Yesterday I thought that having a go at a panorama type shot might be a bit of fun. Now I did know that just rotating the camera on the head that I have would not work very well because of the changing position of the camera in relation to the landscape. However that is about all I did know. So it was to the web to do a bit of reading.
Now to my surprise I found out that what I needed was a panoramic head for my tripod. However that would cost around $600AU to get a head that will handle the weight of my gear. Well that wasn’t going to happen just yet (need to sell a lot more photographs to pay for that) So it was a case of doing a bit more reading, and lo and behold what did I find but a simple rig that I could make using my macro focus rail (Manfrotto). So of to the local hardware store and buy a piece of angle use for shelf bracing or the like (just don’t get one that has the brace as well as then you won’t be able to put the camera on it).
Now as luck would have it one of the holes in the bracket when screwed to the camera aligned very closely with the centre of my gear head rotation point and the lens centre. Part one achieved.
Next is to find what is called a nodal point of the lens. Whats that you say, well it is the point in the lens where fore ground and back ground object maintain the same relationship when the camera is rotated on its tripod for the panorama shot. A web search for parallax and panorama will bring up many much more eloquent descriptions than mine.
Now this is not a hard task just takes a bit of time or you can look up a database on nodal points for many common DSLR lens. Essentially it is do this:
Guess where the iris point is, set that at the rotation point of the head. Stick a piece of opaque tape on a window. Take two shots of a scene that includes the tape load into photoshop or your equivalent software and see how much the background changes relative to the tape. Then depending upon which way the movement is its a case of moving the camera closer to or further away from the rotation point. There are some great examples on the web about this but this one I thought was pretty good. Go here http://www.johnhpanos.com/epcalib.htm.
All in all after a bit of mucking around I found the nodal point and then went out to test it. The following shot is using a 16-35mm at 16mm’s in my front yard. I am pretty happy with the setup I made for $10. However one day I would love to buy a proper head.