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Thread: Interesting way of taking panaromas - GigaPan EPIC100

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    Default Interesting way of taking panaromas - GigaPan EPIC100

    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!
    If Life worked on auto mode then manual mode for photography would have never existed. ― Deeksha Mittal

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    Default Re: Interesting way of taking panaromas - GigaPan EPIC100

    wowzer thanks for introducing this to the community nightwolf ..... thats a HUGE output file

    just curious how do you carry it ? and what kind of batteries does it run on?

    there seems to be a wire tethering the camera to the rig..... what's that for ?

    I believe I saw an infrared geo-surveying version at a mining and minerals conference a couple of months back in Singapore ...... THAT baby was going for 5 figures for the basic model

    this looks alot more affordable

    and thanks for the link to the GigaPan site

    thanks
    Last edited by ed9119; 12th August 2011 at 07:18 AM.
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    Default Re: Interesting way of taking panaromas - GigaPan EPIC100

    Quote Originally Posted by nightwolf75 View Post
    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.
    The banding looks like shadows from passing clouds altering your exposure.

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    Default Re: Interesting way of taking panaromas - GigaPan EPIC100

    Quote Originally Posted by ed9119 View Post
    wowzer thanks for introducing this to the community nightwolf ..... thats a HUGE output file

    just curious how do you carry it ? and what kind of batteries does it run on?

    there seems to be a wire tethering the camera to the rig..... what's that for ?

    I believe I saw an infrared geo-surveying version at a mining and minerals conference a couple of months back in Singapore ...... THAT baby was going for 5 figures for the basic model

    this looks alot more affordable

    and thanks for the link to the GigaPan site

    thanks
    erm... yah. i didn't mention that i backside itchy, and decided to use one of the functions called 'multiple shots'. this is for people who like to do HDR. basically, you need to set the EPIC100 to take multiple shots, and your camera to do bracketing. later, you can merge the 3 sets (mine is under-right-over) together.... but the file is over 1GMP which basically crashed my dell.

    so the files themselves are huge... one thing i wished (tho i understand why) the GigaPan software can do is to save as JPG, rather than TIFF or Adobe Raw.

    the EPIC100 itself runs on 6AAs. if you use li-ion AAs recharagables, the specs said it should be good for 3-4 panos, depending on the number of columns and rows you are shooting. the wire is for the robot arm that presses the shutter arm, which fires the camera. if your camera has remote function, you can actually disconnect it and use your remote instead.

    those who are purely using PnS, the EPIC is actually even cheaper than my EPIC100. but i prefer a slightly bigger platform to accomodate bigger cameras. the whole setup can fit into my Retrospective 20 slingbag - roughly the same size as a lowepro 200AW stealth reporter(?). so it is pretty compact.

    hopefully i got some free time during the school holidays so that i can bring the setup to our CS SAM events to show you.
    If Life worked on auto mode then manual mode for photography would have never existed. ― Deeksha Mittal

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    Default Re: Interesting way of taking panaromas - GigaPan EPIC100

    may I know if this system be able to do vertorama as well or a multi-layered pananorama?
    Coolthought - 冷静思考 - クールだ http://xaa.xanga.com/0aba0666d143253.../t35917343.gif

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    Default Re: Interesting way of taking panaromas - GigaPan EPIC100

    Quote Originally Posted by coolthought View Post
    may I know if this system be able to do vertorama as well or a multi-layered pananorama?
    i assume vertorama means 1 long vertical strip? apparently, depending on the size of your camera, it can do a 60/90 degree tilt angle. so... yah. i guess it can.

    but wat is a multi-layered panorama? you mean HDR?
    If Life worked on auto mode then manual mode for photography would have never existed. ― Deeksha Mittal

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    Default Re: Interesting way of taking panaromas - GigaPan EPIC100

    let me know when you are doing another test I can pass u the pro version.

