View Full Version : Horizontal Panning

Peter Lewin
10-Jul-2014, 13:19
The new copy of View Camera has two articles where the photographer has constructed panoramas by taking a series of exposures side by side and mounting them as diptychs or triptychs (cool words!). I can never get separate exposures to line up, when I pan I'm never quite level. Unless one has one of the newer Arca Swiss ballheads, where the panning action is placed at the top of the ball, I don't see how to level the camera base. IOW, when I level the camera in one position, any panning movement "unlevels" it. My old ZoneVI wooden tripod had a level bubble on the tripod itself, which allowed for leveling by playing with the legs, but neither of my Gitzos "Reporter Series" have any levels. Have any of you found an easy way to set up for level pans?

10-Jul-2014, 13:38
It helps to have a bubble on the tripod and a bubble on the head too. When I do panorama in MF I use a Bogen 3051 tripod (with bubbles) and a 3046 (I think) head (with bubbles) and a Rollei panorama mount (with bubble). It takes a lot of time to get them all in agreement but I've never had alignment problems in the resulting images. I have overlap problems and uneven gap problems... but not alignment problems.

Dan Fromm
10-Jul-2014, 14:31
There are pano heads for 35 mm cameras that may be stout enough to support your camera. I have a Nikon AP-2, there are others. Alternatively, there are leveling balls that fit under tripod heads. When the ball is level, the head's pan axis is vertical, and that's what you want. Manfrotto 138 (long discontinued) and 438 (current), for example and there are others. I have a 138 on my Berlebach and a 438 on my Ries. They make setring up quick and easy.

10-Jul-2014, 15:10
You can do a panorama with any tripod that has a rotatable head.

Two considerations...

1) The column must be exactly vertical since that's the axis of rotation, and
2) The axis of rotation must intersect the front node of the lens, regardless of where that is.

You can find the location of the front node on the lens datasheet.

- Leigh

10-Jul-2014, 15:25
One of many successful options include a large bulls-eye level (~40moa), surveyor's tripod with feet planted in ground, a 3-axis geared tripod head (Manfrotto has a variety, the 410 works well for 4/5) and a Brunton Pocket Transit to true-up the lens, ground glass (H and V) and camera lens. Tripod cam-locks make leveling a breeze and the 3-axis geared tripod will have you shooting in minutes.

The overlap/gap might benefit from Brunton sightings (+/- <1/2 degree), GG centerline alignments and knowing the HFOV on film in degrees.

Measure twice, cut once, eh?

Just another 2 cents worth that was important for camera-site documentation, slopes, higher than, lower than and the like.

Jerry Bodine
10-Jul-2014, 17:33
You may want to query the Gitzo distributor to find out if Gitzo ever offered a version of this (http://www.gitzo.us/systematic-low-profile-levelling-base-series-3-gs3121lvl) which could be used on your existing tripod, before spending time trying to track a used one down. I suspect they never did, but it's worth a try.

Greg Davis
10-Jul-2014, 19:15
For my DSLR I have one of those fancy-schmancy QTVR panoramic tripod heads. I have never tried putting my view camera on it, but Leigh is right, if you want each shot to line up perfectly, you have to get the tripod perfectly level, then get the camera perfectly level, then put the nodal point of the lens directly above the tripod mounting screw of the camera since that is the point of rotation.

That said, not everyone that makes large format panoramas worry about perfect alignment. Look at the work of David Hilliard (the photographer, not the Black Panther leader) as an example.

11-Jul-2014, 03:06
Found this interesting relative to this discussion.


Greg Davis
11-Jul-2014, 10:16
That's basically how I do it, too. Far easier than the method described in the QTVR head instructions from Manfrotto.