February 6, 2015

Novoflex VR-System Slim Panorama Head Review

Novoflex VR-System Slim Panorama Head detail

As mentioned in the relevant preview the NOVOFLEX® name is well known internationally in the photographic support equipment industry. A synonym for novelty and versatility and above all precision and quality according to the indisputable German standards.

Nevertheless, German quality is also accompanied by a premium price, which is another attribute of the Novoflex products. But the Novoflex VR-System Slim, besides its innovation and economy in size, is somehow more affordable than previous Novoflex® VR solutions. A fact that will make the fans of German quality quite happy.

A close encounter with the head gave me enough proof of the quality, however with some small details that seriously need to be taken care off, in order for this product to excell.

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 VR-System Slim Panorama head.

The Package & Contents

The Novoflex VR-System Slim Panorama Head came in a plain white hard-carton box with stickers depicting the model included, with description in German and English.
First thing that meets the eye when opening the box is the quite thick, A5 size, colour manual on top of the black foam which fills the box.

The thick pre-cut foam protects the Aluminium VR-head and its components from impact during transport, while it can remain a good storage place.

Novoflex VR-System Slim Panorama Head packaging
The head travels folded, snugly fit into the foam, with only a few add-on parts contained in different pockets of the thick foam.
Novoflex VR-System Slim Panorama Head box contents
The Panorama Head is pre-assembled so the user is not required to have any knowledge or tools in order to make it work. As mentioned above, only the Slim quick release plate and the hot-shoe bubble level are found in different pockets. Nonetheless, a couple of Allen hex keys and a small 1/4"-20 stud are enclosed in a zip-lock nylon bag.

The Manual

The VR-System Slim is accompanied  by a 20 page colour manual in English (at least my copy was in English, while I suspect that the manual language is determined by the country the product is shipped to).
This manual was above expectation in any respect. Very comprehensive and detailed, starting with description of the components, continuing with setup instructions of the VR-head, instructions of camera and lens adjustments, click stop settings for different focal lengths and so on.
There is even a tutorial included, on how to determine the Non Parallax Point (Nodal Point) of a lens as well as tips for better panorama stitching. Excellent work.

Novoflex VR-System Slim manual p1 Novoflex VR-System Slim manual p2 Novoflex VR-System Slim manual p3 Novoflex VR-System Slim manual p4 Novoflex VR-System Slim manual p5 Novoflex VR-System Slim manual p6 Novoflex VR-System Slim manual p7 Novoflex VR-System Slim manual p8 Novoflex VR-System Slim manual p9 Novoflex VR-System Slim manual p10 Novoflex VR-System Slim manual p11 Novoflex VR-System Slim manual p12 Novoflex VR-System Slim manual p13 Novoflex VR-System Slim manual p14 Novoflex VR-System Slim manual p15 Novoflex VR-System Slim manual p16 Novoflex VR-System Slim manual p17 Novoflex VR-System Slim manual p18 Novoflex VR-System Slim manual p19 Novoflex VR-System Slim manual p20
You may click on any of the above digitized pages for an enlarged view for reference. Please note that the manual and its pages are ʩ Copyright of NOVOFLEX Präzisionstechnik GmbH.

The Head

Manufacturer Specification:
Model:VR-SYSTEM Slim
Vertical Click Stops:36 Every 10°
Horizontal Click Stops:16, 30, 36, 48 - Stepless
Weight:750 gr ( 1.65 lb)
Hardware:Stainless Steel
Color:Grey and Blue hard coat anodized
Material:Aluminium C.N.C. machined
Made in :Germany

Manufacturer Recommendations
A digital Compact, Mirrorless or SLR camera
Focal lengths between 8 mm and 160 mm (35 mm FF Equivalent) or Fisheye Lenses.
Stable Tripod
Leveling Device, (Ball head or Leveling Base)
Current Computer with lots of RAM and large HDD
Stitching Software that can process multirow panoramas and can deal with fisheye lenses.

Detailed Measured Specification:
Horizontal Rail Length:15 cm (5.90")
Horizontal Rail Travel:8.5 cm (3.35")
Vertical Rail Length:20 cm (7.87")
Nodal Arm/Rail Length:18 cm (7.08")
Nodal Arm/Rail Travel:10 cm (3.94")
Rail Width:3.88 cm (1.52")
Q Mount Clamp Length:7.5 cm (2.95")
Q Mount Clamp Width:2.4 cm (0.94")
Thumb Screw Diameter:3.99 cm (1.57")

The VR-System Slim Structure is based on three Arca-compatible rails anodized in grey color, held together by four large diameter thumb screws anodized in the Novoflex standard metallic blue color.