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    Default Re: Interesting way of taking panaromas - GigaPan EPIC100

    Quote Originally Posted by nightwolf75 View Post
    i assume vertorama means 1 long vertical strip? apparently, depending on the size of your camera, it can do a 60/90 degree tilt angle. so... yah. i guess it can.

    but wat is a multi-layered panorama? you mean HDR?
    yes vertorama is something like stitch shots taken in a vertical row.

    opps. guess i didn't say it clearly.
    something like taking photos in a few rows of multiple columns. eg. 2 rows of panorama stitch together.
    it is more tricky doing it with a ballhead even with a pano function.
    Having an automatic system should be able help to shoot all the necessary shots quickly and the speed sometime is critical. eg. changing lights.

    don't mind I ask another question. The whole process can be programmed and automated?
    Coolthought - 冷静思考 - クールだ http://xaa.xanga.com/0aba0666d143253.../t35917343.gif

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    Default Re: Interesting way of taking panaromas - GigaPan EPIC100

    Quote Originally Posted by longkangman View Post
    let me know when you are doing another test I can pass u the pro version.
    WAH LAU!!! you never tell me!!!

    Quote Originally Posted by coolthought View Post
    yes vertorama is something like stitch shots taken in a vertical row.

    opps. guess i didn't say it clearly.
    something like taking photos in a few rows of multiple columns. eg. 2 rows of panorama stitch together.
    it is more tricky doing it with a ballhead even with a pano function.
    Having an automatic system should be able help to shoot all the necessary shots quickly and the speed sometime is critical. eg. changing lights.

    don't mind I ask another question. The whole process can be programmed and automated?
    oh! that... you can. but you need to change the settings under the EPIC100 options. you can take up to 9 pics at each location. also, you have the option to set the shutter timing. the default is 2-secs between pics. it has many options - you can shoot row-by-row, or column-by-column, and it allows you to pause between shots do that you can wait for the light to change or action to take place. it even allows you to repeat only particular pics.

    and yes... it is fully automatic, once you lock in all the settings.
    If Life worked on auto mode then manual mode for photography would have never existed. ― Deeksha Mittal

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    Default Re: Interesting way of taking panaromas - GigaPan EPIC100

    Quote Originally Posted by nightwolf75 View Post
    WAH LAU!!! you never tell me!!!



    oh! that... you can. but you need to change the settings under the EPIC100 options. you can take up to 9 pics at each location. also, you have the option to set the shutter timing. the default is 2-secs between pics. it has many options - you can shoot row-by-row, or column-by-column, and it allows you to pause between shots do that you can wait for the light to change or action to take place. it even allows you to repeat only particular pics.

    and yes... it is fully automatic, once you lock in all the settings.
    sound very advance. just a couple more questions if you don't mind.
    does it do nodal point adjustment?
    I guess the settings are repeatable, once the tripod is level, everything else just repeat a saved setting, right?
    Coolthought - 冷静思考 - クールだ http://xaa.xanga.com/0aba0666d143253.../t35917343.gif

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    Default Re: Interesting way of taking panaromas - GigaPan EPIC100

    Quote Originally Posted by coolthought View Post
    sound very advance. just a couple more questions if you don't mind.
    does it do nodal point adjustment?
    I guess the settings are repeatable, once the tripod is level, everything else just repeat a saved setting, right?
    heck no... if the instructions come in only 1 printed page, that's not very advance in my book.

    the nodal point adjustment for my EPIC100 is pretty easy (i suspect it might be a bit more different for EPIC PRO). you just need to centre the lens according to the mark etched on the platform. after that, measure the distance from centre of lens to camera platform, then match the distance to the rough approximate provided in a chart by GigaPan. this is allow the camera to minimise the parallax error. there's an explanation provided by gigapan on their website via a video on how to do it. check it out!

    and yes, the platform remembers the last settings. so you can repeat it until u physically change it.
    If Life worked on auto mode then manual mode for photography would have never existed. ― Deeksha Mittal

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    Default Re: Interesting way of taking panaromas - GigaPan EPIC100

    Quote Originally Posted by nightwolf75 View Post
    heck no... if the instructions come in only 1 printed page, that's not very advance in my book.

    the nodal point adjustment for my EPIC100 is pretty easy (i suspect it might be a bit more different for EPIC PRO). you just need to centre the lens according to the mark etched on the platform. after that, measure the distance from centre of lens to camera platform, then match the distance to the rough approximate provided in a chart by GigaPan. this is allow the camera to minimise the parallax error. there's an explanation provided by gigapan on their website via a video on how to do it. check it out!

    and yes, the platform remembers the last settings. so you can repeat it until u physically change it.
    sounds great. Thanks for your reply.
    Coolthought - 冷静思考 - クールだ http://xaa.xanga.com/0aba0666d143253.../t35917343.gif

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    Default Re: Interesting way of taking panaromas - GigaPan EPIC100

    Hi TS

    2 qns seeking your opinions.

