View Full Version : Panning Base for a View Camera

Larry Huppert
5-Oct-1999, 21:04
I've read through several old posts where the virtues of placing a panning base between your tripod head and the camera are discussed. I believe for the type o f photography I do, this would be a good solution for me (faster and more accura te than leveling a tripod by changing leg lengths).

Which panning bases would people recommend? Having a spirit level on the base w ould be nice, but not required because I'd usually be using the cameras spirit l evels.

james norman
6-Oct-1999, 00:13
larry - i have never seen a panning base for a large format camera. i have read, however, that to make a true panoramic photograph from more than one plate requires that the camera pivot around the centerline of the film plane, rather than the normal tripod arrangement where the camera rotates around its center of gravity. hopefully someone here will have some direct experience, and be able to provide a good explanation.

Ellis Vener
6-Oct-1999, 02:50
Sinar and I believe Arca Swiss now make such an item. The Sinar (aka: FOBA) catalog number in the B&H catalog is "Item FOPA" and the Sinar # might be 33-0514. The A/s piece is new so it isn't listed in the B&H book or the last "dead trees" Arca catalog.

Sean Billy Bob Boy yates
6-Oct-1999, 04:29
In "The Camera" Adams has this to say,

"A composite panoramic image can be made using any conventional camera with normal lens and splicing together adjacent image areas. The camera is simply turned a measured amount between exposures ( a tripod head that is marked with degree indications is helpful), so that the resulting series of images overlap.

Accurate joining of the images will be possible only if the lens is pivoted about its rear nodal point. A bracket can be purchased or constructed to permit positioning of the rear nodal point over the axis of the tripod center column. (The procedure for locating the rear nodal point is described on page 68.) The resulting seperate images must be carefully printed to matching densities to minimize the visibility of the splices."

Jim Dow has don extensive work documenting minor league baseball fields with this technique and his Deardorff. Another option is of course to use front and rear shift, seperatley or together. Joseph Meehan's book on panoramic photography pretty well covers the subject.

If all you want is a level camera - then use your head, your tripod head that is. Either a really nice (and heavy duty) ball and socket arrangement like the videographers and cinematographers use, or a ball head like an Arca Swiss or Bogen or the one that Ted Bromwell sells, or any convetional head that tilts horizontally and vertically. Check the levels on the head and the camera.

Masayoshi Hayashi
6-Oct-1999, 13:16
So the type of photography you do is panoramic photo? Why not try Novoflex rotating panorama plate (yes! it comes with bubble). As far as I know, you can buy this from Calumet and L.L. Rue. Both web sites have the picture. I was going to buy this adapter after I sold the Bogen ball leveler, but by the time then I got to know Arca was thinking about a panoramic adapter for the latest B1, thanks to Ellis. Sinar panoramic adapters (they have two) are much more expensive (above $200?) than the Novoflex ($80) and they don't come with bubble. The Novoflex does not click as you pan (i.e. no detents). I'm not sure for the Sinar's. Arca has not made a panoramic adapter yet. Mr. Martin Vogt e-mailed me they're trying to see if they could do without it.

Alternatively, you can add a ball leveler between tripod head and tripod as I tried with Bogen leveler. So you can use the panning base of the head. This turns out to be inefficient and redundant way of leveling since you need to level both the leveler and the camera in order to use the panning base horizontally. On the other hand, you only need to level once for a panoramic adapter atop a ball head configuration. BTW, I'll add a comment on the Bogen leveler in the thread I asked as I promised.

Larry Huppert
6-Oct-1999, 16:36
Let me clarify my reasons for wanting this setup. I occasional do panoramic photos, but this isn't the primary reason I want a pan base on top of my tripod head (older Arca B2). I do architectural interiors, and setting the camera orientation normal to certain architectural features is important to me. By far, the easiest way to do this is to find some horizontal feature (ceiling or floor junction, counter-top, windows, etc) and rotate the camera until a horizontal grid line on my ground-glass lines up with the feature. Unless you level the tripod, put a leveling base between the head and the tripod, or use a panning base on top of the head you end up going off-level as rotate the camera (like chasing your own tail). Having read previous posts, it sounded like a panning base on top was a good choice.

I also spoke w/ Arca-Swiss about their concept. I guess the product is still in flux. In any case, they didn't give me a high degree of hope that this future potential product will work with older style B2 heads (over about a year old). I suggested to Arca that one of the things their customers enjoy is the backward compatibility they have with many new components, and not supporting older B2's was inconsistent with their approach.