Unlike previous Novoflex Panorama heads which used Q-mount QR clamps the VR-System Slim design, borrows elements from other well known compact panorama heads regarding the attachment of its parts, via large diameter thumb screws.
The horizontal rail is screwed on the base rotator with a large thumb screw which features a bubble level in the middle.
The upper vertical rotator is a integral part of the vertical and nodal rails held together by another thumb screw. Although I have no further information at the moment for possible stepless rotation or alternative options about the vertical rotation axis, the click stops at 10° increments are not so convenient in my opinion. A very usual angle of 45° cannot be attained with this incrementation.

Where the VR-System Slim differs from most compact panorama heads in the market is the utilization of a relocatable and reorientable Q-mount Arca-compatible quick release clamp instead of a screw on camera plate.

The Structural Components


Or to phrase it differently, the VR-System Slim shown in its primal component state, or even better how to turn the Panorama head into bits and pieces.

Novoflex VR-System Slim Panorama Head individual components
Novoflex VR-System Slim Panorama Head individual components and parts on the bench.

Starting from top left, we can see the large blue thumb screw with stop screw (more on the subject of stop screws later on) which holds together the vertical rail, upper arm (rail), a couple of Allen Hex keys, the dual bubble level sitting on the vertical rail, the QPL Slim camera plate, another large blue thumb screw with stop screw which controls and tightens the mini Q-Mount (clamp) to its right.
Just under it the Panorama 48 plate (rotator) with its pan lock screw, 1/4"-20 bushing, mounting stud and anti-twist stud.
And finally on the last row, the large blue thumb wheel screw (without set screw), which holds the vertical rail structure on the horizontal rail with its right angle block, as well as the large blue thumb screw (without set screw but with bubble level -not shown) which mounts the whole structure on the P 48 rotator.

Further down we shall examine each component separately and its role in the structure of the head in order to have a better idea of how it all comes together as a concept and how the concept is actually implemented.

The Dual Bubble Level

The Hot-Shoe bubble level included with the VR-System Slim is a long term companion to the Novoflex VR Pro Panorama heads and shows the attention to detail payed by the Noveflex team.
It is of good quality clear Acrylic containing two bubble levels positioned perpendicularly to each other. Combined with two mounting shoes, it can have a dual function i.e. when inserted into the flash hot-shoe of a camera, it can show level either in landscape (horizontal) or portrait (vertical) orientation.

Novoflex VR-System Slim two axis bubble level

Novoflex VR-System Slim two axis bubble level II

You may seek some more information about hot-shoe bubble levels in the relevant Hot Shoe 3-Axis Spirit / Bubble Level Reference.

The QPL Slim 50 Quick Release Plate

Since the VR-System Slim head is a small size Panorama head addressed to smaller size mirrorless or DSLR cameras, the included Arca-Swiss® compatible camera mounting plate is equally small.
The QPL Slim 50 model name denotes the 50 mm length and the slim profile of the plate. Nonetheless, besides the slim nature the plate still features a double (top and bottom) dovetail.
The finishing is superb with rounded edges and a satin Royal-Blue anodizing. All laser engravings of the brand and model names are in white.

Novoflex QPL Slim 50 QR plate top view
Following the Novoflex® customs the top surface has two channels parallel to the mounting screw captive slot, which are filled with rubber rods as an anti-twist measure.
The 1/4"-20 camera mounting screw is held by a plastic Circlip within the limits of the captive slot, not allowing it to fall through the larger opening on one side. This is a quite common solution for Novoflex's own and other plates, that are to slim to have a threaded opening for the captive mounting screw.

Novoflex QPL Slim 50 QR plate bottom view
The underside (bottom) of the plate reveals the captive slot and wider groove, which allows the slotted but also hex socket head mounting screw, to be laterally adjusted.
Due to the thin profile of the plate, Novoflex® engineers have wisely engraved a decimal scale under the top dovetail which will allow it to remain visible after the plate is mounted on a camera as we shall see further down. The decimal scale is marked with small lines every 5 mm and digits every 10 mm starting from the very edge of the plate.

