The point is that the more you get involved, the more you realize that for better panoramas with less stitching problems you need horizontally level panning. Especially for single-row cylindrical panoramas which are the most common.
Of course there are plenty of solutions, from add-on panning clamps, leveling bases to complete panoramic heads, quite a few of which I had presented in the past, but all have a considerable cost.
On the other hand if you invert a ball head equipped with a panning base, then you automatically get a leveling panning platform with minimal cost.
The idea of an inverse ball head is not new among panorama photographers, since many cost minded photographers have implemented DIY solutions in the past.
Reputable manufacturers have introduced solutions to fulfill this demand, like Arca-Swiss® with a couple of inverse ball head models Monoball P0 and P1 or Acratech with GP Series reversible models, but all with a notable price tag.
Nowadays most photographers, of any caliber, already have a ball head with an independent panning base.
So for a long time I had in mind, to design a low-budget universal solution, via which anyone can convert his/her ball head into a leveled panoramic rotator at will.
Was not so simple though. In order to do that, one either has to add an extra Quick Release Clamp at the bottom of a ball head, or the existing QR Clamp has to be removed and relocated at the ball head bottom and the ball head be mounted on a tripod by its ball.
I chose the latter approach as it would require less investment from the end user remaining functional and very stable. Nevertheless, this would require machining of a new base and hardware from scratch.
After some long discussions with Desmond Simmonds of Desmond Photographic Distributors who by the way is a very receptive mind for innovation, and after some prototypes, the first version of Desmond SCV Flip Kit came into life.
The Flip Kit
Although the goal is "anyone" can use it, at the moment, in order to keep costs down, there are a few prerequisites regarding the ball heads covered by this first version of the Flip-Kit,
A. The Ball Head should have a Quick Release Clamp attached via an M6 or 1/4"-20 screw.
B. The Quick Release Clamp should have a center hole threaded 3/8"-16.
C. The Ball Head should have an independently locking panning base with a 3/8"-16 mounting hole.
Actually the above prerequisites, reflect the majority of contemporary Arca-Swiss® compatible ball heads.
Ball Head Conversion ExampleFrom my small arsenal of ball heads, I picked for the illustration the Sunwayfoto XB-44 Low Profile Ball Head which fits exactly the requirements.
Attaching the Aluminium Base
|First step is to remove the ball head quick release clamp. After locking the ball tightly via the ball head lock-knob, we unscrew (turning counter-clockwise) the QR clamp using the provided 4 mm Allen hex key.|
|Then we isolate the SCV-FK Aluminium base and the appropriate hex socket cap screw from the kit, choosing the one that matches the threads of the screw removed from the QR clamp. In this case it is the M6 thread screw.|
|Before going any further it would be wise to hand test the hex-socket cap screw into the ball stem threads in order to ensure full compatibility and avoid causing damage to the threads.|
Attaching the QR Clamp via the 3/8" Adapter
Using Your Inverted Rotator
|Adding a low budget Nodal Slide like the Desmond DNR-120 pictured above you may come up with a very versatile and low cost, entry level panoramic solution, yet Arca-Swiss® compatible.|
According to demand, other Flip-Kit versions are planned, enhanced with more screws, bushings etc in order to cover more ball head or quick release mounts. As soon as more options are available, I shall update with the appropriate implementation examples.
Note: The Flip-Kit components illustrated in the photos above are prototypes or first production samples, which may differ slightly in appearance and specs from final products. The article will be updated promptly upon receipt of final versions.
Create a Leveled Panoramic Rotator via the SCV-Flip-Kit - Part Two
Create a Leveled Panoramic Rotator via the SCV-Flip-Kit - Part Three
I hope you found the article and ideas useful, thank you for viewing.
Design, Photos & Photosynths: © 2013 S.C.Vlachos
Price & Availability:
Introductory price of the Desmond SCV-FK Flip-Kit is US$
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