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Author Topic: Confused about Panorama Setups (panorama clamp vs. leveling base)  (Read 6309 times)
aman74
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« on: January 06, 2013, 04:08:08 AM »
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I've been doing a lot of reading about panorama setups and have hit a stand still. Partly because I've not yet done this type of work and I imagine it's sort of abstract for many of us to understand until we get our feet wet. The other reason I've hit a wall on this is that I'm coming across directly conflicting information.

I'm considering using a panning clamp or an Arca-Swiss P0 or other ballhead that puts the rotation on top of the ball so that the ball is doing the leveling. The other option is a leveling base for a standard ball head. I suppose a third option is combing both, but I'd like to avoid added cost and weight if possible.

The main thing I'm unsure of is which system allows you to be able to tilt the camera up or down and not always have the horizon centered? Also are multirows possible without these setups or is the standard pano head setup with both axis rails needed for that?

I've seen many posts on the web stating that you can't tilt up or down with the rotation above the head. Then I did some more digging and found people saying that about the standard ball head with leveling base setups. Both sides appear knowledgeable, but clearly one is wrong. Another thought I had was that maybe it's not possible to tilt up or down with the panning clamp, but it is if you ad a nodal rail to that setup?

Thanks so much if this can be cleared up, then I can start even more research on where to go from there. Wink
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BartvanderWolf
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« Reply #1 on: January 06, 2013, 08:08:13 AM »
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I've been doing a lot of reading about panorama setups and have hit a stand still. Partly because I've not yet done this type of work and I imagine it's sort of abstract for many of us to understand until we get our feet wet.

Hi,

That is important. Just do it, and learn from the experience, it only costs some time. There are a few things you can do to increase the chance on successful stitching of the images.

Quote
The other reason I've hit a wall on this is that I'm coming across directly conflicting information.

That's not uncommon on the internet.

Quote
I'm considering using a panning clamp or an Arca-Swiss P0 or other ballhead that puts the rotation on top of the ball so that the ball is doing the leveling.

That is one of the most important things to maximize the field of view without having to crop excessive amounts of the composition.

Quote
The other option is a leveling base for a standard ball head. I suppose a third option is combing both, but I'd like to avoid added cost and weight if possible.

And it is very well posible to do panos without a leveling base. In fact, the pano stitcher will do its own leveling, and is much more accurate than what a simple bubble level can achieve. Also, not leveling can produce more interesting images, e.g. a landscape with a dramatic sky can concentrate on the sky. So you can save cost and weight, especially when you're starting to get your feet wet.

Quote
The main thing I'm unsure of is which system allows you to be able to tilt the camera up or down and not always have the horizon centered?

The horizon doesn't have to be dead center when you use a panning clamp on top of the Ballhead (directly attaching to the camera base). You can use the ball head to tilt up or down, and the clamp on top to rotate horizontally. However, by tilting up or down, you will introduce a vertical displacement of the entry pupil of the lens. When you don't use a 'nodal slide', then the horizontal rotation will also introduce a displacement which will create parallax issues which may be impossible to correct by blending the images together.

Quote
Also are multirows possible without these setups or is the standard pano head setup with both axis rails needed for that?

When the subject doesn't have too many geometrical features (straight lines or other predictable patterns) then you may be able to hide the parallax errors by clever blending. However, when you want to increase the success rate, especially when you can't re-shoot the scene, it is important to at least get a sliding bar or construction that allows to position the lens' entrance pupil exactly on the axis of rotation, by shifting the lens foreward and backward, to avoid parallax. When you start doing multi-row stitches, then you may get away without a tilt parallax correction, but it's safer to also correct for that which requires a more elaborate setup.

Quote
I've seen many posts on the web stating that you can't tilt up or down with the rotation above the head. Then I did some more digging and found people saying that about the standard ball head with leveling base setups. Both sides appear knowledgeable, but clearly one is wrong. Another thought I had was that maybe it's not possible to tilt up or down with the panning clamp, but it is if you ad a nodal rail to that setup?

There is a difference between what can be done, but with a risk of failure, and what is recommended, minimizing that risk. So strictly speaking, there is only one solid way that agrees with the geometrical stitching procedure. It requires alignment of the entrance pupil with the rotation axes for each axis that is used. So  a fore / aft slider directly under the optical axis (which may require a sideway slider when the clamp is decentered versus the optical axis) to align the 'Yaw' rotation axis and the entrance pupil, and a vertical slider to align the 'Pitch' rotation axis with the entrance pupil.