The Thumb Screw Knobs

The quite large ~40 mm in diameter Thumb Screw Wheel Knobs are anodized in the same satin Royal-Blue color and feature a diamond pattern on the perimeter for better grip.
In order to avoid abrasion when in direct contact with the surface of the rails all of them feature a Mica washer, which also helps to avoid sticking when fully tightened.

Novoflex Thumb Screw aside washer
All four Thumb screw knobs have an 1/4"-20 thread on the tip of their long stem, and except for the one with the embedded bubble level that mounts the head on the P 48 rotator, the other are also tapped in their stem. 
Novoflex Thumb Screw with captive screw and washer
Two of the knobs, the one which takes care of tightening the upper rotator and the the one tightening the Q mount (QR clamp) are captive. This is accomplished by a small screw that goes into the stem hole. Quite a clever way to make them captive. 
We shall see more about the functionality of the knobs further down discussing each connection independently.

The Horizontal Rail


Novoflex VR-System Slim Horizontal rail and thumb screw

The Horizontal and Vertical Rail Attachment

Novoflex VR-System Slim Horizontal and Vertical rail connection via thumb screw

The vertical Rail and Nodal Arm Assembly

Novoflex VR-System Slim Vertical rail and Horizontal arm connection details

The Q Mount Quick Release Clamp

Novoflex VR-System Slim Horizontal arm and Q mount clamp

Novoflex VR-System Slim Q mount clamp details

The design of the moving jaw of the Q-Mount QR clamp  is quite unique  met only on Novoflex® quick release clamps. Most Novoflex QR clamps (see Novoflex Panorama=Q 6/8 II Plate Review ) use a narrower moving jaw that uses the side walls as a guide instead of  tongues and pockets found on most other designs. This of course requires a high-end fitting with minimal tolerances.
Nevertheless, the small dimensions of the Q-Mount clamp found in the VR-System slim head do not allow for the appropriate shaping for up-down and lateral alignment, so a couple of small screws on the sides take care of the alignment and anti-twisting of the moving jaw.

A closer look at the photo bellow shows that the screw thread is very coarse, thus allowing the clamp jaw to open and close with little effort. Only half a rotation of the screw knob is enough to open and close the jaw.
However, although fast action is appreciated, matching the speed of a lever release, the coarse thread was not found so secure in locking the clamp firmly. It is very easy to unlock the clamp and the clamped plate to slide out of adjustment.
Considering the vertical use of the clamp, I guess we have an issue here on which I shall come back later on.

Novoflex VR-System Slim Q mount clamp jaw details
Novoflex VR-System Slim Q mount clamp views, showing details of the moving jaw design as well as the bottom mounting hole with alignment rectangle (bottom left) and front threaded hole (bottom right).

Q Mount Arca-Swiss® Compatibility
Novoflex, as an early adopter of the Arca-Swiss® dovetail system, besides the QPL Slim 50 Plate included in the package, has a complete range of universal camera and lens plates which cover almost any need.

Novoflex Q Mount with QPL Slim 50 QR plate
Nonetheless, the Q Mount quick release clamp matches seamlessly with Novoflex's own QPL Slim 50 illustrated above. Obviously the clamp jaws have a perfect contact with the lower dovetail of the QR plate.
As usual, since there are a lot other makes of Arca style dovetails, the Q mount compatibility was verified. It 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 Q Mount with Hejnar 1/2" MPR rail
Consequently the Q mount clamp is shown above with a Hejnar G10 series 1/2" rail which by the way is fully RRS® compatible. Due to the slightly different dovetail edge the contact area between the Q mount jaws and the rail is a lesser but still adequate 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, detailed measurements of the clamp Jaw dimensions are quoted below, so as anyone can decide whether this clamp is compatible with the dimensions of his/her plates or rails.

Novoflex VR System Slim Q Mount dimensions
Clamp Jaw dimensionsmm
Steady Jaw Length20.29
Moving Jaw Length10.92
Steady Jaw Height04.62
Moving Jaw Height04.62
Min Jaw Lip Opening31.40
Max Jaw Lip Opening37.84
Min Base Opening38.91
Max Base Opening45.72

Although it really is a very slim clamp all dimensions fall within the average limits, consisting the quick release clamp compatible with almost any Arca-Swiss® type plate and/or rail.


