Looking for an EOS lens recommendation for panoramas

Discussion in 'Digital SLR' started by Eugene, Sep 16, 2005.

  1. Eugene

    Eugene Guest

    Hi All,

    I'm considering offering panoramas as a regular service for my clients
    and I'm looking for some recommendations on lenses for my 20D.

    Currently I have a 24-85 USM, and I'm finding the FOV to be
    frustratingly narrow. On my film camera 24mm if plenty wide enough, but
    on the 20D it's certainly nothing special, equivalent to about 38mm.

    A couple of lenses that I've considered are the 15mm f2.8 fisheye, or
    the EF-S 10-22. Has anyone tried using either of these for panoramas?

    They're both around the same price, so it'd really just come down to
    which does a better job. I'm a bit hesitant to get an EF-S lens, as it
    could then only be used on my 20D (not my EOS 30), but if it's clearly a
    better lens for the job though, I would get it.

    The zoom thing is not really an issue, since for panoramas I'd pretty
    well always be using it at the 10mm end.

    How would the FOV compare for the 2 lenses? Logic would tell me that
    10mm should be wider than 15mm. Does this hold true though when one is a

    The software I generally use is autopano-SIFT (for the control point
    matching) and then Hugin + panorama tools for the optimization and
    actual stitching. Does anyone know if these tools would handle a fisheye
    lens correctly? I heard somewhere that for ultra wide, fisheye is
    sometimes better because it has less chromatic aberration, and the
    software can (apparently) correct the distortion relatively easily.

    Any thoughts would be appreciated.


    Eugene, Sep 16, 2005
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  2. When I do panoramas, I use my 20-35 set at 35mm. If you use a
    wide-angle lens, you can get some goofy perspectives after stitching
    them together. Also, I shoot the segments vertically so that I don't
    end up with a thin strip.
    Randall Ainsworth, Sep 16, 2005
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  3. Eugene

    C Wright Guest

    If your are really talking about true panoramas (where several shots are
    stitched together) rather than simply extreme wide-angle shots you are
    leaning the wrong way in lens selection. If you use wide-angle lenses to
    shoot panoramas the perspective (distortion) of each shot, edge to edge,
    will make it very difficult to match the images. It is better to take more
    images with medium to long lenses.
    C Wright, Sep 16, 2005
  4. Eugene

    Doug Payne Guest

    Does Canon offer a wide-angle tilt-shift lens? It's another way to do
    panos. (I'm a Nikon guy, unfamiliar with Canon).
    Doug Payne, Sep 16, 2005
  5. Yes, the 24mm f/3.5L TS-E. It will give you a mildly panoramic picture,
    but not as much as I think you are seeking. Shift will give you a wider
    FoV with no shape distortion mismatch in the corners; tilt will cause
    some problems in matching the drawing of regular shapes. Also, on a DSLR
    with a smaller sensor the 24mm is not particularly wide. I am looking
    forward to using mine on a larger sensor, then I will have it back to
    full usefulness.

    David Littlewood, Sep 16, 2005
  6. Eugene

    Frank ess Guest

    As an example, this rough one was made with a 20D Canon, 24-70 2.8L
    lens, 24mm, 1/250 @ f/7.1 or thereabouts, ISO 100, four frames from
    end to end, something like 15% overlap, handheld
    twist-at-the-waist-platform, selecteded into the PSCS2 make-a-pano
    facility, processed and cropped top and bottom:
    Frank ess, Sep 16, 2005
  7. Eugene

    Frank ess Guest

    For "fun", here it is upsampled to 300ppi per the publisher's request;
    9MB file:
    Frank ess, Sep 16, 2005
  8. Eugene

    David A Guest

    I would not use a wide angle Lens.

    Almost any lens will work, as long as it is commensurate to the subject
    shot, i.e., you could/would use a different lens for a panorama inside a
    room vs a panorama on a mountain top vs a late evening back yard shot.

    The critical factor, IMHO, is the tripod. Assuming you stabalize the camera
    settings so that the overall picture set shares a common exposure and
    balance level, The tripod makes a critical difference. Tall vertical shots,
    the more the better. I like to shoot 24 to 36 pictures per Pano.

