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Thread: Using Cube for Panos (rotating around nodal point)

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    Senior Member Ed Hurst's Avatar
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    Using Cube for Panos (rotating around nodal point)

    Hello all,

    What do you guys recommend to assist with taking shots for panos using the cube, with the set up rotating around the nodal point? Do you use a specialised pano kit of some sort? Or put some sort of rail or plate into the set-up? I have seen reference to the use of a Kirk geared rail plate or a RRS Focusing Rail... Any advice?

    I will be using a Pentax 645D with some pretty large, heavy lenses (including 6x7 ones), so the set up would need to be capable of handling that. Don't want to spend money on a great tripod and head, then end up with a lack of rigidity due to the wrong plate/rail.

    Many thanks!

    Ed

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    Senior Member danlindberg's Avatar
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    Re: Using Cube for Panos (rotating around nodal point)

    I'm in the same boat looking for a rigid offset solution! I want to offset to nodal point with Alpa Max and Schneider 120N on a Linhof 3D for panos.
    I have held a Novoflex macrorail in my hands and it felt quite solid, but I am not completely convinced so any other 'heavyduty' alternatives would be great news.
    Alpa FPS MAX TC | Alpagon 32Hr | Helvetar 75 | Schneider 120N | Leaf Aptus II 5 Leaf Credo 60 | www.danlindberg.com

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    Subscriber Member billbunton's Avatar
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    Re: Using Cube for Panos (rotating around nodal point)

    Really Right Stuff makes a couple nodal slides (a rail with an integrated clamp). The one I use is http://reallyrightstuff.com/ProductD...-clamp&key=ait. I generally use it with a complete RRS pano setup, but when I'm traveling light I'll just use it directly on the cube.

    Of course, this is designed to work with the body clamped. If you've got a long (heavy) lens with a foot, you need a slightly different solution, but RRS has packages for that too: Really Right Stuff - Item Listing

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    Senior Member Ed Hurst's Avatar
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    Re: Using Cube for Panos (rotating around nodal point)

    Thanks guys.

    I guess what I am seeking is a single adjustable rail (or similar) that will let me use the Cube in all its glory, while displacing any of my lenses (wide angle to long tele's) such that the rotation is around the nodal point - and holding any of those set-ups totally rigid. Any suggestions for an item that does this?

    Bill - those items looks interesting. I am not sure what a complete pano set up would consist of that is not achieved by the combo of Cube and such a rail. Am I missing a trick?

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    Re: Using Cube for Panos (rotating around nodal point)

    I 2nd Bill's notes. Take a look at the RRS website, they have an entire section on the nodal point usage.

    I can also tell you after having shot 1000's of pano's as long as it's a landscape the nodal point is not that important. Most times the stitching software can pull the sections together. The most important aspect for me is being level. Rotation around a non level point will be very hard to pull together. This is why stitching with a tech camera or a device like the Zork adapter has always been in my workflow. Finding spots where I can setup with a level solution is not always that easy.

    I am not familiar with the cube and it's design. RRS has a simple piece, the PCL panning clamp. that allows you to clamp into the tripod head. It has a rotation and is notched so you can gauge the rotation. It has a level built in so you can level. Here is a link:

    PCL-1: Panning Clamp - PCL-1

    I would start with this, it would clamp into the cube and give you level rotation. If you interested in the nodal point, then one of the nodal sliders can be added to the package. I carry the longer one in my pack. Note, depending on your camera, the adapter used on the nodal slide may be tricky but RRS should be able to adapt to your camera. I am using the Arca rm3di in my solution, the the PCL-1 and the nodal slide.

    RRS makes good stuff, and also backs up their equipment with a great warranty and will most likely work on it for a small fee out of warranty. The owner is a big pano shooter and writes quite a lot about technique on the main site.

    Paul

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    Re: Using Cube for Panos (rotating around nodal point)

    i use the cube and most of the time ignore the nodal point, leveling and rotating using the top pan provided by the cube. cube levels suck, so i use the levels on my cambo.

    if you need to shift the body back to put the lens node over the pan axis, the RRS nodal rail works just fine: camera clamped by rail, rail clamped and slid back in the cube clamp

    i find the nodal point by choosing a scene with a near vertical object, maybe 15' away and a distant vertical object. set the framing so the verticals align in the center of the image with no rotation. then rotate so the verticals are at one edge. slide the camera back, take another shot, etc, until the verticals stay aligned. bingo. the rail has markings on it so you can record the shift needed for each lens

    this effect is much simpler to see with a live view camera!

