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Gigapan Epic Pro - lens & software suggestions?

wombatj

UK
9 posts

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wombatj Registered since 14th Mar 2012
Tue 01-May-12 02:45 PM | edited Tue 01-May-12 09:41 PM by wombatj

Hello,

My interests lie in architectural photography (and related architectural sculpture) for my teaching and research (art history). I am applying on a departmental budget to purchase a Gigapan Epic Pro to offer my students the next best experience of architectural space other than standing in the buildings themselves.

First question: I use a D700 and the relevant telephotos I own are a 180mm 2.8 AFD and 70-300 VR. Do you have any recommendations re one or other of these lenses for Gigapan high res composite photography (unfortunately the budget won't stretch to a 70-200 2.8!).

Second question: will the bundled software do the job for 360 x >180 composites or must I invest in PTGUI or such-like?

Many thanks in advance of any advice received,

Jethro

ps. this is my first Nikonians post so apologies if it is not within the best discussion thread (I'm stilll finding my way around the site); I figured the D700 was sufficient a connection ...
(UK)

nathantw

US
184 posts

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#1. "RE: Gigapan Epic Pro - lens & software suggestions?" | In response to Reply # 0

nathantw Registered since 16th Jan 2008
Wed 02-May-12 01:39 PM | edited Thu 03-May-12 01:40 PM by nathantw

Hello,
I've been using a Gigapan Epic 100 for years now. The stitching program that comes with it, 2.0.5xx works pretty well. However, there are times when it doesn't work properly so I've used the free Microsoft ICE that you can download. It's a great program. The other program I purchased was Autopano. It has only worked for me once or twice. It's a nice program though it's really expensive. Another free program to get is Hugins that a lot of people have had success with. I haven't and don't use it.

As for the type of lens to use, I've used a 75-150mm series E up to 400mm. Of course the longer the lens the longer it takes to take a Gigapan. At times I felt that it would be faster just to shoot it manually and it was faster. However, the stitching wasn't as precise as with the Gigapan. Some people use a fisheye for specialty and a 50mm. I think that's a little too short. A 85mm is a good length to start.

I think your 180mm will be perfect and the 70-300 would work as long as it doesn't vignette in the corners.

If you want to see my work just go to the gigapan site www.gigapan.org and search for nathantw. You'll see the 75-150 worked great for me along with the other lenses.

Good luck and have fun with your Epic Pro! By the way, Welcome to Nikonians!

>Hello,
>
>My interests lie in architectural photography (and related
>architectural sculpture) for my teaching and research (art
>history). I am applying on a departmental budget to purchase a
>Gigapan Epic Pro to offer my students the next best experience
>of architectural space other than standing in the buildings
>themselves.
>
>First question: I use a D700 and the relevant telephotos I own
>are a 180mm 2.8 AFD and 70-300 VR. Do you have any
>recommendations re one or other of these lenses for Gigapan
>high res composite photography (unfortunately the budget won't
>stretch to a 70-200 2.8!).
>
>Second question: will the bundled software do the job for 360
>x >180 composites or must I invest in PTGUI or such-like?
>
>Many thanks in advance of any advice received,
>
>Jethro
>
>ps. this is my first Nikonians post so apologies if it is not
>within the best discussion thread (I'm stilll finding my way
>around the site); I figured the D700 was sufficient a
>connection ...
>(UK)

Visit my Nikonians gallery.


Also http://www.flickr.com/photos/nathantw/

wombatj

UK
9 posts

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#2. "RE: Gigapan Epic Pro - lens & software suggestions?" | In response to Reply # 1

wombatj Registered since 14th Mar 2012
Wed 02-May-12 02:09 PM | edited Wed 02-May-12 05:37 PM by wombatj

Many thanks Nathan, that is very helpful advice and I will follow up your software recommendations and also experiment with some other focal lengths as you suggest. Much appreciated! Jethro

wombatj

UK
9 posts

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#3. "RE: Gigapan Epic Pro - lens & software suggestions?" | In response to Reply # 1

wombatj Registered since 14th Mar 2012
Wed 02-May-12 02:09 PM | edited Wed 02-May-12 02:15 PM by wombatj

And one further thing in response to your helpful comments - it sounds from what you said that the Epic 100 could likewise handle a substantial combined weight of DSLR body and lens? I only ask because if so then this would be a good alternative, financially speaking. Thanks, Jethro

nathantw

US
184 posts

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#4. "RE: Gigapan Epic Pro - lens & software suggestions?" | In response to Reply # 2

nathantw Registered since 16th Jan 2008
Wed 02-May-12 02:16 PM

My pleasure to help. If you just purchased your Gigapan and haven't used it outdoors yet, there's a little something you should know that's undocumented. You'll attract attention from passerby's like bees to honey. Hopefully you're good with people. I'm the wrong person for this and I hate getting attention, but I attract it and so I deal. One of the reasons why I didn't get a Gigapan Pro is because it's so much larger than the Epic 100. I can't imagine the hordes of people that will swarm me while I take the picture.

