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You may want to check out Nodal Ninja

I have the NN5 for my Canon 5D2. If you are using smaller cameras/lenses, the NN3 will serve well....and at ~$150 for the base unit is probably as inexpensive as you can get for a quality unit.

I attach a tripod plate to the base of the Nodal Ninja and snap it on to my existing ball head. Use the ball haed (with the bubble level on the NN) to level the NN, then it rotates uniformly for doing the panos.


For less than the price of a mid-range DSLR you can get a GigaPan. It will take as many images as you want in very accurate steps. Nearly fully automated up to and including stitching, leaving the final image adjustments up to you.

jon kobeck

Cant wait to see the new images from this project Brooks.
I assume you will be shooting this with the Panasonic G1?

Neil Enns

Shooting panoramas is nowhere near as much of a pain as it used to be. The software available today is *much* better than it used to be, and having to worry about nodal points and whatnot is (for me at least) a waste of time. The software will "fix that for you". Photoshop is, by the way, probably the worst option out there for this stuff. Microsoft ICE (http://research.microsoft.com/en-us/um/redmond/groups/ivm/ice/) is free and does a spectacular job.

Depending on how critical your job is you may want to rent a Gigapan from Lensrentals.com (http://www.lensrentals.com/rent/support/panoramic/gigapan-epic-pro). It will motor drive your camera and ensure you get perfect overlaps. Here's a 360 degree pano I shoot near Colfax, WA, using a borrowed gigapan and then stitched in Microsoft ICE: http://www.photosynth.net/view.aspx?cid=405160c6-37cd-4e81-846b-a288210df43f.

Here's a panorama I shot *handheld* in Antarctica in 2009 and then stitched using ICE: http://research.microsoft.com/en-us/um/redmond/groups/ivm/ice/.

Hope this helps,


Neil Enns

Sigh. Cut and paste issue above. Here's the correct link to the second pano: http://www.photosynth.net/view.aspx?cid=2dbd4b84-f742-49e6-8b96-d738159f7ac0. It's composed of 52 images in 4-ish rows.

Neil Enns

ARGH! Your blog software catches punctuation and includes them at the end of URLs, Brooks :( None of the web links above will work. Here are working ones:

Lensrentals: http://www.lensrentals.com/rent/support/panoramic/gigapan-epic-pro
Colfax, WA pano: http://www.photosynth.net/view.aspx?cid=405160c6-37cd-4e81-846b-a288210df43f
Antarctica pano: http://photosynth.net/view.aspx?cid=2dbd4b84-f742-49e6-8b96-d738159f7ac0
ICE: http://research.microsoft.com/en-us/um/redmond/groups/ivm/ice/


Photosynth does make a neat web presentation, but I'm actually heading for prints and some pano folios. I'll have to take a closer look to see if Photosynth can create printable files.

I did look at NodalNinja in my initial research. From the pictures, I was concerned that is may not be quite solid and perhaps subject to vibration. The camera seems to sit very high on that vertical arm and I can easily see this introducing a vibration. Do have any real-world comments about this?

Neil Enns


While the panos I posted are hosted on Photosynth there's no reason they need to be. ICE will generate a wide range of file formats, including TIFF and JPEG, for use in whatever print medium you need. It does make posting digital versions to Photosynth easy, but that's just a bonus.



I find the NN5 to be well engineered and quite stable. Many people on the panos forums and reviews use either the NN5 or NN3.


The NNs can be set up to take landscape mode panos. However, the vertical arm allows you to do portrait mode shots, which is usually important to do panos. It also allows you to easily do matrixed panos....also, zenith/nadir shots for 360 deg. work.

There are lots of choices out there....and also the forums have lots of people who are willing to guide you.


John Motzi

Hi Brooks,

I have one of these http://reallyrightstuff.com/ProductDesc.aspx?code=Pano-Elem-Pkg&type=3&eq=&desc=Pano-Elements-Package%3a-For-single-row&key=it

It costs a little bit more than what you showed but it is very flexible and breaks down into two small pieces for transport. Assuming you have a way to level your tripod, it's a perfect solution for single row panos using a standard lens. Positioning the camera in vertical format (you do have a L-plate for your camera?) requires more frames for your pano but allows a 50% taller picture (assuming 2x3 frame size); For stitching, yes you can use PS CS5 but PTGUI Pro (http://www.ptgui.com/) is a really good product for a great price. It can handle almost anything.

Avery Ragan

I have to agree with what John wrote. Really Right Stuff panorama equipment is very solid and a good value for the money. I like that you only buy what you need and it easily upgrades from single row to multiple row panoramas in a logical way. The ability to pack everything away in a compact space is a major plus.

Douglas R Winn

Hi Brooks: I do a lot of pano work and cluster shots, and Photoshop CS5's Photomerge is just plain super, and you don't need any other special programs, special tripod heads, etc., that were important in the past [yes, I bought the RRS pano head a number of years ago, and it now sits in my closet]. The key is to overlap a cluster of photos of the subject you want to capture by 25 to 30% with each shot. Follow the Photomerge procedure, and it will produce a very nice composite image that is all "stiched" together, flawlessly [it just is amazing]; simply flatten the image, apply any alignments necessary using the Edit-Tranform tools [ie, perspective correction, etc.], then crop, and you have a great high res image ready for your normal Photoshop tweaking. I use this technique nearly all of the time...taking a cluster of photos of a subject, even hand held some times, and then merging them....I do this when I know that a single wide angel image won't produce enough resolution for my needs...I get great detail, and wonderful results. You will love working in this way I think. And in answer to your Podcast on Pano, I use the aspect ratio that best enchances the message of my image...long or wide, or tall + narrow, square, or just the normal 4/3 format, but very high res for amazing detail that will even challenge a 65 mp digital back. Old norms are "old norms" ... like the slide rule and 33.3.

beau comeaux

I would echo other's praise of current pano software but caution that if any objects are "close" to the camera (maybe in the 10 ft range), you will still need a pano head. Even more so for interior shots. I shoot a lot of panos and LOVE PTGui, give it a go.

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