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  #1  
Old December 20th, 2011, 11:33 PM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is online now
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Default Panorama Robots: Gigapan and Kolor.com's Orion/Merlin based Panohead.

Today I received a brand-new package from Gigapan. The Gigapan Epic Pro, which has really come of age, even in the packaging! The box arrived in a box and inside it is well packed and already totally assembled save charging the battery.

There are three versions of the Gigapan robotic Panorama head to choose from.
  • The Epic: for small digicams.



  • The Epic 100: for bulkier digicams and lighter weight DSLRs



  • The Epic Pro: A heavy duty version for DSLR's like the Canon 1D and 5DII or the Nikon, Olympus, sony, Pentax flagship cameras.


I had the honor of beta testing an earlier version. It appears that a lot of the discovered shortcomings have been handsomely dealt with. The base is solidly attached with no apparent wobble, as far as I can determine. The platform which holds the camera has been refined. The attachment for the camera is to a platform which moves fore and aft with nicely marked measurements so that one can potentially reposition a particular camera reasonable accurately.
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  #2  
Old December 20th, 2011, 11:43 PM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is online now
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Default One surprise that left me flummoxed!

Immediate question.

In the Epic Pro Quick Start guide, it has the following:


7. Balance the camera and lens on the Epic Pro.

Loosen the camera rail by turning the knob underneath
the rail clockwise. Estimate the center of mass of the
camera and lens. Adjust the camera rail so that the camera
and lens are balanced at the center of the axis of rotation.


This is the first time I've seen an instruction that concentrates our efforts on balancing mass, rather than putting the entrance pupil of the lens over the center of the axes or rotation of a pano head!

This makes me imagine that for the most part, for this machine, it's much more important to have the mass balanced and get a smooth motion of the machine, rather than go for optical accuracy. It is likely that this is of little consequence for stitching of most panoramas, where the elements are at some considerable distance from the camera lens. However, for fence posts within 10 ft or so, there's likely to be considerable mismatch and stitching difficulty. I must admit I'm surpassed by this but It must be a worry where users could attach some massive 600 mm lens to the platform and stress out the motors.

I'll address this again later. I'd like to look into balancing the mass and still respecting the constraints of achieving rotation though the centers of rotation of the entrance pupil so that there will be no stitching issues due to poor adjustment to exclude parallax errors.

Still, i'd like to stress that it's likely just me fussing and that for most folk's work, obeying the instruction to balancing mass distribution will not likely result in bad panoramas too often, LOL! After all, the guys from Carnegie Mellon University are bright enough to have designed the original forerunner robot for the Mars pano camera, so I think they know where shortcuts can be safely made!

Asher
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  #3  
Old December 21st, 2011, 01:29 AM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is online now
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Default To Go Swiss or not?

Luckily for my preferences, one of my requests has been answered. So I will imagine I can take at least partial credit, LOL! The base plate of the platform that holds the camera can be swopped out for a custom Arca Swiss style base plate manufactured especially for this by Really Right Stuff. so of course, there was a little parcel that arrived from RRS and I set about to switch out the base plates.


Be warned. There's no allen wrench provided. don't make the mistake and go for your set of allan wrenches from your tool boxes. For this you need a metric set. It turns out that a 3mm size is perfect.

If you are equipped totally with Arca Swiss dovetail mounts fro your L brackets and everything else, then this is a great idea. however, if not, just use the updated Gigapan base platform as is and you will likely be happy.
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  #4  
Old December 21st, 2011, 02:07 AM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is online now
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Default




So now you can see the modified set up can take advantage of the Arca Swiss standard of dovetail clamps which many of us have on our gear. If one has an L bracket, then one can use the camera in portrait or landscape mode. There are advantages in using portrait mode when one is satisfied with just one or two rows of images. The vertical format allows for using less rows. As you can observe here, the camera appears balanced for mass over the rotation axes, but this does not coincide with the entrance pupil of the camera.

Asher
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  #5  
Old December 21st, 2011, 02:18 AM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is online now
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How to center both the lens entrance pupil as well as the mass of the camera and lens over the rotation axes of the Gigapan Epic Pro robot? Well my approach would be to get the entrance pupil located over the mass center on a ball head that has been loosened a tad. I'd add a weight with a suitable Arca Swiss groove on to the RRS nodal slide and then lock everything in place and return that setup to the Gigapan pro base to reproduce the same alignment.

Anyone have better ideas?

Asher
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  #6  
Old December 21st, 2011, 03:05 AM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is online now
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There's an error in the manual:

"At further distances, it is more important that your camera and lens be stable for minimizing parallax error."

This should be:

At closer distances correcting parallax error is far more critical than at longer distances. At longer distances, balancing the camera for and aft on the slide allows one to balance instead for the center of the mass to coincide with the center of a lll the axes as parallax issues are less important.

Asher

Disclosure: The little Epic I received from Gigapan in the early days for review and afterwards they did not request its return. The Epic 100 Gigapan I tested and then returned. The Gigapan Pro I received at the standard 50% special price offered to all Beta Testers of that unit. The RRS base for the Gigapan I received at 50% discount. Readers will judge whether or not I'm impartial.
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  #7  
Old March 11th, 2016, 12:29 PM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is online now
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Wake up thread!

Good morning Pano-lovers!

Asher
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