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Thread: Panoramic head - recommendations please

  1. #1
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    Panoramic head - recommendations please

    Hi guys,

    I want a panoramic head. I am not brand loyal, as long as it is good quality and can hold a decent weight camera / lens combo I will be happy. The Manfrotto 303 Plus I was going to buy seems to be discontinued. I have never taken panos but intend to use CS6 to stich or may consider specialised software if required. Recommendations please.

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    Quote Originally Posted by fess67 View Post
    Hi guys,

    I want a panoramic head.
    You'll need to dislocate your neck for that

    Sorry. Practicing for the next "Caption This"

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    ROFL I guess I need the word tripod in there somewhere huh

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    Nodal Ninja products are highly recommended. Panosaurus for the budget minded. 360 Precision if you have a full bank balance. I use Agnos, also pricy but awesome Italian made gear.
    Cheers,
    Ian

    All the 7's: D700, D7000, D70

  5. #5
    A royal pain in the bum! arthurking83's Avatar
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    Just get yourself a good quality ballhead, with level indicators, and a 90° angle adapter and a slide rail (10" is a good start) from Hejnar, learn the basics of using the nodal point theory ..... and away you go.

    The problems I see with having a dedicated nodal point device is that it's cumbersome, and you're less likely to carry it around on the 'off chance'.
    With the right gear, such as those described above, they're much more portable, connect themselves in seconds(all Arca Swiss compatible) and the individual items take up very little space in your bag.
    These items are also handy for other duties such as macro work, or just getting into harder to achieve positions.

    A list of what I have and use for pano work is very simple:
    (all from HejnarPhoto)
    1. L-bracket
    1. 10" rail
    1. mini clamp set(I set mine to 90°)

    The 10" rail sits on the tripod head in the fore-aft position. The mini clamp set connects to the rail and the camera is clamped onto the mini clamp set. This allows you to slide the camera up to about 400-500mm in the fore-aft axis to set up the correct nodal point for the lens in use. But of course it's not limited to just this sort of use, and can be used in any flexible manner you need it too.

    Those 3 items will cost approximately $200ish.
    Last edited by arthurking83; 27-02-2013 at 8:02pm.
    Nikon D800E, D300, D70s
    {Nikon} -> 50/1.2 : 500/8(CPU'd) : 105/2.8VR Micro : 180/2.8ais : 105mm f/1.8ais : 24mm/2ais
    {Sigma}; ->10-20/4-5.6 : 50/1.4 : 12-24/4.5-5.6II : 150-600mm|S
    {Tamron}; -> 17-50/2.8 : 28-75/2.8 : 70-200/2.8 : 300/2.8 SP MF : 24-70/2.8VC


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    Thanks guys.

    Arthur - hmmm you make it sound as confusing as the guy I spoke to at the camera store today. Is it easy (i.e. just a case of learning) or is this a bit of black magic?

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    Account Closed Wayne's Avatar
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    I use this: http://acratech.net/product.php?productid=69

    It is very well made and is an excellent ballhead. The added bonus is that you take the clamp off and put it upside down, mounting the clamp on the rotating base, and the ball stem then screws to your trips stud. This makes it not only a ballhead, but also a pano head and levelling base. You can use a rail to move the camera about the nodal point if required, or just use the built in foot if your lens has an Arca compatible one. It also functions as a pseudo Gimbal head quite well.

    I have been using it for about 3 years now and it looks and works like the day I got it. If you need plates etc, Chris Henjar as recommended by AK is a great guy. He does well made and well priced rails and accessories for the Arca Swiss standard. I use his lens plates on my 70-200/2.8VR, AF200/4 Micro and 200/2VR.

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    Thanks for that. I will have a look at their products

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    A royal pain in the bum! arthurking83's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fess67 View Post
    Thanks guys.

    Arthur - hmmm you make it sound as confusing as the guy I spoke to at the camera store today. Is it easy (i.e. just a case of learning) or is this a bit of black magic?
    LOL! I probably did, but when you see the rails and clamps I refer too, it makes more sense.

