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Author Topic: Panoramic Head - necessary for single row panos?  (Read 8212 times)
neil74
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« on: November 23, 2008, 07:44:49 AM »
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Hello all,

I am weighing up the pros and cons of going for a pano head.  As well as the obvious expense (not a show stopper) I am concerned about the bulk as they all seem to be huge.

I am wavering as I only intend to do single row panos with my 5D and probably some wth my Sigma DP1 too, I understand the parallax issue, but as all I really want to do is some single row ones  I am wondering if a pano head is really necessary?

Any real life feedback much appreciated.

Rgds

Neil
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Bob Smith
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« Reply #1 on: November 23, 2008, 08:22:38 AM »
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If you shoot with a lot of overlap and don't have any scene detail closer than maybe 15 feet or so from the camera, you can get good stitched images from hand held shots.  The more precisely you shoot the better your stitches will be in more problematic situations... minimal overlap because you have to cover a scene quickly before something changes... or there's a lot of foreground detail.  A good, calibrated pano head helps you shoot very precisely.  When you shoot precisely the stitching process is simpler and faster.  Look at the basic Really Right Stuff package for single row panos.  It's small, light and can be upgraded later into a very nice multi row setup if you want.  It's not inexpensive but extremely well made and a joy to use... especially if you already have other RRS components.
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Dave Carter
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« Reply #2 on: November 23, 2008, 08:41:09 AM »
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Neil, I would consider the pano head necessary depending on the picture.
What I mean is - if everything is quite some distance off like a landscape with everything 250' away or more, you can certainly hand hold and get a good picture.  I sometimes rest on a log or against a tree or on a beanbag.  And I try to watch when I move the camera to rotate it around the lens nodel point.
If objects are also in the foreground like at 25' - 50', then yes you are much better off with a tripod in my opinion.
I almost always use one.  The exception is when I just don't have enough time or tripods are not allowed.
If in question, use one.

The picture is 3 X 5 frames taken on a bean bag sitting on the railing of a bridge.


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stever
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« Reply #3 on: November 23, 2008, 10:08:30 AM »
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i've taken pans handheld, with a monopod, and tripod using the RRS pano head

i'd recommend you invest in good software like PTGui and practice hand-held - i've had good success with urban and rural landscapes handheld on single row pans.  with more practice i think two row pans are practical, but the camera should be held horizontally rather than vertically.  It's important to allow plenty of room for cropping with hand-held pans.

if you want to include closer detail, then you need to rotate about the nodal point of the lens which is difficult to do hand-held.  with a RRS L-bracket and nodal slide you can do it with a monopod if it's not practical to carry a tripod.  the RRS pano head with L-bracket and nodal slide on a tripod (even a very light tripod in good light) is certainly the best although it's heavy and expensive.  Feisol makes a much less expensive (though no less bulky) pano head which doesn't have the nice built-in clamp.  with some combinations of tripods and ball heads it's also possible to turn the ball head upside down.  you can also use a conventional ballhead on a tripod with a level (level the tripod with the legs) then use a bubble level on the hot shoe of the camera

in short, go shoot some panos and see how it goes before investing in a bunch of stuff you don't use much (as i don't, even though i don't mind having it)
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neil74
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« Reply #4 on: November 23, 2008, 11:32:06 AM »
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Thanks for all the replies.  Just to confirm I am not intending on doing hand held panos, I have a selection of tripods and heads so it is really whether a pano head is worth it vs a normal tripod head.

Thanks

Neil
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marcmccalmont
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« Reply #5 on: November 23, 2008, 02:19:25 PM »
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Quote from: neil74
Thanks for all the replies.  Just to confirm I am not intending on doing hand held panos, I have a selection of tripods and heads so it is really whether a pano head is worth it vs a normal tripod head.

Thanks

Neil

I'm not sure what you mean by Pano Head and Normal tripod head? 3 basic types; Panning (fluid) head for Video, 3 axis head and ball head. A large number of ball heads have a panning base which is all that you need.
Marc
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Marc McCalmont
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« Reply #6 on: November 23, 2008, 02:20:00 PM »
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Echoing others: if you're not doing indoor panos and avoid foreground elements, you don't need a pano head. I've done several multi-row panos with ball head and they turn out perfectly.

Quote from: stever
with more practice i think two row pans are practical, but the camera should be held horizontally rather than vertically.

Any reason to recommend horizontal? I always shoot vertical as that gives me more room to crop.
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Panopeeper
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« Reply #7 on: November 23, 2008, 03:00:53 PM »
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http://luminous-landscape.com/forum/index....showtopic=28944

http://luminous-landscape.com/forum/index....showtopic=29284
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Gabor
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« Reply #8 on: November 23, 2008, 06:47:23 PM »
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i shoot single row panos handheld with the camera vertical, however, with two rows i have a harder time holding the camera vertical and getting top, bottom, and side overlaps correct  -- likely this wouldn't be an issue with a vertical grip
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AJSJones
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« Reply #9 on: November 23, 2008, 07:03:11 PM »
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Quote from: neil74
Thanks for all the replies.  Just to confirm I am not intending on doing hand held panos, I have a selection of tripods and heads so it is really whether a pano head is worth it vs a normal tripod head.

