Suggest a Lens for use with RRS Panoramic Gimbal to Make Awesome Landscape Panos

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by andre_noble|5, Nov 6, 2014.

  1. Hello, I enjoy shooting panoramics of landscape and cityscapes and then stitching in Photoshop. I have used in past Arca Swiss ball head with a 20-35 Nikkor Zoom, the zoom since sold.
    I decided to treat myself to a professional Really Right Stuff panoramic pivoting and tilting gimbal head that can shoot multiple row panoramic with the lens rotation aligned over nodal point so as to avoid parallax...

    My only experience is shooting pano stitch with wide angle lenses.
    However a couple of photographers suggest using a longer focal length such as 135mm when shooting stitched panos. The examples they showed looked better than the panos shot with wide angle lens from same position.

    will be using a FX D610 body .....
    Here are my current lenses:

    300 2.8
    105 VR
    85 1.8 D
    58 1.4 Voigtlander
    11-16 Tokina DX format (can shoot FX at 16mm)

    Question:
    I am seriously considering ordering one or two of the following lenses for the Pano and my other uses (portraiture, landscape, events)
    I am considering adding one or two of the following lenses:
    24 PCE Tilt Shift (either Nikon or Samyang)
    24 1.4G
    28 1.8 AFS
    85 1.4 G (to upgrade my portrait lens)
    70-200 AFS II (I saw two photographers using this lens with RRS gimbal for panos - believe it or not)
    Any photographers who use a specialized pano gimbal set up - your feedback on which lens will be most appreciated. Thanks
     
  2. I don't have your awesome gadget. Hwvr, in general, a longer focal length has less optical and perspective distortion than a short, wide-angle lens would have. Although post-processing helps, one would rather not have a lot of distortion on the images intended to be stitched together.
    Also, a longer lens enables one to bring forward the composition elements in more vivid details - closing up on attractive areas and discarding mediocre areas that would not contribute toward an appealing composition. One can better pick out attractive lines, textures, forms, space, and colors and, for example, leave out (or show less of) the white/grey unattractive sky.
    There is no need to buy more wide angles for this purpose. Your 105 and 300mm should work. Hwvr, a 70-200 (or 80-400 AFS) is always convenient and useful, pano or otherwise.
     
  3. I shoot all my panoramas, hand held. From prime 14mm to 85mm, or, what ever I have on the camera or required for the subject.
    The first image here is a several rows of pano shoots with a 14mm. The second, a one row of 180 degree fast pano shoots, with a 35mm lens. All of them, with a FF camera.
    00cw86-552307284.jpg
     
  4. Pano-2 180 degree. As you see, the track making at list a 90km/h and perfectly recorded.
    00cw87-552307484.jpg
     
  5. One more.
    00cw8B-552307584.jpg
     
  6. What kind of landscapes you are aiming for?
     
  7. @kari: sweeping vistas of seascapes, rural
    landscapes, industrial landscapes,
    architectural panoramas. And others I have not thought of yet...
     
  8. SCL

    SCL

    I usually shoot my panos with a 50 - 90, never seen a need to go longer. So from my perspectice I would say you already have a broad enough range of lenses to to fine pano work.
     
  9. Well believe it or not I use the 70-200 for panoramas. I have enough of the RRS attachments to do single row panoramas. I put the camera in portrait mode and zoom to however much vertical coverage I desire then pan and take however many images to get the horizontal coverage I desire. I overlap each image by about 30-40%.
    How large do you want to print? Why did you buy the multi row panorama setup? It allows you to use a super telephoto and stitch together 100 images or more if you want to. Assuming the final angle of view is the same and you want to print gigantic murals then use the longest lens possible (assuming the light isn't changing too quickly) The more images that go into the stitch the higher the resolution of the final image.
     
  10. Wow, $790 and it doesn't even come with a levelling head!
    The widest I go with is my Sigma 35mm 1.4. My prefered is the 50mm 1.4 EX DG (not A) or trusty old 85mm 1.4D (in portrait orientation). I usually go single row, but very occasionally go 2 row.
    Unless you can get quite close to dramatic scenery, i feel wider means smaller in landscapes...but for building interiors it's a necessity.
     
  11. Mike: It doesn't need a leveling head:that's what a tripod is useful for. It's also useful for more than panoramic work. I've
    the components for macro work and long telephoto work trackng things and creatures that move. I have the PG-02
    panoramic set up and it's a great piece of kit to work with and the action is extremely smooth.

    That said, for panoramic work With the RRS PG-02 panorama rig I have used

    Canon gear I've used everything from the EF 8-14mm L fisheye-zoom at 8mm to the 70-200mm f/2.8L II at 200mm

    Nikon gear, everything from the 14-24mm f/2.8G at 14mm to the 200-400mm f/4G VR at 400mm

    It all depends on the subject.

