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Author Topic: Pano Heads  (Read 10848 times)
Justan
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« on: February 01, 2010, 03:34:45 PM »
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I started doing panos recently and want to buy tools to help produce the best results.

Yesterday, courtesy of references from other members, I came across references to “pano heads” used on tripods. The descriptions show that these can be hugely useful tools.

Here are references:

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/2936...ramic_Head.html

http://reallyrightstuff.com/pano/index.html

I have some questions about pano heads in general:

A primary utility of pano heads is to reduce or eliminate “image parallax.” How close does the subject need to be for a pano head to be of benefit?

What is your preference in manufacturer and model? I know you get what you pay for but don’t have a sense of who may build a better or worse head assembly for this purpose.

Thanks!
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Jonathan Wienke
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« Reply #1 on: February 01, 2010, 04:57:33 PM »
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Quote from: Justan
A primary utility of pano heads is to reduce or eliminate “image parallax.” How close does the subject need to be for a pano head to be of benefit?

Anything not at infinity focus can be troublesome, which varies depending on the focal length you're using (longer makes parallax more noticeable) and how far your non-pano setup rotates from the nodal point, which again depends on the lens you're using and its focal length setting (if it is a zoom). Yes, in some circumstances you can get away with hand-holding or not using a pano head, but a good pano setup makes life much easier when stitching no matter what you shoot.
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Panopeeper
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« Reply #2 on: February 01, 2010, 07:50:24 PM »
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Quote from: Justan
I started doing panos recently and want to buy tools to help produce the best results
Before you start spending money on a pano bracket, check out, how often you had problem stitching the pano due to parallax error. It is a relevant issue for example indoor; it may or may not be an issue outdoor.

You can make lots and lots of excellent panos even hand-held. If you have problems, shoot from a tripod. Note, that the plate of swiweling/rotation should be be level, not the camera itself. If there is problem with the stitching or with the result, post it.

If you are really into panos, then spending on the stitcher is more important than the pano bracket (and it costs much less). Decent stitchers are those, which are based on Panorama Tools: PTGui, PTAssembler, Hugin (I am not sure about Autopano Pro).

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How close does the subject need to be for a pano head to be of benefit?

The problem arizes, when the very same close subject appears in several shots. Otherwise it is often no problem at all. The following example was shot hand-held, from a rock in the water, only a tiny bit above the water level, between the tree you can see at the left edge and the shrub at the right edge. These both were not too big, they fitted in one single frame (each), thus the stitching did not cause any problem.

Pano with 28mm lens on 1.6x cropping camera
« Last Edit: February 01, 2010, 08:00:21 PM by Panopeeper » Logged

Gabor
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« Reply #3 on: February 01, 2010, 07:57:09 PM »
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Quote from: Panopeeper
Before you start spending money on a pano bracket, check out, how often you had problem stitching the pano due to parallax error. It is a relevant issue for example indoor; it may or may not be an issue outdoor.

I don't mean to be disrespectful however what if the best pano opportunity that you have had for many months comes along and you don't use proper pano technique and gear.  I almost always carry my pano gear and tripod with me should the opportunity present itself.  The cost of not using proper technique to start with could be a lost opportunity should parallax errors present themselves.

I use the RRS gear and love it.  I bought the entire setup for both horizontal and vertical shooting.  

Kelly

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Panopeeper
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« Reply #4 on: February 01, 2010, 08:08:42 PM »
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Quote from: kbolin
what if the best pano opportunity that you have had for many months comes along and you don't use proper pano technique and gear
There are settings, which do require accurate shootings. I have my own (self-made) pano bracket and I use it, when I see its relevance. However, this is not necessary generally. I have created several hundred panos, and although I don't have a recording of this aspect, I estimate that the majority of them was shot hand-held.
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Gabor
bill t.
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« Reply #5 on: February 01, 2010, 08:14:01 PM »
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I never get tired of posting pictures of my Amazing Panohead.

