February 7, 2015

Novoflex Panorama=Q 6/8 II Plate Review

Novoflex Panorama=Q 6/8 II Plate

The new Panorama=Q 6/8 II Plate is in other terms an Indexed Panoramic Rotator with predetermined detent intervals aka click stops. It conforms to a quite slim standard according to Novoflex, with a small diameter so that the use of wide-angle lenses is possible without any interference problems.

This Review article is still under construction till all texts are duly prepared. In the meantime the article stands as a reference page and photo guide to the innovative Novflex Panorama 6/8 II plate with Q Mount QR clamp.

The Package & Contents

The P=Q 6/8 II Plate (rotator) comes in a plain white hard-carton box featuring a large sticker on the top side with model name, the picture, bar-code and short description of the included product.

Novoflex Panorama=Q 6/8 II Box and contents
Opening the box flap reveals a folded A4 size color laser print of a two page manual (more details follow).
Under the folded manual sits the P=Q 6/8 II in its hole with its matte gray color in great contrast to the white box.

The extended bases with offset bubble spirit levels inherent on Novflex panoramic rotators, belong to the past as all new plates sport an integrated spirit level on top for accurate horizontal alignment. Therefore, the specific cut-off in the box, now quite conveniently, serves for the accommodation of the click stop selector bar.

Novoflex Panorama=Q 6/8 II unboxed
There are no other contents in the box except for the white foam that fills the box base and a nylon zip-lock bag with a slim Allen hex key intended for the anti-twist base pin.

The Manual
Although short, is quite complete, describing the parts and functions of the rotator in the first page. The second page is dedicated to the required Novoflex accessories in order to build a single row panorama head and directions to the Novoflex site for a spherical panoramic head.

Novoflex Panorama=Q 6/8 II User Manual
Novoflex Panorama=Q 6/8 II User Manual gives basic instructions.
Despite the naming conventions and specifications the first page gives basic instruction on how to level the plate, how to clamp a camera plate on the Q mount clamp and  how to make selection between the predetermined interval angle stops.
Lastly it shows how to extend the anti-twist pin on the base. Nevertheless, nobody would expect a tutorial; while it requires prior knowledge of what you are doing it is far more comprehensive than many manuals of the short in competitive products coming from the Far-East.

The Panorama Plate

Manufacturer Specification:
Model:P=Q 6/8 II
Diameter:62 mm (2.4")
Maximum Width:88 mm (3.5")
Height:30 mm (1.18")
Camera Connector:Q-System Arca Compatible
Bottom Thread w/ Metal Converter:3/8"-16 to 1/4"-20
Weight:245* gr (0.6 lb)
* 243gr verified on electronic scales

PANORAMA=Q 6/8 II is an improved direct replacement of the existing Panorama=Q 6/8 model following the design of the new family of panorama plates.
The full sequence of click stops goes (0) stepless, (6) 60°, (8) 45°, (10) 36° and (48) 7,5°.

Although its 62 mm diameter is not big, the P=Q 6/8 II looks massive. It's full metal structure is simple in design with no unnecessary frills, hard anodized in a matte mauve-gray color with some electric blue accents in the color of some controls. Both short screw knobs, one larger for the Q mount clamp and one smaller for the panning base lock are knurled with a small diamond pattern and somewhat shiny anodizing.

Novoflex Panorama=Q 6/8 II top view
Novoflex Panorama=Q 6/8 II top platform details.
The P=Q 6/8 II top platform is occupied by the Q mount clamp jaws which both have center index marks for the proper alignment of camera plates or rails, a large green bubble level with a bull's eye for proper leveling, a very convenient center cross mark for the proper alignment of a lens center axis above the pivoting point of the rotator and a spring loaded safety pin , located just beside the center cross, which prevents any plates/rail from falling in case the clamp is not tightly closed.
There is also a small hole beside the bubble level which corresponds with the anti-twist pin at the base (more details below).

An essential feature of the new slim design is that all panorama plates in the family are equipped with a ball bearing which provides a smooth panning with almost zero play. Moreover, the laser engraved scale on the P=Q 6/8 II is new, like on all recently released models and covers a range of 0 - 360° with digits every 10° and marks in 5° increments.

