The new Gigapan Epic Pro (the gigapan for your DSLR) is out! We hadn’t seen any reviews yet and we have gotten so many questions about it after twittering that we had the Gigapan Epic Pro that we have decide to post a “first look” for our friends.
Overall the device makes shooting gigapixel images very easy and the Gigapan seems very reliable, the motors sound really good and seem to be accurate (a good idea for someone to test for a future review). We are a bit picky as we have been using motion control heads for many years and they have been 5 to 10 times the cost of this unit or required that we build the head ourselves (take a look at our Gallery for some of our finer work with these heads). Topping our list of requests for a product like the Gigapan Epic Pro would be more stability, and more robust parts using pro camera gear as a standard for build quality etc. I mention the vibration from the wind in the video, it was quite windy the day I went out to shoot. Despite the instability I pointed out the Gigapan actually performed fairly well. It seems that the Gigapan did not catch the wind too badly. I did restrict myself to a 1/250th of a second with a 300mm lens to prevent motion blur and you can inspect the result for yourself in the photosynth window below.
See video below for the parts that need to be tightened to get more stability.
I would prefer a device like this only to have captive parts, it would be a huge disappointment to travel half way around the world for a shot only to find you were missing a unique piece. I am sure this will happen to someone. The things that I really like about this unit is the simplicity of use and the speed at which you can compose and setup a shot. You can also calibrate the angle of view of a lens in the field in about 30 seconds. You do not have to worry about communication to a laptop, PDA or smart-phone. This reliability is fantastic but you sacrifice flexibility. It would also be nice if you could send it scripts from your computer as well making it more useful as a general tool that could be used for motion controlled time-lapse as well as gigapixel images.
Another interesting development of the last week is the new Photosynth support for gigapixel panoramas. Now we have spherical, perspective corrected, gigapixel support inside of Silverlight. It makes for an incredibly smooth viewer! Right now there is only support for exporting these images if they were stitched inside Microsoft ICE and you are unable to crop or use Photoshop to edit an image you stitch with it. I can only imagine it won’t be too long until these can be integrated into larger Photosynths and made from panoramas stitched and edited in other software. Microsoft ICE has very good support for “Structured Panoramas” so it can work very well with images taken with a panoramic motion control head like the Gigapan Epic Pro. You can see the result of the shoot from the video below.
If you know of any other reviews of the Gigapan Epic Pro, or Photosynth Gigapixel support please add them in the comments!