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Thread: Digital stitching versus 4x5

  1. #1

    Digital stitching versus 4x5

    Okay . Been a while since I posted question regarding using stitching versus a 4x5 chrome. The question being would/could stitching equal 4x5. Said I was going to do an experiment and I did...

    By the way- free videos on photo technique but mainly photographing in the wild are posted on my website wildernesslight.com. Shameless plug.

    ...Here's how the experiment went. I grabbed my brother in law's Canon Rebel, 6 or 7 megapixel camera, walked out the Florida condo and made a few panos. No pano equipment, 24-70 zoom, auto everything. Shot vertical frames anywhere from 4-8 frames. I made sure that each pano had foreground starting at 4-5 feet and extending to 200 feet and/or infinity.

    Put the images into Photoshop CS 3 and let the softwear do its thing. The results were conclusive if the experiment technique was not. The panos failed to make it to 4x5 quality by a long margin. It would have taken at least 2 rows of individual photos, even light, focus blending....and a processing nightmare to get this to measure up to 4x5 quality. Even with the new Canon 5D I think stitching is going to be a real pain in the real world.

    The good news is that the photos were razor sharp where they were focused. If I could have taken that tiny sliver of the photo that was in-focus and replicated that and mutiplied that by 2 pano rows I would have made a 4x5 duplicate.

    So how about single digital capture with a phase one 60 megapixel back...

    I was looking at the luminous-landscape photos from Antarctica and someone made the comment that the phase one 65 back images on the web looked better than the Sony 25 megapixel camera images. This was obvious to me too. What's also been obvious to me is that anything less than this $40,000 back does not equal 4x5. Ive looked at photos from 31 and 39 megapixel backs and the first thing I said to myself was, "ain't 4x5".

    I'm not through with digital yet. I think that stitching technique could be better applied than what I did. A camera like the Leica S-2 might work. It could work if you only had to do a one row pano. This might still need a focus near and a focus far for every part of the photo to be as sharp as 4x5. But the cost. I've sold a lot of prints and I know a few photographers making their livings selling prints and there's no way a $60,000 camera outfit makes any economic sense. No way in hell if you have kids , mortgage, car and want to eat.

    Plus a medium format outfit weighs in and is bulkier than 4x5. It also has way to many parts to go wrong with it. And forget about taking it anywhere except where you can keep it chained to your wrist.

    For now I'll suck it up and put the Linhof into the backpack. But the time will come when I can't get my outsourced scans and I really can't carry the weight.

    I'll let it develop...maybe something by th enext Photokina.

    Claude Fiddler

  2. #2

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    Re: Digital stitching versus 4x5

    Hi Claude,

    Thanks for getting back to us with the update - I'm sure that many appreciate it.

    I suspected that you might reach this conclusion - couple of things did pop into mind as I read your feedback though ...

    - When shooting panos, manual exposure is needed - or you end up with headaches when stitching, and ...

    - It would be interesting to see if processing the images through DxO optics to correct lens distortions would make for better stitching.

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    Re: Digital stitching versus 4x5

    Now I'm intrigued. The luminous-landscape images that I have seen have been on my computer screen (i.e. digital and not gigapixel as I look at them). Are we discussing what I can see on my monitor at home, or on a billboard somewhere?

    As we know to our cost, the digital stiching of panoramic shots is non-trivial by it's very nature and lots of stuff is available here in the tutorials to help us acheive the Holy Grail of high resolution stitched together images. The Auto everything is the first no-no, because the images will not want to match the adjacent images at a different exposure. If the same care had been taken with the exposure as had been taken with the 5" X 4" image then things may well have been different.

    The things that we learn here are usefull, in my opinion anyway, and allow us lesser mortals to emulate what some can do with a single 5" X 4" "snapshot" whilst bearing in mind that the large format image is also still relevant today.

    Let's say I grabbed MY brother in law's 5" X 4" Linhof (nice kit BTW) and set it to auto everything (It doesn't what?, Not even? You're joking aren't you?) and I would bet that the results would be, being kind, poor.

    I know that getting digital level (seen on your PC) good pictures is a world away from huge print size good pictures, but if your target is for getting a website image, then that sets your parameters.

    I think that what I'm trying to point out is, if I was choosing a camera to drag up a mountain (Everest will do, thats a biggy) then the last thing I would want is for the captured mage to be a secret until I'd dragged the whole kit back down again. The digital thing works for me because I can learn now. And because I have new knowledge, I can have another try.

    I hold my hand up (both of them if asked) to being put off by waiting for rolls of film being developed before I know how badly I messed up, because with digital I can use what I learned before going home.

    I'm very sorry if this seems like a rant, but I'm not sufficiently confident to capture things in one "take". I do admire those who can though, and the text books (and galleries) are full of images taken by those who can.

    Kudos to Claude who can make this magic work with his kit, but I want to make this lind of thing work with what I have. It ought to be possible, according to the tutorials here it IS possible, so I'm going to have a go at it.

  4. #4

    Re: Digital stitching versus 4x5

    The exposures weren't the problem. I could look past that. Where the problem resided was in getting a sharp photo foreground to background. Let's assume that a near focus and a far focus or some combo in between processed with a software could yield a tack sharp image foreground to back ground. Thin Ansel Adams Mount Williamson pic.

