While your camera is quite dated going by todays standards, the Kodak Z650 does have a nice feature set. Especially the EVF, which I couldnâ€™t do without; one of the reasons I bought the G1. Your pictures look good too.
Yes, the Z650 was going for a very good price because it was already being superseded by a later model, which is partly why we got it. Also others in the family already were using it, so it was a known factor. The development in this technology is going ahead rapidly, though, so everything is soon out of date. In spite of its weaknesses, I like my Z650 and have done about 11,000 shots with it now. Compared with film or my first 'TakeIt' it's a dream come true.
A couple of questions:
Does the sequence of the pictures matter with Hugin? R-L, L-R, center out?
I imagine if everything in the panorama is a distant subject there wonâ€™t be a problem with using the same exposure settings. But what if you have light and dark subjects in the panorama. Wouldnâ€™t it be better to expose for each shot? If you use different exposures, does that work in Hugin?
For instance, if youâ€™re shooting a double row of 4 exposures with the upper left first shot mostly sky and the lower part of the scene includes dark colored foreground buildings, you might underexpose the building if your first shot in the sky. Recovering detail in dark areas might be a problem.
I usually start with the left, bottom of what I want to take, then sweep to the right with about 1/3rd overlap. If I want to add the sky above, for example, I then take another sweep with just the horison a the bottom, starting from the same place on the left and going across to the right again. I don't think that the order matters so much to Hugin which can figure out the common points automatically with great accuracy, although just lately I've found that Hugin coughs up at this point and makes me put them in all manually, which is a real pain.
Included in Hugin are algorithms for matching the exposures between photos. It helps if they are close but small differences are compensated for by using the exif data to correct them. You can choose to include 'enfuse' with a panorama if the originals need adjusting. Sometimes I adjust them roughly, using 'Curves' in the GIMP and find that this gives a better result when there is a lot of variation in exposures. Enfuse tends to leave more unevenness in the sky, for example.
Also, when you have selected the images to combine you can set one of them as the standard for exposure as well as to be the centre.
I noticed you crop for the final panorama, do you work with full sized .jpgs? That has got to take up a lot of space, not mention the load on the computer. Do you recommend some minimum specs, power-wise, for a computer using Hugin without having to feel like youâ€™re watching grass grow?
You're quite correct about the file sizes being large, huge in fact. I've got 2 GB of RAM on this computer and still had to reboot to reclaim as much memory as possible to complete this task when using a large number of input images. I have also run out of space on the hard drive but have got around that by using a directory in my external hard drive which is 1 TB [1,000 GB] in capacity.
I have been setting Hugin to save in a JPEG file, with 100% quality, because of the size of files produced, but lately have been using TIFF with compression in order to keep as much information as possible. And the files are large - one recent one is nearly 28 MB. And during the processing Hugin produces lots of temporary TIFF files which are deleted after they have been stitched together, but you do need to have sufficient working space for these temporary files, too.
Then there is an enormous amount of processing as it looks for, refines and puts in a database all the matching points to stitch the photos together. Sometimes it is good to take a coffee break while this is going on, even with my core-duo CPU.
All in all, you do need some considerable resources for a large panorama. I'd recommend doing something like four originals, first, to check you system out.
I'll try and add this information to the tutorial in a section on system requirements.