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    Senior Member kdphotography's Avatar
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    Re: Using Cube for Panos (rotating around nodal point)

    Ed,

    It really depends on the type of panos you want to do---single row or multi row. I only do single row, but still have two basic gear set-ups depending on what/where/how/etc.

    The simplest quick set-up I use is a sturdy tripod with a leveling base, a RRS PCL-1 panning clamp, and a RRS MPR with clamp. My DF has a RRS L-bracket. That's it. No "ball-head" or Cube. Simply level, adjust for nodal point and shoot! This is a lightweight and stable rig being closer to the legs without a head.

    The heavier but still easy set-up is with the Cube. The use of the Cube obviously makes it much much easier, faster, and more accurate to level. Sturdy tripod, Cube, and only the RRS MPR rail with clamp to adjust nodal point.

    With a tech camera it's easier yet with a flat stitch... Oh hey, whaddaya know, you are in Dante's forum and it is Christmas, y'know....
    Last edited by kdphotography; 19th December 2012 at 08:13.

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    Re: Using Cube for Panos (rotating around nodal point)

    I use an RRS 6" trail plus screw clamp to make "sliding clamp" to use in the cube's top clamp. I then slide it fore/aft to find nodal, then level cube and pan using the top pan --- works perfect!
    Jack
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    Re: Using Cube for Panos (rotating around nodal point)

    Yes, after looking at some pics, the top of the cube works like the PCL-1. All you need is the bar Jack mentions to set nodal.

    Nice tool.

    Paul

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    Re: Using Cube for Panos (rotating around nodal point)

    I am not sure how much a rail is needed--most of my panos are done without a rail. I only use it when I have a lot of foreground objects like being in a forest. My solution was to simply use a Manfrotto macro rail--it was also the cheapest solution. It works with my 645D and the 35mm, 55mm, and 120mm macro. The nice thing about the 645D are the two tripod sockets so you can have the camera horizontally or vertically without additional hardware.

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    Re: Using Cube for Panos (rotating around nodal point)

    what? my post must be invisible

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    Re: Using Cube for Panos (rotating around nodal point)

    I'm going to try some panos with a video head when it arrives.

    Proper video heads use a bowl to level, have very large heads and long mounting rails designed to balance the camera. I'm going to use the long rail to find the nodal point for stitching and dare I say (please don't hate me) will be easier than a cube solution.........

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    Re: Using Cube for Panos (rotating around nodal point)

    Quote Originally Posted by gazwas View Post
    I'm going to use the long rail to find the nodal point for stitching and dare I say (please don't hate me) will be easier than a cube solution.........
    Not if you want the horizon somewhere else than down the middle of the frame...

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    Re: Using Cube for Panos (rotating around nodal point)

    Quote Originally Posted by Shashin View Post
    Not if you want the horizon somewhere else than down the middle of the frame...
    And how is that different from the cube?

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    Re: Using Cube for Panos (rotating around nodal point)

    Quote Originally Posted by gazwas View Post
    And how is that different from the cube?
    Sorry, not enough coffee this morning--I am thinking about something else...

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    Member Richard Osbourne's Avatar
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    Re: Using Cube for Panos (rotating around nodal point)

    I was using the Manfrotto 303SPH multi-row stitching head, with a Gitzo 2541 levelling tripod but I've found a simpler solution: I've got a Manfrotto L bracket on the AFD with a quick release clamp holding it to the base part of the pano head with a sliding base for getting the nodal point.

    One of the most useful things that a lot of panorama heads don't have is clickstops. Not having to look through the lens for every shot and getting consistent overlap makes significantly more consistent panoramas. That's the advantage of the Manfrotto heads.

    This set up is more stable than the full 303SPH, especially with wind and vibrations but the next step is a heavier duty tripod with a levelling base. Now, if the Cube had click stops, that would be really useful!
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    Re: Using Cube for Panos (rotating around nodal point)

    Quote Originally Posted by Richard Osbourne View Post
    Now, if the Cube had click stops, that would be really useful!
    I agree that this would be a nice addition. Just a subtle bump at 10/15 degrees would be helpful. Alternatively having the indicator bar that hangs beneath the clamp be easier to see, and also one on both ends of the clamp too because it's always on the wrong side when I use it!

