Monthly Archives: May 2010

Suspicions confirmed and a few pleasant surprises

So this has so far been a week for having suspicions confirmed and a few pleasant surprises.

Many of you will now know that I am great fan of people having calibrated screens, not visually guestimated but properly calibrated with a device that reads a series of displayed patches and creates a proper icc profile.

The reason for this is mainly so that you actually know what your image looks like if you ever decided to print so that you can stand your ground if the colour is wrong and also when you get your prints back from me you don’t get a surprise when you see what your images really look like.

My system of choice has up to now been the Gretag I1system but recently there have been some nasty little problems that have cropped up with the system and judging from reports on the web, I am not the only one having these problems. Recently I have also been focussing my attention on the ColorMunki systems from Xrite and I must say that I have been pretty impressed with the Entry level offering the “Create” which IMO only lacks one critical feature, the ability to accurately control the brightness of the display.

The Create hasn’t got brightness reading so you can’t tell when you are at the desired brightness and therefore need to adjust your monitor by eye to where you think it should be. Other than that, it does a fantastic job and should really work for 90% of the people out there.

In my case, I am one of the 90% who needs that ability to fine tune and accurately control my colour and during the last few months, I have totally given up with the I1 system and the HP APS system which uses the Gretag system for monitor profiling. To make things worse, my Hp 30” monitor has no ability to control the white point and no OSD “on screen display” and the Gretag systems really make a mess of profiling it.

Fortunately this all changed when I borrowed a Colour Munki Design Demo unit form Direct Distribution Services who supply a lot of my equipment. The first thing to note is that the Design is a spectrophotometer whereas the Create and I1 are spectrocolorimeters. I am not going to go into great detail but using the Design has confirmed my suspicion that for the high end of colour management you need a spectrophotometer.

The profiling process with the ColorMunki design is pretty painless and the end result is that I have two different monitors that now accurately display the same colour. No prizes for guessing what is on my shopping list in the next few months and the added advantage for those of you who don’t have HP Z series printers is that the ColourMunki Design, can also calibrate printers.

So onto the surprise for the week.

As many of you may also know I am a great fan of PTGUI and IMO its one of the best if not the best panoramic stitching systems out there. The problem is that it seems to battle a little when faced with interior fisheye shots. For some reason, no matter how well my pano head is setup, there are always stitching errors that need to be fixed which is very frustrating and time consuming. Stepping back a bit, when I make a statement like “I think it’s the best available” this is usually qualified by the fact that I have tried the other options available and in this case I own most of them including a package called Autopano Giga. It’s a package that many have raved about but I have never found it to be as good, fast or as easy to use as PTGUI but I am glad to say I have now found something it is really good at, being the stitching of 360° interior panoramic shots.

It’s a nice feeling to know that its only Tuesday and my monitors are perfectly calibrated, my interior panoramic are getting done more efficiently and my investment in Autopano Giga is finally paying for itself. Hopefully this week will just keep getting better.

Links:

DDS
ColorMunki
PTGUI
Autopano

Addition to my previous post – What I use and how I shoot Panoramas – Part 1

I have recived a few emails since my blog post What I use and how I shoot Panoramas – Part 1 went live yesterday and most are asking if the stability and accuracy of the panoramic head is really such a big deal.

The answer is yes but this is a relative yes depending on how unstable the head you have is. The reason for having a head in the first place is to try get the lens rotation and tilt around the entrance pupil to be as accurate as possible.

Any movement or instability on the part of the head will compromise this accuracy. If you are doing 4 shot single row or maybe 2 row multi-row panoramas this inaccuracy may not cause too much trouble and the stitching software maybe able to handle it or you may have to do only minor touch ups in post production, however as you start introducing more segments and rows into the equation, the need for precision accuracy becomes greater and the stitching software starts to have a harder and harder time correcting the errors (I will explain why this is and how stitching software generally works in a later post).

So here is where most people get caught out. It’s easy to adopt the approach that you will by the cheaper head which will be fine in the meantime and then by then better one later when you need it. So two problems, firstly you are still going to have to outlay quite a bit of money for the cheaper head and you are not going to get all of it back when you decide to upgrade and secondly you will more than likely find out that its time to upgrade when you are out on a job where you have to have the more precise head.

I know I am punting the 360precision gear a lot but take the following scenario as an example of why I love it so much.  I am currently busy with an interior VR shoot where some of the scenes need to be done twice, once with just the clean scene and then again with branded products and people.

The way I shoot this is to first shoot the scene with no products and no people using bracketed exposures which will be merged later. Next I shoot just the segments that have the products in them again bracketing and finally I shoot the segments with the people in them.

When I stitch them I end up with the main panorama plus corrected plates for the products and the people. If I taken them into photoshop I can simple overlay one on top of the other and thanks to the Adjuste Giga, I get a perfect fit every time.

Trust me on this; the pano head and tripod are two pieces of equipment you do not want to skimp on.