Vertical cropped spheres for panormas, advantages and disadvantages compared to creating panoramas using full spheres

Clipped from an email to my friend Vasin discussing why I prefer using vertical cropped spheres.

To answer your question, in my experience, the FC-E9 is not particularly "sharper" that the FC-E8 the sharpness pretty much comes from the resolution of the camera. This is why I zoom into the sphere to get as much coverage as possible. the result is a lot more pixes to the diameter of the sphere captured. zooming in almost doubles the available number of pixels in the final image. Practically speaking using numbers from my Coolpix 5400 I would get a max panorama size of about 2000x4000 pixels if the sphere fills the image but is not cropped. (in real life it would be slightly less since the chip in the camera is not entirely centered.) this image size then give me a 8 megapix panorama (2000x4000 = 8 mill) By zooming in as close as possible and turning the camera vertical, the resulting panorama file is 2500x5000 pixels, this = 12.5 megapix. not double but a significant improvement.!

Naturally nothing good comes easy, and it is harder to stitch a panorama based on 3 images compared to one with two. How ever I belive it is worth the effort, personally I am right now using 3D-Vista Stitcher which lets me save photoshop files with layers and also have a great interface for manually setting reference points between the frames if required, however 90% of the time I get a great stitch using the automatic feaure. Also the new version of Easy Pano being released in the spring of 2005 will offer the same functionality. And naturally this can be done using PanoTools.

Perfecting the technique of using 3 spheres cropped on the side is a in-expensive way of increasing resolution. on a 4 megapix camera when not zooning in the max resolution is about 1700x3400 = 5.8 megapix when zooming in and turning the camera vertical the same camera delivers about 2200x4400 = 9.68 megapix. It is only 500 more pixels on the diameter of the sphere, but it adds a LOT of pixels to the overall panorama and those pixels significantly increases the overall sharpness of the picture.

I tested the CoolPix 8400 yesterday, and it is very cool. it feels nice in the hand. and more importantly the pictures I have seen from it have a great dynamic range. For some reason we were not able to get the bracketing to work on the demo camera.. I do not know why. But the main reason I did not take it home is that they have not released the tube to attach the FC-E9 lens yet. so there were no way for me to use it on my shoot this week. Ha Ha. Had they had the tube I would have taken it. because the extra resolution is well worth it. the files are 3260 pixles long, which would let me make a panorama of about 3200x6400 pixels resulting in a total of almost 20.5 megapixels. I can't wait to print some large panoramas from this baby.

The bracket I made will work with any camera, the main idea is that it holds the lens instead of the camera, after all using a lens like the FC-E9 also means that the lens is significantly heavier than the camera. One day when I were playing with the camera I realized this and started making models of brackets which would hold the lens instead of the camera. As you are aware, using the right step up or down rings almost any digital camera can be mounted behind the FC-E9 and FC-E9 lenses. I am in the future going to make ring style insert which will alow the larger bracket to hold the smaller FC-E8 lens.

Oh, I almost forgot. There is one practical difference between using the FC-E8 and the FC-E9, the E9 is faster, meaning that more light goes through it, this means that when shooting at night, you practically cut your exposure times in half. simply because a lot more light goes through the lens. Other than that, they are about equal in sharpness. naturally the BIG advantage of the E8 is that it is a LOT lighter.



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