Is panorama stitching a viable alternative to UWA (sub-15mm) photography?

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yoms
yoms Forum Member • Posts: 97
Is panorama stitching a viable alternative to UWA (sub-15mm) photography?

Hi,

For landscape and nature photography (on a FF camera), I absolutely need a front filterable zoom lens. I'd also like to shoot very wide, but 10/11/12mm to 24mm UWA zoom lenses do not accept front filters. I'm therefore limited to 14/15/16mm to 35mm WA zoom lenses.

I won't buy both a WA and UWA zoom lenses to accommodate for every possible situation.

So, for those shots where I'd like to shoot ultra wide (<14mm), what do you think of taking several vertical shots at 35mm and stitch them in post and then crop them to 3:2 ratio to mimic the same result? Would that be a viable solution?

I totally understand that I won't be able to use filters in that specific use case, but that's OK.

Given perspectives are different between a shot taken at 11mm and a shot issued from stitching+crop to cover the same field of view, would the aesthetic still be ok? Are there any comparison out there between 11/12mm photographs vs. photographs mimicking the same field of view using panorama stitching?

Thanks for your input.

PS: I use a tripod

PPS: square filters systems are definitely a no-go for me (cumbersome, heavy, costly, light leaks, etc.)

Thanks again

mfinley
mfinley Senior Member • Posts: 5,522
Re: Is panorama stitching a viable alternative to UWA (sub-15mm) photography?
1

It's viable if you think it is.

Composing and framing are easier to do and much more exact with a single shot through the viewfinder, but as long as you can make the images you want stitching what does it matter? Stitching has its issues, especially when you have movement in your subject such as fast-moving clouds or boats moving at anchor on water. Add in bracketed frames and you add another technical issue to the mix. But plenty of images are made stitched, there are compromises to both.

There are workarounds to uwa lenses that don't have filter rings besides 100mmx100mm square filters.

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JE River Regular Member • Posts: 268
Re: Is panorama stitching a viable alternative to UWA (sub-15mm) photography?
7

Yes, absolutely it is a very viable alternative to UWA lenses, and even has some huge benefits. To get the most out of stitching, use both PTGui and Photoshop. Between those two, you can stitch anything. PT Gui is the king of aligning the images, and doing it manually when software fails, and Photoshop does the best blending for the final output. I align in PT Gui and export to PS as a PSD Photoshop file. You can also align your bracketed exposures and focus stacks using PT Gui, then blend them up in PS.

I stitch most of my work these days. I only run into stitching issues with moving ocean waves and vegetation in high winds. For everything else, stitching is plenty fast if you are good at it. Clouds have never been an issue, ever. In my experience, anyone who shouts from the rooftops about how scene movement is a HUGE issue, probably has little experience stitching, or lacks the skills to deal with it. You might be quite shocked how much movement and type of movement it takes to even notice, let alone ruin a shot. A lot of it is also easy to fix in Photoshop.

Feel free to check out my work, much of which is stitched imaging in very quickly changing conditions. You can make your own determination on whether you think I know what I am talking about, or not.

https://johanriver.com/photos/

Benefits of stitching:

- Vastly higher image quality in terms of noise and sharpness. Stitching can quickly turn a FF or APS-C sensor into a full-size MF sensor, image quality wise.

- Flare can be blended out of the shot when using more than 1/3 overlap between shots.

- Gain a much more shallow DOF than a single UWA lens by using even a moderately fast longer lens. A 50mm f1.1 lens can create a shot equal in view to 14mm, but with an effective f0.33 aperture DOF.

- Far reduced weight and complexity of camera kit. Get good at stitching and you can using one lens for all of your work. Critical for backpacking.

Some pitfalls to watch out for when stitching.

- If your camera has Electronic First Curtain Shutter enabled, you will have major issues at higher shutter speeds when stitching in portrait orientation. It creates an ND grad effect that can leave one side of the image a whole stop darker than the other side, making a panorama blend very difficult. Always turn off EFCS when stitching.

- Always have at least 1/3 overlap between shots to help the automated alignment systems. Too little overlap can ruin the shot or make life way more difficult doing everything manually.

- Polarizer filters should be used with great care, as the effect can change drastically when the lens is turned a few degrees for the next shot of a stitch.

wigginski Regular Member • Posts: 378
Re: Is panorama stitching a viable alternative to UWA (sub-15mm) photography?
3

Yes. 100%. I this was taken handheld.

