RSS Rotator or Advanced Rotator RD16-II... or?

Discussion forum for techniques and issues relating to the creation of panoramic and/or "mosaic" images

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thinkstopthink
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RSS Rotator or Advanced Rotator RD16-II... or?

Post by thinkstopthink » Thu Sep 27, 2012 4:10 pm

Hi,

Very glad to be shooting stitched panoramas after a twelve year hiatus.

Specifics:

I shoot to print.
I typically stick to three formats: 1:2, 2.40, and 3:1. All shot in portrait orientation.
I am currently shooting single row panoramas. That may change in the future.

Gear I use:

Canon 5D MKII
Canon 24mm II, 45mm, 90mm Tilt Shift lenses. (50mm/1.2, 85mm/1.2 also, don't use 'em for panos) Thinking of adding a 135mm/f2 or a 200mm/f2 to the kit.
Really Right Stuff Pano Elements Package, BH-40 Ballhead.

I very much like RRS gear. I've had their L-Plates and Clamps on every camera I've owned.

Here is the problem: while the PCL-1 Panning Clamp has very fine degree scale (2.5° increments), is incredibly smooth and solid as a rock, my aging eyes are having a tougher time reading the degree markings on the base, especially if the light is low, or changing rapidly. So... I'm thinking of going back to an indexing head, such as this one:

http://store.nodalninja.com/index.php/r ... d16-1.html

I don't want to, but I think it might make my shooting process more reliable. And, I'm taking a four month photography trip to SE Asia, where I plan to do a lot of pano shooting. On the one hand, I'm guessing that the RD16 is a bit heavier, which is a downside. On the other hand, the RD16 has much finer degree gradations than other index rotators. I really do not want any mistakes when there won't be a chance to return to some of the places I'll be visiting.

Any suggestions? Does anyone on the board use or own the RD16? If so, can you tell me about the quality? Anyone else run into a similar problem and solve it a different way? Reading glasses and headlamp? :\

Thanks!

Jon

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Growing
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Re: RSS Rotator or Advanced Rotator RD16-II... or?

Post by Growing » Fri Sep 28, 2012 6:09 am

On the other hand, the RD16 has much finer degree gradations than other index rotators.
You don't really want finer gradations. You want gradations that suit the lenses and focal lengths that you want to use.

Since you are shooting only single row, the vertical size of your panorama is limited to the HFOV of your lens (in portrait orientation).

Max's handy calculators will let you find the HFOV and VFOV for your lenses on your camera. Having selected the appropriate maximum focal length (based upon your vertical criteria), you want to select a horizontal stepping angle that is around 20-30% larger than the VFOV of your lens.

So for example, with the 24mm on your 5D (53 x 73 degrees FOV), your panorama will span no more than 73 degrees vertically, and you will want a stepping angle of around 40 to 44 degrees. You could choose a stepping angle of 36 degrees or 45 degrees (most rotators have these).

Selecting instead a 45mm (29.9 x 43.6 degrees FOV), your single row panorama is limited to only 43 degrees vertically (it may be a lot less depending upon your projection) and you would like a stepping angle of 23 to 25 degrees. If your rotator offers 24 degrees, you are in luck.

If you move to multi-row panoramas with a suitable pano head, you are no longer constrained by lens choice over your vertical or horizontal dimensions. But a click-rotator is much more desirable now, as you will be repeating the rotations, and alignment matters. I find using a click-rotator saves a lot of time and eliminates many mistakes.

waters
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Re: RSS Rotator or Advanced Rotator RD16-II... or?

Post by waters » Fri Sep 28, 2012 11:54 am

Your quandary is a perfect illustration of the problem with RRS rotators! Be it failing eyes or just the rush to remember everything in the process of shooting panos, not having detents in rotators makes them much less useful. With all of the beautiful stuff RRS makes their failure to incorporate detents in their roators baffles me. This has been going on for years.
Figure out how many stops you might need and buy the NN you need. I have a NN RD8 and have found it to work flawlessly.

johnh
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Re: RSS Rotator or Advanced Rotator RD16-II... or?

Post by johnh » Fri Sep 28, 2012 3:26 pm

thinkstopthink wrote:Does anyone on the board use or own the RD16? If so, can you tell me about the quality?
I have an RD16 and use it attached to a Nodal Ninja M1L head. The detents are accurate and it has worked reliably. I have no hesitation in recommending it.

John

Terrywoodenpic
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Re: RSS Rotator or Advanced Rotator RD16-II... or?

Post by Terrywoodenpic » Mon Oct 01, 2012 6:48 am

Click stops are a godsend. It speeds up the whole process.

Virtual any of the NN heads is more than accurate and solid enough.
Stitching software like PTAssembler or PTGui do not need accurate spacing between shots ( they do not even know about such things) they just need a reasonable stitching overlap. They can even happily mix vertical and horizontal shots, (not that I would do that).

The important bit, for some work, is having an accurate entrance point to rotate around.
I am not sure why you would even want to use tilt shift lenses for pans as they only complicate things, for no actual gain.
If you want to include the tops of things, Just point up a bit more, the Stitching software sorts the verticals.
In very many situations no head is needed at all. When parallax is not a major issue. simply take hand helds.

