How to Shoot 360×180 Degree Panoramas with a Panosaurus Panoramic Tripod Head

Posted by Gary Ramey on November 1st, 2011

Required Equipment: Panosaurus

17th Street Causeway BridgeShooting 360×180 degree panoramas usually requires a special tripod head. Trying to shoot this kind of panorama hand held would not be an easy task. Each picture has to overlap by 25-30% not to mention the likelihood of seeing parallax errors in the final image. Parallax errors occur when the camera rotates around a point other than the no parallax point of the lens. The bottom line is that the shots can’t line up properly if there are parallax errors. I have gotten great results with an inexpensive Panosaurus panoramic tripod head. Click here to read my review of the Panosaurus.

Software

To stitch the images together I rely on two programs. Hugin is free software and does a great job with a 360×180 panoramas shot with a fisheye lens such as the Rokinon 8mm Fisheye Lens. If you use an 18mm lens, then Serif PanoramaPlus X4 is a better choice. Each program has its strengths; what one can’t stitch together the other can. Click here to read my review of PanoramaPlus. Your camera may have come with software that can stitch together panoramas but don’t expect it to work with a 360×180 degree panorama.

Number of Shots Required

The number of shots required for a 360×180 panorama depends on the length of your lens. The wider the angle, the fewer shots required. For instance, at 18mm, my kit lens requires 62 shots. My 8mm Rokinon fisheye lens requires just 8 shots. The Panosaurus has degree markings and is color coded to help ensure that you take the correct number of shots and that they are at the correct degree.

Find the No Parallax Point of Your Lens

The Panosaurus has excellent instructions for finding the no parallax point of your lens. Expect to spend some time getting it right and take a few test panoramas to ensure that your software can stitch the panorama together before you depend on it for an important shoot.

Always Shoot from Left to Right

You will find that most software expects that you shoot from left to right. If you shoot from right to left, don’t expect the software to be able to stitch the images together.

Taking the Shots

  • To get the proper overlap with an 18mm lens, you have to take 62 shots. This translates into 5 rows of 12 photos per row plus one shot straight up and another straight down. The degrees are conveniently marked in red on the Panosaurus. 
  • Using an 8mm lens, you get the proper overlap with just 8 shots. The degrees are 0, 60, 120, 180, 240, and 300 plus one shot straight up and another straight down. I have found that the up and down shots should be at 300 degrees but I have seen videos that recommend that you shoot the up and down shots at zero.

Stitching the Shots Together

      • Either Hugin and PanoramaPlus can usually stitch the images together but there are times when they are both confused. Hugin allows you to add manual control points.
      • Use Flaming Pear’s Flexify to warp the stitched image. The image below was stitched together with Hugin then modified in Photoshop with Flexify in order to create the image at the beginning of this article.

       
 

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