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11-24-2014, 02:16 AM   #1
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Single row Tripod/Ball head and accessory set up advice

I am looking to improve the quality and frequency of my panoramas and wanted to get advice on what would be a good set up. I am 6ft 3in and would be using this for landscapes.


Have been looking at Feisol, Gitzo, Sirui, RRS (ball head and pano)


Any suggestions for set up would be very welcome. I am looking to set up for single row panoramas, at least initially

11-24-2014, 03:32 AM   #2
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I'd also check Manfrotto (the 303 series), just to be thorough...
This site has an interesting database of panoramic heads:
Panoramic heads database - VRwave
11-24-2014, 04:09 AM   #3
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The Panoramic heads database is a good resource, thanks for posting that.

Regardless of which direction you go, two important things to get right are set up and the right lens/lenses. Tripod height should be based on what you want your image to look like; the point of view.

I'd recommend you review this webpage: FINDING THE NO-PARALLAX POINT Whichever direction you go, this is a critical part of improving the panorama output. There's several ways of achieving what you seek, but getting the no parallax point and the right lens that is sharp across the frame without vigentting or significant aberrations, are the two major hurdles to get right. Some software will even out the vignetting in frames for you whilst stitching, but getting the right aperture for the lens to avoid repeating dark circles is the best start point. I stop my Zeiss lenses down for this reason.

Personally, for panoramas I prefer lenses between 35-100mm. I like my FA50 and 70mm LTD lenses for making panos with my Gigapan. With a single row maybe 20-50mm is preferable? Good luck finding out.
11-24-2014, 06:57 AM   #4
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Good Morning,

Well its an interesting subject. There was another somewhat similar thread the other day, that expanded with a tremendous amount of good information that is very related. That would be a very good initial read. I am just going to assume that you have read the link or are already familiar, since there is no use in repeating the points - there are a lot of them and its a wonderful thread on the subject.
QuoteOriginally posted by mikeodial Quote
....
Have been looking at Feisol, Gitzo, Sirui, RRS (ball head and pano)
For the reasons cited in the above thread, for a single level pano - you are going to want a rotating base (panning clamp) above the ballhead. Before I forget - there is a difference between a Rotating Base or a Panning Clamp and a Rotater (that I touch on later down below).
  • Feisol - Feisol offers a separate rotating base that can sit on top of the ballhead
  • Gitzo - Gitzo does not offer a separate rotating base that sits on top of the ballhead.
  • Sirui - Sirui does not offer a separate rotating base that sits on top of the ballhead.
  • RRS - RRS offers a separate rotating base that can sit on top of the ballhead.
Some additional names that are not on your list.
  • Acratech - Their GP ballhead can be inverted in such a way as to bring the rotating base to a position above the ballhead.
  • Acra Swiss - Their P0 ballhead has the rotating base above the ballhead - by design.
  • UniqBall - Has a unique ball in ball design that performs like having a rotating base on top of the ball. This allows them to pan level, and also pan vertically (although the other ballheads will do the same by flipping the ballhead over into the gimbal position).
You can also acquire a third party panning clamp or rotating base as a separate unit and clamp it in-between (on top of the ballhead) and under the camera body.
  • Google panning clamp arca swiss
QuoteOriginally posted by LensBeginner Quote
....
This site has an interesting database of panoramic heads:
Panoramic heads database - VRwave
Wonderful site - I had not come across it yet.
___________________________

