This is a follow up to the Panoramas and Joiners entry. I am in the middle of moving to France from Sheffield so there hasn’t been a post for a while.
In this context a panorama is a high resolution image made by stitching several images together. They normally are wide aspect ratio images but can be any desired aspect as long as the images are available to stitch together.
In order to make a panorama the camera is rotated between shots in such a way that the images have enough overlap for the software (Photoshop, PTGui or Hugin for example) to identify matching points and join the images. An overlap of about 1/6 of the image width is usually sufficient unless the scene, or part of it, is particularly devoid of features.
The panorama above was made in this way. Adding a tripod will make the top and bottom of the component images line up. Adding an L-Plate will allow you to mount the camera on the tripod in either landscape or portrait mode.
If you want to have near objects in your panorama, in order to avoid parallax problems, you will need to rotate around the centre of the lens and not the cameras tripod mounting thread, this needs a nodal slide or a dedicated lens mount. If you want a multi row panorama then some means of tilting the camera up and/or down will be needed.
The above requirements are met by a panoramic head such as a Nodal Ninja.
The Nodal Ninja is probably the best known of the commercial heads and is way from being the most expensive, however, it can be overkill for a photographer who only uses it occasionally.
If you just want to use a lens with a 180° angle of view to make a 360° panorama a tripod with an L-plate with a simple, short nodal slide will suffice. If there are no nearby things to cause parallax problems, then just the L-plate will do and if there is a lot of light then the camera alone will be all you need for perfectly acceptable results.
For something more complex, the full head is helpful.
Information for building and using the panoramic head that is used on the Panorama Course is available in the files topic of the Photographers Group on Facebook. Should you come on the Panoramas Course the head is included in the price.
As a very quick example of why nodal alignment is needed, imagine you are shooting the image of the Wood Henge above, if the camera is not rotated around the centre of the lens rather than the camera the wooden uprights will not be aligned and it is impossible to stitch the panorama together. A slight misalignment is what has caused the errors in alignment near the edge of the image.
My 20mm f/2.8 Nikkor needs an offset of about 7cm to be nodally aligned, i.e. the rotation needs to be around a point 7cm in front of the camera’s tripod mount.
Read Danny's previous post Panoramas and Joiners entry HERE.
Post by Danny
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