I've been a gigapanner since the beta program and have over 100 up at the gigapan.org user site (under the same name), have been using either the beta unit or the Epic 100 for several years now. I shoot with Olympus products (disclaimer: no commercial ties to B+H, Gigapan or Olympus whatsoever, just a happy consumer...), but also use Leica, Nikon and Olympus legacy lenses.
The strengths have been very well described in the B+H article. Some of the folks at B+H were instrumental in helping me find an excellent solution to carrying all of my kit (Cyberpack 8) and I was there recently to pick up some equipment. One of the salesmen, the very friendly and competent fellow in the cases department, remembered me from when I picked up the case and has indicated that there are a few gigapanners out there in the wild besides myself. :-)
One of the major strengths of the gigapan unit is the extremely high quality images that you can generate. Generous overlap of the images is critical: I get the best results with a long lens, generating 25% overlap or more. While this sounds like a lot, given the ease with which you can generate such huge images, it is a small price to pay for the significant easing of stitching problems.
As the article mentions, getting the unit centered and balanced is critical: the most epic fails I've seen (and made myself) were of units that were not properly centered and balanced. It's not hard, just necessary. Allow 1 second between pictures to ensure that all movement vibration is dampened, but be aware that if you are taking pictures in a windy location, the gigapan unit itself will generate some vibrations, critical if you are taking time exposures on a light tripod. Use the heaviest tripod you can lug around/own!
The stitcher is excellent and the newest version (i.e. what you get today, not the beta version) is an excellent multi-threading application. It will generate both TIFF and Adobe DNG formats for further processing (which is not easy, given the very large size of file that you can generate: a machine with 4GB of RAM using GIMP or Photoshop will not be able to handle any TIFF file over 1GP in size without resorting to swapping, which will make anything but the most trivial processing extremely slow and intolerable!).
First: you need multiple sets of batteries if you are on the road or on location. Battery quality is CRITICAL: cheap NiMH will not hold their charges over time, meaning that you may find yourself out of luck on large gigapans taken, say, at the end of a 6-hour hike 3 days after you last charged the batteries. But this is a battery problem, NOT a gigapan problem! It took me quite a while to find a 12-battery charger, rather than carrying multiple 4-battery chargers. You *can* use alkalines, but be aware that they will be consumed at a fairly ferocious rate. From a set of good 2700mAh NiMH batteries, I can get around 1200 images or so: from a set of 2200mAh NiMh batteries, this drops to ca 1000 images.
Second: only the gigapan Epic Pro will handle larger DSLRs. I use the E510 on the Epic 100, which fits and works fine. I have the occasional issue with some centering problems, but they are my fault, not gigapans as such.
Third: you will need serious disk space. I store the originals in the same directory as where I generate the gigapan, and 10 gigapans from a recent vacation generated 74 GB of images (there were some 3GP+ images there...). When on the road, I use a notebook with two external drives, a 500GB and 1TB 2.5" units to ensure that I have enough room.
Fourth: THINK. This is a unit that makes it very easy to take pictures that would be otherwise hard to make. The images demand, however, time and effort to make, and I've taken plenty of images that really didn't deserve the treatment, where in retrospect I could have done better and spent my limited time more efficiently.
But then again, you can generate images which make it all worthwhile (tried to include a link, but it triggers the spam filter). Go to gigapan #55449 to see one of mine...
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