Difference between revisions of "Heads"

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* [http://www.worth1000.com/tutorial.asp?sid=161123&page=1 low cost wooden head by arodrix]
* [http://www.worth1000.com/tutorial.asp?sid=161123&page=1 low cost wooden head by arodrix]
* [http://www.w3a2z.net/PHead/ John McAllister]
* [http://www.w3a2z.net/PHead/ John McAllister]
* [http://einem.net/tech/voigtlaender/ Carl von Einem]
Single row
Single row
* [http://www.heiliger-net.de/panphoto/n_hardware.htm Panphoto.de (German)]
* [http://www.heiliger-net.de/panphoto/n_hardware.htm Panphoto.de (German)]

Revision as of 12:10, 25 March 2010

Off the shelf

There is a number of commercial panoramic tripod heads on the market, at widely varying prices. Panorama heads are actually very different kinds of animals and each manufacturer seems to have a different understanding about which functionality has to be part of such a head. Some are made of plastic or even "aircraft" aluminum, you might also fall in love with a stylish wooden head. The price range varies from "a round of beers" to something close to a visit on ISS. Some of them are a joke, a lot of them work nicely, some are specialised on certain body/lens combos, a few have that very professional wow factor. Choose yourself, and if unsure, don't hesitate to ask the members of Panotools NG what fits your needs.


360Precision offer different panorama heads, all CNC machined but with that hand crafted touch. Very elegant products, and certainly more expensive than you might expect. but are very predictable panoramic heads. They are very sturdy and at the same time elegant.

The Absolute is a very plausible option for those that make panoramas frequently and with the same equipment each time. It is built to a specific body and specific lens combination, saving the photographer the need to find the entrance pupil for their lens and midpoint of the camera. Because of this, it is a very precise way to batch-create panoramas without needing to generate control points for each panorama. The sacrifice is that you lose the option of using a different combination of camera and lens with this head until you purchase an additional lens arm.

Although these limits may seem restrictive, the results are very, very predictable. One possible workflow includes calibrating a template in your software (hugin, PTGui, PTMac), and for every panorama afterward, apply the template and immediately skip to stitching. This saves you the time spent in generating and correcting control points in each panorama. For those that can save significant amounts of time and/or money by doing this, this head truly is a life saver. The generation of the template can be time consuming but may save you hours upon hours of post processing time compared to other solutions.

It is possible to upgrade the 360Precision in modular ways, for instance if you decide to use a different lens for your panoramas, you can order just the lens arm you need, or if you decide to use a different camera for panoramas, you can order just the different camera leg and use the same lens arm.

The Adjuste is nearly as strong as the Absolute but is easily adaptable for different camera / lens setups. The diameter of the rotating base is smaller which makes for a better (smaller) footprint if you shoot full spherical panoramas.


Agnos - Italian manufacturer of panoramic heads and accesories for panoramic photography. I bought an adapter for my fc-e9 fisheye adapter and it is very well built and of a good quality. They will also release (if they didn't yet) a new solution for creating a spherical pano out of 3 pics taken at 120 degrees each with a DSLR rotated at 45 degrees (!).


A more expensive option is the Bogen/Manfrotto 303SPH, a large, but well made head. It could double as a boat anchor! I (Rick) have the 303SPH and the Agnos mentioned below. Bogen has a site dedicated to their line of pano heads Manfrotto 303SPH Mini-Site. Some users complain that the head sags - I have not experienced this. This head can be used with virtually any lens / camera combination. I used to use it with the FC-E9 fisheye, but the head left too large of a footprint in the image. --Add360.com 03:21, 7 Nov 2005 (EST)

DOBAS-01 and DOBAS-02



Fanotec, founded by developer and inventor Nick Fan, is based in China. Fanotec manufactures the award winning Nodal Ninja panoramic tripod heads and accessories. They use high quality lightweight aluminum alloy and state of art CNC machining processes. Nodal Ninja is the only pano head built and refined from end user feedback over several years. From universal to specific model designs there are configurations to fit almost any camera and lenses and shooting style. Design objectives for all models include quality, ease of use, portability and price with some models starting at $179. These pano heads allow the user to produce virtually any type of panorama, from single row 360 degree cylindrical panoramas to multirow 360x180 degree spherical panoramas to multi-image mosaics like the super high resolution gigapixel images. Added features also include rail stops to remember positioning of camera settings no parallax point and variable click stops so you can feel the rotational increments while rotating the head. All pano heads also allow for mounting a camera in landscape mode. The heads are available with the new CNC machined advanced rotators. The changing click stops on-the-fly is as easy as changing a knob from one whole to the next. Depending on rotator model click stops are available from 180 degrees to 3.75 degree click stops - the smallest click stop of any pano head rotator on the market. Fanotec currently builds 4 basic pano head model series combined with a choice of 4 different rotators.

