replacement for Nodal Ninja 5 ?  

In the panorama field, hardware is also part of the success. You can discuss here about it: camera, computer, pano head, anything
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replacement for Nodal Ninja 5 ?

by Phil Howard » Wed Jan 12, 2011 4:11 am

Do to being extra busy on new job, many things were on hold, including photography. Now that has eased up and new purchases are happening. I now have a Canon 7D, and a 60/2.8 macro lens. I may get a 100/2.8L macro next. I was going to buy the Nodal Ninja 5, but I see that has been discontinued. I didn't see a replacement on the web site, even though one was promised for end of 2010. If the R1 was supposed to be ... well ... that isn't really.

So unless there is something to replace NN5 (maybe NN6?) really soon, I'll have to go with something else.

While I will later have an interest in shooting smaller scale 360 panos with a moderate fisheye, my interest is more focused on gigapixel panos not more than 90 degrees, and simulated shift verticals (e.g. front of buildings).

The pan head I want would let me orient the camera at either landscape (how you would normally handhold a DSLR) or portrait (how most pano heads illustrate the camera to maximize vertical in one row). I want to be sure I can do a single, or just a few columns, but many rows upward (for the vertical shift shots).

Everything out there has too little technical detail to know if it will do all I want. They show the head usually in just one or two orientations. There's no data on what all it really can do (should I assume they can't anything not shown).

I do not want a motor drive, at least at this time. That may be an option in the future (at least a year). But right now I want it all manual. It needs to be heavy duty for a 7D+100/2.8L macro. It needs landscape and portrait orientation. It needs multi raw all the way to straight up. It needs increments (vertical and horizontal) in 5, 7.5, 10, 15, 20 degrees.

Does it exist? If not, where to compromise?

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by PanoMachine » Wed Jan 12, 2011 6:43 am

Hi Phil,

please have a look to our MK VR-Bracket (made in Germany by Berlebach).

http://vr-head.de/english/mk-modular-system/index.html#5786689c7412700a0


Our modular system allows to start manually, then to motorize holizontal and vertical.
A professional working tool according to your needs.

Best regards from Hamburg / Germany

Marc

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by vincen » Wed Jan 12, 2011 7:08 am

Phil Howard wrote:So unless there is something to replace NN5 (maybe NN6?) really soon, I'll have to go with something else.

We have exhibited some prototypes of the replacement model of NN5 series at Tucson in April (http://www.flickr.com/photos/skivr/sets/72157623863587034/). It's Modular serie and it'll be avalaible very soon now :) Expect an announcement before end of month if everything is ok :)

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Blog: http://www.skivr.com
Nodal Ninja 4 R-D16 on Benro Tripod + Ultimate R1 on Nodal Ninja P2 + Nikon D800 + Nikkor 10.5 + Nikkor 14/24 f/2.8 +Pentax 645D

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by gkaefer » Wed Jan 12, 2011 10:33 am


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by klausesser » Wed Jan 12, 2011 2:10 pm

Phil Howard wrote:. . . my interest is more focused on gigapixel panos not more than 90 degrees, and simulated shift verticals (e.g. front of buildings).

I do not want a motor drive, at least at this time. That may be an option in the future (at least a year). But right now I want it all manual. It needs to be heavy duty for a 7D+100/2.8L macro. It needs landscape and portrait orientation. It needs multi raw all the way to straight up. It needs increments (vertical and horizontal) in 5, 7.5, 10, 15, 20 degrees.

Well - for doing gigapix panos i definitely suggest a motorized head!! At least click-stops in BOTH directions are vital.
I realized a non-motorized head sometimes leads to forgotten shots in between - and you can forget the whole shooting.

A very good manual head definitely is more expensive than a motorized and computable Merlin.
For what you want to do Merlin is preferable over a manual head, believe me . . i started using a manual Manfrotto SPH -
and switched to a Merlin very soon when i started to shoot high-rez panos.
Ii use a manual head only with a fisheye for spheres.

best, Klaus
Simplicity is the keynote of all true elegance. Coco Chanel

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by mediavets » Wed Jan 12, 2011 2:19 pm

Phil Howard wrote:While I will later have an interest in shooting smaller scale 360 panos with a moderate fisheye, my interest is more focused on gigapixel panos not more than 90 degrees, and simulated shift verticals (e.g. front of buildings).

When shooting hi-res panos with longer focal length lens it's not uncommon to end up with some 'featureless' shots - just sky, for example.