The Panorama 48 Plate

Manufacturer Specification:
Model:P 48
Diameter:62 mm (2.44")
Maximum Width:86 mm (3.4")
Height:18 mm (0.7")
Camera Connector:1/4"-20
Bottom Thread w/ Metal Converter:3/8"-16 to 1/4"-20
Weight:160 gr* (0.3 lb)
*158 gr verified on Electronic Scales

The VR_System Slim is based on a member of Novoflex's also new and improved "Panorama Plates family" the Panorama 48. It is one of the smallest and lightest panorama indexed panning bases with four (4) integrated click stops you can find around at this moment.
But despite the small size and weight, the most innovative feature on most members of the new series is the easy selection between the click stop increments by a small lever on the top platform. No plungers, Allen keys or detent disk exchanges.

Novoflex Panorama 48 Plate top view

Novoflex Panorama 48 Plate bottom view

Novoflex Panorama 48 Plate alignment dot side view

The Panorama 48 sports an 1/4"-20 stud on top paired with an alignment / anti-twist pin which both enter into the long slot of the horizontal rail of the VR-System Slim head. The panning base is then locked in place by a large blue thumb screw.
The bottom mounting hole is threaded 3/8"-16 but comes with a metal bushing for conversion to 1/4"-20 thread.
For those interested in a compact indexed horizontal rotator, the Panorma 48 is also sold separately.

Novoflex Panorama 48 Plate top stud and alignment pin

Novoflex Panorama 48 Plate immersible anti-twist pin setting

Novoflex Panorama 48 pan-lock knob II
The small shiny blue knurled knob is called "Angle Locking Screw" by Novoflex in the part naming table of the accompanying manual. Nevertheless, it is the one responsible for locking the panning base of the rotator unless when using the click stop options where the panning lock knob should be and remain loosened.
Novoflex Panorama 48 pan-lock knob removed
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.
Somehow, at Novoflex look at the matter under a different perspective. 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 for nadir shots.

Adjusting the Detent interval (Click Stops)
As mentioned previously in the P 48 Plate description, a blue color Aluminium lever is responsible for the selection of the stops around. The white arrow on the lever plays the role of an index showing the laser mark on its left.
Obviously the "0" mark for stepless motion is missing being denoted that it is selected when the lever resides on top of the "16" stop mark.

Novoflex Panorama 48 detent interval positions
Novoflex Panorama 48 possible detent interval positions animation

The detent increments are set at (16) 22,5°, (30) 12°, (36) 10° and (48) 7,5° as well as 0 for stepless rotation, which can cover a wide range of lenses. The choice of click stops may seem too narrow for wide angle lenses but wider angles can be set by multiples of the pre-set click stops. For example you can have 8 stops every 45° by setting the lever on (16) 22,5° and count every 2 stops and so on.
Somehow, this may cause frustration to some panographers who follow a specific workflow but may also prove convenient for others.

Lever  Position (from left)  12345
Degrees022.512107.5
Click Stops016303648

Nevertheless, besides the predetermined intervals on the Panorama 48 panning base the user can count on every second, third, fourth or even fifth "click stop" in order to expand the selections.
The following table is built according to the Novoflex manual taking into account a 20-50% overlap between two shots and shows the recommended position of the increment adjustment lever, taking into account the sensor size (FF vs APS-C) and the focal length of the lens to be used.

Focal length
FF sensor
Focal length
APS-C sensor
Increment
 in °
Exposures per
 360° turn No
Lever Position
Fisheye
8-12 mm
Fisheye
4-7 mm
90416 (4 clicks)
Fisheye
13-16 mm
Fisheye
8-10 mm
60630 (5 clicks)
14-21 mm8-14 mm45816 (2 clicks)
22-25 mm15-16 mm361030 (3 clicks)
26-30 mm17-19 mm301236 (3 clicks)
31-34 mm20-22 mm241530 (2 clicks)
35-44 mm23-28 mm22.51616 (1 click)
45-54 mm29-34 mm201836 (2 clicks)
55-65 mm35-41 mm152448 (2 clicks)
66-89 mm42-56 mm123030 (1 click)
90-105 mm57-66 mm103636 (1 click)
100-160 mm67-100 mm7.54848 (1 clicks)

Comparison with Panorama=Q 6/8 II
Main and very obvious difference between the Panorama 48 and Panorama=Q 6/8 II is the Q Mount QR clamp of course. Otherwise, all internal mechanisms are exactly the same but for the lower three detent interval options with fewer click-stops, which actually make the 6/8 II Plate (Rotator) more appropriate and easier to use for applications utilizing wider focal lengths.