Nodal Ninja 180: NN180 is intended to simplify panoramas by allowing “single row” shooting only. This makes it ideal for uses of large diameter circular fisheye lenses such as the Sigma 4.5mm & 8mm, Sunex 5.6mm, and Nikon FC-E8/E9, IPIX, FC-E8/E9, Raynox, Samyang etc. You can also use longer focal length lenses for single row panoramas.

Nodal Ninja 3 series: NN3-MKII is an award winning pano head. Lightweight, compact and strong, great for those on the go and a popular choice for Real Estate Photographers, hobbyists, hikers and travelers. This model supports most point and shoot cameras and many smaller DSLR’s.

Nodal Ninja 5/5L series: NN5/5L is built bigger and stronger and more precise supporting up to 22 lbs (10kgs). Fits all DSLR’s, including Nikon D3X and Canon MKII with or without battery grips, and even some medium format cameras. This series is best suited for both single row and multirow panoramas using wide angle to extremely long focal lengths lenses.

Nodal Ninja Ultimate R1 and R10: R1 and R10 is part of the new "Ultimate" line of CNC machined components. These are ring style pano heads which uses a lens clamping system. The ring attaches to the lens collar which in turn easily attaches to the head. It's important to note this clamping system does "not" interfere with the focusing capability of the lens. The unique cantilever design of the R1 is one-of-a-kind design and allows the user to select the best tilt option for their lens. By tilting the head up slightly, depending on lens, eliminates the need to shoot the zenith (up shot) for full spherical panoramas reducing both field and post production workflows. And the small diameter base leaves the photographer with an extremely small tripod footprint. This model is best suited for those using ultra wide fisheye lenses and when shooting very quick panoramas is paramount such as in populated areas. The R10 differs from R1 in that the tilt option is built in or static. Both R1 and R10 are available without rotators making them ideal for monopods and pole photography users as well.

Fanotec also manufactures the lightweight EZ-Leveler-II with or without built in rotators. These EZ-levelers are designed to help fine tune the leveling of a pano head.


Distributor of -> Panamatic


For me, the Jasper Engineering head has been an excellent value. At about $200, it's strong enough for serious 35mm or comparable digital cameras, which can be used horizontally or (with the included adapter) vertically. Nodal Point correction is horizontal and covers a variety of focal lengths as long as (I'm guessing) 135mm or more. Like so many heads, a bubble level is included, but hard to read when the head is set up at eye level. The builder will add custom touches very reasonably, In my case I put a Wimberly/Arca quick realease plate on the base. The base is machined aluminum; they provided a peel and stick piece of rubber for the base (to keep the plate from slipping) for about ten bucks.

Pivoting parts on this unit are tightened with cap screws which have patent caps on them to give more leverage in tightening. I ended up prying these off and taking a t-handle allen wrench with me. I'm using a D-70 and a 17-35 usually; a smaller camera would be fine without that extra step.


Kaidan is no longer selling products and as of April 2009 filed Chapter 7 Bankruptcy. (see screenshot)


KingPano is a very affordable pan/tilt head that allows for horizontal and vertical rotation around the nodal point i.e. for multi row panoramas.


see -> Bogen

MK PanoMachine / MK PanoHead

MK Panorama Systeme, Germany, the new MK PanoMachine version 3.1 is an automatic rotating VR head designed to move your camera from one shot to the next - the camera is released exactly in the right position. Version 3.1 has a new time-lapse mode as well as an integrated power management.

MK Panorama Systeme, Germany launched with the new MK PanoHead a fine mechanical precision and high-quality 360° panoramic tripod head on the world market.

Key features:

• Panoramic tripod head for the stitching of digital panoramas
• Suited to create cylindrical, spherical and cubic panoramas as well as Multi-Row
• 360° panoramic plate with pre adjustable scale and integrated circular bubble
• Mount the MK PanoHead bracket alternatively on the Manfrotto MA 300 N or a 360° plate of your choice
• Motorize the MK PanoHead bracket with the MK PanoMachine or ROUNDSHOT VR Drive (with adapter)
• tilt up and down + / - 90° exactly in the nodal point (click-stops each 15°)
• The MK PanoHead allows the use of heavy digital SLR cameras and medium format cameras
• High-quality materials, fine mechanical work - Made in Germany

The company also provides a rental service.

