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Thread: Which Lens for panoramic shots

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    Member Tonym's Avatar
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    Which Lens for panoramic shots

    I have a Canon 50D with the 18-200IS lens and would like to take some panoramic pics so what would be a good size lens to use? I dont have a lot of experience with panoramic photography and I dont mind if its Canon, Sigma or Tamron

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    Administrator ricktas's Avatar
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    The 18 end of your lens will do just fine. Some points to assist:

    *Use a tripod - keeping the camera on the same plane, is important for panoramics, especially as you perfect your technique. Starting with good solid photos is the basis for a good pano

    *Do not use a polarising filter. Polarisers work based on the angle of the filter to the sun, so as you pan around for each frame, your angle to the sun changes, thus using a polariser when doing pano series photos means your resultant pano will have varying effects across the scene, when stitched, making it look rather 'patchwork' especially on skies.

    *Do turn your camera on its side and take all your pano frames in portrait aspect, this gives you more latitude, top to bottom, to crop off the final stitched pano.

    *Do overlap each frame by about 50%, to give your stitching software a lot of information in each file that it can line up.

    *Be careful shooting pano's on windy days, movement in trees, seascapes with waves out of sync can look rather average when stitched, but don't be afraid to experiment with them at times, cause the results can sometimes be very dramatic if you can stitch it together effectively.

    *Shoot in manual. Get your settings right and shoot in manual. Shooting in Auto or semi-auto can mean that your camera changes shutter speed, aperture, or ISO between frames, thus the exposure of each frame may be different. This is very hard to correct in processing. So shoot in manual and make sure the same settings are used for each frame of your series, to ensure the exposures are the same and that the resultant pano has a good result.

    *Have fun, go out, take pano series photos, merge them and view the results, practice is what makes perfect, and pano's are no different.
    "It is one thing to make a picture of what a person looks like, it is another thing to make a portrait of who they are" - Paul Caponigro

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    Ausphotography Site Sponsor/Advertiser OzzieTraveller's Avatar
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    G'day TonyM

    You ask about a lens for panos - bit like "how long is a piece of string"

    As someone who loves panos [see my flickr site if you wish] may I ask several Qs for you to consider...
    1- do you want to take one image with a very good lens and crop it to a pano format, then print? ... if so you will need a new camera to give you enough pixels for a cropped result
    2- do you want to take a series of images & stitch them? ... if so, your current lens [probably] is good enough

    I shoot my panos using an 8mpx camera with similar lens to yours; the camera is always tripod mounted, positioned in 'portrait' mode; my lens is an 28-300, tho for pano pix the lens mm varies from 40 to 250 ... I avoid <40 & >250 where I can.

    I shoot 7 or 9 or 11 images as I sweep sideways, and end up with an stitched-image of between 8000 & 10000 px wide x 3000 px high
    Before printing, these are cropped to a 3,2-1 format [cos I like it that way] and printed to 24" or 30" or 40" wide panos for exhibition & sometimes, sale

    Tho not all about lenses, does this help at all??
    Regards, Phil

    ps: Rick's posting has just pipped mine - I agree with all he says, but ... if you have AE Locking, you can use that to lock exposure rather than use Manual
    More later as needed :-)
    Last edited by OzzieTraveller; 24-09-2010 at 6:19am.
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    The Canon EFS 10-22mm is a very good lens for panoramic photography on your 50D.
    The 22mm in portrait mode stiches well because the lens renders true straight lines unlike others that "bend" straight lines and is difficult to correct in overlaps. (barrel distortion)
    "The greatest camera in the world is the one you hold in your hands when shit happens." ©2007 Raoul Isidro

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    A. P's Culinary Indiscriminant mongo's Avatar
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    Mongo is speaking generally now and not about canon specifically.
    Using the really wide angles (15 to 20mm effective) are all very good for that interesting special shot BUT as far as panorama images are concerned, the detail and perspective from those lenses tends to be too small and not impressive.
    Mongo tends to stick to 24 to 28 mm (effective or even higher) and then join 2 or 3 images across then re-crop to suit. This is a little more difficult in the stitching and the matching of small exposure differences between frames but the detail and overall effect is usually more pleasing.
    So, your 18-200mm will give you roughly 26 to 28 mm effective on your camera body if it is a cropped sensor and it should do fine. You should note the good tips mentioned by the others above.
    Nikon and Pentax user



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    I agree with Ricktas for most of his points but not where he says "the 18 end will do just fine". I think Mongo gives already a hint at something you should keep in mind.

