Stitching images sequentially photographed has been around for quite a while and the software that can assemble the images have come a long way from the early days of panoramic photography. I enjoy creating wide-view images using single or multi-row stitching as the vista covered takes a different look after all is said and done. I have been using a simple nodal point slider (see the annotated image) clamped on my tripod head for single row panoramas and have successfully tilted the head up and down to create multi-row stitched photographs. However, doing this consistently without the proper equipment can be at least time-consuming and easily turn into a frustrating experience.
A commercially available panorama head can start around $200 and go upwards over $1,500. And then, there is the GigaPan automated device that captures the required number of images given the top left and bottom right locations but that too costs close to $1,000. So, I started looking for alternatives on eBay and managed to assemble a perfectly functional panorama head that can do single- or multiple-row panorama photography relatively painless. I will share the parts I purchased on eBay with no endorsement of the vendor as I do not know much about them. There are many vendors who can offer the similar parts should you be interested in assembling a pano head yourself.
What Is Needed
The fundamental components of a pano head are:
- Horizontal and vertical support bars
- Vertical bar mounting clamp
- Nodal point slider bar
- Fixed-angle step rotator (optional)
I have had a nodal point slider bar from my earlier panoramic photography experience. I purchased the following, but anything comparable will serve the purpose and there are many choices on eBay:
- 2x200mm Quick Release Plate for Tripod Ball Head Compatible with Arca Swiss ($24.43)
- 360 Degree Panoramic Camera Ball Head Clamp Tripod Head with Quick Release Plate ($22.22)
- Andoer DH-55 Ball Head With 1/4″ Quick Release Plate for Camera Tripod I3W2 ($47.03)
- You may also need: 200mm Nodal Rail Slide Plate QR Clamp Macro Panoramic Bracket For Arca Swiss RRS ($18.15)
They all shipped from China and took anywhere between 2-3 weeks to arrive. The last item is not essential if your tripod head can rotate while keeping everything level and you are careful to rotate it at necessary angles to cover the scene. This device, a click-stop rotator, has a screw-in knob that determines the angle of rotation so from one shot to the next the rotation will always be at the same angle, say 15-degrees if that is what your lens calls for. The only extra items I needed were two screws to mount the clamp on the vertical bar which I got at the local hardware store.
Parts and the Assembly
Here are the parts and their sequential assembly. If I can put this together, anybody can!
- Using the mounting screws on the horizontal bar, attach the vertical bar to it
- Mount the clamp on the vertical bar, I had to use a couple of screws from the hardware store
- Insert the nodal point slider into the clamp
- Mount the click-stop rotator on your leveled tripod head
- Mount the panorama head assembly on the click-stop rotator
- Mount the camera on the nodal point slider