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Panoramas using Sony cameras

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  • Roger D. Williams
    Today I had lunch with a photographer who recently made a trip to China taking a Sony NEX-5. He has some rather amazing panoramas that he had taken with it and
    Message 1 of 3 , Sep 3, 2010
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      Today I had lunch with a photographer who recently made a trip to
      China taking a Sony NEX-5.

      He has some rather amazing panoramas that he had taken with it
      and showed me how easy it was! He held the camera in the normal
      "landscape" orientation. One panorama of the Yellow River as
      a raging torrent confined between fairly narrow banks was quite
      hair-raising!

      He knew that it could take vertical panoramas, but couldn't understand
      why someone might want to take horizontal panoramas with the camera
      in the "portrait" orientation and got quite cross when I pressed
      him on whether or not it was actually POSSIBLE. He just didn't get
      that the VOF would be increased. Odd! I guess he doesn't eat, drink
      and live panoramas as I do...

      One thing I did notice was that the cropping to a rectangular image
      with a long aspect ratio is quite automatic. Any bowing of the
      horizon appears to be corrected by warping the image and cropping
      the curved tops and bottoms that result when the horizon is straight.
      This is fine when the bowing is slight, due to not holding the lens
      pointing exactly at the horizon, but it would rule out holding the
      camera at, say, 45 degrees to get a strip that could be stitched,
      with others, to make a full 360 x 180 degree panorama.

      I was very impressed with the ease of making panoramas and the
      general quality of the (cylindrical) panoramas so created. So much
      so that now I have traded in several of my older film cameras I
      am thinking of getting a NEX-5. Of course, that would be with the
      wide-angle (fixed focus) lens and wider-angle adaptor. But I'd
      dearly like to see panoramas created with the camera in portrait
      orientation. An earlier Sony definitely provided this capability,
      so I can't see why it wouldn't be provided on the NEX-5...

      Roger W.

      --
      Business: www.adex-japan.com
      Pleasure: www.usefilm.com/member/roger
    • markus_matern
      Hi Roger, ... Yes it is really easy to make these panoramas! ... It is possible to switch the camera to four different shooting modes for 2D panoramas: They
      Message 2 of 3 , Sep 6, 2010
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        Hi Roger,

        some of my thoughts on panoramas made with the Sony NEX-5 and answers to your questions:

        > [...]
        > He has some rather amazing panoramas that he had taken with it
        > and showed me how easy it was! He held the camera in the normal
        > "landscape" orientation.
        > [...]

        Yes it is really easy to make these panoramas!

        > [...] when I pressed
        > him on whether or not it was actually POSSIBLE. He just didn't get
        > that the VOF would be increased.
        > [...]

        It is possible to switch the camera to four different shooting modes for 2D panoramas: They are called "Right", "Left", "Up" and "Down". You can now switch it to "Down", turn the camera 90° counter clockwise and start turning to the right when shooting the panorama. The camera stitches this panorama fine.

        > One thing I did notice was that the cropping to a rectangular image
        > with a long aspect ratio is quite automatic. Any bowing of the
        > horizon appears to be corrected by warping the image and cropping
        > the curved tops and bottoms that result when the horizon is straight.

        The size of the resulting panorama is always the same, depending only on the shooting mode (2D or 3D) the orientation (Left-Right or Up-Down) and the Image Size setting; 2D: Standard or Wide, 3D: 16:9, Standard or Wide.

        This results in the following panorama sizes:

        Shooting Mode | Image Size | Finished Panorama Size
        ------------------+------------+-----------------------
        2D Left, 2D Right | Standard | 8192 x 1856
        ------------------+------------+-----------------------
        2D Left, 2D Right | Wide | 12416 x 1856
        ------------------+------------+-----------------------
        2D Up, 2D Down | Standard | 3872 x 2160
        ------------------+------------+-----------------------
        2D Up, 2D Down | Wide | 5536 x 2160
        ------------------+------------+-----------------------
        3D Left, 3D Right | 16:9 | 1920 x 1080
        ------------------+------------+-----------------------
        3D Left, 3D Right | Standard | 4912 x 1080
        ------------------+------------+-----------------------
        3D Left, 3D Right | Wide | 7152 x 1080
        ------------------+------------+-----------------------

        The sensor size of the camera is 4592 x 3056 for RAW images. This means, that the panoramas are all scaled down inside the camera!

