you would have used if you couldn't stitch. Typically that is going to mean a normal to long FL. I do them with a wide range of lenses including both zooms and primes.
    What lenses do you have already?
  6. The lens that gives you the vertical field of view you want in one go so you don't need to do rows. Obviously that is often best achieved when you put your camera in the portrait orientation. Also your lenses that have the least distortion, the macro 50 is a great idea.
  7. I normally use a standard to short telephoto length. In crop factor DSLR that would be in the region of 35mm to 50mm. These lenses are normally reasonably free of the problems that occur with shorter focal length lenses.
    To show what happens when you stitch wide angle images together here is an example of three images taken with a full frame setting of 22mm equivalent to about 14mm on a crop factor camera. They have been stitched together using Canon Photostitch. You can see how the wide angle has forced the stitching program to distort the images so that they fit together. This happens to a much smaller extent with longer focal lengths which is why the longer lenses are preferred.
  8. ....and ...whoops...see below
  9. ...and now the stitched version showing the distortion
  10. SCL


    Rather than a particular lens, the critical issues are significant overlap, low distortion, manual exposure, and good stitching software.
  11. Surprisingly enough, some of my favorite panoramas have come from my Powershot Pro1 and the Canon stitching software. There's a reason for the red ring around the 28-200 (equivalent) on that camera.
    I did some recently with my 17-40L at 28mm that blew me away.
  12. I have;
    60mm 2.8 Macro Canon
    18-50 2.8 Sigma
    50mm 1.8 Canon
    70-200 2.8 IS
    90MM 2.8 Macro Tamron
  13. Stephen Lewis hit the nail on the head. Here's an example of poor and good stitching of three images done vertically. The photo on the left was stitched with an old version of Photostitch software. The photo on the right was done with stitching software that came with a Nikon Coolpix 600 P&S (I can't remember the name and haven't used it in a while). Look at the distortion of the lower part of the image on the left, especially the spires on the castle.
  14. Here's one of my first attempts, from the short end of the 17-50. As others have said tehnique seems to be a large part of it. BTW, love that shot Matt.
  15. Any medium ranged prime, 35m, 50mm, etc
    Its funny that you have a photo of the Disney castle b/c the other day I heard on T.V. that Cinderella's castle is the most photographed building in the world, and I thought, "that's funny b/c I have a photo of it, which would back up the statement, and now here you have a photo of it."
  16. I find that 50mm and longer on my full frame camera work very well. On a crop sensor camera, 35mm or longer. If you use a zoom, make sure to tape or otherwise lock the zoom so that it doesn't move between frames, and of course, set the camera to manual exposure and manual focus.
  17. Kevin, the lens I would choose from your selection would depend on the panorama I was trying to take. But as a general rule from your listed lenses I would personally pick the 50mm first then the 60mm for stitching. You would probably get a reasonable result from any of them but the Sigma zoom will tend to have higher distortions. The longer 70-200 zoom though a fine lens will probably be a bit on the long side even at its shotest setting. The same goes for the 90mm but it depends on the shot you are trying to take.
    Having placed your Sigma 18-50 down the list for panoramas it is a versatile lens and will give you reasonable results if you cannot use the longer lenses. Just try to keep the focal length as long as possible.
    All the above replies will make more sense if you go out and try a few panoramas with your lens selection and see how you get on.
    Good luck!
  18. Here is a six frame stitch (3x2) of the Cascades section of the Subway Hike at Zion National Park, during fall colors. Shot with a Canon 17-40L @ 24mm on an XSi, stitched in raw format 16 bit Photoshop CS4.
  19. which lens for panos? depends on how much real estate you are trying to gdt into your image. my lenses for panos range from the 12mm of a 12-24mm zoom, a 20mm, a 35mm, a 50mm, and a 70mm. i have a 28 shot, 2rows of 14 shots each, pano that covers a 120degree scene taken with the 70mm. i usually plan on a 120degree pano. however some of my panos are less than that. as far as distorsion is the finished pano; it depends on your software. i have yet to make a pano that is distorted in any way. long ago i foiund and still use PTGuiPro. this program works great. it has abilities that other proigrams do not and the image quakity is undistorted and first rate. see my next reply for pano howto.