    1. Nodal pt adjustment; How about the from/back nodal point position. how do you do it easily. (you described the up/down position adjust.) I find it a very difficult to do. and was thinking for awhile how to mod the mounting plate....

    2. Do you have lens vignetting issue and if yes, can share how you 'un vignet' before joining. I use epic100 with GF2/45-200. This lens vignet badly! I try PTlens/breezebrowser, DXO, Lightroom.... all cannot help so far - dun noe where I went wrong. (actully give up on this combi already - and just got a sony HX100V, partly to use with epic100 - but haven't use it.)

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    Default Re: Interesting way of taking panaromas - GigaPan EPIC100

    Using L-plate, can we mount the camera in portrait orientation instead of landscape?

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    Default Re: Interesting way of taking panaromas - GigaPan EPIC100

    1. there is no need to mount in portrait mode.. unlike the manual method. Everything is auto. And in anycase, you are going to take multirow and col to increase the resolution - which is the whole idea of this mount.

    2. Even if you want to, for various reasons, you will run into the nodal point adjustment problem as TS has explained. There is not much margin for up/down adjustment. Also, the trigger mechanism (if you do not have the canon camera) will also be in the wrong orientation and out of reach.

    In opinion, the EPIC 100 mounting is not well thought out - I must say it is a very bad design.

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    Default Re: Interesting way of taking panaromas - GigaPan EPIC100

    Quote Originally Posted by swhyge View Post
    Hi TS

    2 qns seeking your opinions.

    1. Nodal pt adjustment; How about the from/back nodal point position. how do you do it easily. (you described the up/down position adjust.) I find it a very difficult to do. and was thinking for awhile how to mod the mounting plate....

    2. Do you have lens vignetting issue and if yes, can share how you 'un vignet' before joining. I use epic100 with GF2/45-200. This lens vignet badly! I try PTlens/breezebrowser, DXO, Lightroom.... all cannot help so far - dun noe where I went wrong. (actully give up on this combi already - and just got a sony HX100V, partly to use with epic100 - but haven't use it.)
    opps... haven't check back in this thread for a while...

    1) there is a more detailed way to do it, which is documented on the Gigapan's website. it is in a video demo. it requires you to aim at 3 distant objects and to move your camera back and forth on the platform until all three objects are in line no matter wat the viewing angle. the other, simpler (but IMO, not absolutely accurate) is found inside the quick user guide. first, you have to measure the distance from the centre of your lens to the platform. then compare the distance with a chart provided on their website to obtain an adjustment value - this is to set the height of the platform on the robotic arm and this can be done at home and you only need to do it once, provided you are using the same camera same lens every time. next, mount your camera and centre the lens along a notch marked into the platform itself. this should get your camera rotating on the nodal point. this is far easier to do. but, if you require absolute accuracy, then this quick method does produce a little distortion along the edges of the pic. so what i do is to shoot extra along the edges of my pic and trim it away later. i cannot do it the way it is recommended in the video cos my EP2 body is at the absolute limit that the Gigapan robot arm's platform can take. there is very little room for me to adjust left-right.

    there are some videos on youtube on how to hack your platform. have you checked it out?

    2) vignetting? erm... not really. my EP2 is using the Lumix (aka rebadged Leica) kit lens 14-45mm, which is an absolutely brilliant kit lens IMO. i don't see any vignetting at f8 and above. did you zoom out to the max, as per recommendation by Gigapan? all my pics so far don't need to adjust for vignetting.

    as to whether the design could be better.... well, for what it does, i say it is reasonable. i wish there is a little more room for adjusting camera bodies... then again, if i am using a big camera, then i might as well get a EPIC Pro.... which costs abt SGD1k. what i really wish they do is to make a li-ion battery pack to go with it. it sucks AAs big time....

    just to share with you all the latest gigapan which i took this morning... before my AAs ran out...



    (click on image to go to Gigapan's website; actual pic, if printed out, is about 12m x 5m)
    Last edited by nightwolf75; 7th September 2011 at 11:15 AM.
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    Default Re: Interesting way of taking panaromas - GigaPan EPIC100

    Quote Originally Posted by Deathegg View Post
    Using L-plate, can we mount the camera in portrait orientation instead of landscape?
    well.... technically you can, even tho it is not designed for it. i guess you can do it, if you can find the nodal point plus your camera allows remote triggering?

    but, if you want to shoot a pic in portrait mode, then you can simply select under Options to shoot in Column-mode, rather than Row-mode.
    If Life worked on auto mode then manual mode for photography would have never existed. ― Deeksha Mittal

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    Default Re: Interesting way of taking panaromas - GigaPan EPIC100

    HI TS

    Tks for reply.