Novoflex Panorama=Q 6/8 II aside Panorama 48 plate
Novoflex Panorama=Q 6/8 II Plate on the left and Panorama 48 Plate on the right.
Due to the lack of the QR clamp on top of the P 48 Plate, 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. As explained previously, although no "0" mark is shown continues movement is possible when the lever is on the leftmost position covering the "16" mark. In this respect P=Q 6/8 II is more clear as each lever position is marked with the appropriate number of stops on top.

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

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.

Horizontal Rail Mounting Options

Novoflex VR-System Slim Horizontal rail standard mount on P 48 plate

Novoflex VR-System Slim index on P 48 plate


Novoflex VR-System Slim Horizontal rail full length mount on P 48 plate

Mounting the Panorama 48 on a Tripod
Directly

Novoflex Panorama 48 mounted and secured on a tripod

Via a Leveling Base

Novoflex Panorama 48 mounted and secured on a leveling base


Mounting the Head on the Panorama 48 Plate

Novoflex VR-System Slim Horizontal rail mount on P 48 plate




Adjusting and Using the Panorama Head


Mounting & Setting Up a Mirrorless ILC Camera

Attaching Novoflex QPL Slim 50 QR plate on a Sony NEX 7


Mounting a Sony NEX 7 ILC on the horizontal arm via Q Mount
Mounting a Sony NEX 7 ILC longitudinally on the horizontal arm via the Q Mount requires placement of the Q mount perpendicularly to the horizontal arm.

Shooting with a 16mm Ultra-Wide Lens
10 frames every 36° in 3 rows at -45°, 0° and +45°, plus a Zenith at +90° and a Nadir shot at -90°.
Setting Panorama 48 lever at 30 counting every 3 clicks

Setting Panorama 48 detent stop lever at 30

Shooting the Rows

Setting horizontal arm rotator at +50°
Setting the horizontal arm rotator at +50° as +45° is impossible.
Shooting 10 frames at +50°

Setting horizontal arm rotator at 0°
Setting the horizontal arm at 0° in parallel to the ground
Shooting 10 frames at 0°

Setting horizontal arm rotator at -50°
Setting the Vertical arm rotator at -50° as -45° is impossible.
Shooting 10 frames at -50°

Shooting a Zenith

Shooting 1 frame at +90°
Setting the Horizontal arm parallel to the Vertical arm at +90° we can shoot a Zenith frame.

Shooting a Nadir

Shooting 1 frame at -90°
Setting the Horizontal arm rotator at -90° perpendicular to the ground we can shoot a Nadir frame.

Mounting & Setting Up a smaller DSLR

Attaching Novoflex QPL Slim 50 QR plate on a Canon EOS 550D

Mounting a Canon EOS 550D on the horizontal arm via Q Mount
Mounting a Canon EOS 550D on the horizontal arm via Q Mount requires now longitudinal placement of the Q mount on the horizontal arm.

Shooting with an 8mm FishEye Lens
6 frames every 30° one rows at -15°, plus a double Zenith at +60° opposed.
Setting Panoram 48 lever at 30 counting every 5 clicks.

Setting Panorama 48 detent stop lever at 30

Shooting the Row

Setting horizontal arm rotator at -20°
Setting the horizontal arm rotator at -20° as -15° is impossible
Shooting 6 frames at -20°

Shooting the Zenith

Setting horizontal arm rotator at +60°
Setting the horizontal arm rotator at +60° for two opposing zenith frames.
Shooting 1st frame at +60°
Shooting 1st Zenith frame at +60°
Shooting 2nd opposite frame at +60°
Turning the head by 180° and shooting the 2nd opposite Zenith frame at +60°

Mounting & Setting Up a larger DSLR

Canon EOS 7D with own L bracket

Mounting a Canon EOS 7D on the horizontal arm via Q Mount
Mounting a Canon EOS 7D on the horizontal arm via Q Mount similarly requires longitudinal placement of the Q mount on the horizontal arm.

Shooting with a 17mm U-Wide Lens
12 frames every 30° in 3 rows at -45°, 0° and +45°, plus a Zenith at +90° and a Nadir shot at -90°.
Setting Panorama 48 lever at 36 counting every 3 clicks

Setting Panorama 48 detent stop lever at 36

Shooting the Rows

Setting horizontal arm rotator at +50°
Setting the horizontal arm rotator at +50° as +45° is impossible.
Shooting 12 frames at +50°

Setting horizontal arm rotator at 0°
Setting the horizontal arm at 0° in parallel to the ground
Shooting 12 frames at 0°

Setting horizontal arm rotator at -50°
Setting the Vertical arm rotator at -50° as -45° is impossible.
Shooting 12 frames at -50°

Shooting a Zenith

Shooting 1 frame at +90°
Setting the Horizontal arm parallel to the Vertical arm at +90° we can shoot a Zenith frame.