    I'll try to get a photo of the setup as soon as I can and post it up.

    What head you get is technically irrelevant, as long as it all works for you, and how you tend to set yourself up.
    My personal preference is for ballheads, but you may prefer video type heads, or even a geared head or whatever.

    For the nodal point itself, I've seen lots of comments about how this works and that works and so forth, and most of these nodal point devices seem to work on the principle of a specific focal length for the lens.
    That is, say you have a Canon 10-22 UWA, and want to use 10mm .. the nodal point device works in a manner that you set it up for 10mm.

    But it's no so simple!
    Nodal point theory(as I've understood it) is also about the actual lens design type, as the entrance pupil has an effect on the outcome of the total setup.
    The pano devices can't take this into account, unless it's actually engineered for a myriad of different lens designs from all manufacturers !

    That is, the entrance pupil for the Canon 10-22, will be different to how Sigma designed their 10-20mm f/4-5.6, and how they designed their 10-20mm f/3.5, and again they'll all be different to the Nikon 10-24mm and the Tamron 10-24mm lenses .. etc, etc .....

    So I set my pano up simply to rotate around the physical aperture within the lens.
    The 10-20mm Sigma is probably a terrible lens to use as an example(lens design), but this is what I did for a 10mm pano I wanted to try out.
    I determined where the physical diaphragm was located within the lens(actually hard to do with the Siggy!) and then set up the head/rail to rotate around this point. Took the 3 or 4 exposures and was done. Because of the wild distortions at the edges of this lens, I leave room for a bit of overlap and then stitch(using PTGui).



    This was my first proper attempt with the Sigma (but I think it was set to 12mm), using 3 vertical images encompassing 180 degrees.
    Up to this attempt, all other attempts would require at least 5 images, and give me a final FOV that was closer to a single shot using 10mm(maybe an extra 10° of width) because so much of the image had to be trimmed during stitching.

    And the only nodal point theory I used to set up that pano(above) was that based around rotating the lens around the entrance pupil .. and even that was 'an educated guess'.

    For a peek at the rails and clamps I mentioned, here are link to Hejnar's products:

    8" rail @ 3/8 thick

    mini clamp

    Note that with the long rail, you set up the tripod/head so that this long rail is facing towards the scene(fore/aft) mounted directly onto the head.
    Note that with the min clamp, you set it up(prior to heading out) so that the two clamps are at 90° to each other(it separates and you re-configure it). This mounts to the rail, and so allows you to slide it from one end of the rail to the other.

    With the long rail facing fore aft, and the mini clamp set to 90°, you have the option to slide your camera into or back from the subject .. and this gives you almost twice the distance of the long rail to play with. Of course you can purchase and use a much shorter rail if you prefer, but as I said earlier, the longer rail allows you to set up your camera in much more versatile ways .. for example into a corner where your tripod legs don't allow you to get into .. etc. (this can be important for some macro works where you are literally only a millimeter from the subject, but the tripod and head don't allow you to get too.
    Of course if you ever set the camera so far off the centre line of the tripod/head, the tripod needs to be suitably anchored, so that it doesn't topple over too!

    In saying all that I do also have a 4" plate that I can also use for nodal point panorama setup, but by default I just tend to use the 10" rail. I reckon 4" is about right for 99% of all the lenses one would tend to use for panorama work tho.

    Hope that makes sense .. I'll try to post up the image of the plates and rails setup as soon as I have a moment.

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    Sorry Arthur, but that all sounds very complicated for anyone new looking to get into panos. Buy yourself a Nodal Ninja. $199 with free shipping and be done with it. The support they offer is excellent. They will give you the exact settings for your particular lens to nail the Nodal 1st time. Can be used with any number of body and lens combos up to a certain weight. Folds up nice and compact. Easy to setup and highly recommended in the world of panography!

    http://shop.nodalninja.com/nodal-ninja-3-1/

    NB, I am not affiliated with this company in any way. Just sharing my years of experience in this area.

