November 21, 2014

New Novoflex VR-System Slim Panorama Head Preview

Novoflex VR-System Slim Panorama Head overview
The NOVOFLEX® name is well known internationally in the photographic support equipment industry. A synonym for novelty and versatility and above all precision and quality.

That's not strange since the company is based in Memmingen, Germany.
Nevertheless, German quality is also accompanied by a premium price, which is another attribute of the Novoflex products.

However, in the 2014 Photokina, past October, Novoflex introduced a new more compact Multi-row Panorama Head intended primarily for the increasing market segment of Interchangable Lens Mirrorless Cameras, yet still capable to accommodate medium DSLRs.

The Novoflex VR-System Slim, besides its innovation and economy in size, is somehow more affordable than previous Novoflex® VR solutions. A fact that will make the fans of German quality quite happy.

Taken from Novoflex's Press Release:
"NOVOFLEX pays tribute to the trend towards smaller cameras with this new and customized accessory: The compact, almost pocket sized multi-row panorama system.
It‘s designed for multi-row panoramas in perspective-corrected flat or spherical projection, but is equally capable of creating the classic single-row cylinder panorama. With a combined weight of only 750g (1.65 lbs) it can be carried easily on all travels."

The Head

Manufacturer Specification:
Model:VR-SYSTEM Slim
Vertical Click Stops:36 Every 10°
Horizontal Click Stops:16, 30, 36, 48 - Stepless
Weight:750 gr ( 1.65 lb)
Hardware:Stainless Steel
Color:Grey and Blue hard coat anodized
Material:Aluminium C.N.C. machined
Made in :Germany

The VR-System Slim Structure is based on three Arca-compatible rails anodized in grey color, held together by four large diameter thumb screws anodized in the Novoflex standard metallic blue color.

Unlike previous Novoflex Panorama heads which used Q-mount QR clamps the VR-System Slim design borrows elements from well known compact panorama heads regarding the attachment of its parts, via thumb screws.
The horizontal rail is screwed on the base rotator with a large thumb screw featuring a bubble level in the middle.
The upper vertical rotator is a integral part of the vertical and nodal rails held together by another thumb screw. Although I have no further information at the moment for possible stepless rotation or alternative options about the vertical rotation axis, the click stops at 10° increments are not so convenient in my opinion. A very usual angle of 45° cannot be attained with this incrementation.

Where the VR-System Slim differs from most compact panorama heads in the market is the utilization of a relocatable and reorientable Q-mount Arca-compatible quick release clamp instead of a screw on camera plate.

Novoflex VR-System Slim Panorama Head colapsed
The system can be collapsed very quickly by undoing two screws and thus stowed away in any photo bag. However, the combined weight of 750g is not one of the lowest, rather high for the category of the head.
But on the other hand, we have to take into consideration facts like, that the VR-System Slim is comprised by fully Arca-compatible parts, it utilizes a Q-Mount Arca-compatible quick release clamp for camera mounting, which can accommodate any camera equipped with an Arca-compatible QR plate or L bracket with whatever that signifies about stability and finally that it is based on an indexed horizontal rotator with a choice between four detent increments, as we shall see further down.

The Panorama 48 Plate

Manufacturer Specification:
Model:P 48
Diameter:62 mm (2.4")
Maximum Width:86 mm (3.4")
Height:18 mm (0.7")
Camera Connector:1/4"-20
Bottom Thread w/ Metal Converter:3/8"-16 to 1/4"-20
Weight:160 gr (0.3 lb)

Novoflex Panorama 48 Plate

The VR_System Slim is based on a member of Novoflex's also new and improved "Panorama Plates family" the Panorama 48. It is one of the smallest and lightest panorama indexed panning bases with four (4) integrated click stops you can find around at this moment.
But despite the small size and weight, the most innovative feature on most members of the new series is the easy selection between the click stop increments by a small lever on the top platform. No plungers, Allen keys or detent disk exchanges.

The detent increments are set at (16) 22,5°, (30) 12°, (36) 10° and (48) 7,5° as well as 0 for stepless rotation, which can cover a wide range of lenses. The choice of click stops may seem too narrow for wide angle lenses but wider angles can be set by multiples of the pre-set click stops. For example you can have 8 stops every 45° by setting the lever on (16) 22,5° and count every 2 stops and so on.
Somehow, this may cause frustration to some panographers who follow a specific workflow but may also prove convenient for others.

The Panorama 48 sports an 1/4"-20 stud on top paired with an alignment / anti-twist pin which both enter into the long slot of the horizontal rail of the VR-System Slim head. The panning base is then locked in place by a large blue thumb screw.
The bottom mounting hole is threaded 3/8"-16 but comes with a metal bushing for conversion to 1/4"-20 thread.
For those interested in a compact indexed horizontal rotator, the Panorma 48 is also sold separately.

The compact multi-row panorama system VR-SYSTEM Slim although it was estimated to be available after the Photokina in October, 2014 it is still expected in some countries. As soon as I have more news and /or a review sample I shall update accordingly

Update Feb 2015
Novoflex VR-System Slim Panorama Head Review

I hope you found the information useful, thank you for viewing.
All Photos by courtesy of NOVOFLEX® ©2014

Price & Availability:
Announced price for the new head with Order code: VR-SYSTEM Slim is: € 469,00
At this time the VR-System Slim seems to be available only from Novoflex in Germany.

Update May 2015
Current price for the new VR-System Slim head is: EUR € 429,00 and is available also from Amazon and from eBay worlwide.

The Panorama Plate 48 is independently available for EUR 185.00 from Amazon and from eBay worldwide.

Relevant Articles:

Quick Connect Panorama Set for APS-C and 4/3 Mirrorless Cameras from Hejnar Photo - Preview

Create a Mini Multi-Row Panorama Head for Mirrorless Cameras

New Novoflex Panorama Plates Series Preview

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