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Archive 2012 · Panoramas: Dedicated Mounting Kits or a Pannig Base + Ext...
  
 
dgsphoto
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Panoramas: Dedicated Mounting Kits or a Pannig Base + Extendible center


I already own a Gitzo G3541LS with a Markins Q20 and want to add panoramic capabilities, especially multi-row capabilities (4Rx5C)

I am looking at the following options:

Option 1: A dedicated kit like RRS Ultimate Omni
Option 2: Get a GS331S center column for multi-row capabilities. The ball head already has a panning base and all my lens plates are long enough to double up as nodal plates (I think)

Option 2 looks very attractive to me for it's incremental cost.

The two limitations that I am aware of with option 2 are:

1. I will always need to level the tripod with relation to a real horizon or pseudo horizon line if I am not shooting into the horizon instead of leveling to center of gravity. I understand that this will be prone to errors and I may have some cropping to do post stitching, especially in the non-horizon panos.

2. Losing the ability to shoot with nodal point over the axis in case of lenses with no collars (although this would only mean an incremental nodal plate expense vs a full blown kit in option 1)

Am I completely wrong here in thinking option 2 can work?

Can the experienced comment on the below options, their pros/cons or even feel free to shoot down option 2 if it's not a good fit?

Thanks.



Sep 02, 2012 at 11:26 PM
Roland W
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Panoramas: Dedicated Mounting Kits or a Pannig Base + Extendible center


I assume your are talking about the Gitzo GS3310S center column. It looks like you left out a zero, and I had a hard time finding it.

I do not understand at all what adding a column does to improve panorama capabilities. If your ball head has a pan base, you can use it on the tripod directly for panoramic sequences, as long as you level the tripod, which you mentioned. The center column gives you nothing except more height and less stability. It adds no rotation capability, and no leveling capability, and no vertical tipping capability.

To do multi rows, the fancy rigs allow you to directly keep the camera aligned to the leveled base, and also allow you to keep that level alignment as you tip up or down for the other rows. You can do a rough job of that with a ball head, but it is hard to maintain the level. A bubble level with a linear vial mounted in the hot shoe can help, or a camera that has a built in level indicator can also help. Your tipped up and tipped down rows may not be perfectly aligned with the direction of rotation, but I think that a lot of panorama software can still patch everything together.

As far as parallax issues and keeping the "nodal point" near to the center of rotation, that is really much less important that most people think, unless you have things in the scene very close to the camera. For single row panoramas, your longer lenses that have lens collars with lens plates can indeed usually be mounted to rotate fairly well, but it is less common to shoot panoramas with long lenses. For normal and wide lenses that have no collar, you then may want a way to mount the camera to a nodal plate, and mount the plate in to the ball head or panorama head, to get the rotation point under the lens and close to the nodal point.

For multi row panoramas, the fancy multi row rigs have the option to rotate the lens around its nodal point for both the horizontal and vertical rotations, and there is no way you can do that with a ball head and a nodal plate. But again, you should try out some scenes and do some image merges to see if a simple approach to multi row sequences will work out for you before investing in an expensive rig like the Really Right Stuff Ultimate Omni. The RRS rig is fantastic, but costs a lot.

Have you worked your way through any resources that describe more about shooting panoramas? There are quite a few. The following link is the first page of 7 that show the information Really Right Stuff has on shooting panoramas. Obviously they feature their gear, but all the concepts apply.

http://reallyrightstuff.com/WebsiteInfo.aspx?fc=108




Sep 04, 2012 at 04:36 PM
howardm4
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Panoramas: Dedicated Mounting Kits or a Pannig Base + Extendible center


there are also decent products from 'Nodal Ninja'.

You may want to consider adding a leveling base to the tripod so leveling isnt such a PITA



Sep 04, 2012 at 07:01 PM
dgsphoto
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Panoramas: Dedicated Mounting Kits or a Pannig Base + Extendible center


Multi-Row Panos: I was under the impression that to shoot multi-row panos, it's best to move the camera up or down vertically when moving from one row to another rather than (just) tilting the camera up or down, which is where I thought I could use the center column.

"For multi row panoramas, the fancy multi row rigs have the option to rotate the lens around its nodal point for both the horizontal and vertical rotations, and there is no way you can do that with a ball head and a nodal plate"

Maybe I am not reading this right, but wouldn't a nodal plate with a clamp and an L plate on the camera allow for this?

Thanks Roland. I will check out those tutorials.