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yoms
OP yoms Forum Member • Posts: 97
Re: Is panorama stitching a viable alternative to UWA (sub-15mm) photography?

Thanks for your input

yoms
OP yoms Forum Member • Posts: 97
Re: Is panorama stitching a viable alternative to UWA (sub-15mm) photography?

Thanks for all these information. Will definitely check on this.

Have you had any experience with panorama stitching using Affinity Photo?

JE River Regular Member • Posts: 268
Re: Is panorama stitching a viable alternative to UWA (sub-15mm) photography?
1

yoms wrote:

Thanks for all these information. Will definitely check on this.

Have you had any experience with panorama stitching using Affinity Photo?

No, I do not, sorry.

I will have to point out that you should gain a good bit of experience practicing stitching and the computer workflow before going out and tackling anything big and important. Nothing worse than coming home and realizing you didn't capture it right, or you struggle to get the software to work right.

There are a lot of free stitching programs that work fine, and Affinity is probably fine as well, but you will eventually run into cases where they might fail to do what you want. PT Gui Pro would be a minimum, and Photoshop would be a great addition to PT Gui Pro.

It's worth the cost for PT Gui Pro to be able to avoid buying a new lens, and be able to keep your camera kit simple and light.

It's worth the cost and time to learn how to do this properly. This skill can carry over to shooting with a smartphone. I stitch all the time with my iPhone manually using RAW imaging. I can get images from my iPHone that look better than any or my Full Frame or APS-C cameras could take with single exposures and no stitching.

PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE! Even if they are not shots you would keep, walk around the neighborhood and practice all types of stitching, and seeing how fast you can go, even doing it hand held.

wigginski Regular Member • Posts: 378
Re: Is panorama stitching a viable alternative to UWA (sub-15mm) photography?
2

yoms wrote:

Thanks for all these information. Will definitely check on this.

Have you had any experience with panorama stitching using Affinity Photo?

Lightroom seems to be really effective for me

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yoms
OP yoms Forum Member • Posts: 97
Re: Is panorama stitching a viable alternative to UWA (sub-15mm) photography?

Yeah, well I'm one of those morons who hates Adobe now...

yoms
OP yoms Forum Member • Posts: 97
Re: Is panorama stitching a viable alternative to UWA (sub-15mm) photography?

Have you had the chance to compare a (one) shot done at 11 or 12mm vs stitching? If yes, what about the perspectives? My guess is that the photograph done at 11 or 12mm would have a more immersive look and the stitching would render the scene more compressed. Am I right?

pauljames1983 Forum Member • Posts: 58
Re: Is panorama stitching a viable alternative to UWA (sub-15mm) photography?
3

yoms wrote:

Given perspectives are different between a shot taken at 11mm and a shot issued from stitching+crop to cover the same field of view, would the aesthetic still be ok? Are there any comparison out there between 11/12mm photographs vs. photographs mimicking the same field of view using panorama stitching?

Perspective is a function of the relative position of the camera and the objects in a scene. It is not changed by the focal length of the lens (keeping the position of the camera and scene unchanged).

A stitched image (taken from the same position) will give exactly the same perspective as a single wide angle shot. However, with the stitched image you will have the freedom to define the output projection, e.g. rectilinear (normal lens projection), cylindrical (good for very wide angle but vertically short panoramas), or equirectangular (able to convey the entire imaged sphere surrounding the point of perspective).

Gaber
Gaber Veteran Member • Posts: 6,346
Re: Is panorama stitching a viable alternative to UWA (sub-15mm) photography?
1

I can't find some that I want to with reference to movement, but these panos were actually two of my first ones. The Colosseum was 50 images and the Spanish Steps only 8. Naturally, all the people walking down the steps were slightly at different levels as I took the photos and both were hand held. You can get a lot in a pano and with better perspective and detail.

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JE River Regular Member • Posts: 268
Re: Is panorama stitching a viable alternative to UWA (sub-15mm) photography?

yoms wrote:

Have you had the chance to compare a (one) shot done at 11 or 12mm vs stitching? If yes, what about the perspectives? My guess is that the photograph done at 11 or 12mm would have a more immersive look and the stitching would render the scene more compressed. Am I right?

