Landscape Panoramas

I am wondering how you landscape photographers take your panorama images. Years ago I remember seeing, reading and even buying different equipment to be able to take the best panoramas, but I never see other photographers pull out any of this gear. Every photographer that I am around these days are just shooting their panoramas images straight from their regular camera setup and nixing the panorama gear. Is this because software is so much better these days at stitching the panorama photos together that we don’t have to be so careful when taking the photos? Anyways, I’d love to know how you shoot your panorama images. Thanks so much.

I haven’t followed through, but a friend and devotee performed a demo that had me shaking my head. He hand-held his camera and rotated a series of 5 shots around the waterfront of our Florida winter home. Then we walked next door to his house and he loaded them in Photoshop and pressed the magic buttons. Holy cow! Out popped a very credible pano. No special gear, no extra software, and produced in mere seconds. It sure had me scratching my head and grinning, but I haven’t tried it yet.

Carol, I shoot images for panoramic stitching often. As I still use film gear I take time to make sure the the tripod head is in a level travel throughout the field of swing as well as trying my best to keep a solid nodal point. With that all said and usually 3 to 4 images I use the simple Photomerge in PS. There are numerous Youtube videos on panoramic ideas for field and post processing.

The software is so good these days that you don’t have to worry about it much anymore unless you are doing multi row panos which can be much more complex. It’s still a good idea to get it as close to level as possible. My method is to level the tripod legs so the base of the ballhead is very close to level, then I mount the camera in portrait orientation using an L-bracket, I compose up or down to include what I want (does not have to be level up/down. Then I use the electronic level in the camera to level from side to side, then I swing it around using the base of the ballhead and fire away, usually 20-30% overlap by eyeballing it. FYI for most uses Lightroom is the best stitcher out there, I say this because you end up with a raw (.dng) file which you can still do all your raw processing on afterwards, and it has boundary warp which will fix any white borders you end up with by warping the image into place, but not distorting it, it’s really quite magical. PTGui is really powerful but I haven’t had the need to use it for many years.

Ditto on David’s comments. The early panoramic software was not very forgiving compared to the current Lightroom stitching. Certainly a level set of images off a tripod provides the highest quality. However, for a single-row pano, hand held is VERY good, even with a wide angle lens, assuming adequate overlap. Don’t pass up a pano if you left your tripod at home.

However, if you have an extreme near-far composition, then you may encounter parallax errors, I don’t know of any pano software that can handle such misalignment of the closest objects… In those cases a plate which allows you to rotate the camera body around the lens “nodal point” would be needed. There is abundant info online about how to determine the “nodal point” for each lens/focal length. I just don’t feel the need to shoot panos in these situations.

One thing about panos…
I’ve done several single row panos in the 1:4ish aspect ratio, I like them a lot because of the 50mm lens used produces less distortion than most/all wide angle lenses, and like all panos, they have very high IQ.
They can’t be posted because they need very large screens to be appreciated . They have to be big prints to see them…it causes unique storage, marketing, and sharing considerations.

and yahoo kudos to the genius of software engineering

Thanks for your replies everyone!