Sep 04, 2012 at 07:17 PM
Mr Joe
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Panoramas: Dedicated Mounting Kits or a Pannig Base + Extendible center


Leveling the tripod is a royal pain in the ass (that's the technical term for it).
I'd recommend either a leveling base, or RRS PCL-1 for leveling.

The RRS package allows multi-row without moving the tripod. Just adjust the angle on the PG-02 arm for a new row. I've shot gigapixel panos with this setup and it works great.



Sep 04, 2012 at 10:18 PM
Roland W
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Panoramas: Dedicated Mounting Kits or a Pannig Base + Extendible center


Multi row pano are not taken by moving the lens up and down, but rather by tilting up or down. If the scene was distant, then just moving the camera up or down would still produce nearly exactly the same image. Tilting the camera, and still providing for some overlap of the images from row to row, is the way to go, and is what all panorama software is going to expect. The only exception to this would be if you were using a tilt and shift lens, and wanted to make rows with different shift amounts up or down, but that is different than moving the whole lens and camera up or down.

A single nodal plate on a one axis of rotation panorama rig will only fix the paralax for that axis. If you use a ball head to take other rows, and tilt the ball to get those rows, the center of the ball is the vertical tilt rotation point, and it is thus not at the center of the lens, but rather below it. Depending on how much the lens is above the ball, using a nodal plate helps some for the vertical tilt, but it can never be exactly correct. Look at how the two axis rigs are set up, and notice how the vertical rotation axis is provided from one side of the lens, and thus the rotation axis can be set up to pass through the lens for that axis. For a properly built two axis rig, only one nodal plate is required to get the lens adjusted for both axis, but as I said, one plate can not do both when using a ball head for vertical tilt.



Sep 05, 2012 at 12:34 AM
 

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dgsphoto
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · Panoramas: Dedicated Mounting Kits or a Pannig Base + Extendible center


Roland W wrote:
A single nodal plate on a one axis of rotation panorama rig will only fix the paralax for that axis. If you use a ball head to take other rows, and tilt the ball to get those rows, the center of the ball is the vertical tilt rotation point, and it is thus not at the center of the lens, but rather below it. Depending on how much the lens is above the ball, using a nodal plate helps some for the vertical tilt, but it can never be exactly correct. Look at how the two axis rigs are
...Show more

Got it! I guess I missed the point about shifting the nodal point off axis if I used the ball head to tilt fro verticals/multirow.

A follow-up question:
Would a Acratech GP + Nodal Slide + L plate on the camera take care of keeping the nodal point over axis in all 3 - horizontal, vertical and multi-row? Their video shows such a setup using a leveling base, but I suppose I can flip the GP ballhead upside down and use the panning base as a pivot on both axes, right? I understand that a nodal slide and an L plate will still be needed.

Nothing against the RRS omni pro, just trying to keep the components and costs to a minimum without sacrificing anything. I could easily swap my Markins Q20 for a GP. The only incremental expense will be the nodal slide. L-plate is moot as I will be getting it anyway for non-panoramic verticals.

Sorry...I am a bit slow to catch the technicalities here...so thanks a bunch everyone for your patience and posts. Really helpful!



Sep 05, 2012 at 06:36 AM
dsjtecserv
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · Panoramas: Dedicated Mounting Kits or a Pannig Base + Extendible center


dgsphoto wrote:
Got it! I guess I missed the point about shifting the nodal point off axis if I used the ball head to tilt fro verticals/multirow.

A follow-up question:
Would a Acratech GP + Nodal Slide + L plate on the camera take care of keeping the nodal point over axis in all 3 - horizontal, vertical and multi-row? Their video shows such a setup using a leveling base, but I suppose I can flip the GP ballhead upside down and use the panning base as a pivot on both axes, right? I understand that a nodal slide and an L plate

Nothing against the RRS omni pro, just trying to keep the components and costs to a minimum without sacrificing anything. I could easily swap my Markins Q20 for a GP. The only incremental expense will be the nodal slide. L-plate is moot as I will be getting it anyway for non-panoramic verticals.

Sorry...I am a bit slow to catch the technicalities here...so thanks a bunch everyone for your patience and posts. Really helpful!
...Show more

No. I use the Acratech in the inverted position for panoramas, but an additional arm is still needed to pitch the camera up or down when when the horizon is not to be dead-center. You use the (inverted) ball head to level the platform (the clamp), which can then rotate on a level plane under the no parallax point of the lens (if you have set it up that way). But if you then use the ball head to pitch the camera up or down, the rotation will no longer be on the level. I've done this purposely for effect, but that's probably not what you want for most panoramas.