They should look the same. In fact, the stitched image might look better due to sharper corners and less noise.

A good panorama program will have different projection types, such as Cylindrical, Spherical, and Perspective. There should be one of those as an option in a program that tries to stretch out the sides and corners to keep it looking like a shot taken with an UWA lens that is not fisheye.

I suggest maybe looking into some Youtube tutorial videos on panoramas and general stitching. There's way too much to cover in a forum thread.

I think you have the answer at this point. You don't "need" the UWA lens, and your only limitation at this point is just practice and figuring things out.

I don't know of any specific Youtube videos on this, but search for videos on general panorama use and also see if anything out there for Affinity photo.

yoms
OP yoms Forum Member • Posts: 97
Re: Is panorama stitching a viable alternative to UWA (sub-15mm) photography?

Thanks, yeah it seems a 11-24mm is not absolutely mandatory. The pano could be a good workaround for those shots where 14mm or 15mm is not enough.

Anyways, a 14-35mm or 15-35mm will already cover many landscape in a single shot since 14-15mm on a FF camera is already quite wide.

yoms
OP yoms Forum Member • Posts: 97
Re: Is panorama stitching a viable alternative to UWA (sub-15mm) photography?

Ok, yes and no.

Yes, you're right perspective depends on object distance only, not FL.

But no in the sense that if I use a 35mm in portrait mode to take several shots and create a pano, I would probably need to move in order to frame roughly the same as if I had a 11mm lens. I should have mentioned that. And that will definitely change the overall perception of the scene.

OldGuy-Yuri Regular Member • Posts: 286
Re: Is panorama stitching a viable alternative to UWA (sub-15mm) photography?

yoms wrote:

Yeah, well I'm one of those morons who hates Adobe now...

Hi,
I also prefer stitching to UWA.
I prefer most of my landscape to be at a more 'natural' (to the human eye) perspective, as with wigginski's image in Yosemite. That usually means a FL between 30 & 50 mm (FF).
Been using PS for my stitching for quite some years, but very work intensive.
Recently I started using Microsoft Image Composite Editor - ICE - and really, really like it!
But... Microsoft seems to have stopped development and updating it. It can be hard to find.
BUT... there was a thread here in DP, re acquiring ICE. WIN 8 - 10 vers.
worth a consideration, here's the link to thread:
Microsoft ICE - No Longer Available? have a Download?

Thx
Yuri

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yoms
OP yoms Forum Member • Posts: 97
Re: Is panorama stitching a viable alternative to UWA (sub-15mm) photography?

Thanks, unfortunately I'm a Mac user...

pauljames1983 Forum Member • Posts: 58
Re: Is panorama stitching a viable alternative to UWA (sub-15mm) photography?

yoms wrote:

Ok, yes and no.

Yes, you're right perspective depends on object distance only, not FL.

But no in the sense that if I use a 35mm in portrait mode to take several shots and create a pano, I would probably need to move in order to frame roughly the same as if I had a 11mm lens. I should have mentioned that. And that will definitely change the overall perception of the scene.

To avoid parallax, the stitched shots should be taken without displacing the entrance pupil of the lens, just rotate around this point. You should try to move as little between shots. Why do you think you would need to move in-between shots to get the right framing?

aldoc Regular Member • Posts: 131
@Johan: Wonderful Portfolio
2

Stunning, wonderful gallery of yours, kudos to your expertise.

And yes, stitching is fun and yields images otherwise not possible without 5-figure equipment!

Alfred

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Gaber
Gaber Veteran Member • Posts: 6,346
Re: Is panorama stitching a viable alternative to UWA (sub-15mm) photography?

pauljames1983 wrote:

yoms wrote:

Ok, yes and no.

Yes, you're right perspective depends on object distance only, not FL.

But no in the sense that if I use a 35mm in portrait mode to take several shots and create a pano, I would probably need to move in order to frame roughly the same as if I had a 11mm lens. I should have mentioned that. And that will definitely change the overall perception of the scene.

To avoid parallax, the stitched shots should be taken without displacing the entrance pupil of the lens, just rotate around this point. You should try to move as little between shots. Why do you think you would need to move in-between shots to get the right framing?

I have moved many times with no ill effects. One such time was a block long mural.

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