DIY – The Panorama Head El Cheapo!

panoramic headHow to take good panoramas? Sounds simple, right? Take some shots with some overlapping landscape, go to your favorite stitching software, and stitch them up (I like panorama tools AKA PT, and autostich AKA autostich). Right? Not exactly…

If you’ve done a panorama or two, you must have noticed those annoying vertical stitching lines. Some are caused by wide angle distortion, some due to Polarizer filter that stayed on, and some are the “software’s fault”. Allot of those annoying stitching lines are caused due to something called parallax. In layman’s terms Parallax means that your camera’s focal plan does not “sit” (or as Neo would say – is “not in one”) with rotations axis of your camera. confused? Here is a great article to explain this. So if you want to get professional panoramas you need to do something about it; This something is called Using the Nodal Point (is it me, or does this term sounds a bit weird). Curious? here is how you find your Nodal Point. Of course is not the first to find this Nodal thing. you can always get some cheap accessories for panorama at Manfrotto. Or you can try and build one yourself, just like Stefan Lindgren – DIY-er extraordiner.

This is what we are talking about – a professional panorama-head (AKA Pano-head) with a fraction of the cost. See how easy it is:

panorama head 01

You start of with getting a window L shaped part which you can get at your local hardware store:

Panorama - L shaped part

Once you have this piece, you can go and get all the other parts:

panorama - parts

And here is a another view to clarify the sizes. The iron plate is has spacer washers to lift it from the rivet nut flange. I used M3 screws to fit it to the lower bearing disk.

panorama - more parts

Another view of the lower part of the bearing

panorama - lower part

The L shape is attached to the upper aluminum disk with 2 counter sunk screws protruding part was cut of to be used as part of the horizontal bar clamp.The clamp contains an M6 bolt soldered to that cut of part and an nut with handle to make it easy to adjust lens nodal point.

Here are two additional shots to help you see the “big picture”.

panorama - details 1

panorama - details 2

To wrap up, here is a short panorama tip: if you are taking multiple panoramas and want an easy way to tell when one panorama starts and when the other panorama starts, take a picture of your right hand (or foot) before you start a panoramic sequence, and take a picture of your left hand when the sequence is done. (This is a very bad trick if you are using expensive slide films like Velvia, but is great for digital).