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Old Jan 8, 2006, 10:27 AM   #11
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It seems to me taking pano is a complete science in its own right...
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Old Jan 8, 2006, 2:58 PM   #12
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I find that staying out of the wide angle range is altogether better, since wide angles tend to have a bit of odd stretchiness at the edge of each frame if your subject has a lot of depth. Many wide angles, and many zooms at their widest angle, also have slight vignetting, which is a pain to deal with; even though most of the stitching packages do a good job at blending, every one of them has had problems with some image or another.

I've also found that single focal length lenses are somewhat better - no surprise since there's no compromises caused by trying to have an acceptable image at each end of a zoom. When I do shoot with zooms, it's always with two that are very high quality with very low distortion, and like someone else here suggested, I don't use the zoom at either extreme. I also try to stop down a couple stops from wide open - the least amount of vignetting is usually around there - and not stop down all the way. Differences in edge to center of image sharpness can be huge with small apertures on digital cameras, and with the D2x, for example, past f11 with most lenses you start to get diffraction effects.

All that said - I probably violate every one of my preferences over and over again. It's not a science, and given a choice between getting an image or not getting the image because there are technical issues that make it less than a perfect situation - no contest. Both life and making panos seem to be kind of messy.
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Old Jan 8, 2006, 3:05 PM   #13
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A good tripod, with a good level, sure makes it a lot easier to get predictable results. You can be certain you have good overlaps, that the horizon line is level in each of the images, etc.

However, sometimes you see something, and the tripod is back in the car, and the light is changing... so go for it! Three of the panoramas I've got up in a show now were shot freehand - 8 frames wide. All the lovely lines in my viewfinder make it relatively easy to get a pretty level horizon and a reasonably consistent overlap.

Since it's not a life-or-death kind of thing, I think you can over-worry yourself into not having fun and not experimenting enough to get the shots you want. Worst case, you have a great story to tell about "the one that got away."
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