October 25, 2012

Using Mutli Row Panorama Head Ver. II

Mutli Row Panorama Head Ver. II -overview
Most of the functions of the second version of my Multi Row Panorama head design - extensively described in Create a Multi Row Panorama Head Ver. II - are very similar to its original version.

However, there is some differentiation between the two versions with the added versatility of the removable vertical rail and the change of the Nodal Slide rail.

Therefore, in this article I shall concentrate more on the operating differences that make this second version Panorama head more versatile and easy to use.

You can still refer to the original version Using a Multi Row Panorama Head, for the description of basic functions.

Attaching the Panorama Clamp

Although the legs of the Panorama head remain the Benro A-298 EX Versatile Tripod and the whole structure is leveled on the Benro B-2 Ball Head, this time I chose to get rid of the intermediate ball head clamp plus the dovetail base plate of the Benro PC-1 Panorama Clamp in order to lower the center of gravity and gain some weight as well as some extra stability.

Benro PC-1 Panorama clamp on Benro B-2 ball head direct
The PC-1 Panorama clamp is used as the horizontal rotator. Here it is directly attached on the B-2 ball head. (You may refer to the Benro B-2 Ball Head Review for specific instructions).
Benro PC-1 + Benro B-2 ball head on Benro A-298EX tripod
The whole structure is based on Benro A-298EX Versatile tripod. By lowering the center of gravity by a few cm there is a significant increase in stability, with a directly proportional decrease in vibrations.

Setting up the Panorama head Structure

Tripod leveling - bubble level closeup
As a starting point we can roughly level our tripod (using its bubble level if available).
Horizontal rotator leveling - bubble level closeup
Then after locking the B-2 ball head panning base, proceed in precisely leveling our horizontal Panoramic rotator using its bubble level and ensure it remains level after a full rotation.
Hejnar G13-80 as horizontal rail installation
Next the Hejnar PHOTO G13-80 rail used as a horizontal support rail should be inserted in the PC-1's clamp and equipped with one of the Hejnar Photo Index Bars.
Horizontal rail & index bar positioning details
Since in this version the vertical rail is mobile, it may undertake the role of camera position regulator so the horizontal rail may be clamped on the horizontal rotator clamp and fixed in a standard point of its scale for future reference.
The Index Bar in this case may be positioned at the outer edge of the horizontal rail and should be fixed in place after the camera position is defined. It's the turn of the vertical rail, equipped with the Hejnar F012 QR clamp at the bottom, to be placed on the horizontal rail.
Vertical rail positioning details
The final position of the vertical rail will be defined later on, after the camera / lens alignment on the Panorama Head.

Attaching the Nodal Slide rail

In order to complete the structure of our Panorama Head, the Hejnar Photo E31 Nodal/Macro Rail should be inserted and secured in the PC-0 vertical Panoramic rotator according to the predefined "Nodal Point" position marked with the Index Bar. The rotator should also be aligned at point zero (0) and locked in place.

Nodal rail positioning details
The usefulness of the Index Bar is clear, as the only thing we need to do, is to align the indexed point with the center Φ mark on the jaws of the PC-1 Panorama Clamp and then tighten the clamp firmly. Compared with my older nodal slide rail, besides the extra sturdiness and ability to change clamp orientation on the fly, another benefit of using the Hejnar Photo E31 Nodal/Macro Rail with Ver. II panorama head is the ability to add extra Index Bars marking different focal lengths of a zoom lens or for different lenses.

Mounting & Setting Up the Camera
Next step is to attach our camera on the Nodal Slide QR clamp via its Arca-Swiss® compatible base plate. The camera should be aligned and centered  on the clamp so the lens central axis is exactly above the Nodal Slide middle axis, which in extension coincides with the pivoting axis of the vertical panning rotator.

Vertical rail positioning details
As mentioned previously the horizontal rail may remain fixed in a standard position on the horizontal rotator clamp, then any adjustment of the camera positioning may be done by releasing a little the vertical rail bottom clamp and sliding it to the desired position.
Camera positioning & lens centering details
Our goal is to bring the lens center exactly above the rotational axis of the Panorama clamp. Then we may tighten the Index Bar on the horizontal rail via its two screws, in a position behind the vertical rail thus becoming both a safety stopper and an index mark for future use.
Camera final horizontal position overview
Almost ready to go...