    Btw, the RRS PCL-1 could also be improved with the addition of clicks too. It's nice and smooth and easier to see rotation than the Cube head in the field.

    The reality is of course that if you look at the preview image and overlap each subsequent shot by 20-30% then the missing bumps/clicks aren't really too much of a loss.
    Remember: adventure before dementia!

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    Senior Member Ed Hurst's Avatar
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    Re: Using Cube for Panos (rotating around nodal point)

    Wow guys! Great advice!

    To answer a question raised above, I will do multi-row stitches (as well as single row on other occasions). If I interpret the above info. correctly, if used in conjunction with the Cube, it sounds like all I need is the RRS 6" trail plus screw clamp... Or does my wish to do multi-row stitching mean I need something else?

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    Re: Using Cube for Panos (rotating around nodal point)

    Ed - it's actually rather easy. I've used a Novoflex rail to get as near to the nodal point as I could in conjunction with the Cube. Once you have the Cube set up properly you'll be able to achieve multiple row stitches with little problem. I've done did years ago so let me sleep on it so I can give a more in depth "how-to" answer tomorrow.

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    Senior Member Ed Hurst's Avatar
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    Re: Using Cube for Panos (rotating around nodal point)

    Thanks Don. I never cease to be amazed at how wonderful people on this group are!

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    Re: Using Cube for Panos (rotating around nodal point)

    Single Row: RRS MPR and Cube

    MultiRow: Go immediately to the RRS website for a multi-row pano set-up: Really Right Stuff - Item Listing

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    Re: Using Cube for Panos (rotating around nodal point)

    Multi-row is achievable by lowering the Cube angle a couple degrees (say 15). Shoot left to right on that row before centering the angle of the Cube to zero and shooting that row left to right. Raise the angle of the Cube an equal amount from the first and shoot your 3rd row. This is very similar to what RRS does. By the time you're done you'll have shot 3-rows say 3-times per row for a total of 9 images. Stitch them all together and you'll get one huge image. Of course since this wasn't done as a flat stitch you'll still get something like a bowtie but you'll be able to crop to suite.

    This was one of the deciding factors for me going to a tech camera and the ability to flat stitch one or more row of images.

    Don

    more later....
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    Re: Using Cube for Panos (rotating around nodal point)

    Quote Originally Posted by Ed HUrst View Post
    Thanks Don. I never cease to be amazed at how wonderful people on this group are!
    Thanks - however wait till you know us better then check your wallet
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    Senior Member Ed Hurst's Avatar
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    Re: Using Cube for Panos (rotating around nodal point)

    I am sorry to say that my wallet has been taking this sort of hit for many years now already :-). Rather than being a bad influence corrupting a previously virtuous person, you guys are just a support group / encouragement source for someone already utterly beyond redemption ;-)

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    Senior Member Ed Hurst's Avatar
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    Re: Using Cube for Panos (rotating around nodal point)

    Don - it sounds like what you are saying is that, assuming I am getting the Cube anyway, that it will do the multi-row panning task (in conjunction with a rail) as well as the RRS solutions that are referred to above...

    By the way, one really nice thing about the Pentax 645D is that it has two tripod sockets, one on the side of the camera for vertical shots - so no L-bracket will be needed to do pans using the camera in that orientation.

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    Re: Using Cube for Panos (rotating around nodal point)

    Quote Originally Posted by Ed HUrst View Post
    Bill - those items looks interesting. I am not sure what a complete pano set up would consist of that is not achieved by the combo of Cube and such a rail. Am I missing a trick?
    You can do everything with just the cube and rail. I've got the Ultimate-Pro Omni-Pivot Package - Ult-Pro-OPP - Kit Configuration Page setup, makes it real easy to do multi-row panos. (To be honest, what I've got is the PG-02 FG: PG-02 Full Gimbal Head - PG-02-FG - Kit Configuration Page, but it's easy to change the configuration to the pano package, using a clamp I already have.)

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    Re: Using Cube for Panos (rotating around nodal point)

    if i needed multiple rows, haven't for a while) I could shift vertically and pan horizontally?

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