Novoflex’s Panorama=Q PRO; When A Wide Angle Lens Just Won’t Get It! Page 2

The $17.95 Virtual Reality Photography Slate Book (www.vrphotography.com) is indispensable for this kind of photography. It measures 4x6" so you can keep it in your pocket. Open a VR Photo Slate page and the fold-over cover color target can be photographed as the first frame of your sequence under the same lighting conditions of your subject. The color target will give you a reference for color corrections in postproduction and the slate information provides a reference for stitching and any other assembly information. The book includes focal length/field-of-view chart, hyperfocal distances chart, and a grayscale/rectilinear correction chart.

This is a five-shot panorama made with the Canon EOS 5D in Fluorescent mode that produced clean color in a mostly fluorescent environment. Exposure was 1/8 sec at f/9 at ISO 6540. Lens was Canon's EF 22-55mm f/4-5.6 zoom at 29mm.

The angle-of-view chart is based on a full-frame SLR. If your digital camera has a smaller sensor, just apply the camera manufacturer's multiplication factor to the focal length of the lens you're using. If you're using a 24mm lens and have a 1.5x magnification factor you multiply the 24mm by 1.5 to get a 35mm equivalent and look up 35mm on the chart. Since I was shooting with a Canon EOS 5D the angle of view on the chart told me how many shots I needed for a 360Þ circle, including the required overlap. You turn the Panorama=Q PRO's blue knob to select how many increments you want to shoot but since this number is for a 360Þ set you may want to shoot less.

I set the color balance on Daylight for this three-shot panorama of the Westminster, Colorado, City Hall that was decorated for the holidays. Exposure was 1/2 sec at f/5.6 at ISO 200. Lens was the discontinued Canon EF 22-55mm f/4-5.6 zoom at 55mm. Tip: When you are leveling the camera you may need to raise the tripod to its fullest height. I wish I had brought a ladder here. The Tiltall can go one leg set higher but without a ladder I couldn't work the camera.

One rule about overlap is that frames should overlap by 1/4 or 1/3, and that's what the chart's recommendations seemed to produce. I made some tests and actually shot at settings more and less than what was suggested. Always visually check your calculations when shooting. Look through the viewfinder or the LCD preview screen (my preference if you have a big screen) as you pan to the next increment and make sure you have 1/4 to 1/3 of the frame overlapping between shots.

Tip: Make sure the Panorama=Q PRO is tightly mounted on your tripod head.

While it was cold, the snow that would have made this a nicely decorative landscape image had not arrived before I had to return the Panorama=Q PRO to Novoflex. Because you have to photograph the landscape you have and not the landscape you would like, I decided to shoot this one in black and white using the Canon EOS 5D's Monochrome mode. Base exposure for the four shots was 1/100 sec at f/22 at ISO 200. Lens was my favorite cheapo pano lens, the discontinued Canon EF 22-55mm f/4-5.6 zoom at 55mm.

If it is not, the plate can shift when you move it from one click stop to another, ruining the sequence and causing you to start over. Initially the plate was stiff when moving from detent to detent but as I used it the unit seemed to warm up from being inside a cold car trunk and the motion between indents became silky smooth.

The Panorama=Q PRO is a precision tool and will be priced like it, too. When I asked the US importer about the cost I was told "it will be expensive" but right now there is no better or easier way for photographers to make perfect overlapping panoramic shots quickly and easily.

The Photoshop CS3 (beta) Photomerge dialog box offers five different ways to align images, including Auto, Perspective, Cylindrical, Reposition Only, and Interactive Layout.

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Postproduction
There are more different kinds of panoramic software available than there are panorama heads. For the images made with the Novoflex plate I used Adobe Photoshop CS3's (beta) Photomerge function that uses the program's Auto Align Layers function to make quick (there's that word again) work of assembling the panorama. Photomerge's dialog box offers five different ways to align images, including Auto, Perspective, Cylindrical, Reposition Only, and Interactive Layout. You can select a folder of images and even though the images were shot right-to-left instead of left-to-right, Photomerge assembled them left-to-right and lined them up perfectly with one click. Sure, it took a while because these were large JPEG files shot with a Canon EOS 5D, but the result was nevertheless perfect.

Technical Specifications
Dimensions: 140x86mm (5.5x3.4")
Height: 35mm (1.4")
Weight: 630 g (1.4 lbs)
Tripod Connection: 3/8" (1/4" adapter included)
Price: TBA

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