If you were to use one of the motorised heads supported by Autopano Pro/Giga then the head-specific Import wizards assist in the placement of such images, which would otherwise be left out of the stitch and remain 'orphaned'.

The pan head I want would let me orient the camera at either landscape (how you would normally handhold a DSLR) or portrait (how most pano heads illustrate the camera to maximize vertical in one row). I want to be sure I can do a single, or just a few columns, but many rows upward (for the vertical shift shots).

Can you explain in more detail why you want/need a pano head that allows you to mount the camera in both landscape and portrait orientations? Most manual and motorised pano heads (with the notable exception of the Gigapan robotic heads) are designed to mount the camera in a portrait orientation.

I do not want a motor drive, at least at this time. That may be an option in the future (at least a year). But right now I want it all manual.

If your panos are likely to require many tens of images you will find a robotic motorised head very useful both when shooting and when stitching.

It needs increments (vertical and horizontal) in 5, 7.5, 10, 15, 20 degrees.

Very few (are there any?) manual pano heads offer adjustable click-stops on the pitch axis.
Last edited by mediavets on Wed Jan 12, 2011 2:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Andrew Stephens
Many different Nodal Ninja and Agnos pano heads. Merlin/Panogear mount with Papywizard on Nokia Internet tablets.
Nikon D5100 and D40, Sigma 8mm f3.5 FE, Nikon 10.5mm FE, 35mm, 50mm, 18-55mm, 70-210mm. Promote control.

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by Phil Howard » Wed Jan 12, 2011 4:42 pm

I'm not expecting to do a lot of very large panos. It's more about boosting the pixels for what would otherwise be wide angle shots. These might be 8 columns and 3 rows, for example. So technically sub-gigapixel.

But one of the things I do expect to do would be easier with the camera in landscape orientation. This would be a shot of the front of a single building as 1 column and N rows, with a moderately wide angle lens (28mm). That's why I would want to have the added/addable L bracket to get the landscape orientation.

I just want to go with a manual head now for learning, and do it all myself. A motorized head means more to carry, more batteries to keep charged, etc. I need to be able to carry it all (camera, lens, tripod, head) at one time.

mediavets wrote:If you were to use one of the motorised heads supported by Autopano Pro/Giga then the head-specific Import wizards assist in the placement of such images, which would otherwise be left out of the stitch and remain 'orphaned'.

How does this work? Does the electronic head connect to the camera to tag the image EXIF with orientation data?

I would shoot methodically, that is, straight through a row, then next row, etc. So I should be able to manually identify which image goes in which place. Can Autopano Pro/Giga let me do that (up to now, it has worked perfectly with automatic identification, so I never needed to explore any kind of manual mode).

I'm not a pro. This is all a hobby for me. I don't see that changing. My employment is in the computer field (Linux).

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by klausesser » Wed Jan 12, 2011 4:54 pm

Phil Howard wrote:How does this work? Does the electronic head connect to the camera to tag the image EXIF with orientation data?

The Merlin´s controller - PapyWizard/Nokia or the T&C controller - both write xml files from what they direct the head to do.
That means that all positions the camera shoots a picture are recorded and given to APG for positioning. That way APG can stitch
without searching CPs in aereas where no details can be taken for finding CPs. As with clear blue sky, unicoloured walls/ceilings and so on.

Using long lenses for highres panos these problems often rise. Using fisheyes shooting spheres these problems are very rare

Andrew´s completey right in what he said.

best, Klaus
Simplicity is the keynote of all true elegance. Coco Chanel

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by Phil Howard » Wed Jan 12, 2011 9:19 pm

klausesser wrote:
Phil Howard wrote:How does this work? Does the electronic head connect to the camera to tag the image EXIF with orientation data?

The Merlin´s controller - PapyWizard/Nokia or the T&C controller - both write xml files from what they direct the head to do.
That means that all positions the camera shoots a picture are recorded and given to APG for positioning. That way APG can stitch
without searching CPs in aereas where no details can be taken for finding CPs. As with clear blue sky, unicoloured walls/ceilings and so on.

Using long lenses for highres panos these problems often rise. Using fisheyes shooting spheres these problems are very rare

Andrew´s completey right in what he said.

best, Klaus

I'm still trying to understand how these files get written. Are they written on separate memory cards, one in the camera and one in the pano head controller? Or do I have to connect the camera and controller together in some way? If I can't visualize what is going on I don't know how to figure out if it even works in my situation or not.

