Monopod, remote triggering and monitoring  

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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Monopod, remote triggering and monitoring

by [bo] » Wed Mar 19, 2008 11:35 am

Here's the story.

Currently I have a 15 meter extendable shaft, which is basically a modified pole from a military radio antenna. It's big and heavy, it has three removable legs that turn it into sort of tripod, it has to be moved by car (on the roof of our Berlingo usually). On top of the pole I put a custom made "head" that I can control via wired remote and allows me to rotate it freely along two axis (with some constrains, of course). On that head I mount a 5D, which is plugged via USB to a laptop on ground level, where I use Remote DSLR Pro to set the camera, preview and shoot.

All is well and good, but the system is not really portable. It does its job nicely, but cannot be carried around by hand for a quick high-placed shot in a tight spot.

I should clarify that I'm not into 360x180 or interiors at all. I'm doing 4-8 shot panos (1x3, 1x4, 2x3, 2x4), shoot in RAW, using a 24-60 Sigma @ 24mm. Those images usually result in up to 200MB 8-bit TIFFs with moderate view angle. And those are enough for my uses.

What I'm looking for is a portable solution. It should include:
[ul][uli]A light, extendable monopod, at least 2.5 meters long[/uli][uli]Some way to monitor from the ground what's in camera's view[/uli][uli]Some way to trigger the release of the camera[/uli][/ul]

Up to this point I've looked at several "monopods" - usually extendable carbon sticks and even something similar to mediavets "shower curtain rail". This part should not be a problem.

However, I'm not sure about other two. I know there's a remote IR trigger for 5D and probably that would do... But what about the monitoring? Any ideas and experience shared is much appreciated!
Some of my panoramas, posted in the Autopano Pro flickr group.

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by mediavets » Wed Mar 19, 2008 12:40 pm

'[bo wrote:']What I'm looking for is a portable solution. It should include:
[ul][uli]A light, extendable monopod, at least 2.5 meters long[/uli][uli]Some way to monitor from the ground what's in camera's view[/uli][uli]Some way to trigger the release of the camera[/uli][/ul]

Up to this point I've looked at several "monopods" - usually extendable carbon sticks and even something similar to mediavets "shower curtain rail". This part should not be a problem.

However, I'm not sure about other two. I know there's a remote IR trigger for 5D and probably that would do... But what about the monitoring? Any ideas and experience shared is much appreciated!

Poles:
http://www.agnos.com/prodotti.htm?v_lingua=ENG&v_iss_web=0000000008031912244994767591&v_categ_lista=P0000-P0005-P0506

Industrial window cleaning system poles could also be adapted I think and are not that expensive.

Remote cord/controllers:
Agno's:
http://www.agnos.com/prodotti.htm?v_lingua=ENG&v_iss_web=0000000008031912244994767591&v_categ_lista=P0000-P0011&v_cod_art_scheda=RCCANON2
http://www.agnos.com/prodotti.htm?v_lingua=ENG&v_iss_web=0000000008031912244994767591&v_categ_lista=P0000-P0011&v_cod_art_scheda=RSR
PCclix:
http://www.pclix.com/pages/pclix_main.html
Harbortronics:
http://www.harbortronics.com/products2000.asp

Remote camera viewing/monitoring:

1) If head is setup just to shoot one or two rows at predefined pitch to ensure adequate overlaps - do you really need it?

2) Don't think 5D does, but if you have video out then maybe you could use a wired link (or if you want wireless then a cheap video transceiver link kit) and an LCD pocket TV or LCD video monitor, such as used for in car entertainment systems, as remote viewing screen?
Last edited by mediavets on Thu Mar 20, 2008 10:37 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 GURL » Wed Mar 19, 2008 4:42 pm

'[bo wrote:']- Some way to monitor from the ground what's in camera's view
- Some way to trigger the release of the camera

Like with nearly any other existing digital camera, you can see the 5D camera rear screen contents (no more but no less) using the camera "Video out" where you can plug any TV set and many more device-with-a-screen (some are small, cheap and light.)

For trigger release a "N3 type wired remote control" will work.