Novoflex Panorama=Q 6/8 II bottom view
Novoflex Panorama=Q 6/8 II bottom mounting hole and anti-twist pin
The base perimeter features a ring with knurled texture matching the screw knobs, in order to enhance the grip of the rotator body during tightening on or removing from a tripod mounting plate.
There is a center bottom mounting hole with a 3/8"-16 thread which arrives occupied by a factory installed metal 3/8"-16 to 1/4"-20 reducer bushing extending compatibility with 1/4" tripod studs. Further away, towards the perimeter that metal dot is the tip of an immersible anti-twist pin.

Novoflex Panorama=Q 6/8 II Immersible anti-twist pin setting
Setting sequence of the Novoflex Panorama=Q 6/8 II Immersible anti-twist pin.
As forementioned the small diameter hole aside the bubble level (top left photo) allows access to the hex socket head of the anti-twist pin at the base with the included Allen hex key. That of course has the prerequisite of the blue dot (0 mark) on the laser engraved scale to coincide with the index mark on the perimeter of the rotator.
Then by turning the Allen key clockwise or anti-clockwise we can protrude or retract the pin, thus immobilizing or releasing the P=Q 6/8 II rotator on the tripod top mounting plate or a leveling base mounting platform.

Novoflex Panorama=Q 6/8 II pan-lock knob II
Novoflex Panorama=Q 6/8 II "Angle Locking Screw" or Pan lock knob
The smaller shiny blue knurled knob shown below the Q mount screw knob is called "Angle Locking Screw" by Novoflex in the part naming table of the accompanying manual.
Nonetheless, it is the one responsible for locking the panning base of the rotator. Of course when using the click stop options the panning lock knob should be loosened.

Novoflex Panorama=Q 6/8 II pan-lock knob removed
Novoflex Panorama=Q 6/8 II pan-lock knob and rubber O ring.
Excessive screw tightening is avoided since it is buffered by a rubber O-ring, shown above with the knob removed. Somehow this means that the knob is Non-captive and if unscrewed inappropriately too much may fall off in the field.

Nonetheless, I shall repeat what I said in the Novoflex VR-System Slim Panorama Head Review about Novoflex views on the matter. They suggest that as long as the indexing feature of the Panorama Plate is utilized, the panning lock knob is redundant. Therefore, by being removable is actually a benefit, since when removed the footprint of the rotator is further minimized with less protruding parts in the nadir shots.

Adjusting the Detent Interval (Click Stops)
As mentioned previously in the P=Q 6/8 II Plate description, a blue color Aluminium lever protruding out of the front slot is responsible for the selection of the detent intervals. Each lever position is clearly marked on top with a laser engraved number, equal to the click stops selected as well as stepless rotation.

Novoflex Panorama=Q 6/8 II detent interval positions
Novoflex Panorama=Q 6/8 II possible detent interval positions animation
The detent increments are set at (0) stepless rotation, (6) 60°, (8) 45°, (10) 36° and (48) 7,5° which can cover a wide range of lenses. The choice of the first three selections of click stops is better suited for wide angle lenses which will be appreciated by panographers who follow a specific workflow with fish-eye or ultra wide lenses.
On the other hand the last option of 48 stops is more universal, since besides being applicable for narrow field of view lenses by itself, the user can select it and count on every second, third, fourth or even fifth "click stop" in order to expand the selections for not predefined intervals. E.g. 15°, 22,5°, 30° and so on.

Lever  Position (from Left)  12345
Degrees06045367.5
Click Stops0681048

The Q Mount Quick Release Clamp

Novoflex Panorama=Q 6/8 II Q Mount fully open
Novoflex Panorama=Q 6/8 II Q Mount moving jaw in fully open position

Novoflex Panorama=Q 6/8 II Q Mount side walls
Novoflex Panorama=Q 6/8 II Q Mount moving jaw precise fitting and movement on side walls.

Comparison with Panorama 48 Plate
The only functional difference between the Panorama 48 and Panorama=Q 6/8 II besides the Q Mount of course, lies in the lower three click-stop selections which make the 6/8 II Plate (Rotator) more appropriate for applications utilizing wider focal lengths which require less stops around.