    I use PTGui Pro to stitch with.
     
  12. @walt: I wanted to "buy right, buy once" is the reason for buying multirow.. Also that's encouraging the I can use my 300
    2.8 as that lens is phenomenally sharp. @ Mike, adding a leveling head, circle dove plate and L plate for my D610 grip
    and CA sales tax it was close to $1600. I decided to cut out soft drinks to help pay the CC. :)
     
  13. Mike: It doesn't need a leveling head:that's what a tripod is useful for.​
    So everyone who has ever bought a leveling head ought to know how to use a tripod? Really?
    Now the video clip on the RRS site uses a TA-3-LC leveling base on a RRS Versa Series 3 tripod with a video bowl attachment....and on a good day that's another $1200. Bela's method sure saves on the cash!
    I use a pair of geared micro-stages to track my moving critters, but there don't appear to be any geared stages on this panoramic head, just chunky lock/unlock wheels on free-to-slide dovetails.
    Late Edit.
    Andre...I had to cut out chocolate too...:-(
     
  14. For what you are doing, the Sigma 50mm f1.4 ART is the best possible lens for under $4,000.
    Kent in SD
     
  15. Gup

    Gup Gup

    For what it's worth, I shoot most of mine with an AF-S 80-200mm 2.8 zoom and they are always landscapes. The one below I shot with a Sigma 35 f/1.4 to test the waters. It is comprised of three shots through a D800E taken last month. It was handheld as I didn't want to pack the tripod in (even though I had it with me at the time... middle age reality). It was stitched in Photoshop.
    00cwAi-552314384.jpg
     
  16. As Ellis wrote:
    It all depends on the subject.​
    I have used lenses from 20mm to 180mm for panos, single row only. RRS MPR rail as a nodal slider.
    Just start from a modest amout of pictures to be stiched. Even 10 pictures with 30% overlap will result in about 150 MP images that are still possible to edit, manage and view with pretty much detail.
     
  17. I like exagerating the foreground/background relationship so I typically maintain the camera position and shift and stitch 3 images using the Canon 17mm TS-E or Nikon 35mm f2.8 PC.
    I have used my 70-200 and even 300/4 for handheld stitching while changing the camera position and this does work surprisingly well.
     
  18. @Ellis, it's good to see you still on these boards, I recognize your name from way back. Thanks for your input.
     
  19. To those using zoom lenses: How do you set up the nodal slide for different zoom positions?
    Doesn't the nodal point of the lens change with its zoom setting?
    And if you don't bother to zero the nodal shift, what's the point of using a fancy pano head? Might as well simply use a pan-tilt tripod head.
    My suggestion for pano use would be one of the MF Micro-Nikkors - the Ai-S 55mm f/2.8 for example. Advantages are: almost zero distortion, manually fixed aperture setting and no chance of a scale shift due to AF accidentally kicking in or moving. Wide aperture lenses are rarely needed for panos, since subject and camera movement are usually non-issues, and I doubt that either Sigma's Art lens or Zeiss's Otus can better the IQ from a 55mm Micro-Nikkor at like apertures.
    Incidentally, any lens can give two different angles of view for pano use; one with the camera in portrait orientation and the other in landscape. You just need to take more shots in portrait mode.
     
  20. FYI: I wanted to buy a levelling head to avoid levelling the whole tripod. Then I desided to test what happens if I take four single row pano images each single frame tilted 20 degrees to the right.
    As an example with the basic PTGui, I got a pano with rough jagged edges. However, the resulting pano after cropping the edges was totally perfect.
    With less total cash used in the sw and less weight of the hw in the field I get equally good panos without the levelling base. I still try to get the tripod head at about level. Levelling may not be very important if you use proper sw to handle the stitching.
    However, if you have foregroung and background subject matter, then managing the nodal point is essential. Parallax errors are not so attractive to tinker in front of your display.
     
  21. I use the PC-E Nikkors as well as the 14-24/2.8 for panoramics. I use a single row panorama system from RRS and level it on an Arca Z1 sp (having the dp version of the head would have save weight but it's quite expensive). I figured the dual axis setup leads to additional cost, weight and complexity and possibly reduced stability over the single axis system and by altering focal length one can get most situations covered with a single row panorama, and avoid a huge number of files as well ;-) But it depends on your goals. The reason I like PC(-E) Nikkors for panoramas is because I can level the rig (to avoid keystoning) and then shift up or down to move the horizon off center and adjust composition while maintaining a good fit of the images when stitching. Without shift one would need to capture wider shots and crop in post-processing leading to larger amount of data in the original files compared to the resolution of the final image.
    I have also made some panoramas taking advantage of tilt to increase near-to-far sharpness and then shift to move the image in the orthogonal direction to capture two shots for panoramic stitching. In this situation the panorama setup can be used to correct for the parallax error by moving the camera laterally in the left to right direction on the rail by the amount required to keep the lens in the same position for the stitched frames. Depending on software I may input a focal length as close to infinity as possible (e.g. ten meters in autopano giga) to avoid the software from applying correction depending on the assumption that the two frames have been captured by rotating around the nodal point (since that's not happening in this case). However with the rails that I have this doesn't work with the L bracket that I use since the rail expects a QR plate in the orthogonal orientation so a different kind of QR plate that is square is needed to mount the camera.
     
