Getting more out of clickPanPro
The first version of the controller offered only 3 steps from H to N. A comment from Tris Mason in NZ prompted me to ask if 4 steps were possible. The advantage of the 4 step path would be that a narrower lens could be used to get better resolution cover.
Working with Gentles Limited a number of options are being tested to see if a 4 step path could be worked into the sequences. In testing I found the 4 important variables are:
- AF/AE: the Auto response of the camera needs more time as the camera swings across the horizon. There is a bias to the ground exposure which can take a while to adjust to the sudden brightness of horizon shots.
- FOV: the width of the field of view according to lens
- Aspect: changing to portrait or landscape camera orientation changes the overlap pattern
- Speed: The speed needed to keep a constant exposure for a full circle panorama from horizon to horizon.
The new paths
Paths for the minimum number of shots to cover the maximum area for 3 lens types are under test.
The 4 step ( path H) gives a spread pattern like so:
Path G looks like this:
The cameras used are: Nikon D5100 and Canon Eos M .
D5100: I have given up trying to use the D5100 with live view relay as the LV autofocus is too unreliable. For these tests it’s in ‘P’ with the ISO set high ( 800) shutter release is by GentLed type 21IR remote . Despite being one of the lightest DSLRs bodies available it’s still a heavy beast with the glass on. On the rig it weighs 1.2kg with the lightest AF lens available for it (35mm AF G S). For the very wide work a fixed focus Nikkor 10.5mm G fisheye brings the weight up to 1.3Kg. The AF/AE is nice and fast at around .5 s per shot with a shot to shot (recording both Jpeg ‘fine’ and Raw) of around 1s.
Eos M: by using an adaptor I have 2 lens options; the stock 22mm pancake and with a 0.75x adaptor (52 mm and 28mm equivalent respectively) fortunately the EosM is tripped by the same type 21 GentLed as the Nikon so swapping cameras in the rig is a simple case of simply re-routing the IR wire from a left to right Velcro patch. The big problem with this camera is the AF/AE failure rate. Even with the (much improved) 2.02 firmware it can fail to shoot horizon shots from the moving rig. The Eos M on the rig weighs in at 800g and with the 0.75x adaptor 1kg
Neither camera uses image stabilisation and so far I have not added a gyro servo to the rig.
I have a personal set of rules for KAP image quality and the paths need to give me a reasonable stab at meeting them. It is not enough just to ‘get pictures’ I consider my KAP must follow these 10 commandments:
The idea of the camera path is to try and get enough automatic coverage to allow me to choose, from a predictable spatter, the images which meet the commandments. By its very nature AutoKAP breaks the 3rd commandment a lot of the time, the rest is up to me, the wind and the weather.
Path A with standard lens (The wind felt a bit patchy so I kept the weight down) I was going for speed by opting for a 3 step path: the flight was 1 hour 20 mins and 840 frames were captured. I was in a very crowded place and the ‘fly and forget’ benefit of autoKAP was a boon, the rig rose and fell in the wind and I was able to keep the line well clear of the bustle. Eos M 22mm panckae, ITW 9′ Levitataion :
The wind was something of a handful: lulls of 4 mph and gusts of 15 or so. The Levitation handled it all well despite some terrifying slack line moments. Given I was working in a crowd scene a few folk wanted to know what I was doing and the inevitable questions popped up:
- how high will it go?
- why don’t you use a drone?
- is that a GoPro?
which I answered as civilly as I could:
- as long as the string
- not safe or legal with all these people around
- no, (grit teeth) it’s a proper camera
The next sequence is A with the wide angle adaptor on the Eos M…then B, C & D with the fish eye, E & F with a portrait aspect and then slower G & H 4 step paths. It would be nice to do them in order but it’s unlikely as I will be flying as the weather allows. Until they are flown it’s very difficult to know if they are effective. It’s one thing to get the rig moving quite another to prove the photo-cover is effective as both panoramic components and individual frames. I have taken the FOV as the governing factor but there is also scope for flying height and pan sweep to be considered.
The beauty of clickPan Pro is its simplicity: the paths are selected by dipswitch and the speed by a knob. Working with Gentles Limited to refine the paths is fun indeed!