The Gigapan project was born years ago, to deliver a versatile, ready-made robot head to take panoramic pictures. It was made with the intention to be super-affordable, so, to be a democratic and very spread product. Dedicated to all those that usually want to shoot a lot of single pictures to stitch their own large, wide angle, ultra defined image.
Unfortunately, panoramic pictures are not democratic. However you see it, it is a demanding technique. If you take it like a game, you shoot three images to try, other three during a vacation, then all the others get annoyied and you stop. You will shoot other four maybe, one you will forget in the folders, another two will have images missing, wrong settings etc, and the wow-it-is-the-gooood-one will have a lot of small errors that you will try to recover in photoshop.
If you take it seriously you will become a freak, you will start to break things and cameras in order to build your own special tools to make the images as you want them. And eventually stop to look at cameras the same way you did before. I’m a freak, and I’m from 1998, I happened to be building my own tools, hardware, software, techniques, together with all the friends in Project-imim and PanoTools. I knew Gigapan limits and quircks the same moment I saw a pictures. Nonetheless I saluted it with joy, I liked its american design. When I had the chance I bought it, hoping to be able to transform it in the tool I was needing.
So, the democratic automatic head? It is dedicated to small cameras, compact, bridge, maybe some very small reflexes. It has an american design. Many parts are oversized, it is bulk, heavy, not modular. Some things are really well thought, some others are focused only to make it work with what they had. The head is limited, to one and only kind of customer, the one that makes those beautyful panoramic landscape, that can be printed wall size. Even if it is the local pub wall. Even if the wall is the external facade. The one of a four storey pub. Camera must stay landscape, the head will scan the space in a matrix of shots, N columnes, M lines. Despite the bulkiness of the ensamble, the strange craddle for the camera is very limited in space, and due to the design there are cameras that may not fit with lens in correct nodal point. NO problem AT ALL if you plan to shoot distant beautyful lendscapes with normal to telephoto lens. But if you plan to use a mirrorless or a small reflex, with a full size lens…
Keep in mind motors are not strong enough for That White Lens of yours, or for a full sized reflex. But nowdays mirrorless, Nikon 3000 and Canon Rebel series (600d or similar in EU)give other possibilities!!.
GigaPan makes also the PRO model. Ok, it costs more, but always a fraction of the other automatic robot heads in the market. But for me is way too big bulky etc.
So, issues to adress:
1. Craddle, camera mount and shutter button presser.
Need for more room, more regulations, for NP, balancing etc. better positioning of the presser or elimination of it. Need to put the camera in portrait, and to use fisheyes if 3. is resolved.
2. remote activation
Need of a remote “run” button release, for when you put the head over a long pole.
3. Firmware hack.
The robot has the bad habit to estimate and decide on his own the workflow, overlap etc! I want to decide!
When you shoot 360 x 180 multi-row pictures, you always reduce the number of pictures in the rows when you leave the equator and approximate the poles. It means less errors and less load on the computer (you can hang a serious workstation for DAYS with these pictures!!!)
I sould be able to decide the overlap, how many degrees, if I use a 4/3 or 3/2 camera etc.
4. Battery Hunger.
It relies on 6x AAA batteries, that is a pain in the ass. Fast chargers are usually for 4 batteries, just to be clear. I plan to change system and to use RC model buggies battery packs!
So far I adressed point 1!