Big bad toys for good little boys - or maybe it's the other way round

by Stefan Fletcher June. 10, 2009 5293 views

Couldn’t stand the whole France experience, surrounded as I was by lawyers, social workers, shrinks and other toerags, so I came home last night. The temperature late at night was twice the midday temp in Paris; people were laughing and chatting in bars and cafés outside my house in the square. Even the junkies seemed in a good mood.

I suspect the heavens smile more often at enthusiasts (photographers, bird fanciers, stamp collectors, etc.) than on ordinary mortals. Sure enough, this morning I found out that my panoramic head had arrived. This should not be mistaken from my ordinary head, which is greying and rather miserable these days. No, this is the solution to all my photographic challenges because it can be used to place the camera lens right on the nodal point of rotation when doing panoramic shots. In other words, far less distortion. I love it. It’s got knobs, sliding panels, indented precision scales, an incomprehensible manual with lots of complicated diagrams and it’s heavy: just the sort of thing you want to lug around with a sturdy tripod in a city where the temperature is hitting the high 30’s. Yum.

I also suspect I am not the only technophile whose initial reaction to a manual is to throw it away. My highly trained and expensively educated mind should be equal to any challenge, ha, ha. This is followed by wasting far more time trying to work it all out than I would have spent reading the bloody thing in the first place. My excuse is that I know very well how translators work – badly. So, by triangulating the French, English, German and Spanish versions, I should get to what the original Italian meant. But later, let’s play.

The problem is how to project three dimensional objects onto a two-dimensional plane (the image) when their distance varies relative to the lens. This problem is practically insoluble. Look at Mercator maps. Greenland appears to be the size of Australia, although it’s much, much smaller. Petersen projections of the world just look weird to everyone, although they are more accurate. On a more modest scale, panoramic outdoor shots don’t suffer that much if the horizon line is distant. The problem is acute, however, with indoor panos. And this is where making sure the lens rotates about itself comes in.

Of course I couldn’t wait. Never mind the clients screaming for annual reports. Work and money are overrated, anyway.

And the result of my fiddling? One of the worst panos I’ve ever produced. Utter crap, but lots of fun. I might just have to read the manual after all…

P.S. An hour later. OK, so I finally read it. Still stuck. Still have clients waiting for work which hasn't been done. Bugger. Have decided to throw myself on the mercy of this court and have submitted a cry for help in the critiques section, which you can read by clicking here [].

New toy

Old toy attached to new toy

Result: crap pano with massive distortion

Day 2 of the titanic panoramic struggle, this time with a wide-angle lens. That sodding Mercator has a lot to answer for, the git. On a positive note, it makes my home, which I'm in the process of selling, look about eight times larger than it actually is.

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There are 14 comments , add yours!
Tomie Poodle 11 years, 5 months ago

pas facile de meubler une salle ronde :))
joli jouet!

11 years, 5 months ago Edited
Bogi 11 years, 5 months ago

:))))) great toy, but I can't catch what is it

11 years, 5 months ago Edited
Lynda 11 years, 5 months ago

I don't like manuals??
I'm "gizmo" challenged??
Let's all go back to pinhole cameras.

11 years, 5 months ago Edited
Jarvo J 11 years, 5 months ago

Enjoy your new toy Stéfan. I used to have a Panoramic Head, but it kept thinking about the Dimblebys.

11 years, 5 months ago Edited
Doris 11 years, 5 months ago

Ok ok, you couldn`t stand to be surrounded by social wokers, so I will quit this post very quickly without leaving an encouraging comment...

11 years, 5 months ago Edited
Piyali 11 years, 5 months ago

I have been reading so many photography books for the past few days but nowhere they mentioned this toy, so very unfair. I hate reading the manuals, still think I am the intelligent one to figure it out by myself and of course I am proven wrong all the time. Good luck with your big bad toy (no pun intended).

11 years, 5 months ago Edited
Po 11 years, 5 months ago

oh my god

11 years, 5 months ago Edited
Marsha 11 years, 5 months ago

These things take time - you'll get it ;))
I, too, HATE having to read directions...and only do it "when all else fails." Have fun playing!

11 years, 5 months ago Edited
Michael Sakowicz 11 years, 5 months ago

Hmm. Interesting about the translations. I'll always think twice now when reading in English. Cool toy nevertheless. I'm sure with time and fiddling, you'll get the results you want.

11 years, 5 months ago Edited
Ivan 11 years, 5 months ago

Nice toy for you! It's new to me.

11 years, 5 months ago Edited
Thebronzebow 11 years, 5 months ago

Ooooohh pretty new toy. I don't have anything further to say re men and directions, ;) so... Welcome back from Paris.

11 years, 5 months ago Edited
Tim 11 years, 5 months ago

For me looks really good,,,but Im speaking out of all technicism,,,cos I have no idea, I just know I like it :)

11 years, 5 months ago Edited
Eric J H Joyce 11 years, 5 months ago

Very funny story, never used such a thing.

11 years, 5 months ago Edited
Sandra Vermeulen 11 years, 5 months ago

That seems to me a nice (and useful) toy.

11 years, 5 months ago Edited