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Old Dec 19, 2006, 5:19 AM   #1
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Hi, Does anyone know what compact cameras have a panoramic assist mode - ie: a mode which locks the WB & Exposure while you take a series of shots and also shows you the previous shot, so that you can line up the next one.

I know the Canon Powershot range do, but, I was just wondering if other brands/models have this feature.
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Old Dec 19, 2006, 9:33 PM   #2
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Most Olympus models have a panorama mode that fixes the exposure and WB with the first shot. Oly has always run the scam that you have to use an Olympus brand xD card for the panorama mode to work. There is nothing different in the card except the identifier that identifies it as an Olympus card. The Camedia software that comes with the camera does a nice job of numbering the panorama shots in order so you just have to drag them into the stitch box. Stitching is very fast since it doesn't have to even out exposures.

I got a Pentax S4, which supposedly had a panorama mode. It didn't even out the exposures or WB but metered each shot, so the last mode you wanted to use for a panorama was the panorama mode. Someone on another board suggested I just shoot continuous, which keeps the exposure and WB from the first shot. It worked like a charm, and that is also what I use for panoramas on my current pocket camera (Casio Z750). I like using the continuous mode so much for panoramas I wouldn't use a panorama mode if it had one. But if you want the exposure and WB fixed in panorama mode I wouldn't trust a Pentax unless you could get definite confirmation that someone at Pentax figured out how to make a panorama mode for newer models.

I don't find the overlap stuff on the LCD very useful. Most optical finders cut off enough of the image that you can just line up the edges in the optical finder and the overlap is fine. Most LCDs aren't that great with the sun shining on them, and the sun is almost always shining here in Florida. Even if you use the LCD it is easy enough to pick your next edge to get the right overlap.

Kodak and HP cameras usually have a panorama mode. Some Kodaks even stitch them in the camera.

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Old Dec 20, 2006, 9:07 AM   #3
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Slipe's technique of shooting panos with the burst mode is interesting, but likely to work well only in fairly bright light. Otherwise there would be blur from the camera moving. You do want to shoot panos fairly quickly to avoid light level changes, but burst mode would be overdoing it in lowish light.

I agree with Slipe that the panorama mode is mostly bogus - it should hold the exposure and white balance constant from shot-to-shot, but manual settings will do that at least as well. Lining up with the previous on an LCD is a bit silly - it really isn't that hard to remember what was at the right edge of the privious shot and make sure it is in the left part of the current shot.

The stitching software that comes with a camera ranges from outright terrible to pretty good. There is a fair amount of stitching software available free or at reasonable prices (under $100US) so don't pay to much attention to bundled software.
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Old Dec 20, 2006, 12:50 PM   #4
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Continuous mode works in any light with a little practice. My current pocket camera takes a little over a second per shot, which gives plenty of time to have the camera stable for the next shot.

The newer model Z850 has a very fast burst of three shots per second. But they kept the slow continuous mode as well. Many cameras are always in the slow continuous mode – you just hold the shutter down and it keeps shooting. The old Pentax was that way. The Casio probably would as well but the second shot comes too fast because of the buffer. That isn't a big problem with panoramas as you just take an extra shot and ignore the first one.

I shoot almost all panoramas with the long side up, so it is easier to align quickly. I can do it using continuous with the long side horizontal, but usually prefer having the extra pixels if I need them.

With my larger cameras I use manual exposure with a pre-set WB. But continuous on my little camera works just as well and is much handier. Just like with a regular panorama mode or even manual, you want to pre-meter where you think the light is the most average. Or on a feature you think the most important to have exposed correctly.

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