One thing to get, if you don't already own one, is a really sturdy tripod. Also, someone suggested a small tent to put around the unit to block the wind. I think that's a good idea.

Nathan

>Many thanks Nathantw, that is very helpful advice and I will
>follow up your software recommendations and also experiment
>with some other focal lengths as you suggest. Much
>appreciated! Jethro

Visit my Nikonians gallery.


Also http://www.flickr.com/photos/nathantw/

HSSwan

Hollywood, US
58 posts

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#5. "RE: Gigapan Epic Pro - lens & software suggestions?" | In response to Reply # 4

HSSwan Silver Member Laureate Ribbon awarded as a winner in a Nikonians Best of Images Annual Photo Contest Nikonian since 24th Jun 2006
Wed 02-May-12 02:54 PM

I've found that if you're surly they don't bother you as much but you really have to work at it!

Attention aside, I tried using a 300mm for landscapes and it works nicely if you have the patience but something in the mid telephoto works best for me. If you're looking at architecture I'd stay in the normal to short telephoto.

nathantw

US
184 posts

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#6. "RE: Gigapan Epic Pro - lens & software suggestions?" | In response to Reply # 3

nathantw Registered since 16th Jan 2008
Wed 02-May-12 03:13 PM

>And one further thing in response to your helpful comments -
>it sounds from what you said that the Epic 100 could likewise
>handle a substantial combined weight of DSLR body and lens? I
>only ask because if so then this would be a good alternative,
>financially speaking. Thanks, Jethro

I found that it can hold up to 5 pounds 1 ounce. Not one ounce more. Of course the triggering device also counts as weight too, so you'll most likely want to take it off the mount and use an external release. The weight of the camera, though, will bend the camera plate (where it sits upon) so you'll need to prop it up somehow. I use a plastic ball that works well. They may have changed the design of the Epic 100 where the motor isn't as powerful either.

Here's my unit with the 400mm lens. You'll see that I have the external release off the unit (it's held together with the rubber bands.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/nathantw/6723677991/in/photostream

http://www.flickr.com/photos/nathantw/6723666451/in/photostream/

I also rigged to unit and made purchased an external battery so I can get at least 3000 pictures if I need to.

If I was going to use the D700 on the Gigapan more often, though, I'd get the Gigapan Pro since it has the remote trigger cable built in. Also the built in batteries I heard last about 1000 shots so the need for an external battery won't be necessary either. I normally use a Canon Powershot SD950. It works pretty well, but as you can see with some of the Grand Canyon pictures that I took on the gigapan site, they're not as smooth looking as a D700. I was thinking of a mirrorless camera since it's smaller and can hold whatever lens I want to throw on it. I just didn't want to wear out my shutter in the D700.

Some person was selling their Gigapan Pro for about $700 on Epray the last month and I should have purchased it since I would have saved $200, but I decided, as I said earlier, that I didn't want to attract attention. However, I may still buy one at a later date at a regular cost. I like the idea I could use my Hasselblad 180mm lens with my D700 (or at least the Nikon 28-300) on the Gigapan.

Nathan

Visit my Nikonians gallery.


Also http://www.flickr.com/photos/nathantw/

wombatj

UK
9 posts

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#7. "RE: Gigapan Epic Pro - lens & software suggestions?" | In response to Reply # 4

wombatj Registered since 14th Mar 2012
Wed 02-May-12 05:14 PM

More good advice Nathan, thank you.