    one area that panos can be used for and have a whole separate use is to make normal shots but with much more detail. if you shoot a scene and end up with a certain view, then determine what lens will give you the exact same scene but taken as a pano. there are 2 easy choices: shoot a 1x3 pano or a 2x4 pano. what this does is to increase the mps and resolving power. this means that you can take a 6mp dslr and shoot a 1x3 pano and the end reault is the same as a 14+mp dslr. or doing it at 2x4 gives a 24mp dslr. the method limiuts you to unmoving scenes, but for superdetailed landscapes it works well. and opens the door to very large prints.
    my normal method of shooting a pano is to shoot in portrait position with the widest lens that will cover the scene. i have many 1x3 panos all taken with the 12mm of the 12-24mm zoom. my thinking is why shoot a pano with a 100mm lens, since the end result will not cover much scene. the idea of a pano is to show the wide scene before you, if you use too high of a mm lens lens you arre rredsucing the great expanse that the pano is designed to show.
    below and attached to the next reply are two panos, the first below is a 3 shot(potrait mode) 120 degree pano taken with the 12mm of the 12-24mm zoom. software used is PTGuiPro.
    the "pano" attached to other reply is actually a fisheye shot then defished. the result is a 160degree or so pano, that was never taken that way.
  20. To do panoramas-
    for panoramas- -use tripod. you must keep it level with the horizon. if your tripod does not have a level builtin then buy one that slides into your flash hotshoe. again make a max effort to get the camera level.
    -for exposure. set the exposure by pressing halfway and noting the fstop and shutter speed. you are trying to find the brightest part of you panorama scene to be. once you have found the brightest check the fstop and shutter speed. put camera into manual metering mode and use those settings. do not change them for any part of the panorama.
    -lens selection. i shoot mine with a 20mm. note: SHOOT THE LENS VERTICALLY. this is the only way to get some vertical scene, otherwise the panorama will be shaped like a hotdog. Note- if the panorama is a vertical panorama then you shoot landscape. this is why i went to a 20mm. in vertical you are cutting your angle of view way down. my tripod has degrees engraved in the mount, i was shooting at only a 15 degree spread and in looking at the shots before stitching there wasn't that much overlap. i later shot panoramas with 35mm 50mm 70mm; the hot dog effect was more pronounced. the panorama itself did work. With higher mm lens you would have to go to double rows.
    -determine in advance the center point of the scene and try to go X number of shots on each side of it. for me with my setup a 120 degree scene is 7 shots; the center and 3 on each side. if i go with a 35mm lens then a 120degree scene will take 13 shots. no matter what lens you use realize that you are adding only 33% new scene with every shot, the rest is overlap for the right and left adjoining shots. the only exceptions are the end shots in the whole scene. it is possible to add another row above and/or below the first one. this would help the vertical look especially if you are using a 50mm or longer. for multiple rows are the same as 1 row, but you know have to overlap on the vertical as well as the horizontal. you must make sure that there are no gaps.
    - i stick my hand in front of the lens and shoot, then shoot the panorama, the 7 shots, then put hand in front of lens and shoot. later i know that everything between hands is the panorama.
    -i have used cs2 or the panorama factory software to make the panorama. for either couldn't be simpler simply select the shots and it does the work. this is where using a level pays off. the software is leveling the scene to make the long rectangle, but if the scene was not as level as possible in the first place the vertical becomes less and less(you end up with hotdog shape). so having the tripod and camera level is very important. also when mount and shooting vertically make sure the camera really is vertical, carefully check by looking threw the viewfinder. some tripod vertical adjustments actually go past true vertical, mine does even though it says 90 degrees.
    -be sure to use a cable release or the selftimer.
    -on focusing- what i do is to simply preset the 20mm lems at infinity, because of depth of field everything from 5.64ft to infinity is in focus at f11.0 distance 200ft. you can also use a hyperfocal focus setup. but thanks to the DOF table, just setting the lens at infinity is simpler. -i left WB alone, that is set at AWB; or you can use a preset setting like sunny or cloudy, but once set do not change it till panorama shots are done.
