Sweep panorama function XE1 X100s and Nex 6
I like to take panoramas and have used the sweep panorama function a fair bit.
I did a bit of a test this morning between XE1 with 35mm, 18-55 and Contax g Zeiss 28mm with fotodiox adapter, Nex 6 with the Zeiss 28mm and X100s native and with the widefield lens attachment.
Firstly I have noticed some times when sweep panorama fails. If you are shooting into the sun at any point you are likely to get banding from flare or different exposures. I found this did not happen with the 14mm so much and it would take it better.
I shot all in portrait mode as I don't like long skinny images when shot in landscape orientation.
X100s had about the best image quality and pop. The Zeiss 28mm could also be very good but sometimes it looked cool in colour and other times warm. I had it on Velvia and that gave me cooler colours and Provia gave me warmer.
X100s was a bit fussy about how you shoot it and you needed to shoot at a very steady pace otherwise you were likely to get an error message. Same with Sony Nex 6. XE1 usually is more forgivining in this regard.
I found with all of them that a closer object (in this case mine was a gate house roof) that often misaligned in the shot unless I was very steady.
I found the 18-55 easiest to use and overall very pleasing. I did get more ugly cyan skies occassionally with the 18-55. But the 18-55 with OIS on and set to 23mm gave a nice pleasing panorama shot in portrait mode. My test was of bushland so it would be hard to stitch neatly.
You really have to look in the EVF to see the stitching errors and you would miss them unless they were large obvious ones just looking at the LCD.
The 35mm was the weakest. The 14mm was very good with nice skies and great contrast but you will get some curvature using it for panos. I think its best to use it for single shots.
The Zeiss 28 is very good for this kind of shot. Its high colour, high contast slightly warmer look is very appealling. Its also a good focal length for panos. 18mm on the zoom is also useable.
I did find one thing annoying. The XE1 with the Zeiss and adapter would not magnify focus until I went out of panorama mode and into single shot mode. Then I had to go back into panorama mode. The Nex 6 is way ahead here. Firstly it has superb focus peaking which means it takes seconds to focus. It works in panorama mode as well.
X100s seems to take way more shots than the Nex 6 or XE1. Like 3x as many.
So my overall conclusion is the 18-55 set at about 23mm and F5.6 in portrait mode, Velvia, auto ISO 3200, fine image quality, noise reduction -2 gives a pleasing result. I tried DR200 and 400 but didn't see a gain and it may've caused more banding. At one point the sun was more in the end part of the pano and it would cause banding. Usually only the last little bit for the 18-55 but more for the others.
I would also recommend using a tripod. I was swinging around using my hips and you get to a point where you've run out of swing and I would lift my left foot up on the ball of my foot and swing around more on my right foot in an even manner. You also need to hold the camera firmly with your hand around the lens (easiier with the zoom) and eye to the EVF (display set to EVF) and keep your finger down on the shutter release for stability (no need to once its activated though).
If I wanted maximum IQ I would shoot in RAW and do separate images that I stitched together later. I can see that this function has not gotten rid of the need for that yet. I thought it had.
I looked at some panos I did a while ago and only saw stitching errors on a few. They were with Zeiss 28mm and manually focused. About 7 out of 10 were good.
Some scenes are going to be tougher than others. Water, trees moving in the wind, going into the sun during the shot.
I am not sure if a polariser would worsen or help in that regard.