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Question: What is the preferred method for evening out the exposures in multi-image panoramic sequences? Particularly conspicuous at times are the variations in blue-sky colors when auto-exposure is employed and the tones don’t match in the final stitched image.
Answer: It is important that images shot for panoramic stitching match in exposure and color tone to appear as a seamless single image after stitching in the post-processing software.
Many Olympus digital cameras have a Panorama Scene Mode or menu option that is enabled when an Olympus brand SmartMedia or xD-Picture card is used in the camera.
The camera will superimpose alignment markers on the LCD screen so that the images can be aligned to create a smooth panoramic sequence of images.
Olympus brand memory cards contain data that works with the camera to do two things:
- The images are tagged with information that will inform Camedia Master or OLYMPUS Master software that the images are a part of a panorama and which direction the sequence is to be stitched.
- The camera locks in the autoexposure exposure with the first image, and continues to use the same exposure and color balance settings on the rest of the shots in the sequence.
When the images are imported into the Olympus imaging software, the panoramic Autostitch option uses the data embedded in the images to produce a virtually seamless panoramic image.
Attempting to create a series of images for a panoramic stitch using autoexposure presents many problems. Because each image will have variations in subject matter, tonality, and lighting, each image will be created independent of the other images. The result is that each image will be exposed differently because the autoexposure is metering each image differently. These metering differences can be caused by the direction of sunlight and shadowed areas in outdoor scenes, or differences caused by artificial lighting and windows in indoor scenes. Using manual exposure for the sequence and using the same shutter speed and f-stop settings may be a solution, but manual color balance would have to be used as well. Also, using a polarizing filter in outdoor panoramas is not recommended because the polarization effect of the filter changes when the alignment with the sun changes as the camera is rotated. This will result in even greater unevenness in skies in a panoramic sequence.
All in all, using Olympus memory cards in Olympus cameras that have the Panorama feature is the easiest path to more seamless panoramas.
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