This is a common problem for widelife photographers who often use remote triggers and probably sometimes have to see what they shoot.
Georges

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by mediavets » Wed Mar 19, 2008 4:53 pm

Just remembered that I have seen - somewhere on the Web - a tiny video camera device that attaches to the eyecup connector on DSLRs. That would enable you to monitor what the camera is seeing.

If one had a camera with LiveView then I guess standard video out would be more useful in this application.
Last edited by mediavets on Wed Mar 19, 2008 4:55 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 [bo] » Fri Mar 21, 2008 12:22 pm

Thanks for the ideas, guys.

I did some research and found a nice wireless remote trigger. So that's settled.

"Window cleaning poles" are the best alternative so far; found a local supplier of sturdy, light, expandable 2 to 4 meter poles that can be easily adapted.

Right now I'm trying to find the device Andrew writes in previous post - eyecup camera. If I'm not satisfied with that, I think I'll just go with trial and error (raise the camera, shoot, lower, view, raise, etc...).
Some of my panoramas, posted in the Autopano Pro flickr group.

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by mediavets » Fri Mar 21, 2008 12:42 pm

'[bo wrote:']Thanks for the ideas, guys.

I did some research and found a nice wireless remote trigger. So that's settled.

"Window cleaning poles" are the best alternative so far; found a local supplier of sturdy, light, expandable 2 to 4 meter poles that can be easily adapted.

Right now I'm trying to find the device Andrew writes in previous post - eyecup camera. If I'm not satisfied with that, I think I'll just go with trial and error (raise the camera, shoot, lower, view, raise, etc...).

Do let us know which wireless remote trigger you chose.

And which window cleaning poles you chose - did you choose carbon fibre or alloy? - I'd also love to get details of how you adapt them to mount the camera.

I'll have another go at trying to re-find that eyecup camera/viewer system.
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 » Fri Mar 21, 2008 12:46 pm

'[bo wrote:']Right now I'm trying to find the device Andrew writes in previous post - eyecup camera. If I'm not satisfied with that, I think I'll just go with trial and error (raise the camera, shoot, lower, view, raise, etc...).

OK - here's one system - Zigview - perhaps the system I'd seen on the Web before:

http://www.zigview.co.uk/
http://www.adi-digital.com/Zigview/Zigview%20S2/Zigview%20S2%20Page.htm
http://www.ephotozine.com/article/Zigview-S2
http://secu-line.com/ (Korean manufacturer)

Not cheap but might do the job, or inspire some creative DIY.
Last edited by mediavets on Fri Mar 21, 2008 2:12 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 [bo] » Mon Mar 24, 2008 5:47 pm

Special thanks for the links! I'll try to keep you posted on the "monopod" theme :) The poles will definitely NOT be carbon or titanium - this is too expensive for a quick-and-dirty home-made monopod. I'll try first with some very cheap window cleaning poles (I know the site is in Bulgarian, but they don't have an English page).
Some of my panoramas, posted in the Autopano Pro flickr group.

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by mediavets » Sat Mar 29, 2008 12:14 pm

Bo,

You may find this of interest - another idea for poles:

http://www.stativfreak.de/GALERIES/BASTEL/Hochstativ/index.htm
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 hankkarl » Mon Mar 31, 2008 2:30 am

'[bo wrote:']Special thanks for the links! I'll try to keep you posted on the "monopod" theme :) The poles will definitely NOT be carbon or titanium - this is too expensive for a quick-and-dirty home-made monopod. I'll try first with some very cheap window cleaning poles (I know the site is in Bulgarian, but they don't have an English page).

So you will save $5 on a pole used to support > $1000 camera and an expensive lens? :/
Last edited by hankkarl on Mon Mar 31, 2008 2:31 am, edited 1 time in total.

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by [bo] » Mon Mar 31, 2008 9:14 am

It's not 5 bucks... the ones I got cost about 15 Euros (this is for two poles, each 3m long when extended), while a professional grade 6-meter monopod in a photo store around here costs more than 300 Euros. 20 times the cost is quite a bit and I'm doing this as an experiment, so I don't want to invest much.

And the camera cost me about 3000 Euro back in the day... so... :) But maybe I'll be putting a Sigma DP1 up, if I can get my hands on one...
Some of my panoramas, posted in the Autopano Pro flickr group.

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by mediavets » Sat Apr 19, 2008 9:45 am

Bo,

Have you managed to modify the pole(s) to attach your camera yet?

