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|Category:||Landscape and Travel|
Panoramas without a panoramic head - How to shoot handheld panoramics.
There are several panoramic heads available (Manfrotto, Nodal Ninja, Panosaurus) and we will be discussing how they are used in due course. To start with, though, this is technique that you can shoot handheld.
Your normal DSLR and a standard zoom are fine. Most of mine are shot at a standard or short telephoto focal length, so 30-50mm on an APS-C sized sensor and 50-75mm on a full-frame camera.
Go manual control for this technique. Set your DSLR's white-balance to manual using a suitable preset, set manual focus and set manual exposure. Shooting manually does make life easier and streamlines workflow rather than having to tweak each image before stitching.
White-balance and focusing are pretty straightforward but manual exposure needs a little thinking about. Ideally, you want an exposure that ensures good highlight detail and shadows will look after themselves. Take a meter reading and shoot three images, one at the centre of the panorama and then one at each extreme edge. If the exposure works for each area you have got it right.
It is also important that focus is not adjusted during the panorama so take care not to touch the focus barrel once you have focused.
This technique works fine for subjects some way from the camera position. If you have subjects quite close to the subject you do need a proper panoramic head that can be adjusted to get the optical centre of the lens directly above the tripod's centre axis.
Personally, I shoot upright format and start from the left, allowing a one-third frame approximately overlap between each frame. I usually do between six to eight frames and the camera's buffer is quick enough not to have me hanging around as images are written to card.
Shooting horizontal format is fine too but it is good to have some area spare to crop into should it be necessary. Shooting upright gives less of a letter-box effect.
There are various stitching softwares available. Try Panorama factory v5. It is quick and very effective.
Visit ePHOTOzine.tv to see John Gravett's videos on shooting panoramics.
You've read the article, now go take some fantastic images. You can then upload the pictures, plus any advice and suggestions you have into the dedicated Photo Month forum for everyone at ePHOTOzine to enjoy.