cropped spheres for panormas, advantages and disadvantages compared
to creating panoramas using full spheres
Clipped from an email to my friend Vasin discussing why I prefer using
vertical cropped spheres.
To answer your
question, in my experience, the FC-E9 is not particularly "sharper"
that the FC-E8 the sharpness pretty much comes from the resolution of
the camera. This is why I zoom into the sphere to get as much coverage
as possible. the result is a lot more pixes to the diameter of the sphere
captured. zooming in almost doubles the available number of pixels in
the final image. Practically speaking using numbers from my Coolpix
5400 I would get a max panorama size of about 2000x4000 pixels if the
sphere fills the image but is not cropped. (in real life it would be
slightly less since the chip in the camera is not entirely centered.)
this image size then give me a 8 megapix panorama (2000x4000 = 8 mill)
By zooming in as close as possible and turning the camera vertical,
the resulting panorama file is 2500x5000 pixels, this = 12.5 megapix.
not double but a significant improvement.!
good comes easy, and it is harder to stitch a panorama based on 3 images
compared to one with two. How ever I belive it is worth the effort,
personally I am right now using 3D-Vista Stitcher which lets me save
photoshop files with layers and also have a great interface for manually
setting reference points between the frames if required, however 90%
of the time I get a great stitch using the automatic feaure. Also the
new version of Easy Pano being released in the spring of 2005 will offer
the same functionality. And naturally this can be done using PanoTools.
Perfecting the technique of using 3 spheres cropped on the side is a
in-expensive way of increasing resolution. on a 4 megapix camera when
not zooning in the max resolution is about 1700x3400 = 5.8 megapix when
zooming in and turning the camera vertical the same camera delivers
about 2200x4400 = 9.68 megapix. It is only 500 more pixels on the diameter
of the sphere, but it adds a LOT of pixels to the overall panorama and
those pixels significantly increases the overall sharpness of the picture.
I tested the CoolPix 8400 yesterday, and it is very cool. it feels nice
in the hand. and more importantly the pictures I have seen from it have
a great dynamic range. For some reason we were not able to get the bracketing
to work on the demo camera.. I do not know why. But the main reason
I did not take it home is that they have not released the tube to attach
the FC-E9 lens yet. so there were no way for me to use it on my shoot
this week. Ha Ha. Had they had the tube I would have taken it. because
the extra resolution is well worth it. the files are 3260 pixles long,
which would let me make a panorama of about 3200x6400 pixels resulting
in a total of almost 20.5 megapixels. I can't wait to print some large
panoramas from this baby.
The bracket I made will work with any camera, the main idea is that
it holds the lens instead of the camera, after all using a lens like
the FC-E9 also means that the lens is significantly heavier than the
camera. One day when I were playing with the camera I realized this
and started making models of brackets which would hold the lens instead
of the camera. As you are aware, using the right step up or down rings
almost any digital camera can be mounted behind the FC-E9 and FC-E9
lenses. I am in the future going to make ring style insert which will
alow the larger bracket to hold the smaller FC-E8 lens.
Oh, I almost forgot. There is one practical difference between using
the FC-E8 and the FC-E9, the E9 is faster, meaning that more light goes
through it, this means that when shooting at night, you practically
cut your exposure times in half. simply because a lot more light goes
through the lens. Other than that, they are about equal in sharpness.
naturally the BIG advantage of the E8 is that it is a LOT lighter.