Pano-able heads for Manfrotto

Discussion in 'Australia Photography' started by Dave Ello, Jan 14, 2004.

  1. Dave Ello

    Dave Ello Guest

    Hi folks,

    I have a Manfrotto 055Pro tripod and currently use a 222 head (soon to be
    replaced by a more stable ball-head). I'm hoping to purchase a ball-head
    suitable for use with basic (ie. single-row horizontal) panoramic shooting.
    I was considering something like a 490RC4 (see
    and a levelling head. How critical is it to rotate around the nodal head
    for shots that are typically of a landscape nature, using a 50mm lens? I
    really don't fancy carrying around QVTR gear and hope I don't need to.

    Shooting with a D100 + 80-400VR and other similarly weighty lenses
    (80-200/2.8, 28-70/2.8 etc.) I'm concerned that I obtain something robust
    enough for the job. Despite their official weight carrying ratings, I'm
    told that you should over-rate ballheads typically.

    Of course, the other side of the equation is that I have to lug whatever I
    buy (along with all my gear) around hot countries for weeks on end (as my
    wife refuses to do so for me...). :)

    So if there are any thoughts to add to this I would be very grateful.

    Dave Ello, Jan 14, 2004
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  2. Dave Ello

    me Guest

    488 may be better. lighter,better plate setup.

    the 490 is a bit overboard.
    me, Jan 14, 2004
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  3. Dave Ello

    SJC Guest

    No, you certainly dont need the QTVR stuff. It depends on how fussy you
    are with your panos. If you want them perfectly aligned, then you'll
    want to use the nodal point. It also depends on how far away from the
    film (or sensor) plane the nodal point is with the particular lens
    you're using. With a 50mm lens, the nodal point isnt going to be very
    far away, so it should be OK. It also depends on how severe a paralax
    error you're expecting. If you're shooting lots of vertical objects, say
    trees, aerials (etc) which are very close AND very far into the
    distance, this will create a high paralax error if you dont rotate
    around the nodal point and can make alignment impossible, or at least,
    require lots of touching up in photoshop. But it's certainly possible to
    do without nodal point rotations. If you can do it, though... do!

    You might want to consider these, which are much cheaper...

    You can make your own tripod attachment for rotation about the nodal
    point for about $10 or less. All you need is a drill, a hack-saw (or
    other steel cutting saw), a file and a trip to bunnings or some other
    big hardware shop. Oh, and another quick release plate, if you want to
    make it easier, but it's not required.

    If you're not into DIY projects, then skip the rest of this :) This can
    be filed along with the DIY remote control and DIY studio lighting that
    I've posted here before :)

    Buy two steel L brackets, the type they use for building. The ones I
    used were about 2cm wide, 12cm long along each length of the 'L', and
    about 3mm thick. They should have a big bolt hole in each arm near the
    end. Cut an arm off each one, so that the bold holes can be lined up.
    Bolt the L brackets together so that now you have a kind of
    square-bottomed U shaped thing. The bold holding the two brackets
    together should be sticking out the bottom of the U. The two long
    lengths of the U shape (i.e. the uncut bracket arms) on mine were about
    4cm apart.

    OK, once you're satisfied that they fit together like this, then take
    them apart again, and this time you need to work on one of the long arms
    of only one bracket (one side of the U).

    The bolt hole in this one needs to be changed into a slot that runs all
    the way up the length of the arm, not quite to the end. So just cut
    (with the hack saw or file) a slot running up the length of the arm the
    same width as the bolt hole. Now you can bolt it all back together. You
    should have the U shape again, this time it will have a bolt at the
    bottom of the U (holding the brackets together), a slot on one of the
    upright arms, and a hole on the other of the upright arms. The hole
    should line up with one end of the slot.

    Now, if you bought a spare quick-release plate, you can remove the
    camera mounting screw and drill the hole out the same size as the hole
    in the L bracket, and you can attach it permenantly with another bolt. I
    had to cut the top of the the bolt so that it would fit under the
    manfrotto plate. This allows you to attach the side of your U shape
    bracket (the side with the slot cut in it) to the quick release plate.
    It should slide backwards and forwards. Your camera goes on the top of
    this thing you've just made, in the single hole that should be left on
    the other side of the U shape (which will now be on it's side, with the
    bottom of the U facing towards you as you look in the camera).

    Now, if you take a look around in the bolts section of bunnings, you'll
    find these bolts that are the same thickness as the slot you just cut in
    the bracket, but instead of the thread running all the way from the end
    of the bolt up to underneath it's head, you'll find ones that have the
    thread that runs all the way up, and then about 0.5cm from the top, they
    have a square part instead of the thread, and then the top. They have a
    rounded 'mushroom' type top, rather than a hex-head. If you buy one of
    these, then it will fit into the slot you cut in the L bracket and since
    it has that little square bit in place of the thread, it will allow you
    to slide your bracket up and down without it rotating at all. If you do
    it this way, you need to make sure you've cut your slot in the bracket
    and smoothed it out very carefully.

    You can also mark the nodal points on the bracket with a texta or a nail
    or something too, once you've found them all. Then you can just set up
    straight away.

    By the way, this also works as a macro slide rail, but it's a bit clumsy
    because you have to slide it manually rather than move it with a winder.

    Anyhow, that took me about half an hour to build and it cost me about
    $7.50. It works perfectly well, but it looks a little more clumsy, and
    doesnt have as smooth a movement as you'd get on a commercial one. But
    then, it doesnt need to move once you've found the nodal point.
    SJC, Jan 14, 2004
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