If so, I would like to see how you did it.
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 [bo] » Mon Apr 21, 2008 9:43 am

Yes, it turned up quite OK, for a 30 Euro (that's all included) 6 meter monopod :) ! Even managed a few test shots. Sorry for not getting back at the topic, but I'm quite busy this month. I'll make some photos and a short description this week.
Some of my panoramas, posted in the Autopano Pro flickr group.

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by [bo] » Sat May 10, 2008 12:29 pm

OK, here's some info. First check the Flickr set.

The monopod is composed of three basic parts: a camera mounting head and two expendable window cleaning poles.

The head is some cheap Hama model and allows rotating and tilting the camera, I hope the photos shot this.

Each pole is 1.5m high and extends to 3.0m. When extended it fastens via twisting the inner and outer tubes in opposite directions.

The two poles can be joined together for a total lenght of 6 meters. At that height the monopod is not exactly stable with the 5D + Sigma 24-60 on it (you can see the bend on the photos), but I rarely need such height and shooting at 1/1000 does the trick (and I'm probably getting a Sigma DP1 soon - had it for a week to test this and that). Shooting is done remotely, via wireless remote.

Joining of the poles is done by a custom machined metal joint of two parts (sorry, not sure of the exact technical names). This joint is two-part: male with a bolt and female with a socket, you can see those on the photos. The joint is sturdy enough and was made to fit the pole's tube perfectly.

In the image set I've posted some photos of my father holding the monopod up and sideways, as well as three actual "demo"-shots.

Gotta run now, if you have any questions - post them, I'll try to answer later!

ps: I'll add the costs for each component later.
Some of my panoramas, posted in the Autopano Pro flickr group.

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by Castillonis » Wed May 14, 2008 9:24 pm

I use an adjustable fiberglass pole that has a maximum of just over 12 meters, but I usually set it at about 7.6 meters. The pole collapses down to about 2.5 meters and fits inside of my car. I use a radio controlled camera harness that rotates on two axii. Attitude and horizontal rotation. I use a canon G9 (360 grams) instead of my bigger Canon 40D (822 grams + lens) which has a wide angle of 35 mm. I use time lapse software to control settings and shoot from my laptop. I use all lithium batteries except for one nickel cadmium w/ a rapid charger that has been giving me problems. They don't hold a charge long and cadmium is much more toxic than mercury. I am still mastering the system and the cadmium battery has given me problems lately.

Shooting 360 panoramas outside has been much easier than stitching interior shots. I still shoot landscape panoramas as well.

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by [bo] » Thu May 15, 2008 10:00 am

Thanks for sharing!

I'm not into 360-panos and use the pole mainly for getting a different point of view. Sometimes I take 2, 3 or 4 portrait shots, which I stitch into a pano. The main purpose of this experiment was to build a cheap, light and easy to use monopod. It's not very stable, because I put a heavy camera and lens on top of it, but now with my new Sigma DP1 this will change.

I'd like to know f you use some kind of harness to "attach" the monopod to your body, so it's easier to keep it stable? Also, is your build home-made? I looked at fiberglass poles, but those were way to expensive (at least over here, compared to aluminum poles) - how much did it cost you?
Some of my panoramas, posted in the Autopano Pro flickr group.

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by Castillonis » Fri May 16, 2008 1:59 am

I have not been shooting 360s from the pole, that was a tangential remark. I mostly use it to get a different perspective or reach over a tree or house. The pole cost me about 300 dollars which is about 194 euros. I paid about 194 euros for the harness in order to be able to precisely change the attitude and the horizontal angle. I am not shooting about the entry pupil, so objects that are too close would give me parallax distortion. I could have bought a 5D w/ all of the money I have spent on it :)

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by ThomasK » Sat May 17, 2008 10:09 am

Here is another example from a modified fiberglass antenna, very small and lightweight:
http://www.panorama-forum.net/wbb/index.php?page=Thread&postID=14492&highlight=spieth#post14492

The price for the version with 6 meters, called "Panorama-Pole" is 74 Euro without shipping:
http://www.qsl.net/dk9sq/tbild.htm

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by JohnM » Mon May 19, 2008 9:23 pm

I`m using an Agnos with a GigaPan device. Works very well...


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