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Old Apr 6, 2007, 3:46 PM   #1
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For parallax-free panoramic photography on a tripod, the camera must pan about an (unmarked) entrance pupil "node" that lies somewhere along the lens optical axis.
Many camera manufacturers offset the tripod thread well apart from the lens axis. Also, tripod manufacturers may offset the mounting screw from the tripod axis of panning rotation. These two offsets may result in stitched-panoramic parallax distortion. Parallax can be substantial for some combinations. To compensate for these design flaws, complex universal adjustable adapters are available to properly position the "node" on the panning axis. Each camera model and each of its lenses or zoom settings may require different adjustment.

A test for parallax involves observing the relative position of vertical edges of two spaced objects initially aligned in the center of the field (e.g. one at 2m and another at 4m distance from the camera.) The camera is then panned with the tripod to view the paired vertical edges at the left, then at the right of the field. If panning is properly about the entrance pupil "node". the two edges maintain their apparent relative position and spacing. If rotated about a point apart from the "node" the spacing and relative position of the two edges shift, demonstrating the parallax distortion that degrades panoramic imaging.

I tested a Panasonic FZ30 (12X zoom). (The FZ30 zoom lens does not extend externally in zooming) Panasonic has properly aligned the tripod socket on the lens axis. The tripod was a Quantaray Titan II (From Ritz Camera). Its quick-release shoe places the camera-mounting screw about 1 1/8" (29mm) behind the tripod panning axis. That placed the pan axis 3 1/16" (778mm) behind the lens barrel front. (Coincidentally the approximate location of the entry pupil node.)

Directly mounted on the tripod without adapter, the FZ30 showed no parallax at the 35mm or 420mm zoom positions. This ideal parallax-free result for the FZ30 at both wide and tele zooms, without adapter, was unexpected. Surprise.

With the panning axis moved to within 3/8" (10mm) of the lens barrel front, the parallax was significant --- worse at the 420mm setting.

Anyone have parallax or "node" location test results for the FZ30?

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