Besides the Ebay Gitzo 1270 head and a tripod, the total cost was about $8.17 and a quick trip to Home Depot and about an hour of very un-pretty woodworking frenzy.  Made of Oak, the poor man's 6061-T6 Aluminum.  The vertical beam is attached to the Gitzo head with 1/4-20 carriage bolts, somebody always asks.  The three Gitzo adjustments let me trim the rotations quite nicely, please don't ask how but simply believe it's possible.  And yes, it holds the beefcake-but-dead D2X rock solid and without a hitch, just try THAT with your Nodal Nebisher or whatever ya got.  Harrumph!
[attachment=19925:Bills_Am...Panohead.jpg]
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DarkPenguin
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« Reply #6 on: February 01, 2010, 09:05:13 PM »
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I have a nodal ninja.  It is nice enough but I ended up replacing all of it except the swing arm.  I used a kirk rail and an acratech leveling base to complete the kit.  But it is a lot of crap to carry if you don't use it.  So it tends to live in my trunk.
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Ben Rubinstein
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« Reply #7 on: February 02, 2010, 03:39:03 AM »
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Have a look at this website of mine www.timelessjewishart.com almost all stitched, many multi row stitches, not one single one used a nodal slide or a pano head in the traditional sense. The only problem I ever had with parralex was with a stitch of a window shot with a 50mm lens and a distance of less than a yard from the subject with not quite enough overlap otherwise the program would have got it even then.

I use Autopano Pro and find it far better than PTGUI for negating the need for all these expensive and not particularly stable gadgets. People love to make life difficult for themselves...
« Last Edit: February 02, 2010, 03:40:00 AM by Ben Rubinstein » Logged

Jeremy Payne
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« Reply #8 on: February 02, 2010, 06:53:01 AM »
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I shoot most of my panos with a 70-200 these days - most often at about 105mm, but I use the whole range.

I shoot mostly single row panos - both vertical and horizontal.

I have found it useful to figure out where the entrance pupil of the lens is at various focal lengths and while I don't have true pano head, I use my Giotto ball head with a leveling base and try to position the camera so it will rotate on a flat base as close to the entrance pupil as I can.

With today's software (I use AutopanoPro and CS4), I find that a truly level base for rotation helps a whole lot and I have very, very few panos that won't stitch right up.

I think were I to start doing multi-row panos, I would buy a pano head ... but given than a single row pano gives me 350dpi at my largest print size (12x18), I'm happy for now.
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Justan
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« Reply #9 on: February 02, 2010, 08:39:08 AM »
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Quote from: Jonathan Wienke
Anything not at infinity focus can be troublesome...


Thanks!
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Justan
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« Reply #10 on: February 02, 2010, 08:48:04 AM »
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Quote from: Panopeeper

> Before you start spending money on a pano bracket, check out, how often you had problem stitching the pano due to parallax error. It is a relevant issue for example indoor; it may or may not be an issue outdoor.

Thanks, this adds to the previous comment. I had one instance where this became a problem. I was shooting with a focal point about 30’ or so in the distance and the differences between the stitches couldn’t be well resolved by CS3

> If you are really into panos, then spending on the stitcher is more important than the pano bracket (and it costs much less). Decent stitchers are those, which are based on Panorama Tools: PTGui, PTAssembler, Hugin (I am not sure about Autopano Pro).


Stitching software is something I want to learn more about. What are the key features to look for? While I haven’t done it yet, I can see multiple row stitches will come into the formula. I'm also very interested in learning more about the techniques in stitching, shooting with stitching as the intended goal, and some of the processing techniques,. The key gremlin other than the 1x experience with parallax distortion so far is due to the unavoidable variables in lighting when shooting panos in daylight.

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Justan
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« Reply #11 on: February 02, 2010, 08:50:20 AM »
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Quote from: kbolin

> if the best pano opportunity that you have had for many months comes along and you don't use proper pano technique and gear. I almost always carry my pano gear and tripod with me should the opportunity present itself.

> I use the RRS gear and love it. I bought the entire setup for both horizontal and vertical shooting.

