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camera for panorama and batt. life
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Dont Wantto
(longhiker) - F
camera for panorama and batt. life on 06/13/2010 16:38:36 MDT Print View

can someone suggest a camera that makes taking panaromas of landscapes easy? by easy i mean easier than taking 5 pics with overlapping boundaries and stitching at the end of the hike... i've just read of sony's Sweep Panorama and was wondering how useful that is and if there are other such options..

also, what's the better battery option for a thru hike of the colorado trail where resupply points can be almost a week apart? AA/AAA batteries or those rechargable tablet ones that need an adapter?

Edited by longhiker on 06/13/2010 16:39:09 MDT.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Cameras on 06/13/2010 17:19:19 MDT Print View

I suspect people with way more knowledge than me will be jumping in soon but heres my 2 cents. I used two Nikon Coolpix Cameras with AA batteries, I think they were the L12 and L15. I am now using a Nikon S220 with rechargable batteries.
My rechargable batteries last longer than AAs but Lithuim AAs were pretty good and might last just as long. I would expect to get 4 to 8 days out of each rechargable depending on how much I used it. Note that cold seems to sap the batteries much faster.
My current Nikon takes some pretty good panoramas that can be stiched together with software on a computer.

Edited by Cameron on 06/13/2010 17:21:46 MDT.

Mat Tallman
(wehtaM) - F

Locale: Midwest
Kodak MD41 on 06/13/2010 17:47:20 MDT Print View

I've been using a Kodak MD41, it uses stitching to create panoramas, which works great for me, but YMMV. It will merge either 2 or 3 stills to create 1 panorama.

I did break my screen on my last trip out (being an idiot, not because the camera is poorly designed or put together). Not sure yet if I'll replace it with another MD41 or look elsewhere. For the price though, I did really like the MD41.

Rick Dreher
(halfturbo) - MLife

Locale: Northernish California
Re: camera for panorama and batt. life on 06/13/2010 18:34:13 MDT Print View

Hi Dont,

A lot of cameras have in-camera panorama assist, which basically prompts you to overlap consecutive with frame lines or some other aid. The actual panorama is created on the PC at home. IIUC some cameras stitch panoramas in-camera, but I wouldn't fixate on them unless you don't plan on any image post-processing.

Find a camera with a wide angle lens (minimum 28mm equivalent, or wider if possible) for the best results (fewer images to stitch).

As to batteries, I'd look for a camera with good battery life (300-400+ images per charge per battery) and get some spares or have a charger in a drift box you send forward between resupply. Aftermarket spares are usually cheap and lightweight. There are still AA and AAA cameras, but few at the upper end of the market. Note that they require disposable lithium or NiMH, as alkalines give really poor performance.



Franco Darioli
(Franco) - M

Locale: @Tarptent
camera for panorama and batt. life on 06/13/2010 18:49:45 MDT Print View

For the most "natural" look the wider the lens the better it is. For this the Pros use a purpose made panoramic camera, for example the Linhof Technorama 617
Next are ultrawide rectilinear lenses available for DSLRs.
With the compacts you can get down to(in a zoom lens) 24mm or 25 mm in some Sonys. Than you could choose between wide and "panorama stitching".
With stitching you typically end up with more visible distortion. For some shots vertical framing and stitching works best.

How long a battery will last depends more on the camera than the type of battery. So you could get 200 shots from one and 400 from another with the same AA batteries.
In a similar way the same LiIon batt will also vary but because they tend to be used in particular models only the variation is a bit less.
Essentially some circuitry uses less power than others as well as having different size/types of LCD screens ( OLED whatever...)
So you need to check the often published CIPA figures. That gives you a comparison using exactly the same standard. Real life performance will change somewhat but not too much
providing that it is used in "normal" temperatures and over a limited (say a few weeks) amount of time.
For example the Sony W and T series cameras list 230-250 shots, the H series 310, the S (AA alkaline) batt 190 shots
The point here is that saying "I get more shots out of my Kodak with alkalines than my Nikon with LiIon" is meaningless
Just like saying that my Ford goes further on gas than my Toyota on diesel...
I was typing this as Rick posted his comment...

Edited by Franco on 06/13/2010 18:50:42 MDT.

