As I have explained in the Sunwayfoto DYH-66i Leveling Base Review the increased offset load of a long telephoto lens, requires sturdier structure and components that can withstand the extra torque.
Building from base up, next comes the horizontal panoramic rotator. After some initial tests, the Benro PC-1 Panorama Clamp used in my solutions up to now, reached its limits and therefore I sought for another solution that would fulfill my "golden mean" between sturdiness, functionality and price.
When we speak about HDR / Gigapixel Panoramas functionality takes a new meaning. If we take into consideration a landscape Panorama for example, consecutive frames have to be shot quickly at specific increments horizontally (and vertically of course) in order to avoid any light or scenery changes to say the least. Thus an automated click stop function is desirable.
Once again I found Sunwayfoto DDP-64M Indexing Rotator closer to my "golden mean" of prerequisites.
Sturdy structure, top and bottom rotating platforms, strong locking knobs, minimized weight and above all 10 click stop options that would cover the range of lenses I wanted to use.
Since I would need an Arca-Swiss compatible Quick Release clamp anyway, I preferred to order the DDP-64MX+DDY-64 version, bundled with the (already reviewed) Sunwayfoto DDY-64 Discal Quick Release Clamp, which offers a substantial saving on the clamp price.
Although I have quite a large QR clamp collection, DDY-64 Discal clamp, as a dedicated clamp, is most suitable avoiding any matching and fitting problems.
The "X" in the end of the DDP-64MX model name signifies that the Indexing Rotator is equipped with the AM-01 Arca Mount plate.
The Package & Contents
|The DDP-64MX Indexing Rotator travels in the box within a thick foam padding, with all the accompanying documents and accessory tools and screws in separate zip-lock nylon bags. The DDY-64 Discal clamp comes securely pre-installed from the factory.|
|There is an "Operating Instructions" fan-fold leaflet with basic but adequate instructions to set up and maintain the Indexing Rotator.|
|And last but not least the fine quality microfiber Sunwayfoto Cleaning Cloth is also in the box for cleaning and maintenance purposes.|
|Height w/DDY-64 QR Clamp:||61,50 mm|
|Bottom mounting thread:||3/8"-16 UNC|
|Top mounting stud:||1/4"-20 UNC|
|Max Load capacity:||10.0 kg (22 lbs)|
* Verified weights on electronic scales:
DDP-64M : 328 gr (The 400 gr figure probably remains from the previeous DDP-64)
DDP-64MX : 348 gr
DDP-64MX+DDY-64 : 468 gr
According to Sunwayfoto website:
DDP-64MX Indexing Rotator and its components are made from imported premium quality aircraft aluminum. Sophisticated CNC machining equipment are used throughout the manufacturing process and strict quality control procedures are maintained in order to bring out this product. It combines high precision, ease of use, compactness, light weight and durability.
- Compact and light weight - weighing only 400 grams.
- More than 10 kg (22lbs) load supported.
- Adopts a very high quality surface finishing and anodizing techniques, solid and durable.
- Lubricated bearings for smooth rotation.
- Laser engraved index marks every 5 degrees.
- Two Lock Knobs for Top Platform and Panning Base.
- Detent interval (click stops) may be changed easily.
- Ideal for HDR (High-Dynamic Range) panoramas as well as time sensitive situations in which shooting must be completed quickly, such as shooting high resolution multi-image mosaics or shooting the same scene at different focal lengths.
- When this Indexing Rotator is installed onto a tripod, it may also be used as a normal panning base.
- Detent interval control knob equipped with Retainer wire so it cannot be lost in the field.
The 1/4"-20 threaded mounting holes on the top rotating platform and the panning base are set in identical distances. Therefore, the AM-01 Arca-Swiss compatible dovetail and/or the DDY-64 Discal clamp are interchangeable and may either be installed on the top panning platform or at the bottom panning base at will.
This may not seem reasonable at first, unless you visualize a case where you would like to keep the rotator body and its control knobs static, letting only the panning base rotate. Such as the case of mounting the Indexing rotator in a horizontal position. There it would prove very convenient.
