I have recently gotten into creating gigapans
, which involves taking hundreds of photos with a telephoto lens and then stitching them together into one large image, which allows zooming in and out of the image and look at details. I find that I get the best results if I set my camera (Canon 40D, typically with 100-400 L lens) to manual focus and exposure settings. In order to ensure the resulting image is sharp across the entire image and make the right aperture decisions for a specific focal length I need to know the distance to the objects I am taking photos of. Although the camera does autofocus, it does not give me sufficient level of detail to allow me to calculate depth of field as it does not, for example, distinguish between 50m and 500m.
There are laser rangefinders out there that may do the job, such as the Nikon 1200S
, but they seem to particularly focus on golfing or hunting, are quite an expensive option and seem to not provide any other features for photographers.
Are there any affordable (less than 300 USD) range finders or other distance meters out there that are more specific for photography? Ideally, it would be great to have some other features such as measuring the average light cross an scene.
For my purposes, the distance has to go up to minimally 1km / 1,000 yards as there is a big difference between 500m, 700m and 900m when shooting with a 400mm lens.