Monday, March 14, 2011

Wide Angle Photography

I am a fan of wide angle lenses, and have owned a couple of nice ones, but mostly I've used wide angle converters. The Sony VCL-DEH07VA which pulls my legacy Sony DSC-V3 down from 34M to 23.8MM is a pretty fine piece of glass, and I shot a lot of good, paid for images with the combination.
Octogon House, Lutherville, MD

Kitchen, Octogon House, Lutherville, MD

But as I move on to Micro Four Thirds photography, which I see as the future of high end amateur equipment, I'm a bit daunted by the cost of good wide angle lenses. Sure, it's early, but after dropping around $700 for a M43 body and a decent 14-42 kit lens, leaving another $1000 for the Panaaonic 7-14, and another most of a grand for the Olympus 9-18, it starts to add up. It's not outrageous money for a body and a few of lenses, it's just that new, better, and better priced lenses are certainly coming along.

So I looked for a software solution to making wide angle shots (and I do need a specialized one for a web site I'm working on), and came across Microsoft Image Composite Editor. Free. It works very well. Anyone can look like they have a few thousand invested in wide angle lenses, if they have the picture in their mind, and MS ICE.

Here's some shots of my first run at it. I just banged out some nothing shots of the living room on P, overlapping them, and then fed them into MS ICE.

Here are the raw shots:

And here's the composited image of the three.

I didn't tune these images up, so they are a little uncontrasty, but they demonstrate the point. It gives you the whole room. The barrel distortion is from the lens. For landscape photography, which I'll try out tomorrow, I think MS ICE might just be the trick. It's pretty hard to tell that this shot of the LR wasn't made with an 11mm lens on a DSLR. There is the one defect, but I could PS that out in a minute.

I'm not as much of a Microsoft bigot as I was (mostly for development tools) but it looks like they gave us a good thing for free with MS ICE.

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