    Your 18-200 mm lens most likely has most of its distorsion (barrel) at the very low (and highest) end of the zoom range. So try to avoid that and start somewhere at about 30mm or higher. The advantage of stitching is that you do not need that wide angle as you are creating your "wide angle" with stiching. Also wide angle lenses distort the perspective more than when you use, say 30mm (which compares to 50mm on your 50D) and that is the sort of lens most people used as "general purpose" - lens in the days that there were only analog SLR's and only very expensive zoomlenses.

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    another tip i'll throw in would be to stop your lens down to f5.6 or f8 to minimise any vignetting that you might naturally get from a wider apeture. Also, you'll get a sharper shot. And make sure you remove the CPL (circular polariser) if you have one installed as you might get some odd darkening over a large blue sky
    Canon stuff 5Dmk1 w/ 24-70 f2.8L, Canon 5Dmk1 w/70-200f2.8L, 100mm f2.8 macro, 50mm f1.4, 580exII
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    Phew!

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    Thanks to everyone who has put up their tips and ideas, there is quite a bit of info here in this thread. I will stick with my 18-200 for the time being and try to put all this info to good use.

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    Member gunna64's Avatar
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    Tomyn, just a tip with the 18-200 as I own one as well - keep it at 18 but lock the lens so the zoom is disabled. I'm not sure about yours but I have read it in various columns and experienced it myself - the lens has a tendancy to zoom out of it's own accord when tilted down and likewise zoom in when tilted upwards.

    Unless you can find a way to halt this outside of locking the lens at 18mm ( I haven't as yet) then it will wreck any attempt at a multi row pano or single row pano with tilt required.
    Any C & C welcomed! If you don't like what you see, tell me - it's just another way to become a better photographer - but I don't necessarily have to agree with you either.

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    This is my major issue with the Canon 18-200 and the reason I don't ever recommend people buy them. The optics are probably superior to the Tamron equivalent but at least they don't go wildly zooming when you don't want them too - and the Tamrons have a lock switch so if it does want to go waywardly zooming, it won't when it's around your neck. But anyway

    Quote Originally Posted by gunna64 View Post
    Tomyn, just a tip with the 18-200 as I own one as well - keep it at 18 but lock the lens so the zoom is disabled. I'm not sure about yours but I have read it in various columns and experienced it myself - the lens has a tendancy to zoom out of it's own accord when tilted down and likewise zoom in when tilted upwards.

    Unless you can find a way to halt this outside of locking the lens at 18mm ( I haven't as yet) then it will wreck any attempt at a multi row pano or single row pano with tilt required.

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    Ausphotography Site Sponsor/Advertiser OzzieTraveller's Avatar
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    G'day fellas

    You're talking about the zoom lenses 'slippage' when the lens is tilted up or down
    [argueably when doing panos, the camera /lens combo should be as horizontal as possible]

    Years ago, one of my lenses did this all the time, so I had a piece of 40mm wide cloth tape [waterproof] that I wrapped around the zoom ring & lens body to temporarily 'lock' the zoom at a specific zoom extension

    The tape needed replacing every 2-3 weeks or so, but it did a good job of locking the zoom ring into place
    Regards, Phil

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    My particular lens hasn't done this yet and it feels reasonably tight in the zoom ring but I always lock it when putting it in my camera bag. I will remember the tip though,thanks.

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    Great thread , so many good tips in here, the last thing I would have thought of would be to have the camera on portrait alignment for a pano - so much to learn
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