        > This is fine when the bowing is slight, due to not holding the lens
        > pointing exactly at the horizon, but it would rule out holding the
        > camera at, say, 45 degrees to get a strip that could be stitched,
        > with others, to make a full 360 x 180 degree panorama.

        Stitching multi row panoramas from cylindrical stripes will not work. It is even difficult to stitch two cylindrical parts together to a full 360° cylinder! Why? Because the camera always alignes your cylindrical strips as if you shot them perfectly level, even when you did not! The stitcher never knows how to optimize these cylinder strips!

        > I was very impressed with the ease of making panoramas and the
        > general quality of the (cylindrical) panoramas so created. So much
        > so that now I have traded in several of my older film cameras I
        > am thinking of getting a NEX-5. Of course, that would be with the
        > wide-angle (fixed focus) lens and wider-angle adaptor. But I'd
        > dearly like to see panoramas created with the camera in portrait
        > orientation. An earlier Sony definitely provided this capability,
        > so I can't see why it wouldn't be provided on the NEX-5...

        I found out that is is very difficult to make decent panoramas with the automatic shooting modes, when you have straight lines in the panorma! You usually get stitching errors.

        Additional notes:
        * The panoramas are always taken in JPEG file format
        * The exposure is taken from the first image. So you get a different exposure in the resulting panorama when e.g. taking the same panorama two times: One time with "Down" (exposure taken from the sky) and the second one with "Up" (exposure taken from the ground).
        * When "sweeping" the camera too fast the panoram may contain a gray part, that does not contain any image information. You don't get an error message, it just stops taking more images.
        * When making 3D panoramas a 3D MPO file containing the left and right image and an additional JPG are written to the memory

        I uploaded some sample images to a NEX-5 album:
        http://groups.yahoo.com/group/PanoToolsNG/photos/album/127252506/pic/list

        They are all stitched by the camera, except one: MMatern_20100904_0647 Panorama_LowQuality

        All the best,
        PanoTwin Markus
        --
        http://www.panotwins.de/
      • Roger D. Williams
        Thank you, Markus. On Tue, 07 Sep 2010 06:36:57 +0900, markus_matern ... Do these panorama functions work equally well with the wide-angle adaptors attached? I
        Message 3 of 3 , Sep 6, 2010
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          Thank you, Markus.

          On Tue, 07 Sep 2010 06:36:57 +0900, markus_matern
          <mac.mateng@...> wrote:

          > some of my thoughts on panoramas made with the Sony NEX-5 and answers to
          > your questions:

          ----lots and lots of good stuff deleted----

          Do these panorama functions work equally well with the wide-angle
          adaptors attached? I would expect the rectilinear add-on lens to
          work but perhaps not the fisheye add-on lens. That would be
          expecting too much...

          What are the typical FOV figures for the various formats? Best guess
          figures would be fine if accurate ones are not readily available.

          It was interesting to see that my guesses of what the camera should
          be able to do were closer to the mark than those of someone who
          actually owned the camera!

          I seriously considered getting a NEX-5 on the basis of the panoramas
          he had created, but a detailed examination of the DPreview tests of
          this camera convinced me that I would find the controls far too
          frustrating. Now your account of what it can do has me wavering again.

          It's good to have the informed input. Thanks for taking the time
          and trouble! Much appreciated.

          Roger W.

          --
          Business: www.adex-japan.com
          Pleasure: www.usefilm.com/member/roger
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