VPiX Step by Step Training

Congratulations on your purchase of the complete VPiX virtual tour camera kit or the VPiX 360 upgrade kit. Below are the basic steps to putting your kit together, capturing your first 360 panorama, stitching them together and uploading your 6,000 x 3,000 JPEG panoramas to your VPiX 360° cloud. It's simple, it's fun and it's a great way to make money shooting for real estate agents, hotels, vacation rentals, restaurants and just about anything else you can think of.
If you have never used a Nikon D7100 or D7200 camera before, please click on the Nikon DigiTutor below. This is an interactive, self-paced way to learn all the controls and basic functions of your D7100 / D7200 series DSLR camera.
Go ahead and look at the other training sections above, but please start here first. Learning the basics of VPiX is required so you won't get lost or frustrated by skipping this step and jumping ahead.

Camera Set Up & 360° Lens

The first thing we have to do, is put together the Sigma 8mm f/ 3.5 lens and your Fanotec metal ring. This will always stay attached to your Sigma.

Putting the Parts Together

Below is a simple diagram showing you how all the parts go together. You start with your tripod and you add the leveling head. We recommend a headless set of tripod legs such as the Induro Pro Series or Manfrotto. On top of the leveling head, you have the R-10 rotator, then your camera attaches to the top. NOTE: The Fanotec ring is always attached to your Sigma 8mm lens. It never gets removed.

Your VPiX Upgrade kit (shown above) will come with the following:

(1) Sigma 8mm f/ 3.5 fish eye lens

(2) Plastic ring for Sigma

(3) Metal Fanotec ring for Sigma

(4) R-10 Rotator w/ 7.5° fixed tilt & 90° click stops

(5) Compass and Leveling gauge for R-10

(6) Allen Wrenches and rail stop screws

(7) 1/4" to 3/8" adapter screw for smaller tripods

VPiX Accessories Kit Comes with:

(1) Opteka photo gray cards [ for custom white balance/HDR ]

(2) USB Hi-Speed Card Reader

(3) VPiX Photographer lanyard [ to wear your VPiX VPPA Press Credentials ]

(4) VPiX Marketing Kit PDFs. [ Flyers, Post Cards, 360 worksheets ] **

(5) VPiX Car Window Decal [ Vinyl Letters ]

(6) 3-Way Leveling Head [ for your tripod + R-10 rotator ]

(7) 1/4" to 3/8" adapter screw for smaller tripods

** Available with VPiX Marketing Website / Free Rackspace Hosting

Overview of how your VPiX 360 Kit goes together

To attach the camera to the R10 rotator, you simply slide the camera/Sigma and Fanotec mount into the back of the rotator and stop at precisely at the 1.1 mark, then tighten down the bracket. You turn the camera 90 degrees for each shot and you rotate clockwise. The built-in detent stop will let you "feel" the natural click-stops for 0°, 90°, 180° and 270°.

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Putting the Sigma / Rings Together

Get the Sigma lens, your metal Fanotec ring and plastic ring. You need all three of these on a desk and in front of you. Take the black plastic ring, and look inside. There is a tiny UP arrow. This is important: Take the black plastic ring and attach the ring to the lower bottom of the Sigma. You will feel it "snap" into position.

Tip: For Canon Sigma owners, there is a small switch AF / M which means AF=Autofocus and M=Manual. You want to switch this to M for manual. The plastic ring will not cover up this AF/M switch. On Nikon Sigma lenses, you will not see this AF/M switch.

Take a small piece of clear tape and apply this to the plastic ring to hold this. It's normal there is a small gap here. Just tape it. Now, get the metal Fanotec ring.

Open up the ring by turning the cylinder a few revolutions. Give it several turns but do not turn it too many times the bolt comes out. Open it enough so that it can slide over the black plastic ring aleady on the Sigma lens. IMPORTANT: You must slide this metal ring from the BACK of the Sigma - NEVER the front of the lens as it will not fit.

Make sure the foot, or the L-shape of the metal ring faces TOWARD <-- the glass part of the Sigma lens. We do not want to put this on backwards. Once you have the metal Fanotec ring attached, turn the cylinder knob a few times so it is loose not tight on the black plastic ring. We will tighten this down after we attach the Sigma to your DSLR camera body.

