November 8, 2013

Sunwayfoto DDP-64M Panoramic Indexing Rotator Updated ver Review

Updated Sunwayfoto DDP-64M Panoramic Indexing Rotator
Sunwayfoto has released an updated version of their DDP-64M Panoramic Indexing Rotator, which is reaching the market this days.
Awkwardly enough, the new version does not follow the Sunwayfoto custom to include an "i" for improved at the end of the model name, which makes it a little difficult to discriminate it from the previous version.

The only hint is the silver wire retaining the index stop knob, which has a transparent coating instead of black.
I can only justify the lack of model name change, since the update does not actually change any of the functions or the mechanical design of its predecessor which I had Reviewed a year ago, but addresses some issues with the panning scale and the bottom mounting holes alignment.
Therefore, I shall concentrate on these improvements and differences discriminating the newer from the older.

The Package & Contents

Sunwayfoto DDP-64M PIR box - wrapped
The DDP-64M Indexing Rotator comes in the now standard Sunwayfoto recycled-carton box; shrink wrapped which ensures that the product has not been opened after it left the factory. I held back this time not tearing off the shrink wrapping, rushing into the contents, before taking photos :) .
Sunwayfoto DDP-64M PIR box
A large white label on the side shows the content photo, model and main specifications, as well as the product bar-code. A smaller white label exists in the front together with an oval-shaped transparent label that bears the Quality Control stamp. For the first time, on the box front opening flap, exists also a round laser hologram sticker.
Sunwayfoto Laser Hologram detail
Sunwayfoto seems to have gone into a lot of trouble with this laser hologram, in order to discriminate their products from counterfeits that have emerged in the Chinese market. The lower segment of the hologram is scratchable, when scratched it reveals a 18 digit code. Unfortunately there's no lottery involved, but fortunately you can verify the authenticity of your Sunwayfoto product by inputting the 18 digit security code into the Anti-Fake Inquiry page at the website.
Sunwayfoto DDP-64M PIR box contents
The DDP-64M travels in the box within a thick foam padding, with all the accompanying documents and accessories enclosed in separate zip-lock nylon bags. There is an "Operating Instructions" fan-fold leaflet with adequate instructions to set up and maintain the Indexing Rotator, in English. Also included come a good quality 1/4"-20 ~ 3/8"-16 thread conversion bushing and the fine quality microfiber Sunwayfoto Cleaning Cloth for cleaning and maintenance purposes.
The usual up to now credit card sized Warranty Card stating Model and Serial Number and the "Customer Information Card" for use together with the Warranty card in case of a warranty claim, were missing from the box. As this box came directly from Sunwayfoto, I was informed that box contents differ according to sales area/market.
Nevertheless, Sunwayfoto offers a 6 year limited warranty extension, upon registration of certain products in their website. Knowing the product serial number, makes the Warranty Card redundant.

The Indexing Rotator

Manufacturer Specification:
Model: DDP-64M
Diameter:64 mm
Height:46 mm
Bottom mounting thread: 3/8"-16 UNC
Top mounting stud:1/4"-20 UNC
Weight:400 gr*
Max Load capacity:10.0 kg (22 lbs)

* Verified weight on electronic scales: 328 gr
(The 400 gr figure in the Sunwayfoto site probably remains unchanged from the first DDP-64)

Nothing changes regarding the indexed stops from the previous DDP-64MX version. The rotator is suitable for lenses ranging from ultra wide angle up to 200 mm telephotos, with 10 different degree stop intervals (with equivalent number of click stops):

Ckick Stops72362418151210864

Sunwayfoto DDP-64M PIR detent interval stops view
The usual Sunwayfoto sturdy structure with a very fine and high quality CNC machining and finishing. All aluminum parts are hard coat anodized in a satin black color with only accents of the stainless-steel stud, screws and lock-knob shafts. Although everything looks and feels the same... At last, the long waited 0-360° Panning Scale is here, with simultaneous relocation of the panning Index Mark in a more visible position.
Sunwayfoto DDP-64M PIR front logo side view
In addition there is a second Index Mark located on the front side with the Sunwayfoto logo. This resides exactly opposite to the other Index Mark and can be used for reference as well. Mind you though, that if this index mark is used for 0° reference, 1 of the 10 degree stop intervals (specifically the 24°/15) does not pass from this point.
Since in my opinion this Index Mark is more visible, there is an option of relocating the panning base assembly, making it the 0° reference for all click stop intervals.
Sunwayfoto DDP-64M PIR bottom mounting holes view
Another change featured in the latest DDP-64M version is the alignment of the bottom mounting holes axis with the 0° mark on the panning base scale. This is a feature, I had asked and pointed out to Sunwayfoto engineers for the smaller DDP-64S Indexing Rotator, in order to enable its proper alignment when used as a vertical rotator but DDP-64M was revised first. 
Somehow, I noticed a small divergence between the 0-180° axis and the bottom mounting holes axis, by 2.5°. As DDP-64M is bulkier and heavier than DDP-64S is not so appropriate for a vertical rotator, therefore its use as a horizontal rotator will never be affected by this divergence whatsoever. For the sake of perfection Sunwayfoto promised to correct this in future batches anyway.

Comparison with the previous DDP-64M version
A side by side or top to bottom arrangement of the previous and the lately released Sunwayfoto DDP-64M Panoramic Indexing Rotators will reveal major and minor differences.