I have a fairly hefty Gitzo tripod which I can weigh down further with a hanging bag of some description. Re passersby, yes, I'll endeavour to be at my most diplomatic. In the past, while photographing French Cathedrals for any length of time, people invariably came up to chat, but I rather enjoy that. The risk that I envisage with the Gigapan (and no, it's not bought yet, but the application for purchase went to my employer yesterday) is that any such "visitors" will then appear in the photos which follow. There is a Gigapan of St Paul's in London on the web at the moment, an otherwise excellent composite photograph, but with a great many split people in the view. On the other hand, Andrew Tallon, an academic in the US has achieved unbelievably fine photos of various great French churches, inspiring me to try and do something similar. FYI follow the links at: http://art.vassar.edu/faculty/antallon.html

All best, Jethro

>My pleasure to help. If you just purchased your Gigapan and
>haven't used it outdoors yet, there's a little something you
>should know that's undocumented. You'll attract attention from
>passerby's like bees to honey. Hopefully you're good with
>people. I'm the wrong person for this and I hate getting
>attention, but I attract it and so I deal. One of the reasons
>why I didn't get a Gigapan Pro is because it's so much larger
>than the Epic 100. I can't imagine the hordes of people that
>will swarm me while I take the picture.
>
>One thing to get, if you don't already own one, is a really
>sturdy tripod. Also, someone suggested a small tent to put
>around the unit to block the wind. I think that's a good idea.
>
>
>Nathan

wombatj

UK
9 posts

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#8. "RE: Gigapan Epic Pro - lens & software suggestions?" | In response to Reply # 5

wombatj Registered since 14th Mar 2012
Wed 02-May-12 05:27 PM

Thank you HSSwan, this is really helping me build up a picture of what I need to be using. I guess I have to balance the possibilities of extreme resolution with a long reach lens with those of ease shooting less frames on a medium telephoto. From what you and Nathan have advised I think I may need to keep my eyes open for a lens around the 85 to 135mm mark. I am wondering also whether for the Gigapan there is an advantage of primes over zooms for ease of use?

best, Jethro

wombatj

UK
9 posts

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#9. "RE: Gigapan Epic Pro - lens & software suggestions?" | In response to Reply # 6

wombatj Registered since 14th Mar 2012
Wed 02-May-12 05:36 PM

Yes Nathan, I can now fully appreciate why people would stop and rubber-neck: what a great looking camera and lens combo! And thanks for more good advice re the epic 100 vs epic pro loading. Jethro

HSSwan

Hollywood, US
58 posts

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#10. "RE: Gigapan Epic Pro - lens & software suggestions?" | In response to Reply # 8

HSSwan Silver Member Laureate Ribbon awarded as a winner in a Nikonians Best of Images Annual Photo Contest Nikonian since 24th Jun 2006
Wed 02-May-12 10:42 PM

Zooms can change focal length either by accident or creep. Nothing worse than to be a couple hundred shots into a pano and have a change of focal length. Primes are lighter and they are considered at least historically to be sharper. I'm dragging out a slew of old Nikkor primes in anticipation of a D800 arrival to test that theory.

Choice of lens is really going to be more affected by proximity to your subject. You may not have much choice if you're doing an interior. A telephoto may be useless. As for resolution you'll need to define the end product first. You can really over do it but it is fun to play. Good luck.

BTW, you can spend a lot of time doing HDR panos. I'm not a people person so I generally carry headphones, the noise canceling type. Isolation and a smile works.

Harry

nathantw

US
184 posts

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#11. "RE: Gigapan Epic Pro - lens & software suggestions?" | In response to Reply # 10

nathantw Registered since 16th Jan 2008
Wed 02-May-12 11:04 PM

>Zooms can change focal length either by accident or creep.

Yes it can. That's why, for me at least, I either tape it down or use a wide rubber band. I have a push-pull type.

>
>BTW, you can spend a lot of time doing HDR panos. I'm not a
>people person so I generally carry headphones, the noise
>canceling type. Isolation and a smile works.

That's pretty funny, Harry. I actually do the same, but people inevitably force me to take it off so I can talk with them. In the end it isn't all that bad. They're just curious. One of the weirdest situations I encountered, though, was when I was in San Francisco's Chinatown and was taking a Gigapan. I was just looking at the unit do its thing when I looked to my left to see this guy standing REALLY close to me. His head was closer to my head than I felt comfortable with. I was pretty shocked that I immediately pulled away. He never said anything but I knew he was just wondering what the heck I was doing.

Visit my Nikonians gallery.