    Okay, focus and resulting sharp detail achieved. We now have 8 exposures for a one row pano. One row, with the camera I used, 6 or 7 megapixels, does not get to 4x5 quality though. A canon 5 D might. If not then multiple rows become necessary to achieve 4x5 quality. That is the conclusion I have reached. Does this means its impractical. I don't know. That would take more experimentation. I did a quick, down and dirty, experiment and got the information that I felt was critical. Does that mean that in a given set of circumstances Canon 5D, pano equipment, near/far focus blend, sharpening, even light, no movement, etc. 4x5 quality can be achieved. It probably can. But it ain't going to be as easy or fact as a 4x5. I can have the Linhof set-up up and an exposure made in one to two minutes.

    Auto focus showed me if a 4 row pano could work. It does not. The image isn't sharp through the depth of field. I know about critical singular plane of focus and circles of confusion.

    Regarding the phase one 65+ photos versus the Sony A 900 photos. What I'm saying is that image quality was obvious, to me at least, even looking at photos on the website.

    In the real world I've looked at hundreds of 30x40 inch prints from 4x5 and seen a few from phase one earlier backs. The early phase one backs did not make it to 4x5 quality and what I'm saying is that it looks like the 65+ does. At a price.

    By the way you can see my West Ridge of Mount Everest photos on my website. The 1983 expedition. I made it to 27,500 feet without supplemental oxygen where high winds forced retreat.


    Claude

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    Re: Digital stitching versus 4x5

    Quote Originally Posted by Claude Fiddler View Post
    By the way you can see my West Ridge of Mount Everest photos on my website. The 1983 expedition. I made it to 27,500 feet without supplemental oxygen where high winds forced retreat.
    Hi Claude,

    I didn't realise you were a mountain man! A good friend of mine made the trip to Everest base camp a few years ago -- and he was priviliged to also get to know another chap who made it all the way to the top quite a few years ago (Sir Ed Hillary) (has got quite a few things personally signed by him). My brother was a keen mountaineer, but I never really caught the bug (although at age 6 I think I was the youngest person to ever climb Mt. Egmont -- a modest 8260 feet).

    Don't tell me you lugged the 5x4 to 27,500 feet?

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    Re: Digital stitching versus 4x5

    Quote Originally Posted by Claude Fiddler View Post
    The exposures weren't the problem. I could look past that. Where the problem resided was in getting a sharp photo foreground to background. Let's assume that a near focus and a far focus or some combo in between processed with a software could yield a tack sharp image foreground to back ground. Thin Ansel Adams Mount Williamson pic.


    Claude
    Point taken on that one! Maybe you could move all the rocks out of the foreground, plus I expect you'd need some kind of tilt/shift lens on the DSLR. Then you'd probably have to keep the tilt of the lens the same and use shift to do the up - down Pano. bit.

    That's the easy bit though, making the clouds stay put would be the killer.

    BTW Claude, congratulations on getting so far up Everest, I'd probably bore you to death with questions about the trip at a dinner party.

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    Re: Digital stitching versus 4x5

    Claude,

    You might find this interesting ...

    http://www.roundshot.ch/xml_1/intern.../d925/f934.cfm

  8. #8

    Re: Digital stitching versus 4x5

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    Claude,

    You might find this interesting ...

    http://www.roundshot.ch/xml_1/intern.../d925/f934.cfm
    I'm a little familiar with the Seitz. It's a tethered set-up. There's a lot of promising digital equipment out there. I think as I've said in previous posts- I really want a camera mistress with the next set-up I purchase.

    No I didn't bring the 4x5 on Everest but I did bring a tripod for the 35mm. Had I the desire or opportunity to do over I would bring the 4x5.

    I don't think a tilt-shift can be used for a pano. If it could that would solve a ton of problems but there must be a SIGNIFICANT image change with the camera rotation. Tilt/shift does a great job making single capture much better.

    I'm thinking about contacting Leica to get my hands on a S-2 to try. At that point, with a bigger sensor, I think it would be worth really trying to get a pano put together that could make a 40x50 inch print.

    Thanks for the feedback! Helpful and keeps me on my toes!!!

    Claude

  9. #9

    Re: Digital stitching versus 4x5

    Quote Originally Posted by Claude Fiddler View Post
    I don't think a tilt-shift can be used for a pano. If it could that would solve a ton of problems but there must be a SIGNIFICANT image change with the camera rotation. Tilt/shift does a great job making single capture much better.
    Claude
    I have some tilt/shift lenses, a D300, and the "Ultimate-Pro Omni-Pivot Package": http://reallyrightstuff.com/rrs/item...atus=0&Tp=&Bc= The "Pano Elements Package: For single row" actually works perfectly for many shots, and set vertically I can quickly do two or three vertical rows using the shift function on the lens and multiple horizontal rows. With a D3x or (for me when it comes out) a "D700x" I'm expecting to get near MFDB quality and sometimes even greater resolution at an affordable price and it will be more portable than a 4x5 view camera or MFDB.

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    Gigapixel image.....

    http://www.tawbaware.com/maxlyons/index.html

    See this Max Lyons' link to a Gigapixel Image as well as a lot of other interesting pano information and images.

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