Sunwayfoto DDP-64M PIR older and updated front view
As mentioned in the beginning the cable retaining the index stop regulating knob is the most obvious and discriminating difference between the two versions. The newer cable has a transparent nylon coating instead of black, while it is a little longer. Next noticeable difference is the relocation of the panning Index Mark by 45° on the left.
Sunwayfoto DDP-64M PIR updated on top of older comparison
When the two versions are stacked up we can see that the Index Mark now resides below the first detent interval stop holes, instead of the middle ones previously.  It's more obvious in this photo (click to enlarge) that the previous 0-90-0-90 laser engraved Panning Scale has been changed into a more appropriate continuous 0-360° scale. 
Sunwayfoto DDP-64M PIR older and updated bottom mounting comparison
Finally, although not significant for the type of rotator, the bottom mounting holes axis is now aligned with the 0° mark on the panning base scale. From the illustration above you may see that the previous version had a divergence of 45° between the bottom mounting hole axis and the 0-180° axis.

Torque Test Results
A further comparison concerning the torque capacity of the rotator would verify any changes in the structure. The method used with in the Sunwayfoto DDP-64MX+DDY-64 Panoramic Indexing Rotator Review was repeated for the DDP-64M in hand here.
An AM-01 Arca Mount Plate and a Sunwayfoto DDY-64i Discal Quick Release Clamp (Review) were attached on the rotator. After the rotator was securely clamped in a vertical position, between the jaws of a heavy workbench, both its panning lock levers were tightened as much as possible.

The same counter balance bag totaling 5 kg and the rail assembly totaling 18" in length were put into use. With some difficulty though the ~5.7 kg total weight of the bag + rails etc. reached the same distance of 34 cm from the center of the quick release clamp, which center indicates also the pivoting axis of the rotator.
That's just before the rotator's top panning platform started sagging as pictured above, while once again the panning base still held well. Actually we can say that the results are identical with the previous version.
The distance mentioned above multiplied by the hanging weight means that the clamp can withstand a torque of ~194 kgF*cm or ~1903 N*cm. By deduction this means a load of ~16.17 kg could hang offset with its center of gravity at a distance of 12 cm (4.7") from the pivot center (Gitzo® method) or a load of about 65 kg within the perimeter of the panning base !!!

Using with Sunwayfoto Pano-3 Panoramic Head
A sneak preview of the DDP-64M Panoramic Indexing Rotator, used as an integral part of the Sunwayfoto Pano-3 Panoramic Head which I have under evaluation for some time now. A comprehensive and thorough review of the Pano-3 head is planned for publication in the near future.

Sunwayfoto DDP-64M PIR as part of the Sunwayfoto Pano-3 Panoramic Head
New DDP-64M equipped with the Sunwayfoto DDY-64i Discal Quick Release Clamp holding the Pano-3 components and the camera (left photo above) These photos were taken during a recent shooting on top of a hill with Olive-tree groves. Considering the rough ground and steep slopes the use of the Sunwayfoto DYH-66i Leveling Base pictured below the DDP-64M proved very convenient (right photo above).

More Information

Read also the Sunwayfoto DDP-64MX+DDY-64 Panoramic Indexing Rotator Review for a thorougher description of the DDP-64M functions, more implementation and mounting examples, as well as a comparison table with similar spec Indexing Rotators.

Exceptional machining, finishing, fitting and build quality.
Compact size and low weight.
Convenient top rotating platform.
Very smooth panning operation of both top and bottom platforms.
Good quality metal 1/4"-20 to 3/8"-16 conversion bushing included.
Very good value for money ratio.
6 year limited warranty extension upon registration.

Not so important but Lever Lock-knobs are still Non captive that may fall off if unscrewed inappropriately too much.

The latest version DDP-64M maintains the merits of exceptional quality, smoothness in operation and great versatility of its predecessor.
With the new 0-360° panning base and relocation of the index pointer in a more visible position, Sunwayfoto engineers have addressed exactly the functional issues (read for details the "Issues and Comments on the Panning Base" in the previous Sunwayfoto DDP-64MX+DDY-64 Review) which deprived me of recommending it before.
Therefore, I can now fully recommend the DDP-64M as a very good value for money product.
Nevertheless, as a pure perfectionist I'm not ready to give it a 5 stars rating due to the minor engraving error on the panning base, a 4.9 this time. :)

Note :
The DDP-64M Indexing Rotator presented in this article is a complementary copy, kindly offered by Sunwayfoto, for evaluation and review.

I hope you found the article useful, thank you for viewing.
All Photos & Photosynths: © 2013 S.C.Vlachos

Price & Availability:
Current price at the time of writing for the DDP-64M is US$ 142.00, 119.00 99.95 while the updated versions of DDP-64MX (bundled with AM-01 Arca Mount plate) or DDP-MX + DDY-64i (bundled with AM-01 and DDY-64i Discal QR clamp) will also be available from very soon.

Update Jan 2014
All updated versions of DDP-64M and DDP-MX + DDY-64i (bundled with AM-01 and DDY-64i Discal QR clamp) at US$ 179.00 139.95 are now available from Amazon as  well as from eBay if you prefer.

Referenced Articles:

Sunwayfoto DDP-64MX+DDY-64 Panoramic Indexing Rotator Review

A Quality Lens Cleaning Cloth by Sunwayfoto

Sunwayfoto DYH-66i Leveling Base Review

Sunwayfoto DDY-64i Discal Quick Release Clamp Review

Relevant Articles:

Sunwayfoto DDP-64S Panoramic Indexing Rotator Updated ver Review

Sunwayfoto DDP-64SX Panoramic Indexing Rotator Review

Create a Heavy Duty Multi Row Panorama Head

Sunwayfoto Pano-3 Panoramic Head Review

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