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by Phil Howard » Wed Jan 12, 2011 9:30 pm

PanoMachine wrote:Hi Phil,

please have a look to our MK VR-Bracket (made in Germany by Berlebach).

http://vr-head.de/english/mk-modular-system/index.html#5786689c7412700a0


Our modular system allows to start manually, then to motorize holizontal and vertical.
A professional working tool according to your needs.

Best regards from Hamburg / Germany

Marc

I cannot tell from the images or English description. Is the part labeled "Panorama angle 157/227 mm with scala", as seen in image file "http://vr-head.de/images/656_gross1.jpg" a single rigid/solid piece, or does it bend at the angle to collapse for compact storage or carrying?

The small right side image labeled "MK PanoMachine" shows a couple copper colored devices where rotations would happen, but I don't see them in the first larger image in the middle. What are these?

It looks like it should be large enough, with spare, for Canon 7D + 100/2.8L macro. Can you confirm, or indicate how much scale position remains unused?

Is there room to add on an "L" bracket that could be used to get the camera into a landscape orientation?

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by gkaefer » Thu Jan 13, 2011 1:58 am

Phil Howard wrote:
klausesser wrote:
Phil Howard wrote:How does this work? Does the electronic head connect to the camera to tag the image EXIF with orientation data?

The Merlin´s controller - PapyWizard/Nokia or the T&C controller - both write xml files from what they direct the head to do.
That means that all positions the camera shoots a picture are recorded and given to APG for positioning. That way APG can stitch
without searching CPs in aereas where no details can be taken for finding CPs. As with clear blue sky, unicoloured walls/ceilings and so on.

Using long lenses for highres panos these problems often rise. Using fisheyes shooting spheres these problems are very rare

Andrew´s completey right in what he said.

best, Klaus

I'm still trying to understand how these files get written. Are they written on separate memory cards, one in the camera and one in the pano head controller? Or do I have to connect the camera and controller together in some way? If I can't visualize what is going on I don't know how to figure out if it even works in my situation or not.

merlin pano head with blootooth module can connect to Nokia N800 running papywizzard or you can use any notebook/netbook with windows/mac and blootooth also running papywizzard.
in papywizzard you define the matrix of your shooting (download papywizzard you can run it without panohead in simulation mode....) or you can create manually your xml files which can be loaded into paywizzard with the matrix data. This xml file can be created by a preset generator (available in papywizzard forum on here on autopano forum where you can create your xml files...
you also can run papywizzard with a sort of minimal matrix and run the simulation mode and activate the logging function. This logfile than saved while shooting the pano will later be used in the import wizzard of APG...

so bluetooth dongle is connectd to merlin and so connected to PC (serial via bluetooth)
and merlin is alos connected to camera (Canon EOS 400D for example its an earphone stero standard plug 3.5")

next scenario:
instead of papywizzard also standalone controllers (not the merlin handcontroller of course!) are available capable to be plugged to the merlin and the logs of this device can be used again for import wizzard of APG
http://www.typeandcolour.de/index.php?tp=Produkte&up=cont
manual: http://www.typeandcolour.de/PDFs/EN_Manual.pdf
Liebe Gruesse,
Georg
Last edited by gkaefer on Thu Jan 13, 2011 2:02 am, edited 1 time in total.

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by Phil Howard » Thu Jan 13, 2011 3:12 am

All my computers use Linux. I'm not yet ready to dedicate a whole computer to nothing but photography where it would need to run Windows, or to buy a Mac for that. So I guess I'll stick with manual. I wanted to do it that way, anyway.

If it were still a produced product, I'd probably be buying the NN5 right now. But this at least gives me a time frame to look around. I'm not in a big hurry, but I did want to spend some time getting familiar with the toys playing together before heading out to photography the Spring season. About the only other things besides what Nodal Ninja is coming up with next, that seem suitable for me, are the MK VR-Bracket and the Manfrotto 303SPH. The 303SPH lacks a 7.5 degree step that I'd like to have. Maybe the MK VR-Bracket can be used with the NN RD16 rotator.

And I'll definitely be looking for how to get the Landscape mode. It should be as simple as an "L" arm. The NN selector chart does seem to suggest the NN5 will do Landscape mode, though I don't see a way with the pieces illustrated.