Novoflex Panorama=Q 6/8 II aside Panorama 48 plate
Novoflex Panorama=Q 6/8 II Plate on the left and Novoflex Panorama 48 Plate on the right.
Another advantage of the P=Q 6/8 II over the P 48 is that each lever position is clearly marked with the appropriate number of stops on top of it. Due to the lack of a QR clamp on top the P 48 the digits marking the detent interval stops are placed within the selection lever cavity. A fact that may confuse a user comparing the two panoramic rotators, at first. Since, "0" mark for stepless rotation is missing from the P 48, stepless movement is possible when the lever is on the leftmost position covering the "16" mark.

Panorama=Q 6/8 II
Lever  Position (from Left)  12345
Degrees0  6045367.5
Click Stops0681048
VS
Panorama 48
Lever  Position (from left)  12345
Degrees022.512107.5
Click Stops016303648

And the Competition
The table below shows a comparison of Novoflex Panorama=Q 6/8 II Plate (Indexing Rotator) with Panoramic Indexing Rotators of similar characteristics coming from other manufacturers.

Manufacturer:NovoflexNovoflexSunwayfotoSunwayfotoBushman
Model:P=Q 6/8 IIP 48DDP-64SIIRC-64Yeti
Detent Int.:44445
Min Int. (Deg):7.5°7.5°15°15°
Max Int. (Deg):60°22.5°18°45°45°
Platform ∅:62 mm /2.44"62 mm /2.44"64 mm /2.52"64 mm /2.52"35 mm /1.38"
Base ∅:62 mm /2.44"62 mm /2.44"64 mm /2.52"64 mm /2.52"41 mm /1.61"
Height:30 mm /1.18"18 mm /0.70"25.8 mm /1.01"27 mm /1.06"41 mm /1.61"
Bottom thread:3/8"-16*3/8"-16*3/8"-16*3/8"-16*3/8"-16*
Top Mount:Q Mount 1/4"-20 stud**1/4"-20 stud**QR ClampM6 Thread
Weight:245 gr /8.64oz160 gr /5.64oz190 gr /6.7oz189 gr /6.67oz110 gr /3.88oz
Max Load :? kg / ? lbs ? kg / ? lbs8 kg / 17.6 lbs20 kg / 44 lbs? kg / ? lbs

*Convertible via included 1/4"-20 to 3/8"-16 bushing
**Convertible via bushing or addition of Quick Release Clamp.

Arca-Swiss® Compatibility
Novoflex is an early adopter of the Arca-Swiss® dovetail system, therefore has a complete range of universal camera and lens plates as well as a series of multi purpose rails which cover almost any need.
Novoflex Q-Plate Family
An overview of Novoflex Q-Plate family (Photo by courtesy of Novoflex).
In this respect the Q Mount quick release clamp is fully compatible with Novoflex's own gear.

Novoflex Panorama=Q 6/8 II Q Mount with Novflex plate
Pictured above with own Novoflex QPL Slim 50 quick release plate as a perfect match.
The dovetails of the Novoflex QPL Slim 50 plate is a perfect match with the QR Clamp jaws. Maximum contact area is attained between the same brand equipment.

Anyhow, in order to check its compatibility with other manufacturers' plates and rails, P=Q 6/8 II was tested with various camera plates, lens plates and multipurpose long rails of various thicknesses and widths. Plates and Rails tested were from Benro®, Desmond®, Hejnar PHOTO®, Kiwi Fotos® and Sunwayfoto®, with excellent clamping in general.

Novoflex Panorama=Q 6/8 II Q Mount with compatible plate
Novoflex Panorama=Q 6/8 II Q Mount with Hejnar Photo plate
In turn the Nvoflec P=Q 6/8 II is shown above with a Hejnar Photo 1/2" thick rail which by the way is fully RRS® compatible. Due to the little different dovetail edge design the contact area between the Q mount jaws and the rail is a bit less but still more than enough to hold the long rail in place securely.
However, the Q mount is not compatible with any M3 safety stop screws under the rails, since there are no relevant relief grooves present. Another point that may be an issue are the cross braces below many long rails, which may hit on the safety pin of the Q mount prohibiting free movement from end to end within the clamp.

