November 28, 2010

Create & Use a Single Row Panorama Head

Single-row Panorama head overview
My first attempt for panoramas was based on the panning option of one of my ball heads and a geared macro rail utilized as a nodal rail.

The need for more leveling accuracy for the horizon plus minimizing vibration and bulk, led me to find a more elaborate solution.

So I came up creating a single row panorama (or panoramic) head that could hold a heavier camera and lens in a horizontal or vertical position, being able to adjust in all planes.

The Panorama-Panoramic Clamp

Benro PC-1 mounted on Benro B-2 via dovetail plate detail
First we build from base upwards, attaching (here clamping) one of Benro PC-0 or PC-1 Panorama Clamp to the ball head clamp. Just for the information the panorama clamp can also be screwed directly on top of the ball head, replacing the original clamp for more permanent solution and to avoid some weigh.
However, I prefer versatility.
Benro PC-1 mounted on Benro B-2 via dovetail plate full-vew
Here the base for the Panorama Clamp is the Benro B-2 ball head designated for 20kg (44 lbs) load.
The horizontal leveling of our construction is critical, therefore we level the panorama clamp aided by its bubble level on top, before we lock the ball head as tight as possible.
Benro PC-1 + Benro B-2 on Benro A-298EX (A2890F) tripod
Here again Benro A-298 EX Versatile Tripod is used as the legs.

The Nodal Rail

DIY Nodal / Macro rail
Next comes the Nodal Rail to complete the setup.
In order to avoid the Paralax phenomenon we need to determine our lens Nodal point and set it exactly above our panorama head pivoting point. Therefore, we need a Nodal Rail in order to accomplish that.
You may find useful information for the nodal rail pictured above, in my post Creating an Economy Nodal/Macro Rail .

Setting Up

Canon EOS 50D + EF-S 17-85 IS USM horizontal
If we use a very wide angle lens or in order to determine our lens's entrance pupil (nodal point) the camera can be simply placed horizontally on the Nodal Rail.
Index bar marks nodal point
We just need to find the specific lens's nodal point, at the specific focal length that we want to shoot, just once and mark it with the convenient Index bar. Then every time the Nodal Rail should be positioned according to our Index mark for the specific lens focal length Nodal point and secured by the Panorama Clamp.
Panorama head landscape position w/ 3-axis level
The whole structure should be cross checked for leveling aided by the 3-Axis Bubble level on the camera's hot shoe.

Vertical Positioning

Canon EOS 50D + EF-S 17-85 IS USM vertical position
For middle to short telephoto lenses, the best positioning of the camera would be vertical, in order to cover more area and increase the number of shots to complete an 180° or 360° Panorama.
Hot shoe 3-axis bubble level vertical
Also in this case the whole structure should be cross checked for leveling aided by the 3-Axis Bubble level on the camera's hot shoe.
Canon EOS 50D + EF-S 17-85 IS USM vertical position on Giottos MH680VR
Here I use the Giottos MH-680 VR Vertical Rails in order to get in portrait position.
Camera attachment on Giottos MH680VR
The Camera is attached on the clamp.
That makes the Vertical Rail and in extension the Panorama Head universal to accept any /> Anyone with more than one camera bodies will appreciate this as there is not a need for a vertical Rail for each camera.

Shooting the Panorama
And off we go...

Single Row Panorama setup back view
... 30°... 60°... 90°...

Single Row Panorama setup right side view
... 120°...
... 150°...

Single Row Panorama setup front view
...180° and so on...
You may find some panorama samples under the Panorama-Photos label.

I hope you found this idea useful and enjoy shooting great panoramas! Thank you for viewing.
All Photos: © 2010 S.C.Vlachos

More information on Panoramic equipment may be found in the following;
Relevant Articles :
Create a Multi Row Panorama Head
Using a Multi Row Panorama Head and
Create a Multi Row Panorama Head Ver. II
Using Multi Row Panorama Head Ver. II

Referenced Articles:
Benro PC-1 Panorama (Panoramic) Clamp
Benro B-2 ball head
Benro A-298 EX Versatile Tripod
Giottos MH-680 VR Sliding Plate
Kiwi Fotos LP-169 Lens Plate
Fotoporo QAL-500 5cm Quick Release Clamp
Hejnar Photo Index Bars
Hot-Shoe 3-Axis Spirit / Bubble Level
Create an Economy Nodal/Macro Rail


  1. Looks fantastic and very useful.

  2. Hi,

    great article, and decide to get a PC-1 for my Benro tripod, though it will be on B-0 head.

    I do have question on leveling the PC-1. After setting bubble level, when I rotated the PC-1, the bubble is not stay in middle but move to one side, until I complete the rotation, the buble came back to original setting. Do you experience that problem? Any advice will greatly appreciated.


  3. Hello,
    Thank you for your nice comment and I'm glad you found the article useful.

    The only reason I can think of, the bubble not staying in the middle is that the PC-1 head is not leveled very accurately.
    Even a very slight inclination ca cause the bubble to move.
    I would suggest the following:
    First that you confirm, that PC-1 is secured tightly on your ball head clamp, so there will be no movement during rotation.
    Second, when leveling the PC-1 be sure that you look at the bubble level directly on top.


  4. Great article! Looking forward into building one of my own.

  5. Thank you for your nice comment and I'm glad you found the article useful.