Panoramics, Megapixels and Large Prints

February 03, 2012  •  Leave a Comment

 

 

Until recently, affordable digital SLR ($500-$2000) cameras where "limited" to less than 10Megapixels.  I use the word limited with quotes for a few reasons.  First of all, if you love to watch your photographs with friends or family on your 50" high definition television (HDTV) - and most people think they look fabulous - you are actually only watching a 2 Megapixel image.  Nobody looks at a 50" TV from 6 inches away, we usually will watch it from 5-15 feet away.  In this case no camera on the market today from $50 upwards is pixel limited.

 

If your are printing the standard 4"x6" or 8"x10" photographs the same case applies, no camera on the market is holding you back.  Even cell phone cameras can print those sizes with great results.

Large prints on another hand are a different matter.  My best selling photographs are usually printed large (3 - 10 feet on the long side).  This image, I believe looks good printed about 3-6 feet wide.  The problem then is that people, for all sorts of reasons, will want to go up close (6 -12 inches away) and look at the detail.  With 6MP or 12MP it's just not going to get there.

What to do? Well you can just rent or buy a $40,000 Medium format 40 or 80 MegaPixel camera, but I think that for most of us the money would be better spent somewhere else.  An easier option is to "stitch" multiple photographs together.  Lets get the needle out!  The idea is to take multiple photographs of the scene and then use software like photoshop (many others) to combine them into a single photograph (These days it is real simple, just click the images you want to stitch and let the software do it's thing).  The attached photograph was a 4 shot stitch.  I can print this image about 6 feet wide and it will still look great at 1 foot away (not that it's the best way to view a pano! ).

Some simple tricks for creating panoramic photographs (some of these can be overcome by good software):

1) Use a tripod - even though in good light you may not need one, you'll less likely to make a mistake

2) If you have the flexibility with your camera, use aperture priority, select the aperture you want to shoot at.  Then scan across the entire scene, note the highest shutter speed. Put the camera into Manual mode and set for the aperture and shutter speed noted.

3) Set the White Balance (best guess).  This can be changed later if shooting RAW.

4) Overlap your images by about 30% - it gives the software an easier time and prevents you from accidentally missing an area.

5) Maximize your flexibility by shooting in portrait orientation.

6) Happy shooting :)

You've now got 12, 24, 36, 48, 124....Megapixel camera "limited" not!

For you that are novices, I may have mentioned a few things in here that you may not have understood.  I will do my best to respond to any questions, so don't hesitate to ask!

 

-Vin Singh

 

 

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