engineer, artist, photographer, panoramagrapher
I retired a few years back from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (I managed the campus network through most of it's existence). I now work in the family business, Story To Tell Productions, www.storytotell.me I've been shooting panormas for many years, starting with a home made "megapan", based on a servo motor, microcontroller and an old Nikon camera. I could select 8 or 14 pictures per 360 degrees depending on whether I was using landscape or portrait orientation. I moved on to a different sort - 8 canon pocket cameras arranged on a circular platform running CHDK, all triggered off of their USB port, but also programmable to switch ISO, Focus mode, HDR sequences and so on. It was complicated and heavy, but I could take live 360 shots that resulted in images approximately 24Mpixels. I now have a modified Epic 100. I've also hand shot extensively along with tripod and monopod shots. I'm still learning the ins and outs of using the Panasonic G3 on my Epic and the various pieces of of software. I used Hugin extensively for some time, but the inability to handle Gigapan style input became a real problem. I moved on to Kolor APG - which has its own learning curve and quirks - but still has one major deficiency - lack of vignetting correction. DXO however, eventually added my camera/lens combination and it does a great job (so long as I remember to remove my polarizing filter first 8^} )
I changed out the camera bracket on my Epic 100 to a full U, added a support column to the right side with bearing. This not only improved the stability, but significantly reduced the friction and thus improved the battery life. I added a slide to easily move the camera front to back so as I zoom, I can keep the lens at the rotation point. I created a special cable to connect the Gigapan to my Panasonic G3 and took a battery case and wired it to an external set of D-cell batteries(6). With all the changes, I can do many thousands of pictures without the batteries running down.
I'd love to be able to update the software on the Epic 100, but it is apparently designed to eliminate that possibility. I'm tossing around a redesign that would put my Raspberry pi in place of the Epic controller so I can add the "missing features". Such as:
Ability to put in settle timer to delay taking an image until all movement settled.
Ability to store configurations. Say, 5.
Better way to lay out a gigapan. Such as- start, then monitor farthest move in any direction and use those numbers. Corners are often uninteresting on the pano - the top of a mountain or building spire is what I need to set my range of motion by and its usually in the middle of the pano. Some ability to show relative motion numbers and/or manually edit them would be useful as well. Using the Raspberry, I could control al this via my iPhone with a much nicer interface.
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