  22. Just a reminder: as Gup's example shows, panoramas are frequently disappointing because they will necessarily require great enlargement to work. Usually they just appear small and at a relatively low enlargement - you might end up wishing you had just used an ultrawide and cropped the resulting image. In my opinion, they need to be printed very large to make stitching panoramas worthwhile.
     
  23. Like Bela, I end up shooting my panoramas hand-held. I just rotate my upper body and use grid lines in the finder to try to get moderately level. I use Photoshop's photomerge to get to the end product, mostly works pretty well.
    I bought a Nikon panorama head, and have also used a PC-Nikkor shift lens, but these days with digital, those are overkill. Hardly ever use them, any more.
    00cwFz-552331984.jpg
     
  24. If you put your eyes close to screen and look at Guy ' s panorama, you will appreciate how nice it looks despite its small
    size.
     
  25. Andre, have you tried your multi-row pano yet? Would love to hear your experience.
     
  26. Consider that perhaps it's not so much about the lens per se as the location for successful panoramas. Sweeping across a large vista isn't always going to give an interesting photograph and the distortions can be ugly. Just saying give more thought to the location and the process than the hardware.
    And if you're not planning on printing and selling the pictures you could save a lot of money and effort by getting a Sony camera with its "sweep panorama" setting, makes it all a breeze and perfectly okay for web or monitor viewing.
    Just thinking outside the box here not trying to ruffle feathers.
    As a generalisation it's probably best to avoid the ultra wides when stitching, but you've still got to match the focal length to the required scenic result so there isn't a single lens that will do the lot. Well maybe an 18-200mm would do most of the time but you may not be satisfied with the lens quality so back to the drawing board. Oh and shoot vertically (the camera) i.e in portrait mode if you're doing wide views, those narrow slit panoramas are non too attractive after a while. (Personal opinion not a rule)
     
  27. OP: Choose a focal length which gives you the vertical coverage that makes the most sense for the scene. Avoid including too much sky or foreground unless they constitute a significant part of the composition. The horizontal field of view doesn't matter, since you will be stitching as many frames as needed for that. Rather than use a wide angle lens, you can also turn the camera and use the vertical aspect, and gain resolution in the process. A good stitching program will handle the seams invisibly.
    The lens I use most frequently is a 28-70/2.8 zoom, usually toward the longer end of the range unless I'm really close to something tall (or deep), like a lake in front of a mountain peak, and I want to get it all. In this example, the lens was set at 62 mm with the body turned vertically for added resolution.
    [​IMG]
    If you level the camera on two axes, the horizon will be in the center. If you want a better composition, tilt the camera up or down while leveling it horizontally. This will default to a curved panorama, which can be straightened by adjusting the center point in a program like PTGui. Photoshop, I'm afraid, isn't up to that task without a lot of manual effort.
    Finding the nodal point is easy, and necessary if there are nearby objects which may ghost otherwise. Swing the lens from side to side and adjust the nodal slide until the foreground object doesn't move against the background. Nikon f/2.8 zoom lenses don't seem to shift much when the focal length is changed. It was not necessary in the photo above. In fact, I didn't use a nodal slide at all.
    Just to make things interesting, each of the six shots was taken as a seven frame HDR.
     
  28. A gimbal head is not your best choice for doing panoramics. Your best choice is a head that is designed for panoramic shots but if you don't want to spring for that, the next best choice is a 3 axis head with spirit levels to level the head. They quickest way to get a "scalloped" image in PS with panoramics is to have your camera not level. A very easy and inexpensive way to overcome this is to get a 3 axis spirit level that slides into the camera hotshoe. I use the spirit levels on my Manfrotto head to get in the ballpark but use the three axis one in the hotshoe to fine tune the camera before each shot. When I stitch all the images together in PhotoMerge, I get very little wasted space at the top and bottom of the final image.
    The best lens to use for panoramic images is in the 50 - 85mm (FX) range. It will mean that you will have to stitch more images together, no big deal, but you not have issues with perspective distortion.
     

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