November 27, 2010

Using a Multi Row Panorama Head

Multi-Row Panorama head w/ Camera & lens overview
From the idea to reality is one step, but the goal for creating a Multi Row Panorama head from scratch, except for the joy of experimentation, is to shoot some nice panoramas.

Following are a few basic instructions of setting up the Panorama (or Panoramic) head and correct placement of the camera for that "perfect" panorama picture you have in mind.

Attaching the Panorama Clamp

Benro PC-1 mounted on Benro B-2 via dovetail plate detail
First we build from bottom upwards, attaching (here clamping) the horizontal Benro 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
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.
Remember that Torque is the multiple of the Force (here the mass of hanging camera+grip+lens) applied at a specific point by the distance from that point, so a ball head that can withstand 2x or 3x the weight of our equipment should be chosen.
Here the base for the Panorama Clamp is the Benro B-2 ball head designated for 20kg (44 lbs) load.
Benro PC-1 + Benro B-2 on Benro A-298EX (A2890F) tripod
Which in turn is attached on top of the Benro A-298 EX Versatile Tripod which I find very stable.

Mounting the Panorama Rails

Panorama Rails w/ Benro PC-0 on Benro PC-1 - front-side view
After the ball head assembly is time to mount our Panorama Rails with the vertical clamp already attached.
Almost ready...

The Nodal Rail

Full Panorma head structure with Nodal Rail - overview
Next comes the Nodal Rail to complete the structural setup.
Nodal Rail in Benro PC-0 vertical rotator - detail

Nodal rail in Benro PC-0 w/ Hejnar Index bar closeup
The Nodal Rail should be positioned according to our Index mark for the specific lens's focal length Nodal point and secured by the Panorama Clamp.
Nodal rail in PC-0 clamp at vertical position
Check if there is enough clearance under the Nodal Rail for your camera setup in case you want to shoot a Zenith.

Setting Up the Camera

Multi-Row Panorama head + Canon EOS 50D / EF-S 17-85 IS USM - front view
After securing the vertical Panorama Clamp in a convenient position, attach the camera and secure it with the Nodal Rail clamp.
Remote release cable & 3-axis bubble level detail
A Remote Release cable and a 3-axis Bubble Level on the camera are a must have for the purpose.
Nodal rail in PC-0 clamp at horizontal position closeup
Check the vertical Panoramic rotator to indicate Zero (0) where it should be level.
3-axis bubble level in hot shoe detail
Check the 3-Axis bubble level on the Camera's hot shoe for being level at all plains.
Checking camera/lens middle axis alignment
Check whether the camera is clamped exactly in the middle of the Nodal Rail clamp.
That means of course that the Middle Mark on the camera plate is positioned exactly in the middle of the lens axis.
Otherwise you have to align the lens middle axis to the Nodal Rail's longitudinal middle axis.
Centering the lens above the horizontal rotator pivoting point
Next we have to check that the lens center is located exactly above the pivoting point (center) of the horizontal panorama clamp (panoramic rotator).
This can be done easily by aligning the middle focusing point of the camera, either on the viewfinder or the live view screen to coincide with the center of the panorama clamp.
Marking the horizontal position with Index bar
Where a second Index Bar becomes handy, is to mark this point on the scales and keep it for future reference after we disassemble the panorama head.
Canon EOS 50D + EF-S 17-85 IS USM on Panorama head at Zenith position
Last check for camera clearance in vertical use for shooting a Zenith...
Benro PC-0 panorama clamp w/ Nodal rail - vertical closeup
Check the vertical panorama clamp tightness ...
Camera bottom, base plate and nodal rail clamp closeup
Check the Nodal rail clamp tightness ...
Panorama head w/ camera & lens back view
Get into the driver seat behind the panorama head setup... ready... GO!

You may find more information about the structure of this Panorama head in
Create a Multi Row Panorama head
Create a Multi Row Panorama head article.

I hope you find this post useful and enjoy shooting your "perfect" panoramas! Thank you for viewing.
All Photos: © 2010 S.C.Vlachos

Referenced Articles:
Hejnar Photo Index Bars
Hot-Shoe 3-Axis Spirit / Bubble Level
Benro PC-0 and PC-1 Panorama (Panoramic) Clamps
Benro A-298 EX Versatile Tripod
Kiwi Fotos LP-169 Lens Plate
Fotopro QAL-500 5cm Quick Release Clamp
Create an Economy Nodal/Macro Rail

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