Shooting a Nadir

Shooting 1 frame at -90°
style="text-align: center;">Setting the Horizontal arm rotator at -90° perpendicular to the ground we can shoot a Nadir frame.

Determining the Head Limits


Attaching Novoflex QPL Slim 50 QR plate on a Canon EOS 550D + BG-E8

Mounting a Canon EOS 550D+BG-E8 on the horizontal arm via Q Mount
Mounting a Canon EOS 550D with BG-E8 Battery Grip, on the horizontal arm via Q Mount requires once again longitudinal placement of the Q mount on the horizontal arm.
Novoflex VR-System Slim Horizontal rail opposite mount on P 48 plate
In order to accommodate the extra distance from the vertical rail, the Novoflex VR-System Slim Horizontal rail requires opposite placement on the Panorama 48 exploiting its full length.

Some Issues

Novoflex VR-System Slim Vertical rail inward tilt under load
Novoflex VR-System Slim Vertical rail inward tilt under load
Novoflex VR-System Slim Vertical rail backward tilt under load
Novoflex VR-System Slim Vertical rail backward tilt under load

Novoflex VR-System Slim Vertical rail back-forth wiggle
Novoflex VR-System Slim Vertical rail wiggles back-forth when forced by hand due to some minor fitting tolerances between the vertical rail and the 90° block support.

Improvement Suggestion

Novoflex VR-System Slim Vertical rail alternative fitting
Novoflex VR-System Slim Vertical rail alternative fitting suggestion requires the 90° block support to be permanently attached on the vertical rail and the thumb screw to be inserted from below under the horizontal rail. This most probably will eliminate the back-forth wiggle.
Further, to the more firm attachment between the vertical and horizontal rails, the above mentioned improvement would also allow for an easier 180° turn of the vertical rail outwards, in order to enable a Nadir shooting unobstructed by the head and the tripod legs.

Packing the Panorama head

Novoflex VR-System Slim Panorama Head compacted for transport

The system can be collapsed very quickly by unscrewing two thumb screws and thus stowed away in any photo bag.

Using a Neoprene Pouch

Novoflex VR-System Slim Panorama Head with neoprene bag
Matin Neoprene Lens Pouch XL (Review)

Pros
Exceptional machining, finishing, and build quality.
Compact size and low weight.
Very smooth panning operation with very well defined detent click stops.
Full range of tools and accessories included.
Very good value for money ratio.

Cons
Easily marked or scratched matte anodizing.
Vertical rail fitting allows for minor play back-forth.
Alignment pin on P 48 Panorama Plate is not wide enough to immobilize the horizontal rail.
The start points of the numbering of the Engraved Scales is not relevant to the pivoting points.
Q-mount clamp does not tighten firmly due to coarse thread on screw knob.

Conclusion


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 VR-System Slim Panorama Head presented in this article was kindly offered by NOVOFLEX Präzisionstechnik GmbH for evaluation and review.

See Also:
Novoflex Panorama=Q 6/8 II Plate Review






I hope you found the review useful, thank you for viewing.
All Photos, Photosynths and Gifs: ©2015 S.C.Vlachos
All Manual Digitized Pages ©NOVOFLEX Pr√§zisionstechnik GmbH

Price & Availability:
Current price for the new VR-System Slim head is: EUR € 469,00 and is available from the main Novoflex site in Germany, as well as from Amazon.co.uk for GBP ~345.00, or from Amazon.de and from Amazon.fr for EUR 469.00
The Panorama Plate 48 is independently available from Amazon.co.uk for GBP ~150.00, or from Amazon.de and from Amazon.fr for EUR 185.00

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:
Hot Shoe 3-Axis Spirit / Bubble Level Reference
Nest NT-6294CT Carbon Fiber Traveler Tripod Review
Desmond DLEV-1 Leveler Leveling Base Review
Matin Neoprene Lens Pouch Set Review

Relevant Articles:
New Novoflex VR System Slim Panorama Head Preview
Quick Connect Panorama Set for APS-C and 4/3 Mirrorless Cameras from Hejnar Photo - Preview
Create a Mini Multi-Row Panorama Head for Mirrorless Cameras

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