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2009: The amazing Canon 5D Mark II, a 22 megapixel full frame DSLR.
2008: The Canon 40D, a 10 megapixel DSLR.
2007: Canon 20D.
My favourite lens is the 50mm f/1.8, oddly Canon's cheapest lens but one of the sharpest. Very long panoramas are all shot with this. Wider up-down field panoramas are shot with the EF-S 10-22m wide angle zoom. In 2009 I will be using the 24-105 f/4l and an old Sigma 17-35 for wide angles, but I will probably purchase the 16-40L or similar.
From time to time I will also shoot with the 70-200L zoom.
Most are shot on the Kaidan Kiwi-L, but a few are shot by hand or with the regular tripod.
I took my first panorama in Hawai`i and said, "there ought to be software to automate blending these." I started working on it but soon lots of packages showed up, starting with Quicktime VR.
I started with a package called PhotoVista. It's very easy to use, and produces decent panoramas, using a special blending technique which even handles shots with moving people. Most of my early panoramas were done with this. However, it has not been updated much over the years and lacks the ability to do good fine tuning on images and won't run on Linux under wine.
Today my main packages are Panorama Factory and AutoPano Pro.
AutoPanoPro is very automatic and does multi-row panos. You can often pull off handhelds. Panorama Factory only does single row, but lets you control exactly where the blends go and lets you fine tune them, so you can better handle moving people and parallax.
Of course, there is always cleanup to do in Photoshop after stitching. Plus my various haze removal techniques still under experimentation.
Most recent panoramas are built with either APP on Ubuntu linux or PF under Wine, then tweaked in Photoshop CS2.
For the best panoramas, you want a Panoramic tripod head. Such devices have a level, to keep your panorama level, and arms that let you spin the camera around its "nodal point." This is the place where the light rays from the lens come to a single point before they spread to form an image on the film plane. It is almost never above the tripod mounting screw.
I have a dedicated page with information and reviews of panorama heads.
Today I always use my Bogen carbon fiber tripod. It was expensive, but is a dream to carry. At first I wondered about spending $500 on tripod legs, but after carrying it up to the top of the Great Wall of China, it was worth every penny.
Even with heavy cameras, as long as it's not too windy you don't need a super heavy duty tripod. Right now your pano head will be a bigger source of vibration than your tripod legs. Use of a cable release is a good idea with panorama shooting. In fact, I often put my camera up so high I can't easily reach it so the cable release is a must.
In a pinch I have even done things on a monopod, if you have a level to keep you still. I have even just stuck the spike of my walking stick into soft dirt and spun the camera around.
I use a Markins ball head. Ball heads are very nice for regular shooting, and you can level pretty quickly with them, so I don't use a special leveler. At first a pan/tilt head may seem easier for getting level but you will get used to the ball.
You can also read about the equipment I used to use in the past.