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Panoramas With And Without A Panoramic Head - How to shoot panoramics hand-held and with the help of a panoramic head.
There are several panoramic heads available from companies such as Manfrotto and we will be discussing how they are used in due course. To start with, though, this is a technique that you can shoot handheld.
Working Without A Panoramic Head:
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.
Gear SuggestionsYour normal DSLR and a standard zoom are fine (30-50mm on an APS-C sized sensor and 50-75mm on a full-frame camera.)
Check Your ExposureWhite-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.
Don't Adjust The Focus Once SetIt is also important that focus is not adjusted during the panorama so take care not to touch the focus barrel once you have focused.
Take Your ShotsTry shooting in an upright format and start from the left, allowing a one-third frame approximate overlap between each frame. Capturing between six to eight frames should be fine.
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, too.
StitchingThere are various stitching softwares available. Try Panorama Factory - it is quick and very effective or you can always use Photoshop.
Working With A Panoramic Head:
For panoramas where there are elements much closer to the camera you need a purpose-built tripod head.
Gear SuggestionsThere are various models of panoramic head available at a variety of prices and enable single row panoramas and some multi-row. Manfrotto's panoramic heads are solid and well engineered. Take a look at the Manfrotto website if you're considering purchasing one. The key thing is that the instructions of the head are followed to find the no-parallax point of the lens, usually called the nodal point.
The Set UpFind your scene, set up the tripod and camera so that it is level. Set manual white-balance, manual exposure and manual focus. Meter to get tones in the important part of the scene – and bracket exposures if it is contrasty.
Take Your ShotsShoot from left to right once you have set up and the head has click stops to ensure that you get the correct amount of overlap. Do a ‘dry run’ before shooting for real.
StitchingBack home, get the images corrected and cloned and put them through your usual panorama software.
See what exciting & new content is available on the Manfrotto website: