Old 21-01-2013, 05:19 AM
iceman's Avatar
iceman (Mike)
Sir Post a Lot!

iceman is offline
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Gosford, NSW, Australia
Posts: 36,727
Panorama heads

Anyone who's seen my terrestrial shots lately will have seen I have quite an obsession with panoramas at the moment, usually 3:1.

Even if I don't capture the image in panorama, I usually look to crop to a panorama.

For multi-shot panoramas, I understand that the panoramas should be rotating around the nodal point of the camera lens, but without a panorama head, I've just been 'trying my best' to rotate the camera rather than turn my whole body. Or if it's on the tripod, I've been ensuring it's level and turning around on the shaft rather than the head.

Using AutoPano for stitching, the results have been fine, but at times some images haven't stitched well and I'm guessing it's partly due to not having a panorama head.

Does anyone here have or use a panorama head?

There's various ones around, like:
- Panosaurus 2.0 (review)
- 360 precision (incredibly expensive)
- Nodal Ninja (also expensive)
- Really Right Stuff
- GigaPan (automated controlled, but expensive)

Anyone have any thoughts or experiences?
Reply With Quote
Old 21-01-2013, 07:06 AM
sheeny's Avatar
sheeny (Al)
Spam Hunter

sheeny is offline
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: Oberon NSW
Posts: 13,263
Never used one Mike. I've done lots of panoramas over the years (I started with a Kodak Instamatic with scissors hardware based system about 35 years ago.

No doubt a head designed for panos would help, but unless you have some very close foreground I wouldn't expect you should see much difference, but I'd love to try one to prove it to myself (or otherwise).

As for stitching issues, my experience has been that the software gets tricked up by moving objects in the FOV - ocean waves are particularly difficult - and a head won't help that. But having said that, the software is getting pretty good these days. I used to use a lot of specialist software to do the stitching, but since CS4 and CS5 got reasonable at it that's all I've used.


Last edited by sheeny; 21-01-2013 at 07:07 AM. Reason: clarify
Reply With Quote
Old 21-01-2013, 07:58 AM
rat156's Avatar
Registered User

rat156 is offline
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Melbourne
Posts: 1,654
Hi Mike,

Check out the Celestron Allview, or Skywatcher, depends on the market which brand it comes with. I've just bought the smaller version, the Skywatcher multi mount, which is also referred to as a Merlin. There is software out there to control the Merlin to do long FL panoramas, in the Allview it's in the firmware of the hand controller.

The Allview is too big to fit on the Dynamic Perceptions stage zero dolly, and the Merlin is controllable by the MX2 controller, it's also cheaper, so that's what I bought.

Reply With Quote
Old 21-01-2013, 08:33 AM
Registered User

gbeal is offline
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: New Zealand
Posts: 4,306
Being the Scrooge I am, and after seeing some of the prices you linked to, I'd be looking at a bit of DIY.
If, that is, you deem one necessary. As Al suggests, it would be good to see if there was really a perceivable difference.
Most of my pano's these days are done "in-camera", the Fuji for example does it within, as does the NEX5 I had.
Let us know how you fare though please, always an interesting topic to me.
Reply With Quote
Old 21-01-2013, 09:19 AM
pluto's Avatar
pluto (Hugh)
Astro Noob

pluto is offline
Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: Sydney
Posts: 1,982
A friend of mine used to use the Nodal Ninja and he LOVED it.
Rotating around the nodal point helps with normal panos but it's really only super important if your doing full 360 spherical projections (that's what my friend used his for).
I do all my panos handheld, stitch with Hugin, and I rarely have any stitching issues but I'm only doing a single line of portrait shots and I'm not taking shots to fill in the top and bottom of the images.

EDIT: I like gbeal's idea of DIY, after all it's just about moving the tripod mount point forward on the camera so that it's in the same place as the centre of the sensor. The 5DmkII should have a mark on the body showing you where the sensor plane is (I don't have mine at work today so I can't check), maybe Octane would know about this?
Reply With Quote
Old 21-01-2013, 09:48 AM
ZeroID's Avatar
ZeroID (Brent)
Lost in Space ....

ZeroID is offline
Join Date: May 2010
Location: Auckland, NZ
Posts: 4,950
My SONY A77 does it all automatically even if you vary the height\angles within reason so it's quite happy with handheld. Viewfinder gives markers and zones for overlap and prompts you to move to get correct coverage.
Panos will always blur moving objects but most panos are landscape widefeilds really so normally not a problem.
I have done panos by just using a fixed level tripod head and noting the start\stop\overlap points for later on software stitching.
As gbeal said even the point and shooties have a pano mode these days and not a bad job do they do either.
Reply With Quote
Old 21-01-2013, 10:42 AM
Marke's Avatar
Marke (Mark)
Registered User

Marke is offline
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Sydney
Posts: 1,193
Dont forget to look at Markins
They are works of art , I have had mine several years now and its
simply the best imho
Reply With Quote
Old 21-01-2013, 11:03 AM
Octane's Avatar
Octane (Humayun)
IIS Member #671

Octane is offline
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: Canberra
Posts: 11,159
Yep, all Canon bodies have a mark showing the sensor focal plane.

I've got some Manfrotto panoramic head that I bought off Mr. Lovejoy, but I have no idea how to use it. Should look that up.

Reply With Quote
Old 21-01-2013, 12:04 PM
Registered User

Wavytone is offline
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Killara, Sydney
Posts: 4,147
Hi Mike, yes I have one of these beauties: http://www.stereoscopy.com/jasper/panorama-test.html

I bought it to try making cubic VR images as among other things I have a camera with a 90 degree horizontal field of view and low distortion (ideal).

It has click-stops in azimuth, and has extensive adjustments to accommodate any likely camera+lens combination. In particular you can slide the camera back to position the nodal point of the lens at the azimuth axis, so foreground objects close to the camera won't have parallax errors as the camera rotates. This is perhaps most important when doing interior shots, not so important outdoors unless you want to do cubic VR. I used it a little but have stopped making cubic VR lately as I think they are boring once the novelty wears off.


BTW I don't really understand why some think its desirable to put the sensor at the azimuth axis, this is quite wrong and you will get a lot of parallax. You can prove this yourself with an object close to the camera - as you rotate the camera in azimuth it will appear to move laterally with respect to the more distant background. When the camera is moved back so the lens nodal point is over the azimuth axis, a foreground object will appear fixed against the background as the camera is rotated.

From a practical perspective though, my best panos have been stitched from handheld shots when I happened to be at the right place at the right time, with little or no planning. On the occasions I've set out to do some landscape panos with this head in recent years I've invariably been beaten by bad weather.

Last edited by Wavytone; 21-01-2013 at 12:26 PM.
Reply With Quote
Old 21-01-2013, 02:32 PM
Peter Ward's Avatar
Peter Ward
Galaxy hitchhiking guide

Peter Ward is offline
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: The Shire
Posts: 7,302
I use a Nodal Ninja (NN )

It works very well, is compact and packs up into a very small case (supplied)...though a little pricey for what it is: really a pair of adjustable brackets.

Pan heads make a big difference to VR's in tight environments. Parallax errors will otherwise confound even the best stitching software.

NN with a circular fisheye allows you to capture VR's very quickly, i.e. in as few as 4 frames.

Hope that helps... Cheers Peter
Reply With Quote


Thread Tools
Rate This Thread
Rate This Thread:

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

All times are GMT +10. The time is now 12:10 AM.

Powered by vBulletin Version 3.8.7 | Copyright ©2000 - 2021, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Limpet Controller
NexDome Observatories
Astronomy and Electronics Centre