For multi-row (or ANY pano in which you don't want the horizon dead center) you need a means for rotating the camera to pitch it up or down independent of the horizontal rotation, as described by Roland. You can use a ball head in the normal orientation (in conjunction with a leveling base) -- the rotating ball head base for horizontal rotation, and the ball for vertical pitch -- but you run the risk of the no parallax point of the lens shifting with respect to the axis. The surest way to provide for both axes of rotation and maintain the NPP is to use a pano rig with a vertical arm that allows for independent rotation for pitch, such as the Omni Pivot or Nodal Ninja.

Dave



Sep 05, 2012 at 01:45 PM
Roland W
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · Panoramas: Dedicated Mounting Kits or a Pannig Base + Extendible center


The first step in any panorama is getting the axis of rotation aligned in the vertical direction. That can happen by leveling the tripod, which takes longer, or by adding a leveling base to a ball head, or by putting the rotation above the ball of the ball head, and using the ball head like a leveling base. The Acratech GP is set up for inverted use, so the rotation is above the ball. Another way to add rotation above the ball is by adding a rotating clamp to any regular ball head.

If you put the rotation above the ball head, and you want to keep that level for a panorama, you now have no way to tilt the camera up or down for multi row panoramas. Using a L bracket on the camera is the perfect way to easily get horizontal or vertical orientation for panoramas, but it does nothing for tilting up or down. You need to keep the axis of rotation vertical while you tilt the camera up or down for multi row, and there just is no way to do that if the rotation device is above the ball of the ball head.

The only way to get near perfect correction for the nodal point and do that for multi row shots is to have a special rig that has both a vertical axis of rotation and a horizontal axis of rotation, and have the axis of both of those rotation devices point through the same point in space. That point in space is where the nodal point of the lens goes, and to get it there on most dual axis rigs, you still need the one nodal slide for a lens that does not have a collar. So perfect parallax correction requires the special dual axis rig, and there is no way to do it with a single axis of rotation set up, like with just one ball head that has a pan base.

If you put the leveled rotation above the ball with a ball head, you can only do a single level row of shots, and can not do any tilt up or down for other rows. If you leave the rotation device below the ball, like a regular ball head with pan base, and you level the ball head to get the rotation axis vertical, you then also still need to level the camera using the ball head in order to get the camera aligned with the rotation line. That is extra work that you either guess at using your eye, or requires another level mounted on the camera or in the camera. Adding a nodal plate will correct for parallax for the single row level panorama, but as mentioned before in an earlier post, if you want to tilt up or down to get multi rows, your rotation point is well below your lens, so multi row will not be exactly corrected. But depending on how far your lens is above the center of the ball, and how much you tilt is, your lens nodal point will not move too far away from the rotation axis.

Adding the nodal plate does increase the distance of the lens above the ball, and turning the camera to vertical orientation also increases the distance above the ball, so each of those make the multi row a little worse.

All of this discussion about maintaining a perfect nodal point is really not necessary at all for almost all single row and multi row panoramas. I still think you should just get an L plate and a camera mounted vial level and shoot things in both horizontal and vertical, and see how your panorama merges come out with the software of your choice. You will likely be completely happy with the results. If you have lots of close objects, and think you need to go to the next step, then add a nodal slide. If you decide you do not like to level the tripod all the time, get a leveling base and add it to your ball head, so you can still use the ball for your multi row tilting. Then, if you really want perfect parallax correction, and do not want to worry about the secondary leveling of your camera, and want to spend the money, add a two axis multi row panorama rig and level it to use it. You still will want a ball head for other uses, so that is not wasted. Most rigs would make use of a nodal slide if you had one by then. And if you had added a leveling base, that would be very useful for a full multi row rig.

Edit: Dave said it with a lot less words than I while I was writting, but the answer is still the same. I hope my long version is useful to others to help understand the details and the trade offs and the options.



Sep 05, 2012 at 02:30 PM
dsjtecserv
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · Panoramas: Dedicated Mounting Kits or a Pannig Base + Extendible center


Roland, actually, I like what you said much better -- I think you explain it much more completely and clearly than I did. I especially like the progression of options you laid out; very pragmatic and sensible. DGS, you should find Roland's advice very useful.

Dave



Sep 05, 2012 at 02:57 PM
Mr Joe
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · Panoramas: Dedicated Mounting Kits or a Pannig Base + Extendible center


The RRS website has a good visual reference of the multi-row setup:
http://reallyrightstuff.com/WebsiteInfo.aspx?fc=89



Sep 05, 2012 at 05:12 PM





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