i am not so much of a landscape person, really. but when i do, what i really like is panoramas. the biggest problem i encountered has always been about aligning my pics so that when CS5 stitch the pics together, i won't get too much wastage or distortion.
now, i know there are many dedicated panorama tripod heads out on the market. but, i really don't get all those intermediate steps about finding nodal points etc... call me lazy. i just prefer to get to the location, set up and shoot without fiddling around too much. then i came across the GigaPan Systems' Robotic platform for panoramas a couple of years ago. i've been wanting to get a set, except for the problem of the high USD-SGD exchange rates. but.... with the recent history low in exchange rates, i grabbed a set last week.
the GigaPan comes in 3 versions. i bought the EPIC100 for PnS and small DSLRs. this is how it looks like with my EP2.
the entire system is bulky, but not overly heavy. this entire setup of mine fits nicely into my ThinkTank Retro 20 bag. it is, as most reviewers say online, not something that you will want to wander around with. you actually have to plan to shoot panoramas before you bring this out. but, IMO, it is worth the trouble. the setup is pretty easy actually. just mount the camera onto the platform. follow the provided information on the website in finding the balancing point for your camera (which you only need to do once). then go out and shoot! the EPIC100 has some simple instructions to follow which is almost fool-proof.
i took this out yesterday to Kranji War memorial to test this thing. the EPIC100 comes with a 2-license GigaPan stitching software. you can use it to stitch your picture or, if you like, you can also do on CS5. just that the GigaPan software is far easier to use as it automates a lot of the nitty-gritty details in aligning your shots. this is the result.... an almost 150MB, 80m x 20m picture, which i uploaded onto the GigaPan community website for people to zoom in/out.
(click on image to go to the actual pic)
by the way, the banding on the grass is not due to different exposures. it is the shadow cast by the entrance gate behind me.
is it worth the price? IMO, yeah! takes the guesswork needed out of taking proper panoramas. there are many other purposes, as stated in the website - large group pic (if you can get people to stand still for 1 min), interior pics etc... i am going to take some time to explore all these in the coming months!