Rick Drew - 20 million views! PRO 9:31am, 24 August 2011
No matter what you call it, you should get it as close as possible. If your panoramas are at a distance, it's not that important. The closer objects are to the lens, the more the NPP importance increases - and the more parallax errors increase.

One quick and easy setting - move the up/down axis so the 0 is centered on the front arrows. Run a thread across both arrows, and line this up with the center of your lens - you'll need to use a short lens. Most lenses have a center line or indicator you can use. If not, take your time and eyeball it.

Once you lock-in this setting, you'll only have to change it when you change cameras.

Gigapan Epic Pro - setting up NPP by Rick Drew - 20 million views!

As for moving the camera back and forth, this is different for every lens and zoom level. I have found that for prime lenses (fixed focal length) the colored line is usually this point. On Canon and Sigma lenses it's gold or red. That's a good starting point.

To really get this locked in can take several hours per lens/zoom level, and is only important if you plan on shooting indoors or close objects, such as paintings.

The process is simple - just repetitive. Set the plate so the assumed NPP is over the indicator. For my 60mm this was around 82, and so far it's worked great.

If you have no idea where to start, start with the setting that's about 1/4" behind the glass. Say it's 80 on the plate. Shoot an image in a room with as much clutter and lines as possible. Shooting a wall of window blinds works great. Shoot an entire wall. Stitch it at 50% with the larger blending region set on. Inspect the preview. See errors? Move the plate to 70. Repeat. No errors? Export the image and inspect that carefully. See errors? Repeat. At this point you may have to move forward 5, back 5, back 5, forward 2, etc. to get an acceptable image.

There's no need to use the camera's max quality/size - My 7D shoots over 20 megapixels. I shoot my test images at the smallest size. It's a huge time saver on stitching, and you can preview the exported files in any file viewer.
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