Here is some information for all you Canon SLR users out there. I have been shooting interactive virtual tours here at BlueLaVaMedia for a little over a year now using a Canon 20D camera with a 17-85mm 4.5-5.6 EFS IS Canon lens. I also use a Canon 550 flash on a bracket attached to the RTV Rotator and use the flash for all my images.
This allows me to easily balance the exposure in the rooms with the ambient light through the window, as many of the homes here in Northern Michigan have great views. We are now approaching our one year anniversary here at BlueLaVaMedia and I have created well over 200 Traverse City virtual tours. We are continually expanding our client base and so far everyone that we work with has been extremely satisfied with the quality of our virtual tours. Exposure is good, white balance is not a problem, the tours are very sharp and RTV continually adds more and more features to the system giving Jason and I something new to talk about nearly every month. Overall in my humble opinion the 360 tours look just great!
As we all know in our industry virtual tour quality is extremely important. Many online shoppers will form their first impression of a property, the seller, business owner or a listing agent from the tour. At least that is what my friends all tell me when I tell them what I do now.
Anyway, all was well and good in my world except…when I photographed a property that had very white or light colored walls. In this type of home I would definitely have a problem with a dark vertical banding where the images were stitched together. It was time to do some trouble shooting. It was not an exposure inconsistency issue as my overall exposures were dead on. I then decided that since I was using flash that it must be related to that. I tried two different types of flash diffusers as well as bounced the flash off the ceiling where applicable. My flash also has a built in wide angle panel that spreads the light wider then my lens. Nothing was working and I was getting frustrated as I still had light fall off at the image corners.
I then tried some spins without flash and still experienced the problem. I tried closing the lens down more, to the “sweet spot” and still light fall off! Ok so what next??? I tried a newer 580 flash (I have a good relationship with my local provider so I was lucky enough to borrow it.) I also have a Canon 30D and I tried that, still the problem persisted. At this point I figured it had to be the lens, so I tried an inexpensive Sigma 18-55 lens. (Borrowed that too) and it seemed to help the problem. It was however still noticeable. What’s a photographer to do????
Well not to long ago I was reading my favorite monthly publication Outdoor Photography and looked over the initial test report on the new Canon 50D. What to my wandering eyes should appear than the addition of a lens peripheral illumination setting to correct light fall off at image edges. All of that testing for not. It was a problem that Cannon has had all along and they have now presumably fixed it.
I haven’t had a chance to borrow one of those yet though. (Don’t know if my Canon provider likes me that much) I still love my Canon system and have quite a few other lenses so I am not about to change. I still use the Sigma because the problem seems a little less pronounced with that lens (I have no idea why) and I have become pretty darn proficient and fast at using Photoshop’s dodging tool to blend the issue when necessary.
In the meantime I am saving my pennies for that 50D or maybe even the (by then) 60D camera. Well in closing I hope some of you Canon users will find all this helpful and save some time by realizing it’s just the nature of the beast or should I say, the Canon sensor!
Good luck out there!
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