Thanks

Neil
I find this rail a useful addition to the bag (there is a shorter one for wide-angle lenses).  It's not a full "pano" head but can eliminate parallax for single rows.  You only need to figure out the "nodal point" for the lens - it has a bubble level to help alignment.
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Bronislaus Janulis
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« Reply #10 on: November 23, 2008, 11:15:59 PM »
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Nodal Ninjas are relatively compact, and inexpensive.
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neil74
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« Reply #11 on: November 24, 2008, 04:02:22 AM »
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What about the Manfrotto 300n? It seems to be suited to single row panos and also looks quite compact as well.

Anybody used one?
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fike
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« Reply #12 on: November 24, 2008, 06:38:18 AM »
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You are talking about using a tripod to do panos with a moderately heavy camera body.  What lens are you planning to use?  

I highly recommend the Really Right Stuff Pano equipment.  I use it extensively.  For lightweight applications, I use the Nodal Ninja.  It is excellent for a digicam or light DSLR setup.  

When I first got started, I used what would be called a cylindrical setup mounted on top of a ballhead.  It consisted of a RRS panning clamp and a nodal slide with clamp for the 'L' bracket on the camera.  This works well as long as you want to shoot level with the horizon.  There are everyday scenarios that DON'T work with this setup.  The most common would be standing at the edge of a cliff or overlook and trying to take a panoramic looking down.  You would think that you could simply tilt the ballhead downward and use your cylindrical setup. NOPE.  If you do that, your images will be arranged in an arc, like the shape of a rainbow. It will be nearly impossible to get a decent, wide stitch out of it.  

For this reason, I always take a spherical setup.  Really Right Stuff has an excellent one that allows you to make multi-row mosaic panoramas as well as upward or downward looking single-row panoramas.  The Nodal Ninja is also a spherical setup, but I wouldn't recommend it with a 5D and most lenses.

I consider the ability to do panoramics/mosaics like having another lens.  The widest lens I carry is a 24-70, but with panormaics on a calibrated head, I can take any wide angle I want with minimal distortion.  To do this, I need the calibrated spherical head.  If you are content to take occasional panoramics out in the distance, level, towards the horizon, your equipment needs can become very modest.  Then, I would recommend a panning clamp, bubble level, and 'L' bracket.  I would even dispense with the nodal slide.  As a matter of fact, if you are willing to mess around with your tripod legs to get the tripod level, then you can even use the yaw rotational control on your ballhead to pan the camera around, but you need to make sure that your ballhead has separate tightening knobs for rotation and the ballhead itself.  This approach would be the closest thing to handheld but on a tripod.
« Last Edit: November 24, 2008, 06:40:12 AM by fike » Logged

Fike, Trailpixie, or Marc Shaffer
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fike
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« Reply #13 on: November 24, 2008, 06:45:34 AM »
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Quote from: neil74
What about the Manfrotto 300n? It seems to be suited to single row panos and also looks quite compact as well.

Anybody used one?

I don't have an opinion about it, but I do have an observation.  With the RRS gear, everything uses standard Arca Swiss type clamps and can be rearranged and reconfigured for special applications. I have used the same equipment as a cylindrical head, spherical head and nodal slide for macro and flowers.  It also disassembles to a fairly small package.  If the price of RRS gear is an issue, I would recommend getting the cylindrical setup and then later upgrading it to the spherical setup.  

On the other hand, you may prefer NOT to develop a taste for RRS gear.  Their equipment is premium quality, highly flexible, and expensive$$$
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Fike, Trailpixie, or Marc Shaffer
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Ben Rubinstein
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« Reply #14 on: November 24, 2008, 07:20:50 AM »
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Given that most ballheads have a rotating base unless you are intending to do vertical pano's, I wouldn't bother with the RRS stuff. I do a lot of vertical pano's (6X12) so I use the pano head for smoother movement when shooting vertical though if you use a zoom lens and have enough resolution, shoot a bit wider and you won't specifically need the pano head for vertical, it's already in the slot so it's easier to rotate up or down while going all over the place.

I've never needed the nodal slide using multiple zoom and prime lenses including with elements close to the camera. Modern software just doesn't need nodal point rotation except for extremely niche shooting. I didn't believe it when the likes of Alain Briot and others said it but from experience in the field it's very true! Image below has a lot of forground elements, the nearest point is inches from the tripod foot. No problem. I have many other examples.