Also http://www.flickr.com/photos/nathantw/

HSSwan

Hollywood, US
58 posts

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#12. "RE: Gigapan Epic Pro - lens & software suggestions?" | In response to Reply # 11

HSSwan Silver Member Laureate Ribbon awarded as a winner in a Nikonians Best of Images Annual Photo Contest Nikonian since 24th Jun 2006
Thu 03-May-12 12:32 AM

I was in Jasper National Park at a pull out on the Ice Field Parkway so busy setting up the Epic Pro as quickly as I could that I didn't notice the bus that had pulled up behind me or the 30 to 40 Chinese tourist standing quietly behind me watching ... Somewhere in China are hundreds of photos of my expression of shock and bewilderment. Sennheiser PXC 250's are damn good for noise cancelling.

wombatj

UK
9 posts

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#13. "RE: Gigapan Epic Pro - lens & software suggestions?" | In response to Reply # 10

wombatj Registered since 14th Mar 2012
Sat 05-May-12 08:38 AM | edited Sat 05-May-12 03:06 PM by wombatj

>Zooms can change focal length either by accident or creep.
>Nothing worse than to be a couple hundred shots into a pano
>and have a change of focal length. Primes are lighter and
>they are considered at least historically to be sharper. I'm
>dragging out a slew of old Nikkor primes in anticipation of a
>D800 arrival to test that theory. over do it but it is fun to play. Good luck.
>
>
>Harry

Thanks again Harry and Nathan, it's great to receive such experienced advice. I was likewise concerned about the risk of focal lengths shifting and will be sure to tape the zoom when using that, and to experiment also with primes. It's a case of thinking that the VR on the former might have some positive effect to stabilise the lens quickly as the gigapan moves each couple of seconds, vs the advantage of a sharp prime - but practice will tell. At this stage now I just wait to see if the budget is approved to buy the Gigapan, not least because there is interest from other quarters in providing Gigapan shots for related educational / museum institutions. I think the scope of this machine extraordinary. Best, Jethro

ps. I greatly enjoyed your accounts of public curiosity in what you were shooting. I suppose this is inevitable when you take a piece of NASA technology out into the wild yonder!

POSTCRIPT: have just been given approval to purchase the Gigapan for our school, links to photos will follow once we have learned how to use it! Thanks for all your help.

nathantw

US
184 posts

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#14. "RE: Gigapan Epic Pro - lens & software suggestions?" | In response to Reply # 13

nathantw Registered since 16th Jan 2008
Sat 12-May-12 01:03 PM


>POSTCRIPT: have just been given approval to purchase the
>Gigapan for our school, links to photos will follow once we
>have learned how to use it! Thanks for all your help.

Congrats! Which one are you planning on getting? The Epic Pro or one of the other two? What type of camera are you planning on using?

Visit my Nikonians gallery.


Also http://www.flickr.com/photos/nathantw/

MEMcD

US
31632 posts

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#15. "RE: Gigapan Epic Pro - lens & software suggestions?" | In response to Reply # 13

MEMcD Moderator In depth knowledge in various areas Nikonian since 24th Dec 2007
Fri 18-May-12 07:01 PM

Hi Jethro,

Welcome to Nikonians!

The 70-300mm VR system does not have Tripod mode. Using VR while mounted on a tripod is more likely to induce blur than to prevent it.
Good Luck and Enjoy your Nikons!

Best Regards,
Marty

wombatj

UK
9 posts

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#16. "RE: Gigapan Epic Pro - lens & software suggestions?" | In response to Reply # 14

wombatj Registered since 14th Mar 2012
Wed 23-May-12 12:28 PM

The Gigapan epic pro arrived and I have just shot a couple of ranges of test images (of architectural interiors). To get an idea of how it worked I was using a 20mm 2.8 with my D700, but have found these very difficult to stitch coherently into a 360x180 panorama. I failed first to do it in Gigapan Stitch (my fault probably) and have just retried it in PTGUI. PTGUI did stitch these but the very distorted lines of each plane suggest that I was being too optimistic (in hoping to limit the number of photos needed for such a panorama) with a 20mm lens and should stick to a longer focal length? Will persevere! Jethro

HSSwan

Hollywood, US
58 posts

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#17. "RE: Gigapan Epic Pro - lens & software suggestions?" | In response to Reply # 16

HSSwan Silver Member Laureate Ribbon awarded as a winner in a Nikonians Best of Images Annual Photo Contest Nikonian since 24th Jun 2006
Wed 23-May-12 01:17 PM

Gigapan has a new forum setup that might be of interest to you. http://gigapan.com/forums

I guess they abandoned their old forums which had some good discussions on wide angle lens use but the message was: wider the lens the more difficult to level and align in post.

wombatj

UK
9 posts

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#18. "RE: Gigapan Epic Pro - lens & software suggestions?" | In response to Reply # 17

wombatj Registered since 14th Mar 2012
Thu 24-May-12 05:49 AM

Thank you, I'll have a look at the discussion on the gigapan forum and stick to longer lenses. Best, Jethro

G