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by vincen » Thu Jan 13, 2011 7:19 am

Phil Howard wrote:If it were still a produced product, I'd probably be buying the NN5 right now.

The NN5 is no more produced but still avalaible in factory irregular version, that are very nice :)

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Nodal Ninja 4 R-D16 on Benro Tripod + Ultimate R1 on Nodal Ninja P2 + Nikon D800 + Nikkor 10.5 + Nikkor 14/24 f/2.8 +Pentax 645D

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by mediavets » Thu Jan 13, 2011 8:08 am

Phil Howard wrote:All my computers use Linux. I'm not yet ready to dedicate a whole computer to nothing but photography where it would need to run Windows, or to buy a Mac for that. So I guess I'll stick with manual. I wanted to do it that way, anyway.

The Nokia N800 and N810 Internet Tablets are currently the best handheld platforms for Papywizard (the free Open Spurce software for controlling the Merlin mount as a robotic pano head). They use the Maemo OS which is derived from Linux.

Neither is still in production but both are readily available used via eBay and are relatively inexpensive these days - in UK you can pick up an N800 on eBay for about £50-£60.

At that price it's not so unreasonable to dedicate a 'whole computer to nothing but photography' although these are every neat little computers, for which there is quite a lot of free software, and you may well find other uses for one.
..............

Papywizard also runs with Linux of course, so if you have a notebook or laptop or tablet running Linux you could use that to run Papywizard, connecting to the Merlin mount via a wired serial connection or wireless Bluetooth connection.
Last edited by mediavets on Thu Jan 13, 2011 8:20 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Many different Nodal Ninja and Agnos pano heads. Merlin/Panogear mount with Papywizard on Nokia Internet tablets.
Nikon D5100 and D40, Sigma 8mm f3.5 FE, Nikon 10.5mm FE, 35mm, 50mm, 18-55mm, 70-210mm. Promote control.

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by mediavets » Thu Jan 13, 2011 8:17 am

Phil Howard wrote:About the only other things besides what Nodal Ninja is coming up with next, that seem suitable for me, are the MK VR-Bracket and the Manfrotto 303SPH. The 303SPH lacks a 7.5 degree step that I'd like to have. Maybe the MK VR-Bracket can be used with the NN RD16 rotator.

Avoid the Manfrotto 303SPH like the plague. It's an archaic design, and very heavy and clumsy.

And I'll definitely be looking for how to get the Landscape mode. It should be as simple as an "L" arm. The NN selector chart does seem to suggest the NN5 will do Landscape mode, though I don't see a way with the pieces illustrated.

I don't understand your obsession with mounting the camera in landscape orientation. It will just mean that whatever pano head you end with will be larger and heavier than would be the case if you mounted the camera in portrait orientation.

Is the lower rail of the NN5 long enough to enable Canon 7D to be mounted in landscape orientation with a suitable L-bracket??

And do any of these manual pano heads offer adjustable click-stops on the pitch axis?
Last edited by mediavets on Thu Jan 13, 2011 8:20 am, edited 1 time in total.
Andrew Stephens
Many different Nodal Ninja and Agnos pano heads. Merlin/Panogear mount with Papywizard on Nokia Internet tablets.
Nikon D5100 and D40, Sigma 8mm f3.5 FE, Nikon 10.5mm FE, 35mm, 50mm, 18-55mm, 70-210mm. Promote control.

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by mediavets » Thu Jan 13, 2011 8:47 am

Phil Howard wrote:I'm still trying to understand how these files get written. Are they written on separate memory cards, one in the camera and one in the pano head controller? Or do I have to connect the camera and controller together in some way? If I can't visualize what is going on I don't know how to figure out if it even works in my situation or not.

The XML format data files that record the shooting positions (later used by APP/APG to assist placement of images when stitching) are written to storage media on the host platform of the controller: the Merlin mount itself is essentially a 'dumb slave' device.

In the case of Papywizard that host platform can be running Windows; Mac OSX; Linux; or Maemo for Nokia Internet Tablets. Nokia Internet Tablets use SD (N800) and miniSD (N810) cards for removable storage.

The alternative wired connection Touch Controller from T&C, also offered by Kolor under their 'Panogear' branding, stores the XML format data files on internal Flash memory storage, accessible when the controller is connected via USB to a Windows PC. This controller does not use the Papywizard software but has its own firmware.
Andrew Stephens
Many different Nodal Ninja and Agnos pano heads. Merlin/Panogear mount with Papywizard on Nokia Internet tablets.
Nikon D5100 and D40, Sigma 8mm f3.5 FE, Nikon 10.5mm FE, 35mm, 50mm, 18-55mm, 70-210mm. Promote control.