    1. Am aware of those methods. Not accurate and tedious - tried a few 'close quarter pano, - no way to get it right. And if you want different focal length or use different lens - you can imagine the problem... But for 'far' scene, so far so good.. (I am quite familiar with this nodal point stuff, have been using the RRS full package for a few years already..)

    2. Why dun you consider DIY the trigger lever - I did one, using those strip from computer casing use to cover the opening for expansion card.. I mount a RRS QR mount on the epic 100. All my cam has the QR plate. Among other things, you dun have to locate the centre line every time.

    3. Saw you pano.. Nice one, But you also have the lens vignetting issue. Notice the chequered plate pattern in blue sky portion of your pano. But yours seems mild and should be easily corrected with LR or DXO

    4. @45mmFl (90mm equv) seems to under utilise the mount intent? IMHO.

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    Default Re: Interesting way of taking panaromas - GigaPan EPIC100

    Quote Originally Posted by swhyge View Post
    HI TS

    Tks for reply.

    1. Am aware of those methods. Not accurate and tedious - tried a few 'close quarter pano, - no way to get it right. And if you want different focal length or use different lens - you can imagine the problem... But for 'far' scene, so far so good.. (I am quite familiar with this nodal point stuff, have been using the RRS full package for a few years already..)

    2. Why dun you consider DIY the trigger lever - I did one, using those strip from computer casing use to cover the opening for expansion card.. I mount a RRS QR mount on the epic 100. All my cam has the QR plate. Among other things, you dun have to locate the centre line every time.

    3. Saw you pano.. Nice one, But you also have the lens vignetting issue. Notice the chequered plate pattern in blue sky portion of your pano. But yours seems mild and should be easily corrected with LR or DXO

    4. @45mmFl (90mm equv) seems to under utilise the mount intent? IMHO.
    oic... you are using it close-up ah? i think the EPIC100 is not designed for close-up work, rite? i was browsing through their gallery and those doing close-ups have quite bad distortions too. if you are doing close-ups, i guess nothing beats a proper TS lens?

    as for a longer trigger arm, currently i am fine with it as i don't have any more intention of getting a DSLR... getting out of DSLR systems liao. haha... too many kids at home and too little time or space to pack a DSLR every time i go out with my family. for a M43 system like the EP2, it fits snugly onto the platform. but those users like urself with a bigger DSLR, yah... a mod is needed. for that, i agree.

    actually, i didn't notice the vignetting at all. mebbe cos i am not looking. perhaps it is due to the lenses use? i do know that different lenses display different amts of vignetting. have you check on DxO website about the different performances of sony lenses? and personally, i love the 14-45mm focal length for capturing vistas. but if you intention is to display details, then i guess a longer zoom is needed (which i don't need). the trade-off is a heavier lens which sucks the AAs faster.

    bottom line is that YMMV. for sure, i don't think GigaPan designed the gear for shooting intricate and technically demanding pictures. for those, i suspect you need a TS lens, and/or a LF view camera with bellows for finer lens+camera movements. but, for everything else, i believe the EPIC100 is quite a fun tool to use to capture those extremely wide panos easily.
    If Life worked on auto mode then manual mode for photography would have never existed. ― Deeksha Mittal

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    Default Re: Interesting way of taking panaromas - GigaPan EPIC100

    NO, i am not using this as close up... ( for close up, hmm I am actually thinking of getting the StackShot.....)

    "close quarters" i m refering to those with objects near to the camera, such as within your hall or shots with near by objects of say wtihin 3 meters...This is because of the difficulty in getting the front/back nodal point right. I can do this easily with my RRS setup, but not this... I actually got the eye-fi card so that I can transmit wirelessly and view the enlarged image on my laptop/ipad to help adjust the nodal pt position. What a pain with this mount!!

    I m not up to the level of taking technically demanding pictures. I am just a gadget freak who likes trying such thing...

    BTW, any tips to take gigapan pano with moving objects, such as crowds, etc.....i cannot put those those that i managed to googled into practice... Wonder how they did it.... (wanted to do it at the recent istana open house.... but...)

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