Verifying the Nodal Slide Rail Adjustment
It is supposed that the entrance pupil point (Nodal point) of the lens to be used is already determined and marked by the Hejnar Photo Index Bar on the Nodal Slide Rail.
(In case of a zoom lens the "Nodal point" should be determined for each focal length that is meant to be used for shooting panoramas).

Nodal rail positioning & alignment details
In order to proceed into the next step we must also ensure that the nodal rail remains aligned with point zero (0) on the panning scale or in other words is set at 90 degrees angle with the vertical rail.

Verifying Leveling
A Multi Row Panoramic Head induces quite a stress on any tripod top platform and/or center column and successively ball head etc, due to its nature of hanging the camera / lens load high and far away from the tripod vertical center axis. In addition a MR Panoramic Head is an articulated device.
So, it is natural that the torque generated by the offset loads and the device tolerances -even the smallest- may influence the original leveling of the horizontal Panoramic rotator.
Therefore, it is wise to check the whole structure leveling after all components are installed. Besides the bubble levels existing on the rotator and horizontal rail, I propose the use of a 3-Axis bubble level installed in the flash hot shoe on your camera for this purpose.

Leveling verification - 3axis bubble level closeup
Checking that leveling is intact after loading all components on the Panorama Head. Before starting , it is better to do a full 360 degree panning of the head, checking that leveling is maintained throughout the whole circle and make any adjustments needed.
After leveling is completed you may change the 90 degree angle on the vertical rotator and start your panorama shooting at any desired angle.

Shooting a Zenith
The proposed rails' sizes for this MR Panoramic Head, will permit a large camera equipped with a large selection of lenses (from ultra wide to short telephotos) to rotate a full 360 degree circle vertically.

Camera at zenith shooting position detail
The camera turned vertically with obviously ample space bellow, in order to shoot a Zenith.

Shooting a Nadir
The removable vertical bracket introduced by the Ver. II MR Panorama Head, not only permits easier handling for storage and transport but its mobility adds also an extra feature not possible with a fixed L bracket.
Shooting a Nadir becomes more efficient and requires less post processing.

Camera at nadir shooting position detail
Instead of just turning the camera in a vertical position facing the ground ...
Camera at offset nadir shooting position detail
... the vertical rail can slide to the other edge of the horizontal rail, sitting on top of the horizontal rotator, and shoot a Nadir with less obstruction from the Panorama head structure and the tripod legs.

Needless to say, that all adjustments and index markings, can be performed at home once. Then when on location you only need to reassemble the head, mount and level your gear and start shooting your panoramas.

I hope you found the article useful, thank you for viewing.
All Photos & Photosynths: ©2012 S.C.Vlachos

Price & Availability:
Current price of the Hejnar Photo Multi Row Panorama Rail Set is US $ 250.00 (+ shipping where applicable). The S.C.V. Panorama Package with 6" nodal slide  as well as an S.C.V. Panorama Package with 8" nodal slide are available direct from the Hejnar PHOTO online Store containing the latest version of all the products.

Hejnar SCV Multi Row Panorama Package 6 updated components
Updated S.C.V. Panorama Package with 6" Nodal Slide (Photo by courtesy of Hejnar PHOTO ©Chris Hejnar).
Before any purchase from the Hejnar online store, do check the Recommended Sellers page for the current valid Hejnar Photo discount coupon.

Further, the estimated cost for both the Benro PC-0 and PC-1 Panorama clamps is US$ 230.00 200.00 shipping included from eBay

Matin Neoprene Pouches are available from Amazon or from eBay

Relevant Articles:

Create a Multi Row Panorama Head Ver. II

Create a Multi Row Panorama Head, (Ver. I)

Using a Multi Row Panorama Head (Ver I)

Referenced Articles:

Hejnar Photo Index Bars

Hot-Shoe 3-Axis Spirit / Bubble Level

Hejnar Photo E31 Nodal/Macro Rail Review

Benro PC-0 and PC-1 Panorama Clamps Review

Benro B-2 Ball Head Review

Benro A-298 EX Versatile Tranforner Tripod Review

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