Thanks! I agree it’s better to have it and not need it rather than the other way around.

In my brief research the RRS folks do more to explain the tools others.
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Justan
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« Reply #12 on: February 02, 2010, 09:00:41 AM »
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Quote from: bill t.
I never get tired of posting pictures of my Amazing Panohead.

Besides the Ebay Gitzo 1270 head and a tripod, the total cost was about $8.17 and a quick trip to Home Depot and about an hour of very un-pretty woodworking frenzy.  Made of Oak, the poor man's 6061-T6 Aluminum.  The vertical beam is attached to the Gitzo head with 1/4-20 carriage bolts, somebody always asks.  The three Gitzo adjustments let me trim the rotations quite nicely, please don't ask how but simply believe it's possible.  And yes, it holds the beefcake-but-dead D2X rock solid and without a hitch, just try THAT with your Nodal Nebisher or whatever ya got.  Harrumph!
[attachment=19925:Bills_Am...Panohead.jpg]


Brilliant! This idea briefly crossed my mind but thought I’d need to get my hands on one to model it properly. And then due to my relentless work load it’s easier to spend some $$ than to carve out the time to screw around for a few hours. But I have a buddy that’s an engineer with a wood shop and too much free time.

In the left image you can see a number of holes in the section to which the camera mounts. What are these based on?
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Justan
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« Reply #13 on: February 02, 2010, 09:01:39 AM »
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Quote from: DarkPenguin
I have a nodal ninja.  It is nice enough but I ended up replacing all of it except the swing arm.  I used a kirk rail and an acratech leveling base to complete the kit.  But it is a lot of crap to carry if you don't use it.  So it tends to live in my trunk.


Thanks for this and also the suggestion to start a separate thread!
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Justan
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« Reply #14 on: February 02, 2010, 09:08:34 AM »
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Quote from: Ben Rubinstein
Have a look at this website of mine www.timelessjewishart.com almost all stitched, many multi row stitches, not one single one used a nodal slide or a pano head in the traditional sense. The only problem I ever had with parralex was with a stitch of a window shot with a 50mm lens and a distance of less than a yard from the subject with not quite enough overlap otherwise the program would have got it even then.

I use Autopano Pro and find it far better than PTGUI for negating the need for all these expensive and not particularly stable gadgets. People love to make life difficult for themselves...

This is timely. One of the projects I wanna do is of synagogues in some nearby towns.

Your web site (as is the case with others here) has a lot of really nice works!

Thanks!

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Justan
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« Reply #15 on: February 02, 2010, 09:21:44 AM »
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Quote from: Jeremy Payne
I shoot most of my panos with a 70-200 these days - most often at about 105mm, but I use the whole range.

I shoot mostly single row panos - both vertical and horizontal.

I have found it useful to figure out where the entrance pupil of the lens is at various focal lengths and while I don't have true pano head, I use my Giotto ball head with a leveling base and try to position the camera so it will rotate on a flat base as close to the entrance pupil as I can.

With today's software (I use AutopanoPro and CS4), I find that a truly level base for rotation helps a whole lot and I have very, very few panos that won't stitch right up.

I think were I to start doing multi-row panos, I would buy a pano head ... but given than a single row pano gives me 350dpi at my largest print size (12x18), I'm happy for now.


Thanks! So far I've used similar focal lengths. The 70 mm end of the zoom is dang near perfect for most work but longer lenses come in very handy. I've done one experiment doing a pano in much tighter quarters and that literally lead to this discussion

One of the things I delight at about pano shooting is the massive amount of detail, especially in the background. In fact the biggest complaint I have is that printing them to their ability is beyond the limits of my mat making equipment. It’s another topic but mounting, framing, and safely transporting works which are around 2’ x 7’ is fairly involved, requires a lot of space and careful handling.

In a couple of studies the camera was slightly off level and the end result was leveling after the fact and then needing to crop off parts of the pan. It worked out okay but added a bit to the work flow.
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Ben Rubinstein
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« Reply #16 on: February 02, 2010, 09:48:09 AM »
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Quote from: Justan
This is timely. One of the projects I wanna do is of synagogues in some nearby towns.