    -online depth of field calculator available here- http://www.dofmaster.com/dofjs.html
    -parallax error. It is usually not so much a problem outdoor shooting. This is because the distances are greater than inside. In any event if you shoot panoramas outside and at short distances OR any inside any building, you should be thinking of getting a panorama tripod head. This is to eliminate parallax error. I have the panosaurus pano head, cheap durable, and it works.
    -for panoramas, the software i use is either panorama factory orPTGui or cs2. the one that works best for me is PTGui. i have since gotton PTGuiPRO, expensive but worth it. has many features and abilities that the other software does not have, including the ability to process 360 and 720degree spherical panoramas, plus many projection types and it does raw and hdr panos.
    -on post shooting work. If jpeg DO NOT PP. just use as is. After the pano is made then pp as desired. If raw, does your panorama software do raws? Not all do. If yes raw batch convert only. Do not adjust any 1 shot. All shots must be the same before the pano is made, then do any pp you wish but on the whole pano.
    If any pp work is done to the pano before stitching then there will be a difference in the sections, and you could(probably?) get vertical bands where the sections join.
    Any questions, please ask. gary
  21. Just when I thought I was the only one doing panos..... (LOL)
    Has any else tried HUGIN as the stitching software?
    It is a free piece of software that seems to use a lot of algorhythms to determine how to stitch and blend. You can download and try it at this URL:
    Happy shooting and stitching in 2010!
  22. If you want to make your life simple:
    1. Shoot with any decent lens you already have. Zooms work quite well. (You can argue that optimal resolution is less important in the lens when you construct a much larger image from many smaller ones.)
    2. Primes are fine, but zooms can make more sense in many cases. They allow you to more precisely frame each section of the stitch.
    3. Wide angle lenses can work, though most people will more frequently want to use longer lenses. In addition, stitching images from very wide angle shots can pose some additional difficulties.
    4. Be very careful about leveling your tripod and aligning your camera.
    5. Determine exposure in most cases based on the frame with the brightest elements. Use manual exposure and don't change exposure between sections.
    6. Better to overlap the frames too much than too little.
    7. If something is moving in the frame (a tree on a windy day? a boat?) try to center it in one of the component images.
    8. In virtually all cases you can do fine stitches using the merge feature in Photoshop - you don't need specialized additional programs.
    9. While specialized tripod heads can be useful for those who do a lot of complex stitching, great stitches can be done using a normal tripod head.
  23. I do stitching for two reasons: 1) higher pixel count and 2) for a very wide shot when I don't have the wide lens.
    My formula:
    - Prime lens, 35mm to 85mm on cropped sensor camera, as needed.
    - Tripod. If there is close foreground, a pano head will help. If everything is distant, then you can get good results even hand-held.
    - Manual exposure, same exposure for all shots
    - Focus for each shot. I often use auto focus. Just don't change focus a LOT on adjacent images.
    - Stitch with PTGui. Save as 16 bit tiff.
    - Final adjustments in Photoshop.
  24. I use hugin and like it a lot. It's easy, fast, and runs in the background well enough that I can do other stuff while my panoramas are stitching.
  25. I would not use anything shorter than 50mm (in 35mm format) to do panoramas, due to potential distortion. 85mm (again in 35mm) is a good compromise. I have heard of people going as long as 135mm, but that would require quite a few photos that had to be merged, if they are looking going 120ยบ or more for a pano.
    Something else I find essential for doing pano's is a spirit level. If you "wing it" you could be could be setting yourself up for problems. For about $6 on Fleabay, I got a three axis spirt level that slides into your hotshoe. It is absolutely perfect, not for just pano's but for architecture, which I do a fair amount of. I even attached (very carefully, using calipers to get it perfectly aligned) an old accessory shoe to the left side of my Hasselblad 500C/M to use it as well.
  26. Dont forget your L-bracket. That plus a RRS pano head and a gitzo leveling base made my life a lot easier. Not necessary but I like it.
  27. Just buy a Linhof 617SIII with a 72mm or 90mm lens & shoot film! :)
  28. Three horizontal shots at 42mm stitched together
  29. Hugin is about the only software I can use for automatic panos on Linux. If somebody knows differently, please speak up. Alas, when I used it a year or so ago (early 2009), it wasn't that great. Some results were very good, but the GUI sucked and the quality of the results was inconsistent. It looks like they've released a couple new major versions since then, so perhaps I should upgrade...

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