Pano Equipment: Quality, Speed or Possibly Both?
August 26, 2007 2:31 PM   Subscribe

Help me build a new Immersive photography rig that won't break the bank.

For years I've been taking amateur panos with an old IPIX realtors kit: A Nikon 880, an FC-E8 183º fisheye lens and a fixed-configuration IPIX pano head to glue it all together. The quality is less than stellar. With some practice you can get semi-decent results, but nowhere near what's achievable with the same camera, a wide angle lens, 50-60 more shots and a few hours of stitching (examples 1, 2, 3 - warning: big as hell). I'm sick of having to choose between crappy shots of moving subjects with my IPIX setup or high quality still-lifes with my wide lenses. I'd like to put together a new rig that can take panos quickly like my existing setup but come closer to the quality of the latter examples. The ability to do so creates some truly amazing experiences (warning: sound in last example).

Can anyone recommend a combination of DSLR and wide or fisheye lens that can be had for ~$1200 (refurbed/used is fine) that can do a high-quality equilateral/spherical or at least 120º cylindrical panorama in 4 shots or less? Bonus points for nikon, since I've got a decent supply of adaptable old nikon glass laying around.
posted by datacenter refugee to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (3 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Look into any of the Nikon dSLRs and a Tokina 12-24 f4.

Nikon makes a lens that is twice as expensive and is at best marginally better. You might be able to get a used lens as some people will be upgrading to the new full frame Nikkor 12-24 2.8.

You may also want to look into the Nikon DX fisheye.

The just-announced D3 and the Nikon 12-24 2.8 would be ideal for what you want to do, but will probably cost a total of $7k or more.
posted by b1tr0t at 2:54 PM on August 26, 2007

Also - if you don't mind manually focusing your shots, the Nikon d40 will be sufficient. A d50 or D70 would be more convenient. The d200 or d80 would also work, but probably will exceed your price point.
posted by b1tr0t at 2:55 PM on August 26, 2007

Nikon D40 and Sigma 10-20mm. The Sigma has an autofocus motor built into it so will work with the D40, no problem. Also, the extra 2mm at the wide end makes much more difference than you'd think.

$1024 at B&H for the pair.
posted by ganseki at 4:26 AM on August 27, 2007

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