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by vincen » Thu Jan 13, 2011 9:16 am

mediavets wrote:Is the lower rail of the NN5 long enough to enable Canon 7D to be mounted in landscape orientation with a suitable L-bracket??

The NN5 includes a 15º click stop on vertical rail :)

Vincèn
Blog: http://www.skivr.com
Nodal Ninja 4 R-D16 on Benro Tripod + Ultimate R1 on Nodal Ninja P2 + Nikon D800 + Nikkor 10.5 + Nikkor 14/24 f/2.8 +Pentax 645D

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by PanoMachine » Thu Jan 13, 2011 10:15 am

I cannot tell from the images or English description. Is the part labeled "Panorama angle 157/227 mm with scala", as seen in image file "http://vr-head.de/images/656_gross1.jpg" a single rigid/solid piece, or does it bend at the angle to collapse for compact storage or carrying?

The small right side image labeled "MK PanoMachine" shows a couple copper colored devices where rotations would happen, but I don't see them in the first larger image in the middle. What are these?

It looks like it should be large enough, with spare, for Canon 7D + 100/2.8L macro. Can you confirm, or indicate how much scale position remains unused?

Is there room to add on an "L" bracket that could be used to get the camera into a landscape orientation?

1.) The L-bracket is rigid and can not be transported smaller.
2.) The shown bracket is the MK PanoHead II / MK PanoGiga - sold out last month, a new MK PanoHead basic starts mid of February.
The MK PanoHead II has vertical scale all 5° / click-stops all 15° / MK PanoGiga all 5° - see one on ebay today...
3.) MK VR-Bracket 227 / 227 - I deliver 1 unit to a customer with a 2. L to put the camera in landscape position - that´s the goal of a modular system.

About the only other things besides what Nodal Ninja is coming up with next, that seem suitable for me, are the MK VR-Bracket and the Manfrotto 303SPH. The 303SPH lacks a 7.5 degree step that I'd like to have. Maybe the MK VR-Bracket can be used with the NN RD16 rotator.

4.) Yes - it it possible to use MK VR-Bracket with NN RD16 rotator ;-)

Best regards from Germany

Marc

www.vr-head.com

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by klausesser » Thu Jan 13, 2011 10:06 pm

Phil Howard wrote:I'm still trying to understand how these files get written. Are they written on separate memory cards, one in the camera and one in the pano head controller? Or do I have to connect the camera and controller together in some way? If I can't visualize what is going on I don't know how to figure out if it even works in my situation or not.

Hi Phil!

You learned about PapyWizard on Nokia. The second device is the T&C controller. That one stores the commands it sends to the head in a Flash-ROM and you can read it by connecting the TC via USB to your computer (Win only resp. a VM and Win7 on Mac).
The xml files are transfered to your desktop or a dedicated folder and you import them into APG along with the pictures. Works fine and is easy - you don´t have to deal with Linux; Bluetooth and so on.
The TC connects using a 5 cm (or longer) telephone cable to the Merlin and is powered by the Merlin´s accus which you can get as specials from TC and which longs about 6000 shots.

best, Klaus
Simplicity is the keynote of all true elegance. Coco Chanel

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by Phil Howard » Fri Jan 14, 2011 2:06 am

I work in the computer field and Linux is my area of expertise. I find it the easiest way to do things. I use the Linux version of AutoPano Pro, for example. I find Windows the most difficult to work with. I guess this difference is about expectations and control.

But I also don't like being tethered. I don't carry a cell phone, for example.

When I go out to do photography, I want to have no more than I can carry in one trip. I figure a camera, two lenses, a tripod, and a manual pano head, will be it. I will take a spare camera battery along if going back home early would be inconvenient. I now have 2 digi bodies, but I doubt if I take both very frequently. I have 2 film bodies from 20+ years ago (FM-2 and FE-2) and I rarely carried both.

It might be different if photography was my profession.

Oh, and I had been considering building my own pano head in a friend's machine shop. Our plan was to get some blank castings and mill them down. For a basic tool it might have worked. Things like the controls to lock and release were going to make it a more costly project. It would not be all metal, and that was making it more complex. Still, I'm leaving open the possibility of making my own "L arm" if need be.


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