  11. #11
    Sir Rattus79 - The Proclaimant
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    I personally have the Panosauraus version 1, it's made of MDF with a plasticky coating. They do warp if you leave them in your car etc. - Don't get one of these if you want something durable that's easy to use!

    That said, I have a dedicated tripod that I use for pano's which makes it a little easier if you don't have to set it up every time you want to use it. (yay for finding a bloody good Manfrotto Tripod in a junk store for $1!!)

    Pano heads aren't necessary though in most situations. It's only when you have foreground intrest or lines leading right through the pano that you're going to need one, like a fence or railing, a path or the likes of. Alot of the time you can get away with a regular tripod or hand holding.

    Eg:

    Barbed Wire by rattus1979, on Flickr
    Needed the pano head for the barbed wire.

    But this was shot hand held.

    Melbourne Graffiti Pano by rattus1979, on Flickr

    Note, there is a stich error in the last one, it's in the grate in the foreground, but was easy enough to fix in post.

    Edit to add: If I was to buy another panohead, I'd look straight at the really right stuff gear. Not cheap by any measure, but gee they're good quality!
    Last edited by Rattus79; 01-03-2013 at 10:34am.
    Greg Bartle,
    I have a Pentax and I'm not afraid to use it.
    Pentax K5
    Sigma 10-20 | Tamron 17-50 F:2.8 | Sigma 50 F:1.4 | Sigma 70-200 F:2.8 Plus a bunch of Ye Olde lenses


    Would you like to see more?
    http://flickr.com/photosbygreg

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    ok. Thanks for the advice guys. So far I have a front runner in the Nodal Ninja M1-L RD16 plus an EZ leveler. Have not considered really right stuff, will have a look.

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    Quote Originally Posted by fess67 View Post
    ok. Thanks for the advice guys. So far I have a front runner in the Nodal Ninja M1-L RD16 plus an EZ leveler. Have not considered really right stuff, will have a look.
    Good choice on the NN. Break out the cheque book if looking at RRS.

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    The NN stuff I am looking at is about the same price as the RRS - unless I am missing something obvious.

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    A royal pain in the bum! arthurking83's Avatar
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    If you've visited the RRS site, and you see the product they call the 192 Precision Plus package .. this is what I've described as my pano/nodal point tools.

    Simple and effective for single row panoramas. It may sound complicated, but in use it's quite easy and obvious in setting up.

    If you want multi row panos then a proper pano head would be a better option.

    But, for single row panoramas, the rail and the mini clamp is more than ideal and those two items can be had cheaper ... although in saying that too, RRS products are also at the top of their field.

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    Pulled the trigger on the RRS head. I was heading for the Nodal Ninja but the guy I was dealing with simply didn't get back to me so lost the sale.

    Now just got to wait

  17. #17
    Sir Rattus79 - The Proclaimant
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    You're going to freaking love it!

    (after you've spent an hour or 2 setting it up)

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    what would you guys (those who have used pano heads before) think of something like

    http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/360-Swive...item4ab9ee68eb

    these seem somewhat cheaper than the other options available
    Pentax K-5iis, DA* 50-135 IF SDM | Sigma 18-125 3.5-5.6 | Sigma 70-210 4-5.6 |Sigma 28-80 3.5-5.6 Macro |Pentax-FA 28-80 3.5-4.7 |Pentax A 50 1.7 |Pentax DA 12-24 | Pentax DAL 55-300|Sigma 28-300 3.5-6.3 and other stuff

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rattus79 View Post
    You're going to freaking love it!

    (after you've spent an hour or 2 setting it up)
    I may well be posting some help type questions in a few weeks

  20. #20
    Sir Rattus79 - The Proclaimant
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    It should come with instructions. its pretty easy once you work out how it works.

    - - - Updated - - -

    It should come with instructions. its pretty easy once you work out how it works.

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