So the complete and perfect alignment is a 3-step procedure:
1. sideways shift to align optical axis with fore / aft slider.
2. Fore / aft shift to align entrance pupil with Yaw axis.
3. Up / down shift to align entrance pupil with Pitch axis.

1+2 are needed to minimize the risk for single row pano's (even with horizons that are not centered), and 3 is only needed to reduce the risk for multi-row panos. Only when your subjects do not include foreground detail and predictable structures, you may get away with sloppy technique.

Cheers,
Bart
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aman74
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« Reply #2 on: January 06, 2013, 08:38:42 PM »
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Hi,

That is important. Just do it, and learn from the experience, it only costs some time. There are a few things you can do to increase the chance on successful stitching of the images.

I've not used this forum much, so bear with me. I'm trying to quote you, but my original messages that you quoted don't show up in the body of the reply. Only in the area below, a bit clunky.

First off, thanks for the detailed reply. It's helpful and will probably be even moreso after I read it a couple times. Wink

There's merit to just doing it, but I also want to save money and weight by educating myself in advance.

Quote
That is one of the most important things to maximize the field of view without having to crop excessive amounts of the composition.

So that's not achieved without putting the rotation point above the head?

Quote
And it is very well posible to do panos without a leveling base. In fact, the pano stitcher will do its own leveling, and is much more accurate than what a simple bubble level can achieve. Also, not leveling can produce more interesting images, e.g. a landscape with a dramatic sky can concentrate on the sky. So you can save cost and weight, especially when you're starting to get your feet wet.

Yes, it would seem much is possible with modern software, especially considering even handheld shots can be quite effective. I just tend to get caught up in maximizing every ounce of quality. I should state that my use of panos would more likely be used to increase resolution and less for expansive vistas or other dramatic effects. I'd also like to look into being able to do them for near macro work if that's even possible. The "Brenzier"(sp.?) method is also of interest, but I understand that could largely be done handheld. I do have interest in spherical panos, etc...but not wanting to get ahead of myself.

Quote
The horizon doesn't have to be dead center when you use a panning clamp on top of the Ballhead (directly attaching to the camera base). You can use the ball head to tilt up or down, and the clamp on top to rotate horizontally. However, by tilting up or down, you will introduce a vertical displacement of the entry pupil of the lens. When you don't use a 'nodal slide', then the horizontal rotation will also introduce a displacement which will create parallax issues which may be impossible to correct by blending the images together.

This is of the most interest to me as that was the crux of my long-winded question. I saw much conflicting info on this and it was getting frustrating. I think the people saying that you couldn't tilt up or down with this setup were not mentioning or unaware that adding the Nodal slide would correct the issue.

Quote
When the subject doesn't have too many geometrical features (straight lines or other predictable patterns) then you may be able to hide the parallax errors by clever blending. However, when you want to increase the success rate, especially when you can't re-shoot the scene, it is important to at least get a sliding bar or construction that allows to position the lens' entrance pupil exactly on the axis of rotation, by shifting the lens foreward and backward, to avoid parallax. When you start doing multi-row stitches, then you may get away without a tilt parallax correction, but it's safer to also correct for that which requires a more elaborate setup.

To do the multirow stitch "ideally" would require the vertical slide right? That's basically the part of the setup I'd like to avoid for cost, size and complexity reasons. I was brainstorming last night and was wondering if raising a tripod center column would be of some use here? Since you aren't tilting the lens, maybe some complications are avoided while maintaing a smaller setup?


Quote
There is a difference between what can be done, but with a risk of failure, and what is recommended, minimizing that risk. So strictly speaking, there is only one solid way that agrees with the geometrical stitching procedure. It requires alignment of the entrance pupil with the rotation axes for each axis that is used. So  a fore / aft slider directly under the optical axis (which may require a sideway slider when the clamp is decentered versus the optical axis) to align the 'Yaw' rotation axis and the entrance pupil, and a vertical slider to align the 'Pitch' rotation axis with the entrance pupil.

So the complete and perfect alignment is a 3-step procedure:
1. sideways shift to align optical axis with fore / aft slider.
2. Fore / aft shift to align entrance pupil with Yaw axis.
3. Up / down shift to align entrance pupil with Pitch axis.

1+2 are needed to minimize the risk for single row pano's (even with horizons that are not centered), and 3 is only needed to reduce the risk for multi-row panos. Only when your subjects do not include foreground detail and predictable structures, you may get away with sloppy technique.

Number 3 introduces the need for the vertical portion of the typical dual axis setup, correct?

How would I know what size nodal slide is required? I'm using a DP2M and have seen mention of using a very short slide, I believe 1.25" inches. Ideal for keep it light and small.

Thanks so much for your thoughts. Some is a bit over my head, but I think I gleaned something from it and feel more confident ordering an Araca-Swiss P0 style head or getting a pano-clamp, etc...
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simonstucki
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« Reply #3 on: January 06, 2013, 09:27:21 PM »
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The horizon doesn't have to be dead center when you use a panning clamp on top of the Ballhead (directly attaching to the camera base). You can use the ball head to tilt up or down, and the clamp on top to rotate horizontally. However, by tilting up or down, you will introduce a vertical displacement of the entry pupil of the lens. When you don't use a 'nodal slide', then the horizontal rotation will also introduce a displacement which will create parallax issues which may be impossible to correct by blending the images together.

Cheers,
Bart

I'm not sure if I understand you correctly, but when you only have a panning device on top of the ballhead (like the p0) then the horizon has to be centered, because otherwise if you start your image with the horizon not centered then after 90 the horizon is centered, then after another 90 the horizon is going to be not centered again, but now if you had more sky before, you have less sky.
of course you can take a picture, but the horizon will be curved in the picture. maybe you want that, ok but I think very often that is not what you are looking for.

however if you have the panning device below the ballhead, then you can take a picture with the horizon not centered and it will stay like that the whole 360, but of course as you say you move the entrance pupil so you might run into parallax errors.


so if somebody says that you can't tilt the camera with a setup where the panning device is directly below the camera and somebody else says you can't when the panning device is below the head, then they are both correct and both wrong, depending on what kind of images you are trying to achieve.

I started using a panoramic setup only very recently, but before I read some articles about the topic to find out what I needed to buy, and for me the I think, what made me understand the problems (or just the things to pay attention to) with stitching was to read tutorials on how to find the no parallax point (sometimes falsely called nodalpoint) for your lens. If you do multirow panos you have to find that point (well actually you just need to find two axes, but as it turns out they cross so you have a point), if you are just doing single row panos, you only have to find one "no parallax axis"

I can recommend you this site: http://www.johnhpanos.com/epcalib.htm, when you know how to find the no parallax point, then you also know which head will work for what.
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aman74
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« Reply #4 on: January 06, 2013, 09:47:02 PM »
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I'm not sure if I understand you correctly, but when you only have a panning device on top of the ballhead (like the p0) then the horizon has to be centered, because otherwise if you start your image with the horizon not centered then after 90 the horizon is centered, then after another 90 the horizon is going to be not centered again, but now if you had more sky before, you have less sky.
of course you can take a picture, but the horizon will be curved in the picture. maybe you want that, ok but I think very often that is not what you are looking for.

however if you have the panning device below the ballhead, then you can take a picture with the horizon not centered and it will stay like that the whole 360, but of course as you say you move the entrance pupil so you might run into parallax errors.


so if somebody says that you can't tilt the camera with a setup where the panning device is directly below the camera and somebody else says you can't when the panning device is below the head, then they are both correct and both wrong, depending on what kind of images you are trying to achieve.

I started using a panoramic setup only very recently, but before I read some articles about the topic to find out what I needed to buy, and for me the I think, what made me understand the problems (or just the things to pay attention to) with stitching was to read tutorials on how to find the no parallax point (sometimes falsely called nodalpoint) for your lens. If you do multirow panos you have to find that point (well actually you just need to find two axes, but as it turns out they cross so you have a point), if you are just doing single row panos, you only have to find one "no parallax axis"

I can recommend you this site: http://www.johnhpanos.com/epcalib.htm, when you know how to find the no parallax point, then you also know which head will work for what.

Uh Oh...now I've got conflicting info again...lol. I guess this won't be settled for me until I experiment for myself. I'll look into the route you took in your research to see if it clears anything up for me.
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simonstucki
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« Reply #5 on: January 06, 2013, 09:55:17 PM »
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To do the multirow stitch "ideally" would require the vertical slide right? That's basically the part of the setup I'd like to avoid for cost, size and complexity reasons. I was brainstorming last night and was wondering if raising a tripod center column would be of some use here? Since you aren't tilting the lens, maybe some complications are avoided while maintaing a smaller setup?

no the tripod center column wouldn't work, just as putting the tripod on a big rock, box, sleeping hippo or anything like that won't work. walking uphill a few steps won't work either. Smiley

the vertical rail (which isn't just a vertical rail it is always something like an L) is needed to get the camera in a position where you can rotate around a point inside the lens in every direction.

Number 3 introduces the need for the vertical portion of the typical dual axis setup, correct?

How would I know what size nodal slide is required? I'm using a DP2M and have seen mention of using a very short slide, I believe 1.25" inches. Ideal for keep it light and small.

Thanks so much for your thoughts. Some is a bit over my head, but I think I gleaned something from it and feel more confident ordering an Araca-Swiss P0 style head or getting a pano-clamp, etc...

ok I don't have this pano head, but for a dp2m (and probably not for any bigger camera) this system might be perfect (but be sure to measure first if it will work, because in that image with the black leica it is very badly set up and I'm not sure if that would work with this camera and nodal slide) if you are looking for an affordable and lightweight setup. this might work as an nodal slide: http://www.arca-shop.de/en/camera-plates//Lensplate-MonoballFix-100

for levellig you could use a p0 head or if you only use it for levelling just a simple levelling head plus an arca swiss clamp (the panoramic head uses the new smaller arca swiss plates there are no third party manufactures that use this standard yet.)
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K.C.
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« Reply #6 on: January 06, 2013, 11:54:43 PM »
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A good picture is worth 1000 words, or however that cliche goes: Pano Tutorial
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OldRoy
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« Reply #7 on: January 07, 2013, 03:28:16 AM »
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Nodal Ninja 5 / rotator + PTGui.
That's about all you need except a little setup time and some practice, assuming you're using nothing larger than a full frame DSLR.
Roy
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BartvanderWolf
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« Reply #8 on: January 07, 2013, 05:14:36 AM »
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I'm not sure if I understand you correctly, but when you only have a panning device on top of the ballhead (like the p0) then the horizon has to be centered, because otherwise if you start your image with the horizon not centered then after 90 the horizon is centered, then after another 90 the horizon is going to be not centered again, but now if you had more sky before, you have less sky.
of course you can take a picture, but the horizon will be curved in the picture.

Hi Simon,

Ah, I see where the misunderstanding comes from. When you say the horizon will be curved with a tilted camera on a rotating clamp at the top of the ballhead, it's not the horizon but the segments of the virtual inside of a sphere that follow a curved path. When we stitch those segments with the correct pitch parameter, the horizon itself will be perfectly straight, but the images follow a curved path (on the inside of the 'sphere').

The same issue arises when people talk about wavy horizons on very wide angle panos. It's due to the wrong pitch setting in the stitcher when the camera was not exactly level. The wavy horizon can be fixed by using the correct pitch, but the full pano will now span an arc (with a straight horizon), which needs to be content aware filled, or cropped.

Cheers,
Bart

P.S. I've attached a simulation of the curved path from an Equirectangular projection on the inside of a virtual sphere from rotating the camera clamp on top of a tilted Ballhead. The red line is the equator. When the same is projected as a Rectilinear image (second attachement), it becomes clear that the upper corners get stretched (which also removes keystoning), but the horizontals and verticals and all other straight lines in the image will remain straight. Unfortunately I have no single ballhead image example available because I shoot my multi-row panos with a complete pano setup.
« Last Edit: January 07, 2013, 06:48:33 AM by BartvanderWolf » Logged
simonstucki
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« Reply #9 on: January 07, 2013, 08:04:20 PM »
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Hi Simon,

Ah, I see where the misunderstanding comes from. When you say the horizon will be curved with a tilted camera on a rotating clamp at the top of the ballhead, it's not the horizon but the segments of the virtual inside of a sphere that follow a curved path. When we stitch those segments with the correct pitch parameter, the horizon itself will be perfectly straight, but the images follow a curved path (on the inside of the 'sphere').

The same issue arises when people talk about wavy horizons on very wide angle panos. It's due to the wrong pitch setting in the stitcher when the camera was not exactly level. The wavy horizon can be fixed by using the correct pitch, but the full pano will now span an arc (with a straight horizon), which needs to be content aware filled, or cropped.

Cheers,
Bart

P.S. I've attached a simulation of the curved path from an Equirectangular projection on the inside of a virtual sphere from rotating the camera clamp on top of a tilted Ballhead. The red line is the equator. When the same is projected as a Rectilinear image (second attachement), it becomes clear that the upper corners get stretched (which also removes keystoning), but the horizontals and verticals and all other straight lines in the image will remain straight. Unfortunately I have no single ballhead image example available because I shoot my multi-row panos with a complete pano setup.

hmm sorry I'm still confused by your statement, if you use this ball head ( http://www.arca-shop.de/de/Monoball/Monoball-p0-Serie/ARCA-SWISS-Monoball-p0-mit-Schnellspannvorrichtung-MonoballFix ) (or something similar) and tilt the camera upwards toward the sky so that only 10% of the image are NOT sky (in a very flat desert very big no trees) and then start to rotate the camera after 180 the camera is pointing towards the ground very much! of course you can straighten the horizon, but then you have to crop a lot of the image and the horizon is going to end in the center again right?
I'll take an image tomorrow (it's dark right no here in switzerland and very late) to show you what I mean (although not in a desert but it should still be helpful)
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Slobodan Blagojevic
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« Reply #10 on: January 07, 2013, 08:12:41 PM »
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... Just do it...

+1

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... it is very well posible to do panos without a leveling base...


It is, of course. The downside is that you will have to deal with a staircase effect, cropping out a lot in the post. No software can compensate for that.
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aman74
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« Reply #11 on: January 07, 2013, 10:02:45 PM »
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hmm sorry I'm still confused by your statement, if you use this ball head ( http://www.arca-shop.de/de/Monoball/Monoball-p0-Serie/ARCA-SWISS-Monoball-p0-mit-Schnellspannvorrichtung-MonoballFix ) (or something similar) and tilt the camera upwards toward the sky so that only 10% of the image are NOT sky (in a very flat desert very big no trees) and then start to rotate the camera after 180 the camera is pointing towards the ground very much! of course you can straighten the horizon, but then you have to crop a lot of the image and the horizon is going to end in the center again right?
I'll take an image tomorrow (it's dark right no here in switzerland and very late) to show you what I mean (although not in a desert but it should still be helpful)

That's where I'm confused as well. I saw reactions to posts pointing out what you're saying while I was trying to learn about all this. There were a few people saying that that's the issue with putting the rotation above the head. They were saying to use a leveling base under the ballhead to avoid this, but I honestly don't see how that works either as I haven't had time to study the links provided in this thread yet.
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ErikKaffehr
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« Reply #12 on: January 08, 2013, 12:49:48 AM »
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Hi,

This small article I have written may be a starting point: http://echophoto.dnsalias.net/ekr/index.php/photoarticles/panorama-and-stitching

In practice I have seen little need for a nodal slider, but I sometimes use one.

My favorite tripod head is the Arca Swiss D4m which I have on a leveling base. http://echophoto.dnsalias.net/ekr/index.php/photoarticles/53-arca-swiss-d4 (includes a short video)

Best regards
Erik
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« Reply #13 on: January 08, 2013, 02:33:43 AM »
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hmm sorry I'm still confused by your statement, if you use this ball head ( http://www.arca-shop.de/de/Monoball/Monoball-p0-Serie/ARCA-SWISS-Monoball-p0-mit-Schnellspannvorrichtung-MonoballFix ) (or something similar) and tilt the camera upwards toward the sky so that only 10% of the image are NOT sky (in a very flat desert very big no trees) and then start to rotate the camera after 180 the camera is pointing towards the ground very much! of course you can straighten the horizon, but then you have to crop a lot of the image and the horizon is going to end in the center again right?

Hi Simon,

That's correct. The horizon is straight (with the correct pitch setting for stitching) but the image tiles follow a curved path.

So all I'm saying is that straight horizons have little to do with leveling the camera! Straight horizons come from setting the correct 'Pitch' parameter when stitching.
The leveling will help to avoid unnecessary cropping and/or to avoid the need to use content aware fill for turning the arc into a rectangle.

Depending on the scene and resulting FOV, using a rectilinear projection model helps. Not only does it keep all straight lines, not only the horizon, straight, but it also fills the corners of the arced path by stretching the images near the corners. It also helps to shoot in portrait orientation, because you will get more vertical FOV, which may reduce the need to do a multiple row pano.

An ideal solution is of course to use a full Multi-row Pano setup, which aligns all rotation axes in one point, the entrance pupil. The minimum to achieve a larger success rate is a fore/aft slider, to at least get zero parallax for a single row stitch. Some subjects (e.g. with non-critical foregrounds) will stitch, and more importantly blend, even without precautions to avoid parallax, but it will fail sooner or later, especially when you can least use the problems.

Since the clamp rotation at the top of the ballhead, also incorporates the fore/aft slider, rotating the setup there will not create parallax. If one were to rotate at the bottom of the ballhead (to avoid a curved image path), then any non-leveled clamp will create parallax, despite the correction with a fore/aft slider on top. That's were the importance of a rotating clamp at the top of the ballhead comes from, avoiding parallax.

And take it from me, there will be issues sooner or later when the images contain parallax, so it's best to reduce the risk from the start.

Cheers,
Bart
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« Reply #14 on: January 08, 2013, 03:07:40 PM »
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1I'm considering using a panning clamp or an Arca-Swiss P0 or other ballhead that puts the rotation on top of the ball so that the ball is doing the leveling.

2The other option is a leveling base for a standard ball head.

3I suppose a third option is combing both, but I'd like to avoid added cost and weight if possible.

4The main thing I'm unsure of is which system allows you to be able to tilt the camera up or down and not always have the horizon centered?

5Also are multirows possible without these setups or is the standard pano head setup with both axis rails needed for that?

6I've seen many posts on the web stating that you can't tilt up or down with the rotation above the head.

7Then I did some more digging and found people saying that about the standard ball head with leveling base setups. Both sides appear knowledgeable, but clearly one is wrong.

8Another thought I had was that maybe it's not possible to tilt up or down with the panning clamp, but it is if you ad a nodal rail to that setup?

Two things to clear up before I actually reply. This is the internet; it is filled with conflicting opinions. Some of those opinions will come from people who have no, clue as to what they blather on about, soem will have some clue, and others might actually have useful answers that relate to what you want to do.

And that brings up the second thing which is actually two questions:

A) What is the subject matter that  you want to make panoramic photographs of? Roughly speaking there are landscapes where precise geometric rendering is not critical; and cityscapes and architectural studies where good geometric rendering is critical to the finished photograph's success.  The hardware needs are no so critical for the first case - especially if the differences between near and far elements in the photo are slight to non-existant. The larger those near to far differences are (based on your lens focal length choice and basic subject to camera distance) the greater need you have for specialized hardware like a "nodal slide".

B) What is the intend use of the photographs?

Only you can answer those questions.

On to my answers , which are based on my experience, to your specific concerns.

1 Unless you are just looking to do quick panoramas my experience is that having rotators at the top (camera platform) and base of your tripod head makes life a whole easier. Not just for panoramic photography but anytime you use a tripod. I have four heads that I use regularly : from larger to small laods they are a Foba ASMIA (http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/247458-REG/Foba_31_0118_ASMIA_Double_Pan_Tilt.html); Arca-Swiss B1 Monoball (modern equivalent = Arca-Swiss Z1sp); Arca-Swiss D4M; and Arca-Swiss p0

2 & 3For really precise architectural and product work I will use a leveling platform - A Manfrotto 338 QTVR Leveling Base (http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/controller/home?O=&sku=554092&Q=&is=REG&A=details)  but I put it between the top of my tripod head and the top level rotator(A Really Right Stuff PCL-1) on the ASMIA head, not underneath the head. As a tripod head is already an excellent leveling platform for my work I don't see a need to put a leveling base underneath it.  But in most cases I do not use one.

4 & 5For that purpose I use a larger panoramic mounting rig, essentially it is the PG-02 Omni-Pivot Package ( http://reallyrightstuff.com/ProductDesc.aspx?code=PG-02-Pro-OPP&type=3&eq=&desc=PG-02-Pro-Omni-Pivot-Package&key=it) but withthe longer CB-18 bar instead of the shorter CB-10 bar. This has to do with the size of the camera bodies I use. I can shoot with the center row level or tilted up or down. However most of my work is either landscape or interiors, including geometrically complex industrial interiors. If you are doing landscapes, you may not need or want that degree of precise control and can do great work with a head with a panning camera platform and possibly a nodal slide.

6 & 7 The definitive answer here is simple: Whoever said those things is ignorant.