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fike
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« Reply #15 on: November 24, 2008, 09:26:59 AM »
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Quote from: pom
Given that most ballheads have a rotating base unless you are intending to do vertical pano's, I wouldn't bother with the RRS stuff. I do a lot of vertical pano's (6X12) so I use the pano head for smoother movement when shooting vertical though if you use a zoom lens and have enough resolution, shoot a bit wider and you won't specifically need the pano head for vertical, it's already in the slot so it's easier to rotate up or down while going all over the place.

I've never needed the nodal slide using multiple zoom and prime lenses including with elements close to the camera. Modern software just doesn't need nodal point rotation except for extremely niche shooting. I didn't believe it when the likes of Alain Briot and others said it but from experience in the field it's very true! Image below has a lot of forground elements, the nearest point is inches from the tripod foot. No problem. I have many other examples.


Great shot! I too have taken some cool stuff handheld.  Urban landscapes tend to be easier in this regard because by their solid nature, there aren't as many things to see through and thus have paralax issues.  In nature landscape, the most common and completely unresolvable issue is when looking through a stand of trees.  Tree trunks will move with relation to horizontal branches...this makes very problematic and time-consuming manual blending a necessity.  Effective ghosting with branches is very hard to tame with even the best panoramic tools ( I use PTGui).


Larger Version

If you are stitching for online or small presentation, handheld without nodal calibration is very good.  If you are making panoramics so that you can display large prints, you need a tripod and pano head for both sharpness and alignment.

Another handheld:

Blog Entry
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Fike, Trailpixie, or Marc Shaffer
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I carry an M43 ILC, a couple of good lenses, and a tripod.
Ben Rubinstein
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« Reply #16 on: November 24, 2008, 09:45:57 AM »
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Hi,

I'm not shooting handheld, my work is with an RRS pano head.

I've found that Autopano pro kills ghosting dead, this image had quite a bit of ghosting between frames in the foliage at the bottom, it showed up badly in the preview in the software but once the image had been rendered there was zero, in a 30 megapixel image, absolutely none whatsoever.

« Last Edit: November 24, 2008, 09:49:52 AM by pom » Logged

Panopeeper
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« Reply #17 on: November 24, 2008, 11:59:09 AM »
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Quote from: pom
Modern software just doesn't need nodal point rotation except for extremely niche shooting
This statement screems to be corrected. It may well be, that your panos don't require accurate shooting, and it may be that your requirement is lower than others'. Neither mean, that other settings and higher requirements do not need higher accuracy.
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Gabor
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« Reply #18 on: November 24, 2008, 12:38:04 PM »
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Quote from: Panopeeper
This statement screems to be corrected. It may well be, that your panos don't require accurate shooting, and it may be that your requirement is lower than others'. Neither mean, that other settings and higher requirements do not need higher accuracy.


I am with Panopeeper on this.  I can't say that you won't have SOME decent results without a calibrated setup, but your results will be inconsistent and your keeper rate will be much lower.  Sometimes, depending on your photographic method, that is an acceptable tradeoff.  For me, I like to know that my technique is going to hold up under all conditions.

Pom, you are showing some superior results, but their compositional elements aren't challenging to stitching software.   I too have shot large handheld panoramics that I have sold for $100s.  The difference is that when the circumstances become challenging, the calibrated setup will not fail you.  If you are knowledgeable enough to recognize when more precision is needed, you can get great results without a calibrated head, like the shots you have shown, but when you get home and enthusiastically start stitching an image for which you have high-hopes only to find substantial parallax error across multiple frames, no amount of cloning and blending will soothe your breaking heart.

Some people shoot from the hip and get great results.  Others are more deliberative and precise, and they too get great results.  Neither is right or wrong.  I guess your approach to stitching depends on the type of photographer you are.
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Fike, Trailpixie, or Marc Shaffer
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Greg D
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« Reply #19 on: November 24, 2008, 12:57:22 PM »
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Quote from: neil74
Hello all,

I am weighing up the pros and cons of going for a pano head.  As well as the obvious expense (not a show stopper) I am concerned about the bulk as they all seem to be huge.

I am wavering as I only intend to do single row panos with my 5D and probably some wth my Sigma DP1 too, I understand the parallax issue, but as all I really want to do is some single row ones  I am wondering if a pano head is really necessary?

Any real life feedback much appreciated.

Rgds

Neil

Here's 2-cents worth:
I likewise do occasional panos, single-row only.  Most of my shooting is done while hiking or backpacking, so light & flexible gear is important.  I use the small (BH-25, I think) RRS head and small clamp with the short RRS MPR-CL rail ( http://reallyrightstuff.com/rrs/Itemdesc.a...mp;eq=&Tp=).  This allows me to find the proper rotation point for the lens (and also helps keep slightly too-heavy gear balanced on a light head & tripod).  I still have to level the tripod and head separately, and have to rotate the camera by turning the center column (since there's no separate pan lock), but the inconvenience is worth it to me for the substantial weight and bulk saving.
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