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Tripod head for panorama stitching


If a tripod has a classic 3-way tilt and pan head (eg Manfrotto 141RC) or a good ball head, is it necessary to obtain a panoramic head with its own separate tilt and pan mechanisms in order to create a level sequence of images for panorama stitiching - or can exactly the same result be achieved just mounting the camera on a sliding plate on a revolving tripod head so the nodal point of the camera lens sits directly above the center column of the tripod?

I am not so good at physics, so am a bit confused about what happens to the axis of the panorama when the field of view of a camera mounted in this way is adjusted by tilting the tripod head up or down. Is this the same or different than adjusting the field of view by titling an arm mounted on a purpose-designed panoramic head with nice features like rotating arms, click stops and measuring marks?
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