No-parallax point

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Revision as of 06:17, 30 December 2005 by Rjlittlefield (talk) (revised from "nodal point" based on Dec 2005 consensus)

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If you rotate your camera around some randomly chosen point, your images will have parallax and your stitches will be bad.

With most lenses, there is one special point around which you can rotate your camera and get no parallax.

In the panorama photography community, that special "no-parallax point" is often called the "nodal point" or "entrance pupil".

Periodically there is debate about what it ought to be called. In the physics and optics communities, the term "nodal point" means something else entirely, a place in the optical path that is of no significance to most photographers. The term "entrance pupil" properly refers to the image of the limiting aperture or diaphragm, as seen through the front of the lens. The entrance pupil is usually near the no-parallax point, but does not have to be exactly at it. The no-parallax point could properly be called the "center of perspective", but this term is not commonly used and does not describe why the no-parallax point is important.

Everything considered, the best term for the no-parallax point is probably (surprise!) the "no-parallax point". But if you do say "entrance pupil" or "nodal point" while talking about panoramas, everyone will understand what you mean.

Regardless of what you call the no-parallax point, it is easily found by trial and error. Just adjust the rotation point so that foreground and background points stay lined up.

Some lenses, notably fisheyes, do not have a single no-parallax point. Instead, they have a range of what we might call "least-parallax points" that depend on the angle away from the lens axis. Such lenses can be recognized easily -- just look into the front of the lens and observe that the location of the entrance pupil moves forward or back as you rotate the lens off-axis. With such lenses, it is good to pick one angle at which you like to stitch, and rotate your camera around a point that gives no parallax at that angle.

To facilitate finding the no-parallax point for other people, please fill the measurements you have found for your Camera / Lens / Focal Length combination in the Entrance Pupil Database


Big Ben's Panorama Tutorials, Determining the Nodal Point of a Lens.

Kaidan, How to Find Your Camera's Nodal Point.

Alain Hamblenne, The Grid

Michel Thoby, especially Nodal point location for the SIGMA 8mm f:4 lens, which describes an interesting approach using a laser pointer.