    I made a pano holder for my Rebel, took about $40 and a saturday, and a
    drilled hole in my hand. It isn't critically accurate, but it works plenty
    well enough for the pano software to work with. Much better than hand held
    pano shots.

    http://hoofr.com/gallery-e6.htm this was shot with a Tamron 18-75 by
    hand (no tripod), JPG compressed for the web. touched up with Adobe CS a

    If you got the bucks, consider the 360 one shot. Seems like thats the
    premium way to go, and you can do full 360x360 pano's too.

    David A.
    David A, Sep 17, 2005
  9. Eugene

    Alan Bremner Guest

    I've experimented with my 10-22, and as noted elsewhere found the
    extreme perspective at the low end made stitching a nightmare.
    Aesthetically the results were disappointing too. As a landscape lens
    I love the 10-22, especially in the mountains where the extreme
    wide-angles can really emphasise the sense of space and scale. For
    shooting multiple image panoramas it's not ideal, though.

    Alan Bremner, Sep 17, 2005
  10. Eugene

    Eugene Guest

    Hi Frank,

    Very nicely done, particularly using PSCS2. I've tried the PhotoShop
    pano feature and was less than impressed with the results I got. The
    reason I use Panorama Tools is because it can correct the perspective
    distortion of the lens, so in theory it should work properly even when
    using fisheye lenses. I haven't tried this though.

    Have you tried using Canon's PhotoStitch? I've actually found that as
    long as you're reasonably careful taking the photos it does a really
    good job, much better in my opinion than PhotoShop and it's all
    automatic. It corrects the distortion of the lens and automatically
    chooses and matches control points. Panorama Tools is much better still,
    but not exactly easy to use. The panoramas I'm going to be making are
    full 360 degree panos, which I'll then convert to QTVR.

    I really need much wider than 24mm though, because I'll be doing a lot
    of interior panos in holiday park cabins and things. I've found I get an
    extremely narrow view when using 24mm in landscape orientation. I can't
    use portrait orientation yet, because I need to make myself some kind of
    bracket to flip the camera and still have it panning around the nodal
    point. This is very important for interior views, they just wont stitch
    unless it's done properly.

    Eugene, Sep 17, 2005
  11. Eugene

    Eugene Guest

    Yeah, a TS lens wouldn't help me a great deal because I need to do full
    360 degree panos.
    Eugene, Sep 17, 2005
  12. Eugene

    Eugene Guest

    Where you using software to correct the distortion and stitch the
    images? Or stitching manually? Panorama Tools seems to have no trouble
    at all correcting the distortion from my 24-85, but that would be quite
    different to correcting a 10mm.
    Eugene, Sep 17, 2005
  13. Eugene

    Eugene Guest

    Hi David,

    Thanks for the advice. By one shot do you mean those things that attach
    to the lens and create a donut type image from the full 360 view? I've
    looked at some stuff about those on the web and they do look
    interesting, although most of the examples I've seen look a little
    fuzzy. I don't know if that's inherrent in the technique or not. It
    would make things much quicker and easier though.

    There's also the PanoScan cameras. From what I've seen they do a
    fantastic job and make full spherical panoramas, but they're way way out
    of my price range.

    I'm actually planning to try making a vertical pano holder by my 20D
    this weekend. I've found that for horizontal shooting I can just use my
    old metz bracket to mount the camera in the correct place, but obviously
    things get more complicated if the camera also has to be flipped. I'm
    also going to add some spirit levels to my tripod to help with the

    Eugene, Sep 17, 2005
  14. Eugene

    Eugene Guest

    Hi Frank,

    I just had a look at the full-size version. You've done an excellent job
    on that. Did it take long to stitch? There's just one area along the top
    of the range where the seam shows, but otherwise it's pretty much perfect.

    Hey are those eucalypt trees near the road? If not they sure look
    similar. I thought for a second it must have been somewhere in
    Australia, until I saw the California number plates ;-)

    Eugene, Sep 17, 2005
  15. Eugene

    Frank ess Guest

    The stitching was pure PS CS2 automatic, and didn't take more than a
    few seconds on a 3.2MHz, 1GB computer. I've noted before, my skills
    and patience are no match for the requirements of serious
    panorama-ing, and I'm delighted when something 'mechanical' can come
    this close to OK. I did clone out one ghost of a guy in a red shirt
    since he moved between exposures.