Overall, there are two general approaches to your question.
  • One is to use a ballhead or some other type of head to level the shot and then rotate across the view, taking images. This is your single row pano that you are referring to. Two areas with this may cause problems.
  • You may have some items - trees or what ever in the foreground that will not stitch correctly due to paralax. To solve this, you will need a rail of some type to move the camera back so that you rotate around a "nodal" point. Tas has provided a great link on this. With a nodal rail, you are at least a third of the way to a true panorama head.
  • A panorama head is a pain to use all the time for everything, so you will wind up with both a pano head and a regular head. Plus, you are going to need to level the pano head - and the way you do that is to sit it on top of a ballhead or a leveling base. So, in practice you will wind up having both solutions in the long run. Did I happen to say, this aspect of photography is capital intensive?
  • Panorama Head - This unit pulls together all of the base mechanical elements for panos. It sets the camera back from the nodal point, provides a vertical lift to the camera, so that you can angle both up and down to be able to take multiple rows (although you can do a lot of this with a ballhead). Also, it gives you the ability to move the camera body around in distance to adapt to the various lenses you are using. You can do this manually, adjusting by eye, on the placement of each frame (the 25% to 30% overlap), or you can use something like a rotater base to help rotate a set amount each frame.
  • A Panorama Base Rotater - LensBeginner linked to a wonderful database. If you scroll through it a bit, you might notice that there are some slight differences. The base that the heads are (or are not) sitting on. Some are simple, where you just rotate from frame to frame. Others, have a unit - it looks like a small tuna fish can, that you setup so that it rotates a fixed amount each time. Its called a rotater or a rotater base. This comes in handy for multiple row panos, since you will rotate the exact same amount for each frame, and essentially aligns all the rows along the vertical edges.
  • A motorized head - this is something like the gigapan head. It has motors and a controller all built in, so that all of this is done automagically. Nice if you do this A LOT, since it is somewhat pricey.
___________________________

As I noted previously, you are essentially going to wind up with both. Why? Well, because a Panoramic head takes multi row panoramas, but it needs to be leveled. The ballhead approach takes simple single row panoramas, but also is capable of providing a level base to the Panoramic head. So, you can start out with the ballhead approach, later add a true pano head and not be out any funds.

That bring up another subject. Inter-compatibility. All of these parts need to fit together in various ways. The best way to do this is that everything use the same clamping system. The base industry standard is the Arca Swiss (AS) type of clamp and plate. It may appear to be a bit more expensive, but in the long run, it is cheaper.

There is also one more component that you will probably want. That is an L-Bracket. These are wonderful. Just google L-bracket and you will see them. They too come in Arca Swiss compatibility.




Last edited by interested_observer; 11-24-2014 at 07:09 AM.
11-28-2014, 04:29 AM   #5
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Pano as a the main head or Ball Head combo

Seems like some of the panos have the advantage of the extra height and can be simple to operate, but can they replace a ball-head?


Or can you use a ball head effectively with a leveler to meet the "angle requirements" when needed?


Or am I just dreaming and you need both and don't try and mix them up?


Questions ... questions. ..
11-28-2014, 01:09 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by mikeodial Quote
Seems like some of the panos have the advantage of the extra height and can be simple to operate, but can they replace a ball-head?
Yes, they sit up higher, it is a larger assembly. There is more to carry and put together. They do both single row very well. The panorama head does multi row very well, where as with a ballhead the multi row is not as easy - you will have a bit more distortion. It all depends on how you apply it. The ballhead is by far easier to carry and just a single integrated item.

With a Panorama head, you will need a way to level it in order to get everything right.

QuoteOriginally posted by mikeodial Quote
Or can you use a ball head effectively with a leveler to meet the "angle requirements" when needed?
Yes, yes and yes. You can use a ballhead very effectively for single row. You can also adjust the ballhead up and/or down slightly to get a second or third row in. If you go with a ballhead with the panning clamp above the ball, rather than in the base, you can forgo the need for a leveler, since the ballhead does the leveling via the ball. That will save you $100 to $150 right there.

The ballhead route is by far the easiest and will provide the greatest functionality.

QuoteOriginally posted by mikeodial Quote
Or am I just dreaming and you need both and don't try and mix them up?
I would suggest the ballhead first and you can play around with it a lot. Taking single row is easy, tipping it either up or down to get a second row is just fine. Where you will see the difference with a panorama head, is if you do a lot of them, have a lot of foreground items that generate a lot of paralax problems, etc.
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