Nodal Ninja

see -> Fanotec (above) Manufacturer of Nodal Ninja Panoramic Heads and Rotators.


Novoflex is a German company with a good reputation in building high-precision photographic accessories. The company offers now three different sets of already pre-assembled products as well as four different rotators.

All parts are built modular to be combine- and interchangeable with other parts from Novoflex. E.g. you can use a standard angle bracket or focusing rack as a part of your panohead setup. This makes it easy to create a custom panorama head that fits your specific needs. Also, it gives you the option to upgrade your setup - or easily re-order a broken part.

Works great with heavy gear.


A more than affordable solution. Judging from information available at their web site this "head" is not only extremely inexpensive but also mostly useless. No way to mount a camera in a way so that the lens turns around it's NPP, and no click stops. The pan head of a standard tripod isn't worse but maybe more stable. Also marketed as Hama Panorama Kit. Better try handheld shots...


Very affordable pan/tilt head which allows for horizontal and vertical rotation around the nodal point i.e. for multi row panoramas are the, Panosaurus and KingPano.

Pinnacle VR

Priced towards the upper end of the middle ($399) is the Pinnacle VR Universal Pano Head that will work with any camera where the tripod hole is in the center of the lens axis. Using pin registration, it can accomodate cameras with or without battery grips attached and supports a wide range of lenses from fisheye to 135mm (on a full frame sensor, 80mm on an APS sized sensor). Details and sample sets of images with PTGui templates can be found at Pinnacle VR


DOBAS-01 and DOBAS-02 made by QTVR HEADS POLAND is high quality, reliable and easy in use panorama head in excellent . It is made of anodized aluminium and stainless steel - the highest quality materials with LIFETIME WARRANTY !!

With DOBAS-01 panorama head you will be able to do single row 360 degree cylindrical panoramas as well as multirow 360x180 degree spherical panoramas, or mosaics. DOBAS-01 is "universal" fitting most point and shoot cameras, SLR's and DSLR's. It fits many medium to large format camera like BRONICA ETRSi. I used that pano head with heavy cameras like OLYMPUS E-1 + ZUIKO DIGITAL 8 or OLYMPUS E-3 + ZD8 Bubble level helps to keep whole system horizontally. Camera is mounted to the panorama head with standard 1/4 screw. Wieght less 400 grams. Price (about 100$ or 80 EUR)

DOBAS-02 panorama head is ultralight pano head for cylindrical panoramas. Wieght less 200 grams. Price (about 55$ or 45 EUR)

Really Right Stuff

RRS panorama equipment is nicely machined, modular gear.

Rodeon VR

The Rodeon VR Head is a programmable pano head. Tilt and Rotation are motorised, all steps can be controlled using a Bluetooth device (Notebook or PDA).


Various unbiased reviews are floating about on many of these panorama tripod heads:

360Precision: 360 Rage | PanoGuide Forum | Dr. Karl Harrison | Eric Rougier |

Kaidan: Precomania | VRPhotography Note: This is an older review | Rosauro Ona |

KingPano: Max Lyons / Tawbaware |

Manfrotto 303SPH: Rosauro Ona | Precomania | VRPhotography |

MK PanoMachine / MK PanoHead: l Rosauro Ona |

Nodal Ninja: Applelinks | Rosauro Ona | Josh Korwin | Eric Rougier |
Pixelmania (dutch) | 360 Rage | Thierry Rebours (french) | Cameraportal (dutch) |
Canon Digital Photography | John Houghton Panoguide | Max Lyons/Tawbaware (NN5) | Digital Magasinet (Dannish) |
Digital Photography Magazine May 07 | VR Mag | IT Enquirer (NN5) | Customer Testimonials |

Novoflex: 360 Rage |

Panosaurus: Tabaware | Peter Watts | Panoguide forum |

Pinnacle VR: Sacha Griffin |

Lens brackets

Another way to keep the lens/camera fixed to the no-parallax point are lens brackets that directly mounted onto the lens itself. The advantages are less vibrations but the drawback is that you need one bracket for each lens. They are a special type of a nodal point adapter.

Some examples:

L-brackets, rails, quick release plates

A compatibility table lists different brands of Arca Swiss style plates (and their counterparts). This could help to combine already bought equipment with parts of a different manufacturer, e.g. an old Manfrotto rotator with an additional quick release plate could be connected with a Novoflex L-bracket...

Self made

If you want to build our own pan/tilt head you might get some ideas from those shown below.


Single row

Material supply

Since you often can't get the popular aluminium profiles in your local do-it-yourself store here some possible suppliers:

A web search for "aluprofil" or "aluminium profile" might reveal other suppliers.