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08-12-2020, 04:56 AM   #1
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How accurate is the electronic level?

I've just taken delivery of an Arca Swiss p0 ball head (I do a lot of panoramic photographs for my work) and I chose it for its ability to not require the tripod to be levelled. I would have expected the bubble on the tripod head and the electronic level on the camera to be in full agreement, but they're not. It's minor...won't matter and I could easily check by taking a panorama, but which would you think is more accurate?

08-12-2020, 05:06 AM - 2 Likes   #2
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It’s quite possible that neither is accurate! You could try putting the camera on a flat, level surface (previously checked with a good level) and see what the electronic level says. Mine was off a bit.
08-12-2020, 05:06 AM   #3
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I would guess they are about equal. The little glass lens could be made slightly off, and likewise the accelerometer in the camera could be slightly mis aligned. You’d need a calibrated standard to check them both against. Another level is just as likely to be off if it’s not calibrated to a standard.
08-12-2020, 05:09 AM   #4
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As the electronic level works with accelerators, I've got a fun experiment for you.

Stick your camera on a flat table with the electronic level turned on on the rear screen. Quickly slide the camera to the side and watch the level.

Pretty cool, right?

Strong winds can have this effect too (and vehicles), so if you were at a really windy place, it could explain the difference in levels.

Another possibility is that the camera isn't actually mounted perfectly flat to where the level in on the tripod head.

08-12-2020, 05:35 AM - 1 Like   #5
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What a minefield. Everything everyone says makes sense.

Perhaps I'll just be glad that it's probably going to be more accurate than doing panoramas by hand!
08-12-2020, 05:43 AM - 1 Like   #6
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I feel the electronic level is pretty darn close. The bubble level would probably be better for a pano shot, but not for most shooting IMO. With the electronic level you can use it for one axis, so you can compose a horizontally level shot while pointing up or down. I find that very useful, as I seldom compose a shot that is vertically level.
08-12-2020, 06:16 AM - 2 Likes   #7
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My K-5 electronic level was far from, er, level.

My K-1 is pretty well spot on.

To check a level in the camera (or any other level for that matter), first find a smooth level surface and check that the reading of level is the same in all directions. ie rotate it to point 90 degrees different for each reading.
08-12-2020, 06:45 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by bertwert Quote
Another possibility is that the camera isn't actually mounted perfectly flat to where the level in on the tripod head.
Somewhat likely - I know that's the case for my (rather cheap) tripod.

08-12-2020, 08:15 AM   #9
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And everything is probably within manufacturer's tolerances. Next we need to compare hand held light meters.
08-12-2020, 08:38 AM - 1 Like   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by osbourne one-nil Quote
but which would you think is more accurate?
As noted above, perhaps neither. The small bubble levels built into QR clamps are usually fairly sketchy. The axis that must be true is that of the panning head. Whether the clamp, plate, and camera body follow is a matter of quality and faith. Large format view camera photographers use a small bullet level to zero the camera. Addition of such to your kit might not be a bad idea if you are particularly picky or are having problems.


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08-12-2020, 12:12 PM - 2 Likes   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by phoebus Quote
My K-5 electronic level was far from, er, level.

My K-1 is pretty well spot on.

To check a level in the camera (or any other level for that matter), first find a smooth level surface and check that the reading of level is the same in all directions. ie rotate it to point 90 degrees different for each reading.
Actually, if the electronic level shows the same non-zero reading in all directions, then the electronic level has a bias error (or the underside of the camera is not as flat as it seems).

If the electronic level shows the equal-but-opposite non-zero reading when turned in opposite directions, then the electronic level is perfect (but the surface is not level).
08-12-2020, 01:11 PM - 1 Like   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by photoptimist Quote
Actually, if the electronic level shows the same non-zero reading in all directions, then the electronic level has a bias error (or the underside of the camera is not as flat as it seems).

If the electronic level shows the equal-but-opposite non-zero reading when turned in opposite directions, then the electronic level is perfect (but the surface is not level).
Exactly, when using a spirit level for something critical, you use it both ways up
08-12-2020, 01:22 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by bertwert Quote
Exactly, when using a spirit level for something critical, you use it both ways up
Good idea!

And for drinking spirits, it's always bottoms up!
08-12-2020, 02:57 PM   #14
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Thanks everyone. Iíll have a play somewhere pretty and perhaps take a panorama using the cameraís electronic level as the guide and another using the bubble. I have a good tripod (3leggedthing Winston) and a good head (Arca Swiss) and I believe my K-1 is well liked around here.... I just want to avoid having to crop too heavily when I get back to the office because the places where I take the panoramas are not the sort of places you want to have to go back to!
08-12-2020, 07:19 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by osbourne one-nil Quote
Thanks everyone. Iíll have a play somewhere pretty and perhaps take a panorama using the cameraís electronic level as the guide and another using the bubble. I have a good tripod (3leggedthing Winston) and a good head (Arca Swiss) and I believe my K-1 is well liked around here.... I just want to avoid having to crop too heavily when I get back to the office because the places where I take the panoramas are not the sort of places you want to have to go back to!
You should be able to test the set-up in the parking lot or backyard


Steve
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