Add plastic / metal ring to Sigma 8mm Lens
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Attach Lens to Camera, Leveling Head & Tripod

Tip: Take your Canon or Nikon camera body and now attach the Sigma lens (with the ring attached) to your camera body as shown above (1). If you have the L-shaped part of your Fanotec bracket facing toward the glass part of your Sigma lens, this will be simple to do. Remove the dust cover from your camera, line up the notches and rotate CLOCKWISE (2) until the lens CLICKS into position. Please do not force the lens into the camera and do this step very slowly and carefully so you do not damage the pins and connections.

Crop Sensor or Full Frame Cameras

If you have a crop sensor (APS-C) camera like the Nikon models D90, D300, D7100 or the Canon EOS 60D, 70D, or 7D -- then you will see a "cropped image" on the back of your camera as shown below.
Full frame cameras will show your Sigma 8mm image like this. Unlike the crop sensor camera body, you do not have to turn your camera on it's side. With full frame cameras, you can shoot your VPiX panoramas in the standard / horizontal camera position as shown below.
YouTube Video: How to Put Camera + R10 Together

Watch the above video to learn how to attach your Sigma lens / Camera to your R10 rotator. Below are the step-by-step directions we need to take:

(1) Attach Sigma lens and Fanotec ring to your Canon or Nikon DSLR camera.

(2) Open up the R10 clamp and insert your Sigma lens/Camera to the top.

(3) Adjust the camera so it is calibrated. This is done when you are on the 1.1 mark.

(4) Tighten the R10 so your camera is secure.

(5) Rotate the camera left (clockwise) and feel the camera stop every 90 degrees.

Your First Panorama. How to Shoot.
Now Go Shoot Some VPiX Tours!
Practice, pratice, practice! Go shoot some VPiX tours and be sure to to shoot both indoor and outdoor panoramas. Light will change and you need to compensate your camera accordingly by adjusting your camera's shutter speed and sometimes your ISO can be faster by setting this to a higher number like 400 or 600. Remember, never change from F /8.0 and only calibrate the leveling head for shot (1.) Never recalibrate the photo level for shot 2, 3 or 4. Doing that may cause big problems in stitching.
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Camera Settings for Nikon

( A ) Turn this dial to M for Manual

( B ) and ( C ) Turn the dial ( B ) in front of the camera until you see F 8.0 on the ( C ) display.

D7100 / D7200

The D7100 / D7200 are nearly identical. Please watch the above video for D7100 / D7200 settings.

Understanding ISO and Shutter Speed

(A) ISO: 400, Shutter Speed: 2 Seconds. F / 8.0 -- Um... we can do better!
The ISO range is good. 200 - 400 is a good range for the D7100 for most conditions. F-Stop is set to 8, and this is good. However the amount of time the shutter was left open was bad, as anyone can see this shot is clearly OVER-exposed.
(B) ISO: 400, Shutter Speed: .5 Seconds. F / 8.0 -- Oh yeah. This is good.
Much better. The light on the ceiling fan is still a bit too harsh, but the rest of the room looks good. Until we get you into the VPiX Rockstar (Level 3 training) this is the kind of photo you want to aim for. Not too bright, not too dark.
(C) ISO: 400, Shutter Speed: 1/8 Second. F / 8.0 -- Tricky, but open up mid-tones.
The ceiling fan is perfect, however the mid-tones are a bit squashed. So in this instance we might want to try one exposure for .75 seconds or 1 second using the same ISO 400 setting. If we were to stitch this panorama above using these settings, we would have to open up the midtones and we'd use Photoshop's filter: Shadow / Highlights and use the default range.
(D) ISO: 400, Shutter Speed: 1/30 Second. F / 8.0 -- Yuk! Nope. This won't even stitch!
And this is what happens when your shutter speed is too fast. This means not enough light exposed the scene for a long enough time. The perfect shot would have been a shutter speed somewhere between 1/2 (Photo B) and 1/8th of a second (Photo C).
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