    I believe those _are_ 'gum' trees. You know the legend: in the era of
    rail expansion in the US West, Eucalyptus were imported because they
    grew quickly and relatively straight, and planners expected to have a
    continuing crop of raw material for rail ties. They got some of what
    was expected: the trees grew fast; however, it seems Eucalyptus wood
    won't hold a spike, so it was not an appropriate material for railroad
    construction. The trees do have a useful life in many California
    agricultural areas, as windbreaks. And they make nice shade; I have a
    fifty-footer in my front parkway. They are also self-trimming, with
    those too-heavy branches falling without help or warning. San Diego
    has the largest population of Koalas outside Australia, last I heard,
    at the World-Famous San Diego Zoo. Seems to me I learned the code to
    unravel 'Waltzing Matilda' as early as the fourth grade in school. So
    yes, Eucalyptus are familiar here in California. Three different kinds
    on my block, although I know only the Red by name.

    The location of the panorama is Paramount Ranch, east of the Malibu
    Beach colony, north of Los Angeles, in the Santa Monica mountains. It
    is site of hundreds of film and television scenes, and of several
    automobile road races in the 1950s. The cars are actual or similar to
    those raced there in those days.

    Frank ess, Sep 17, 2005
  16. Eugene

    David A. Guest

    By one shot, I do mean those donut like lens's. Is it possible that the fuzz
    you see is the compressed-for-web-JPG factor? I would think that the optics
    in these one shot lens can't possibly compete with top of the line *normal*
    lens. I think that if you want top of the line quality, you have to do it
    the hard way, prime lens and top notch stitch software, or go with the high
    end video stuff.

    Spirit levels are your friends for sure, and a decent tripod and bracket
    assembly are important.

    Your primary question - which lens. Match the lens to the shot, like you
    would any shot. The better the lens, the better the shot, the better the
    pano. Focus on the tripod and mount and set it up to shoot with the camera
    vertical and it make it adjustable so you can use any lens you want.
    Shooting vertical puts the wide angle lens edges on top and bottom, which is
    where you tend to crop anyway, so go for it, use wide angle lens too if you
    have one.

    http://www.vrseattle.com/ have you seen this site? They shot a site for
    my fathers business and used a video camera set up.

    My site has several hand shot pano's. I use 3DVista software.

    David A.
    David A., Sep 17, 2005
  17. Eugene

    Doug Payne Guest

    Well, it's not me that's seeking it :) But you can get about a
    double-wide shot with little distortion by taking 3 shots and shifting
    (camera and lens in opposite directions).
    Doug Payne, Sep 17, 2005
  18. Eugene

    Alan Bremner Guest

    I used the PTLens filter to correct the lens in Photoshop Elements,
    and used Element's Panostitch feature to join the images (with lots of
    manual intervention). To be honest it wasn't really a serious attempt,
    more a case of "oooh, look at that view - let's try a pano!". The
    individual images are great, but to get a decent panorama from them
    probably requires more time and skill than I have at the moment. :)

    Alan Bremner, Sep 18, 2005
  19. Eugene

    Eugene Guest

    That's cool. I had heard that there were red gums in California. I
    didn't realise they were common though.

    I think red gum was generally the wood of choice over here for the
    railroad sleepers. It's very hard and very heavy, but it's apparently
    inclined to warp as it dries. Perhaps that's the problem.

    On the farm where I grew up there's an ancient red gum swamp. Most of
    the trees would be at least 200 years old. They're pretty impressive
    when they get that old. We were always told about the dangers of camping
    under them though. They are notorious for losing limbs even in still
    weather. Often around the base of really old trees you'll see the
    remnants of the limbs they've lost during their life.
    Eugene, Sep 19, 2005
  20. Eugene

    Eugene Guest

    Many of the panos I'll be doing will be inside, so I'll need something
    wide. At the moment I only have a 24-85 lens, which isn't wide enough
    when shooting horizontal, although it might be OK shooting vertical. I
    just have to make myself a suitable bracket. I've just added some spirit
    levels to my tripod, which should help a lot.

    Just had a look at that site, pretty impressive stuff. I've read about
    the PanoScan system before, and it does sound like pretty much the
    ultimate way to do panos. It's very expensive though
    http://www.panoscan.com/Pricing.html, certainly way out of my price
    range. For the whole system $US33,900.
    Eugene, Sep 19, 2005
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