For the readers that like numbers, I hereunder quote detailed measurements of the clamp Jaw dimensions, so as they can decide whether this clamp is compatible with the dimensions of their plates or rails.

Novoflex Panorama=Q 6/8 II Q Mount dimensions
Clamp Jaw dimensionsmm
Steady Jaw Length38.48
Moving Jaw Length29.59
Steady Jaw Height04.60
Moving Jaw Height04.60
Min Jaw Lip Opening31.55
Max Jaw Lip Opening37.93
Min Base Opening39.19
Max Base Opening45.46

All dimensions fall within the average limits, consisting the quick release clamp compatible with almost any Arca-Swiss® type plate and/or rail.

Mounting Directly on a Tripod
Mounting of the Novoflex Panorama=Q 6/8 II directly on a tripod equipped with a 3/8"-16 stud, will require removal of the pre-installed 3/8"-16 to 1/4"-20 bushing.

Novoflex Panorama=Q 6/8 II bottom mounting hole and bushing
Novoflex Panorama=Q 6/8 II with 3/8"-16 to 1/4"-20 bushing removed.

Direct mounting on a tripod top mounting plate, just needs screwing the Panorama=Q plate onto the tripod stud and then secure the rotator either by tightening the set screw on the tripod top plate (if it exists) or by tightening the Immersible anti-twist pin on the Panorama=Q following the steps mentioned previously.

Novoflex Panorama=Q 6/8 II mounted and secured on tripod
Mounting and securing sequence of the Novoflex Panorama=Q 6/8 II directly on a tripod.

Mounting via a Leveling Base
Many Panographers prefer to level their panoramic gear using a leveling base. In this case the leveling base of your choice is mounted first, followed by the attachment of the Panorama=Q 6/8 II Plate on top of the leveling base.
Same procedure should be followed in order to secure the Panorama=Q Plate on the leveling base platform.

Note: Novoflex has the "Magic Balance" leveling base in their product line, which however was not available in my hands during the photo shoot for the illustration of the Panorama=Q

Novoflex Panorama=Q 6/8 II mounted and secured on leveling base
Mounting and securing sequence of the Novoflex Panorama=Q 6/8 II on a leveling base.

Torque Test Results
Since the Novoflex Panorama=Q 6/8 II plate may be used as a vertical rotator in a Multi-Row panorama head structure as the Novoflex VR-SYSTEM PRO II, this would require some extra panning-lock strength in order to ensure offset center of gravity loads are held without sagging. An offset load is either at the end of a Nodal slide or on the protruding barrel of a long and heavy telephoto lens.
Therefore, the P=Q 6/8 II was tested in order to have an approximate assessment of its torque capacity on the panning base.

Novoflex Panorama=Q 6/8 II with long rail and counter weight
In order to be able to immobilize the rotator horizontally, it was securely tightened on the top mounting plate of a Triopo W8 articulating arm horizontal column. Next step, the panning base lock knob was tightened as much as possible by hand.

My usual counter balance bag which encloses sand sacks totaling 5 kg was put into use. After some experimentation the ~5.5 kg total weight of the bag + rails etc. reached a distance of 6.5 cm from the center of the quick release clamp, just before the rotator started to lose its inertia. The center of the clamp indicates also the pivoting axis of the rotator,
This distance multiplied by the hanging weight means that the panning base locking brake can withstand a torque of ~35,75 kgF*cm or ~350.70 N*cm. By deduction this means a load of ~2.98 kg could hang offset with its center of gravity at a distance of 12 cm (4.7") from the pivot center (Gitzo method) or a load of about 11.9 kg within the perimeter of the panning base.



