I've known about Panoramic Photography for quite a while but 3D Panoramic Photography, that's something new. For the last year I've been focusing my efforts to study about the techniques involved.
The worst part of the hobby is the pricing. Everything is NOT reasonably priced! This kind of photography is considered niche for tripod head makers and they overprice their products to the point where it is becoming a significant barrier for amateurs. Because of the high price tag, products are never a ready stock here in Indonesia. We have to wait as long as 6 months for distributors to re-stock their inventories.
I just hope that I'm doing something about the barriers above by writing it here on my blog.
Well I didn't give up at all! I scoured the Internet to look for DIY tripod heads. Googled it and a bunch of designs showed up. All of them from professional photographers around the world. It took me quite a while to figure out photography jargons. For jargons related with panoramic photography, here are a few and its meaning:
- Parallax Effect This is the most important part of the photography itself. There's no easy way to explain this but to try will be like seeing things with only 1 perspective. Try closing your left eye and now open it and close your right eye. You will see that the objects in front of is not in the same position with each eye perspective. This must be avoided at all cost with panoramic photography or you will get stitching errors.
- Nodal Point The nodal point is the center of the lens to be short. If you find your lens' nodal point and place it on a panoramic tripod head, no matter where you move your camera, the perspective will always be the same. For more technical explanation about Parallax Effect & Nodal Point, you can take a look at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k0HaRZi-FWs.
- Zenith & Nadir The Zenith is the picture frame on top while Nadir is the picture frame below.
- Software Stitcher Now to get all the pictures into a 3D projection, you will need stitching software. I personally use Autopano Giga. This is the most comfortable compared with all others for me. Other software you can use are Hugin & PTGui Pro. I create spherical panoramas because it's less hassle to do.
- Flash Panoramic Viewer Here comes the champion. I am a proud KRPANO user. It's very easy to learn and very flexible to extend. They use an XML config file that is very intuitive and documentation is brilliant.
Anyways, I'm not planning to detail much of the process here, but if you find this interesting, tweet me @tista and I'll reconsider.
Here are some of my shots with a rather imperfect DIY tripod head. Click on the images and it will take to the panoramic view. The panoramic view file is well over 4 MB so it'll be quite a while to show up.
I still have 1 other panoramic view of Rumah Gadang, Sumatera Barat - Taman Mini Indonesia Indah but it still being processed as I type so I'm gonna post those 2 first.
You can notice on the panoramic view that straight lines are sometimes broken. My apologies for that. I'm using a pocket camera with standard lens so distortions are strong. My DIY tripod head is also the culprit. I can't get consistent results at times but the Global RMS from Autopano is below 4.00 so errors are there but good enough for a proof-of-concept.
Anyways, if you're interested in this kind of photography, let me know and maybe we can share some thoughts about it.