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To prevent parallax problems, panographers often use a tripod or monopod in conjunction with panoramic heads to place the no-parallax point of the camera at the centre of rotation. A cheaper and more portable alternative is to shoot handheld and use a philopod to keep the camera in position.

Philopods are named after Philippe Hurbain who describes the Philopod technique on his website.

A philopod is basically a piece of string tied around the no-parallax point on the lens with a weight at the other end of the string which allows the camera to be positioned over a feature on the ground. The principle is identical to that of the swing rod.

This may not be quite as accurate as a properly calibrated panoramic head, and is of course only useful at the moderate to fast shutter speeds which can be shot handheld without blurring, but there are other advantages:

  • Speed of set-up.
  • Portability.
  • No tripod that needs to be painted out of the nadir.
  • Can shoot accurate panoramas in locations where tripods/monopods are not allowed.
  • Ability to use small variations in pitch angles to capture the entire scene without separate zenith and nadir shots.

This last philopod pitch variation technique is a separate tutorial.