8 Using a panning clamp has nothing at all do with the angle you set your head to. rotators are just another joint and work independently. The purpose of a nodal slide is to center the entrance pupil for the lens in the axis or axes (if shooting multi-row panoramas) of rotation you'll be swing your camera around.

The reasons I like the Really Right Stuff (or similar) approach to panoramic support gear is that it is modular and I can use all of the components or just the ones that I need for a specific shot. I can also use them for other kinds of photography: still life, macro work or securely supporting the camera in positions a simple tripod and head cannot fit into. It's all about having options. Whether I choose to use them is a different matter.  

I specifically like the Arca-Swiss, Foba and Really Right Stuff gear I use because it's all very well made and very, very reliable. I do my best to spend my money very carefully on these types of things.

The stitching  software I rely on is PTGui Pro although the version of PhotoMerge in Adobe Photoshop CS6 is much better than it has been in earlier versions.

I hope this helps. And Bart is right: Once you start many of your questions will begin to present you with the direction you need to go in for the answers that will work for you.
« Last Edit: January 08, 2013, 03:14:12 PM by Ellis Vener » Logged

Ellis Vener
http://www.ellisvener.com
Creating photographs for advertising, corporate and industrial clients since 1984.
simonstucki
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« Reply #15 on: January 08, 2013, 06:10:38 PM »
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Hi Simon,

That's correct. The horizon is straight (with the correct pitch setting for stitching) but the image tiles follow a curved path.

So all I'm saying is that straight horizons have little to do with leveling the camera! Straight horizons come from setting the correct 'Pitch' parameter when stitching.
The leveling will help to avoid unnecessary cropping and/or to avoid the need to use content aware fill for turning the arc into a rectangle.

ok I got it, and if you tilt only a bit that might work quite will with rectilinear stitching that makes sense.
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elf
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« Reply #16 on: January 09, 2013, 01:16:19 AM »
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+1 Bart is right Smiley

The least expensive way to add panning is mount a ballhead upside down.

Macro panoramas just need a little more care in setting the rotation points exactly on the entrance pupil.  If you want to add focus stacking, then I'd recommend using a bellows and setting the magnification and focus by moving the camera (with the lens' entrance pupil fixed at the rotation points).

Here's one of my favorite focus stacked macro panoramas: http://photosynth.net/view.aspx?cid=3c6a1c2a-7426-41d7-bbea-3f46feefa9c5

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K.C.
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« Reply #17 on: January 09, 2013, 03:34:02 AM »
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Two things to clear up before I actually reply. This is the internet; it is filled with conflicting opinions. Some of those opinions will come from people who have no, clue as to what they blather on about, soem will have some clue, and others might actually have useful answers that relate to what you want to do.

And others will show up on this forum and in short notice pontificate in many, many threads, coinciding with their efforts to write for photo magazines.
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Tony Jay
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« Reply #18 on: January 09, 2013, 03:39:09 AM »
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And others will show up on this forum and in short notice pontificate in many, many threads, coinciding with their efforts to write for photo magazines.

I hope this isn't a dig at Ellis.

Tony Jay
« Last Edit: January 09, 2013, 03:41:16 AM by Tony Jay » Logged
aman74
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« Reply #19 on: January 09, 2013, 04:57:57 AM »
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Thanks for all the recent thoughts. I don't have the time to go over all of them right now, but I was thinking about this last night and think I understand what the issue is now.

Here's an extreme example. Take the camera, mounted on a tripod/ballhead and flip it over 90 degrees and aim it at the ground. Rotate it with a pano clamp and it's going to spin around to include the sky. Rotate it with the pano base of the ballhead and you'll scan the ground, which was most likely your objective.

I'm guessing this is why the people advocating that a pano base, with a leveler if you so choose, is going to come closer to achieving the results you're looking for in more varied situations, ie: tilting the camera up or down.

The pano clamp seems an excellent way to get fast results, but is more of a convenience item as it allows the ball head to become the leveler. I'm failing to see how it's superior, but that may largely be my failing, I'm not sure yet.

I certainly know a lot less than most folks about this, but this does seem to pose a good point, no?

Thoughts?

Several posters were speaking of what the stitching software can do. That's great info and the improvements nowadays are awesome, but that's not what i was driving at. Using the software more heavily may indeed, in the end, be the more practical solution, but I was more looking for what the "ideal" route was for getting as much correct at the time of the shot is.
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