Comparison with the Original DDP-64
Sunwayfoto DDP-64M Panoramic Indexing Rotator is an improved version of the earlier Sunwayfoto DDP-64, maintaining all its functions in a lighter and more compact body.
|Photo by courtesy of Sunwayfoto.com|
With the release of the DDP-64M major improvements were succeeded by changing the layout of the detent interval stop holes in two rows instead of one. This allowed to lower the height by aproximately 2 cm and the overall weight substantially, making it more compact and more stable with a lower center of gravity.
Finer details include the minimization of the panning base height as well as the addition of a retainer wire to the detent interval Control knob.
Comparison with the Competition
The table below shows a comparison of Sunwayfoto DDP-64M Indexing Rotator with Panoramic Indexing Rotators of similar characteristics coming from well known brands.
|Min Int. (Deg):||5°||18°||2°||3.75°||5°|
|Max Int. (Deg):||90°||90°||30°||120°||90°|
|Platform ∅:||64 mm /2.52"||64 mm /2.52"||88 mm /3.46"||62 mm /2.44"||-- mm / --"|
|Base ∅:||64 mm /2.52"||64 mm /2.52"||88 mm /3.46"||62 mm /2.44"||-- mm / --"|
|Height:||42 mm /1.65"||26 mm /1.02"||33 mm /1.30"||48 mm /1.89"||63 mm /2.48"|
|Weight:||328 gr /11.57oz||192 gr /6.77oz||450 gr /15.87oz||347 gr /12.24oz||609 gr /21.48oz|
|Max Load :||10.0kg / 22 lbs||8.0kg /17.6lbs||-- kg / -- lbs||11.0 kg / 22 lbs||14.0 kg / 30.9lbs|
*Convertible via included 1/4"-20 to 3/8"-16 bushing
Adjusting the Detent interval (Click Stops)
|The Detent Interval Control knob is made from aluminium and a stainless-steel screw with finely finished threads which has a spring loaded ball tip. This small ball guaranties the precision of movement between the protractor guide holes.|
Issues and Comments on the Panning Base
As mentioned earlier, the arrow-shaped Index Pointer lies just below the detent interval holes. This positioning is not the best in my opinion, since it may easily be obscured by the detent interval Control knob unless you work with the Indexing rotator at eye level, which I doubt if anyone does as most people would prefer the camera viewfinder at eye level. It would be preferable that the Index Pointer be first enlarged and secondly repositioned e.g. on the opposite side where there is lots of empty space. Such a repositioning requires also reorientation of the panning base but this is not difficult.
Speaking of the panning base, it is more clear in the previous photo that the degree scale has marks every 5 degrees and numbers every 15 degrees. Somehow, I would prefer marks every 2.5 degrees but 5 degrees is just fine as it actually represents the minimum detent interval.
What is more critical in my opinion is the 0°-90°-0°-90° division of the panning base scale instead of a continues 0°-360° scale. This awkward design presents us with two 0's and two 90's on the scales.
Some would say "Well, that's not important, as after your set the click stop interval you start from zero and simply make a full circle ending back to the same zero".
Here, I would ask: "Which zero?"
Considering the fact that all click stops pass from only one of the zero points (which is not specifically marked as the second zero point is at the opposite side and actually represents 180°), then in order to avoid frustration something has to be done.
After my first tests, I had contacted Sunwayfoto headquarters on the above issues, who in turn responded immediately and assured me for setting as first priority the redesign of the panning base of all their rotators adhering to the 0-360° continues scale. However, it may take a while until the improved releases of all models come into the market.
Adjusting the Lever Lock Knobs
Both the top rotating platform and the bottom panning base are controlled via quite large Lever Lock-Knobs extending out from the sides of the rotator's main body. The Lever knobs are all metal, spring-loaded, capping a stainless-steel shaft that actually controls the respective locking mechanism.
|If in any case the rotation of the Lever lock-knob is blocked or it interferes with other equipment it may easily pulled out until the internal hex nut is fully revealed ...|
|... and relocated in one of the 12 possible positions that proves more convenient.|
|The Top Rotating Platform and Panning base Lock Knobs require only half a rotation to unlock or lock the respective platforms from completely "Loose" to "Tightly locked" position.|
However, although there is no need to unscrew them too far, some caution should be taken to avoid unscrewing them completely as they are not captive and will fall off.