Using as a Horizontal Rotator with the VR-System Slim Head
Mounting the VR-SLIM Head

Novoflex Panorama=Q 6/8 II with VR System-Slim base rail clamped
Novoflex Panorama=Q 6/8 II shown with VR System-Slim base rail clamped on the Q Mount

Shooting with an ILC Camera and 16 mm Ultra-Wide Lens

Novoflex Panorama=Q 6/8 II with VR System-Slim head hor adjustment
Novoflex Panorama=Q 6/8 II with VR System-Slim head lens centering adjustment
Novoflex Panorama=Q 6/8 II with VR System-Slim head hor adjustment II
Novoflex Panorama=Q 6/8 II with VR System-Slim head horizontal adjustment on pivoting points
Novoflex Panorama=Q 6/8 II with VR System-Slim stop interval selection
Novoflex Panorama=Q 6/8 II with VR System-Slim set at 10 stops interval selection as required by the 16mm U-Wide lens.
Novoflex Panorama=Q 6/8 II shooting with VR System-Slim head and Sony NEX7
Novoflex Panorama=Q 6/8 II shooting with VR System-Slim head and Sony NEX7 

Shooting with a DSLR and an 8mm FishEye Lens
Requires 6 frames every 30° at -15°, plus two opposed Zenith shots at +60°.

Novoflex Panorama=Q 6/8 II with VR System-Slim stop interval selection II
Setting the Panorama=Q 6/8 II at 6 stop interval selection precise for the 6 frames around required by the 8mm Fish-Eye lens.
VR System-Slim vertical rotator -20° selection
Setting the VR System-Slim vertical rotator at -20° selection as a -15° selection is impossible.
Novoflex Panorama=Q 6/8 II shooting with VR System-Slim head and EOS 7D + SY 8mm Fish-Eye
Novoflex Panorama=Q 6/8 II shooting with VR System-Slim head and EOS 7D + SY 8mm Fish-Eye
VR System-Slim vertical rotator +60° selection
Setting the VR System-Slim vertical rotator at +60° selection for the double opposing zenith shots.
Novoflex Panorama=Q 6/8 II shooting Zenith A with VR System-Slim head and EOS 7D + SY 8mm Fish-Eye
Novoflex Panorama=Q 6/8 II shooting Zenith A with VR System-Slim head and EOS 7D + SY 8mm Fish-Eye
Novoflex Panorama=Q 6/8 II shooting Zenith B with VR System-Slim head and EOS 7D + SY 8mm Fish-Eye
Novoflex Panorama=Q 6/8 II shooting Zenith B with VR System-Slim head and EOS 7D + SY 8mm Fish-Eye

Pros
Exceptional machining, finishing, fitting and build quality.
Compact size and low weight.
Very smooth panning operation with very precisely defined detents (click stops).
Very good compatibility with all Arca style dovetails.
Required tools included.
Good value for money ratio.

Cons
Easily marked or scratched matte anodizing.
Easily unlocking Q mount clamp, screw knob requires some improvement.
Non captive Panning Lock-knob that may fall off if unscrewed inappropriately too much.**

Conclusion


** On the other hand, as formentioned according to Novoflex, as long as the indexing feature is used, the ability to remove the panning lock knob is beneficial since it minimizes the footprint of the rotator for nadir shots.

Disclaimer:
This review and test was run on a single product sample, using the specifically described methods. Independent of the favorable or unfavorable results of any test, a test on a single product 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.


Note: The Novoflex Panorama=Q 6/8 II Plate presented in this article was kindly offered by NOVOFLEX Pr√§zisionstechnik GmbH for evaluation and review.

See Also:
Novoflex VR-System Slim Panorama Head Review






I hope you found the review useful, thank you for viewing.
All Photos, Photosynths and Gifs: ©2015 S.C.Vlachos except individually mentioned otherwise.

Price & Availability:
Current price for the new PANORAMA=Q 6/8 II is € 219,00 (+Shipping where applicable).
At this time it is available from the main Novoflex site in Germany or from Amazon.de and par Amazon.fr

If you are interested in the product, please consider using above link(s) at Amazon to make your purchase and help support this site.

Referenced Articles:
Nest NT-6294CT Carbon Fiber Traveler Tripod Review
Desmond DLEV-1 Leveler Leveling Base

Relevant Articles:
New Novoflex Panorama Plates Series Preview
Sunwayfoto IRC-64 Panoramic Indexing Rotator Clamp Review
Benro DP70 Indexed Panorama Clamp Release

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