Your web site (as is the case with others here) has a lot of really nice works!

Thanks!

If you're shooting indoors then I wouldn't do it without a nodal slide, you'll also need less stability than outdoors so those dual axis pano setups shouldn't be too much of a problem. Keep in mind that if you're shooting for architectural type work you want to use a longer lens for less width, you can't do a rectilinear/planar stitch (where all lines are straight) with a stitch wider than 120 degrees (14mm on FF)  personally I believe it's nearer 80 degrees (28mm on FF) then use the horizon tool in the stitching program to fix the vertical/horizontal perspective. Keep in mind that photoshop is a joke of a stitching program for when you need real control. Both Autopano Pro and PTGUI are made for doing the kind of complicated stitching needed for architecture.

Another though much more expensive solution for architecture might be to use a DSLR adaptor to LF and a digitar type lens. You will get movements, flat stitching (no need for complicated stitching programs, problems with rectiliniear angles, etc). Personally if I needed more accurate stitching for architecture (commercial level) that is the solution I'd be using, a cambo or something with a high megapixel, decently implemented LV camera. A cheaper solution would be to use a t/s lens but then you don't get that much stitch and by the time you've straightened perspective in PS you've lost any resolution advantage.

Question to those using nodal slides, are you using primes? Seems to me that working out the nodal point for all focal lengths of a zoom would be a royal pain in the neck. I use a zoom without nodal but I'm not shooting indoors where it matters.

I made a youtube video a while back showing how to shoot pano's without being crippled with the 'keep horizon in centre' nonsense, another widely held pano myth. I deleted it but if I can find it I'll put it back up and link to it.
« Last Edit: February 02, 2010, 10:05:04 AM by Ben Rubinstein » Logged

Jeremy Payne
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« Reply #17 on: February 02, 2010, 10:35:04 AM »
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Quote from: Ben Rubinstein
Seems to me that working out the nodal point for all focal lengths of a zoom would be a royal pain in the neck.
Indeed it would ... fortunately some folks have done the work and shared ...

I wish I remembered where I found this ... but I don't ... enjoy!!

http://photography.jeremypayne.net/web/entrance%20pupils.xls
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Ben Rubinstein
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« Reply #18 on: February 02, 2010, 11:59:59 AM »
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OK, this is a video I made with my wife's p&s held in one hand to show someone who requested to see how I stitched specifically for the kind of thing I'm shooting. It addresses both shooting non level and not using nodal slides outdoors. Please excuse the quality and background, I did it on my balcony mid building work and everything looks like a bomb site!  

Please keep in mind that my methods are specific to my output, using focal lengths longer than 50mm when shooting, producing outdoor rectilinear stitching and a final stitched FOV aiming for 45 degrees (50mm 'normal' perspective). If I was shooting indoors I'd be using nodal and primes (possibly just using t/s lenses or 4X5 adapted given how untrusting I am of these unweildy dual axis rigs).

A last point for those who might flame me for having contrary views to those of the generally held pano community, I've shown how I do it and have the pictures to prove that it works...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wrfTR5GCHZo
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kers
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« Reply #19 on: February 02, 2010, 03:19:17 PM »
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hello Justan,

If you use a tripod often and like to buy something wel made- i would go for the RRS solution.
In fact I have the same equipment used on the video of Ben Rubenstein.

If you add one more attibute you can set your nodal point for every lens in about 1 minute and make perfect horizontal panorama's

The manfrott/bogen stuff is not very intersting.
THE RRS system is far well made and more clever-
the basis is the L-Bracket.

When I am up in the moantains without tripod - I use my finger to be tripod.
I put my finger under the nodalpoint and turn the camera while making the pano.
It works perfect. ( pixel perfect on a D3x Nikon)


cheers ,

Pieter Kers
« Last Edit: February 02, 2010, 03:19:50 PM by kers » Logged

Pieter Kers
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