Mounting Via the AM-01 Arca Mount...
The use of an Arca-Swiss® compatible plate at the bottom of the DDP-64M Indexing Rotator may prove very convenient when a quick change between equipment is desired on the field. Be it a ball head with the appropriate clamp, or a leveling base equipped with Arca compatible clamp or merely a clamp on the mounting plate of the tripod. Fiddling with screws, adapters, bushings etc etc can only result of lost tiny parts or the shooting itself.
On a Ball Head
|The picture above was shot during some preliminary tests last summer, using Sunwayfoto XB-44 Low Profile Ball Head to hold and level the Multi-Row Panorama Head structure. DDP-64MX+DDY-64 is clamped via the AM-01 Arca Mount on the XB-44 QR clamp. Very convenient for on the spot changes of equipment. However, although the ball head was successful in holding the load, I later on opted for the DYH-66i leveling base solution following below. |
(Full documentation and reasoning of my choices in the upcoming article about the HDR heavy duty Panorama head).
On a Leveling Base
|DYH-66i leveling base combined with DDY-64 discal clamp on top of the Triopo GX-1328 Classic Carbon Fiber Tripod is ready to accept the Sunwayfoto DDP-64MX+DDY-64 Panoramic Indexing Rotator shown above. Fast and secure clamping without having to fiddle with small securing anti-twist screws.|
Combined with DYH-66i Leveling Base
If the DDP-64M is mainly intended to be used for shooting panoramas on rough / uneven / inclined terrain, where leveling is critical and often needed, then a more permanent attachment on the DYH-66i leveling base would be preferable.
This solution offers a lower center of gravity by 15 mm than using a QR clamp with consequent decrease of torque, which translates in less stress exercised on the tripod mounting platform. Further, with less moving parts and joints the combination acts as one unit vibration wise.
In this case the AM-01 Arca mount plate is not needed and should be removed.
|As already mentioned in the Sunwayfoto DYH-66i Leveling Base Review, DYH-66i has an 1/4"-20 top mounting stud and DDP-64MX has a 3/8"-16 bottom mounting hole. Therefore, it is imperative to use a conversion bushing. Since, both come with a reducer bushing preinstalled one has to be removed. I preferred to keep the one preinstalled at the DDP-64MX bottom hole as less prone to unscrew, thus removed the one installed on the DYH mounting stud (top right photo).|
Pictured above DDP-64M (w/o AM-01 Arca mount)+DDY-64 Discal clamp fitting perfectly on top of the DYH-66i leveling base.
|Further, DDP-64M is secured by tightening (with moderate force) the security screws around the top platform perimeter of the DYH-66i, in order to avoid accidental twisting and loosening.|
|The combined DDP-64M+DYH-66i unit mounted on Triopo GX-1328 Classic Carbon Fiber Tripod which proved sturdy enough to be used as the legs for a heavy duty Panorama head.|
Mounting Directly on a Tripod
On the other hand if your main intention is to use the DDP-64M shooting interior panoramas on flat and leveled surfaces, where minimum leveling is required, then it may be mounted directly on a tripod top mounting stud via its bottom mounting hole.
Omitting the leveling base offers the lowest possible center of gravity with even more decrease of torque and minimum stress exercised on the tripod mounting platform.
Also in this case the AM-01 Arca mount plate is not needed and should be removed.
|DDP-64M may be mounted either with the preinstalled 1/4"-20 to 3/8"-16 bushing on tripods with an 1/4"-20 top mounting stud or by removing the bushing ...|
|... on tripods with a 3/8"-16 top mounting stud, as pictured above.|
Mounting Equipment on the top Platform Stud
Apart from the convenient attachment options via an Arca-Swiss compatible QR clamp or Arca mount plate, there is always the option of mounting e.g. a medium or large format camera directly on the top platform stud. The 1/4"-20 thread top stud may be used as is or converted to 3/8"-16 thread via the included bushing.
