Gigapan EPIC Pro

Discussion forum for hardware related issues and questions

Moderator: spamkiller

Post Reply
Growing
Posts: 44
Joined: Sat Jan 17, 2009 4:48 am
Location: Newcastle, Australia

Gigapan EPIC Pro

Post by Growing » Thu Mar 25, 2010 6:43 am

Gigapan have just released the EPIC Pro, a motorised pano head for heavy SLR cameras (US$895).

Has anybody used one?

I've been using an early Panosaurus, but it is a bit saggy/unstable with long/heavy lenses, and I've made a few mistakes with big panos doing it all manually. I'm hoping the EPIC Pro will let me shoot with my 70-200 2.8L without having to worry about overlap errors. And perhaps to do some more ambitious panos than I would do manually.

Some things I've noticed:

1) It seems to only support landscape orientation. I prefer portrait, but that is mainly to provide anchor points for the sky. Perhaps it is not so necessary if the positioning accuracy is very high. Is this an issue? Since my long lenses have rotating tripod mounts, I can still turn the camera to portrait when using them, but not with shorter lenses.

2) It seems to require a non-standard battery. Any experience with how long it lasts in the field?

3) The camera bracket seems to extend quite a long way in front of the nodal point. Does it get in the way with extreme wide-angle lenses?

4) Any idea of the slewing speed? What is that fastest frame-to-frame speed you can realisticly do allowing for wobble to die down. I can't find any speed specs.

5) Does it lose it's place if it is nudged? Or does it reliably return to exactly the same place time and time again? ie does it use a position encoder, or does it just count steps sent to the stepper motor?

It uses both left and right-side pivots, so it looks very strong and stable. And it uses an electronic shutter cable, rather than the mechanical finger used in earlier models. Although the supplied software requires column-first orientation, the EPIC Pro can do column or row first, in either direction, I think.

If anyone has seen one or used one I'd love to hear about it.

Stephen

gregdowning
Posts: 1
Joined: Tue Mar 30, 2010 1:12 pm

Post by gregdowning » Tue Mar 30, 2010 1:38 pm

Hi Growning,

Well so far I have shot one image w/ the unit so I can't give too in-depth of a review but you can see some video and more info here: http://www.xrez.com/blog/gigapan-epic-pro-video-review/

1. You could certainly mount an L bracket to turn the camera sideways but the you would need to change the image aspect ratio to have the calibration process work correctly, it supports 1:1, 3:2, 4:3, 16:9 but not 2:3 that you would need for portrait. You could compensate by increasing the overlap but you would then end up w/ more overlap on one axis than you needed.

2. don't know yet

3. You could reverse the sled. but really it would be easier to use a manual head if you are using very wide lenses.

4. Take a look at the video on our site. You can reduce or increase the pre/post shoot time and this is medium speed but it is much faster than the Merlin head.

5. Not sure about the encoding. If it swings past a postion it will return to it making me suspect it has encoders. You can see what nudging will do in the video.

Growing
Posts: 44
Joined: Sat Jan 17, 2009 4:48 am
Location: Newcastle, Australia

Post by Growing » Wed Mar 31, 2010 12:11 am

Well so far I have shot one image w/ the unit so I can't give too in-depth of a review but you can see some video and more info here: http://www.xrez.com/blog/gigapan-epic-pro-video-review/
Thank you. That was incredibly helpful. It is a shame they don't offer 2:3 ratio, but it shouldn't really matter if the step size if repeatable and accurate. If you use PTAssembler or similar, I'd be curious to find out how accurate/repeatable the Yaw and Pitch are between frames and between repeated panos (for focus stacking etc).

Do you know if, when shooting spherical panoramas, the upper rows contain fewer shots or it just shoots X columns by Y rows?

I think I can see the motors over-shoot in your video, so that would imply that they have encoders on the servos.

With stepper motors, the motor has a certain stiffness even when power is not applied. But a much greater stiffness can be achieved if power is continuously applied. This appears to be the "Motors Rigid: On/Off" setting you highlighted in your other video "the problem". Battery life will suffer greatly, I presume, but this may assist with heavier lenses and wind.