Rakesh Malik

Locale: Cascadia
Re: camera for panorama and batt. life on 06/13/2010 19:30:54 MDT Print View

"For the most "natural" look the wider the lens the better it is. For this the Pros use a purpose made panoramic camera, for example the Linhof Technorama 617
Next are ultrawide rectilinear lenses available for DSLRs."

Not necessarily. I do most of my stitched panos with longer lenses -- 105mm on my dSLR, for example. A lot of the pros who use panoramic cameras like the Technorama (6x17cm format) use 300mm lenses (approximately equivalent angle of view to a 100mm on a 35mm camera).

There are a number of applications that do a good job on stitches; I've had pretty good success with Photoshop CS4. That might be overkill for most, but there are quite a few other options -- I'm not all that familiar with them since I have a copy of PS, but they're there.

This image for example is stitched from 14 exposures with a 105mm lens on an APS-c camera (1.6 crop factor).

Franco Darioli
(Franco) - M

Locale: @Tarptent
camera for panorama and batt. life on 06/13/2010 19:46:41 MDT Print View

True indeed...
As they say there is more than one way to skin a cat, so whatever works for you...

Rakesh Malik

Locale: Cascadia
Re: camera for panorama and batt. life on 06/13/2010 20:53:15 MDT Print View

Yep, that's why I prefaced my comment the way I did, rather than saying that you were wrong. I do know some photographers who shoot panos with wide lenses also.


Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Panoramamania on 06/13/2010 21:10:55 MDT Print View

Some cameras will make panoramas, others come with stitching software that is really quite amazing. There are freeware packages out there that will do the trick.

There is a good article at on using freeware panorama software:

The newer cameras are much better on battery usage. I have found aftermarket batteries for my cameras on eBay that are working fine. Most of the batteries are so small and light that carrying a couple spares is not a problem. The only challenge I could see for battery charging would be thru-hiking. It has gotten to the point that choosing a camera solely on the basis of AA battery availability would severely limit your choices.

Edited by dwambaugh on 06/13/2010 21:17:26 MDT.

Greg Foster
(thefost) - MLife
Sony Sweep on 06/14/2010 09:41:31 MDT Print View

I've used the sony sweep and have to admit its pretty darn convenient. Not going to get as good of results as my dslr obviously, but it is pretty nice to get instant pano's with zero effort.

If you want to see the quality you'd get from one of these sony cameras, just go to and search "sony sweep panorama" and view any of the images in its large or original size. If the quality is completely acceptable to you, go for the sony. You're not going to find an easier way to take panoramas, thats for sure.

Edited by thefost on 06/14/2010 09:44:35 MDT.

Dont Wantto
(longhiker) - F
sony sweep and battery drain? on 06/14/2010 10:00:47 MDT Print View

I was almost sold on the Sony Sweep feature before seeing a comment on how much power such a feature must require..

If I understand it, the camera takes several pics while you sweep and then has to stitch them together just like you would on a PC.. and on a PC, it's a pretty intensive feature, at least with the more powerful programs.

Could you tell me what your experience with how long the battery lasts when you do many 'sweeps'?

I'm looking for a camera for a 4 - 5 week through hike of the Colorado Trail... lots of panoramas to shoot but resupply is only a little more than once a week.

AA batteries on a thru-hike means you don't have to carry a charger around, can resupply easily etc..

Rechargeable tablets mean I'd need to carry or bounce-box the AC adapter even if I carry 2 - 3 extra batteries (which cost ~$20 usually). And I'd have to find an AC outlet and 2 - 3 hrs to spare.

Greg Foster
(thefost) - MLife
Battery Life on 06/14/2010 10:33:51 MDT Print View

Good question, I don’t know exactly how much the sweep feature effects battery life. If I remember correctly, the processing only takes about 2 seconds to complete in the sony camera. This is nothing like computer stitching software that that can take anywhere from a minute to hours to stitch together a single photo. The in camera software is not nearly as robust and shouldn't drain the battery too much I imagine.

Anecdotally, I can tell you the guy who brought the camera on our weekend trip appeared to take a few hundred photos, a dozen or two panoramas, and a few videos and his battery didn't die.