Torque Test Results
I doubt that the DDP-64MX Panoramic Indexed Rotator may be used as a vertical rotator in a Multi-Row panorama head due to size and/or weight, nevertheless among others I wanted to have an approximate assessment of its torque capacity on both its panning top platform and the panning base.
Since it's almost impossible to discriminate and measure each ones capacity independently as we shall see further down, whichever drifts first will determine the maximum torque for the whole rotator.
Sunwayfoto DDP-64SX Panoramic Indexing Rotator Review.
Using as a Horizontal Rotator
I have been with DDP-64MX for a few months by now, testing and stressing it under different loads serving as the horizontal rotator unit for my Heavy Duty Multi-Row HDR/Gigapixel Panoramic head (under development). It proves very suitable for the purpose of fast changing shooting positions while maintaining accuracy for an HDR spherical panorama. Less stitching errors equals less post processing.
|DDP-64M is pictured above in the role of horizontal rotator of the Multi-Row panorama head in question with Sunwayfoto DDP-64SX as vertical rotator (both equipped with DDY-64 Discal Quick Release Clamp) and Sunwayfoto DYH-66i Leveling Base supporting and leveling the whole structure. Hejnar PHOTO 5/8" thick rails and QR clamps are used for the structure.|
Exceptional machining, finishing, fitting and build quality.
Compact size and low weight.
Convenient top rotating platform.
Very smooth panning operation of both top and bottom platforms.
Full range of tools and accessories included.
Good value for money ratio.
5 year limited warranty extension upon registration.
Non captive Lever Lock-knobs that may fall off if unscrewed inappropriately too much.
Non continues 0 - 360 degree scale on the panning base, but 0 - 90 - 0 -90 which may prove confusing. (By Sunwayfoto declaration revised in upcoming releases).
Considering the exceptionally good built quality, the smoothness in operation, the versatility, plus the choice of 10 detent intervals (click stops) from 5 to 90 degrees which is quite adequate for most applications covering lenses from ultra wide to telephotos, all that in a smaller size and lower price than competition (even with the Discal clamp included) I would rate the DDP-64MX and especially DDP-64MX+DDY-64 a Great Value for money.
However, the current panning base layout deprives me of recommending it and leave it to the reader to level the pros and cons and judge if this fact might affect his/her work. When the improved version with a proper 0-360 panning scale is released I will give it a 5/5 star rating!
This review and test was run on a single product sample, using the specifically described methods. Although the findings are good and some overcame the expectations for the product, it can not be used as a rule, unless more samples of the same product are tested. Furthermore, similar comparison tests should be run with comparative capabilities products so as to reach a solid conclusion.
New version released addressing panning base issues. Sunwayfoto DDP-64M Panoramic Indexing Rotator Updated ver Review
I hope you found the article and ideas useful, thank you for viewing.
All Photos & Photosynths: ©2012 S.C.Vlachos
Price & Availability:
Current price for the DDP-64MX+DDY-64 combination is US$ 182.00 while the price for DDP-64MX alone is US$ 155.00 (+ Shipping where applicable)
Update Jan 2014
The updated version of DDP-MX + DDY-64i (bundled with AM-01 and DDY-64i Discal QR clamp) is now available for US$ 179.00 from Amazon.com
Please consider using above link(s) to make a purchase and help support this site.
Sunwayfoto DYH-66i Leveling Base Review
Sunwayfoto DDY-64 Discal Quick Release Clamp Review
A Quality Lens Cleaning Cloth by Sunwayfoto
Sunwayfoto XB-44 Low Profile Ball Head Review
Triopo GX-1328 Classic Carbon Fiber Tripod Review
Sunwayfoto DDP-64SX Panoramic Indexing Rotator
Create a Heavy Duty Multi Row Panorama Head
Sunwayfoto Pano-3 Panoramic Head Review