Whenever I travel I try and remember to take a few panoramic images. I am not a big equipment nut and it would be very rare for me to travel with more than 3 lenses and two camera bodies. I just don’t like to carry too much! So I don’t have any real sophisticated panoramic equipment. This is the equipment I use for 90% of my panos.
My main tripod is a Feisol CT-3372 M2 Rapid. I do also have a FEISOL Tournament Tripod CT-3442 Rapid that I sometimes use for foreign travel. Both of these tripods are equipped with the corresponding leveling bases. I find the leveling base is essential for creating panos with minimum distortion and wave pattern. I use a Really Right Stuff BH-55 Ballhead on my main tripod and use a Feisol Ball Head CB-50DC on my travel tripod, or when I need to cut down on weight. (If you are interested in purchasing Feisol gear use coupon code LKFT672018 in the coupon box and you will be reimbursed a 10% discount. It will not show up on checkout but they will reimburse your credit card the difference)
I use a Really Right Stuff L Bracket on my landscape camera. The L bracket allows me to switch from horizontal to vertical with the lens in the exact same position. So when I shoot my panoramic images, I mount the camera vertically and rotate the ballhead. Ninety percent of the time I use my 24-105mm lens when making panoramic images, but that shouldn’t stop you from trying other focal lengths. I have used my 15- 30 and even my 100-400, so use what is necessary to capture the scene you are after. The nice thing about mounting the camera vertically is you can usually zoom in a bit and make your subject bigger when shooting the scene. The act of creating the pano gives you a wide view, but having a longer focal length can help from the mountains (or whatever distant subject matter) from being to small. It is almost like have a telephoto wide-angle lens. One thing I do suggest when framing your subject is to go a little wider than you want because in case you are not 100% level you will need to do some cropping and you do not want to cut off an important part of the image.
The other piece of equipment that helps me get level panoramas is a 3 axis bubble level that fits into my camera’s hotshoe.
When I am composing my images, I always go through a dry run. That is to aim the camera, loosen the rotating screw of the ballhead and move the camera through the scene checking the level from start to finish. This helps to make sure I am as level as possible. When you photograph make sure your images overlap by at least 1/3 so the software has plenty to work with when stitching.
I prefer to do as much processing ahead of time, so I will pick one image, do the raw processing I feel is appropriate and then apply those changes to all of the images. Then I do the merging, and if needed any additional tweaks to the combined image.
I stitch a majority of my images within Lightroom. There have been several occasions where Lightroom could not do the stitching and then I will try to stitch them together in Photoshop. This usually works. If Photoshop can’t stitch them, then I know I made an error in my capture and there is no hope. Have fun creating panos!
Here is a video of the process.
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