That is a nasty amount of wobble in the panning axis, though, and it appears to be slop in the gears rather than the stepper motor. I hope they fix that soon.

I hadn't seen the xRez Studio 2009 Yosemite Reel before. That project is amazing - 20 simultaneous giga-pixel panoramas from different vantage points around Yosemite. I see a good mix of Gigapan's, Merlins and some other pano heads. I hope you get a good quantity discount on your Gigapans.

Thank you very much for your comments and video,

Stephen

MartinK
Posts: 20
Joined: Fri Nov 04, 2005 6:25 pm
Location: Birmingham, UK

Post by MartinK » Fri Apr 02, 2010 8:21 am

I have asked on this:

Here is the copy of the email:

Q: Does the GigaPan EPIC Pro support portait mode?
In the manual I see that supported Aspect Ratios are 1:1, 2:3, 4:3, 16:9. My undestanding is that these are valid values for landscape mode (2:3 is a type and it should be 3:2 = 3 wide x 2 high)
I would like to use "L bracket" and take panoramas in portrait mode. I assume that just a simple adding of new aspect ratios 2:3 (= 2wide x 3high), 3:4, 9:16 would fix this problem. Looking forward to your answer.


A: GigaPans are designed to easily take multiple rows in order to capture the area which you have set, so it is not necessary to mount your camera vertically (or portrait style). However, we are currently looking into providing an accessory to allow you to do this if you prefer.

JimKarczewski
Posts: 1
Joined: Mon May 10, 2010 9:47 pm

Post by JimKarczewski » Mon May 10, 2010 9:50 pm

Must watch the video, I was looking today and trying to decide and it's still a toss up, GigaPan Epic Pro, or the Really Right Stuff Pano head which is multi-row. However, the RRS pano head is $795 and all manual (but lighter) where as the Giga is automated and Heavy....

Any insight between a completely manual and completely automatic would be helpful. I've done many panos just simply using my ball head, which isn't obviously the best way, but it works. Looking to upgrade very soon...

aaronpriest
Posts: 60
Joined: Thu Aug 28, 2008 6:58 am
Location: Maine, USA
Contact:

Post by aaronpriest » Tue May 11, 2010 7:47 am

I can't speak for the GigaPan as I've never used it, however I do use the RRS Ultimate-Pro Omni-Pivot Long Package with a Promote Controller for bracketed exposures (highly recommend!). I suggest calling RRS before ordering with a list of bodies/lenses you will be using. I'm substituting the included CRD-Rail for a longer CB-10 vertical rail to accommodate my D700 with a vertical shutter grip. If you don't do 360s or have to point straight up, the shorter included CRD-Rail is fine, otherwise the grip hits the bar and you can't point straight up. Not an issue for most panoramics of course. I've also substituted the included screw-type clamp for a B2-40 LR quick release clamp to get the camera off and on the rig a bit faster/easier.

Using the rig in the field is very precise and locks down very firmly with next to no wiggle or vibration (on a good tripod anyway, especially if you use mirror lockup). The PCL-1 panning clamps are very smooth when loaded down with lot of weight and indexed well. I typically don't tighten the rotation screw on the lower horizontal PCL-1, I just rotate left or right however many degrees I need and take several exposures with the Promote Controller (using mirror lockup usually), then turn a few more indexed degrees and shoot another bracket. It's stable and smooth enough that you don't have to lock it down at every shot, and you can shoot a scene very quickly. Of course, the vertical panning clamp must be locked or the camera would drop, duh.

Having used this on a BH-40 ballhead, I would suggest the larger BH-55, or skip a ballhead all together for something that gives you independent axis control. Ballheads are great for quick shots, but infuriating to level precisely for panoramics or interior real estate. I'm anxiously awaiting for these to be available for order: http://www.indurogear.com/products_details_PHQ3.html I’ve read the two models will be $230 and $290 MSRP. Their website has a few videos on it.

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Baidu [Spider] and 1 guest