I use a, now old NN3 MK2, or take Hand helds for all my pan shots. I use PTAssembler and smartblend as the blender. It is very rare I have the slightest problem with stitching. When I do, it is always unsuitably selected points. Manual selection sorts that one.
Terry

old decrepit and still taking photographs

thinkstopthink
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Re: RSS Rotator or Advanced Rotator RD16-II... or?

Post by thinkstopthink » Sun Dec 02, 2012 2:08 pm

Growing wrote:
You don't really want finer gradations. You want gradations that suit the lenses and focal lengths that you want to use.
Yes, actually I do. Finer graduations make for easier adjustment. Also, since we can't predict the future, having finer gradations will be much-welcomed when I add other lenses.
Growing wrote:Max's handy calculators will let you find the HFOV and VFOV for your lenses on your camera. Having selected the appropriate maximum focal length (based upon your vertical criteria), you want to select a horizontal stepping angle that is around 20-30% larger than the VFOV of your lens.
I think you have made an error. The rotation per frame should be XX% less. If it was larger, the frames would not overlap at all. Your examples bear this out.
Growing wrote:So for example, with the 24mm on your 5D (53 x 73 degrees FOV), your panorama will span no more than 73 degrees vertically, and you will want a stepping angle of around 40 to 44 degrees. You could choose a stepping angle of 36 degrees or 45 degrees (most rotators have these).

Selecting instead a 45mm (29.9 x 43.6 degrees FOV), your single row panorama is limited to only 43 degrees vertically (it may be a lot less depending upon your projection) and you would like a stepping angle of 23 to 25 degrees. If your rotator offers 24 degrees, you are in luck.
Yes, the R16II has every indexing angle I need for my current lenses—which is why having a head with finer gradations is useful.
Growing wrote:If you move to multi-row panoramas with a suitable pano head, you are no longer constrained by lens choice over your vertical or horizontal dimensions. But a click-rotator is much more desirable now, as you will be repeating the rotations, and alignment matters. I find using a click-rotator saves a lot of time and eliminates many mistakes.
As I mentioned, I am on a hiatus from shooting VR. In 1999/2000 I worked for the largest VR studio in NYC. I designed the set-up for an object rotation of a 60' New York Fire Department ladder truck, photographed in an American Airlines hangar at La Guardia, among many others. My first 360 shots were done with film scans , when Kaidan heads were king. So, at this point after doing all of that back then, I have no real interest in lugging around more gear for multi-row shots. I'm off to Thailand and Laos for a photo trip and more equipment and more batteries are not in the picture. I already have too much!

And, frankly, after seeing the multilayer panoramics done by the owner of that studio with a $60K PanoScan camera, most 360VRs bore me to tears.

And, I have a 24" wide Canon 6300 printer and the 5DMkII will give me a 24" tall pano. I'm basically trying to recreate the pano formats that were standard in the film days: 2:1, 3:1, and my personal favorite from my years in the film business: 2.40:1 (Cinemascope). It is much easier to shoot in these formats, as paper, mats, frames, etc. are available in these sizes, not requiring custom framing.

But the click rotator became a priority as I don't want to make rotation errors in low light, when I'm in a rush, etc. Thank you for your reply!

Jon
http://www.jonwitsell.com

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thinkstopthink
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Re: RSS Rotator or Advanced Rotator RD16-II... or?

Post by thinkstopthink » Sun Dec 02, 2012 2:13 pm

waters wrote:Your quandary is a perfect illustration of the problem with RRS rotators! Be it failing eyes or just the rush to remember everything in the process of shooting panos, not having detents in rotators makes them much less useful. With all of the beautiful stuff RRS makes their failure to incorporate detents in their roators baffles me. This has been going on for years.
Figure out how many stops you might need and buy the NN you need. I have a NN RD8 and have found it to work flawlessly.
Exactly!! The had hinted at making one several years ago. Before buying the RD16, I enquired with RSS. They said they would like to make one, but with the engineering involved, it would be a long process to make one to their standards and is far down on their list of requested products. I guess they have a few prototypes floating around the office... I'd like to go see one of those.

Thanks for the reply! I've incorporated the RD16 into my RSS system. I'll post a picture at some point.

Jon
http://www.jonwitsell.com

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thinkstopthink
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Re: RSS Rotator or Advanced Rotator RD16-II... or?

Post by thinkstopthink » Sun Dec 02, 2012 2:14 pm

johnh wrote:
thinkstopthink wrote:Does anyone on the board use or own the RD16? If so, can you tell me about the quality?
I have an RD16 and use it attached to a Nodal Ninja M1L head. The detents are accurate and it has worked reliably. I have no hesitation in recommending it.

John
Hi John,

Thanks for the recommendation! I got the RD16 and so far am very happy with it.

Jon
http://www.jonwitsell.com

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thinkstopthink
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Re: RSS Rotator or Advanced Rotator RD16-II... or?

Post by thinkstopthink » Sun Dec 02, 2012 2:37 pm

Terrywoodenpic wrote:Click stops are a godsend. It speeds up the whole process.
Thats for sure. I thought back and at one time had FOUR different Kaidan heads. So much less error prone.
Terrywoodenpic wrote:The important bit, for some work, is having an accurate entrance point to rotate around.
Yes, that's a know quantity for all of my lenses.
Terrywoodenpic wrote:I am not sure why you would even want to use tilt shift lenses for pans as they only complicate things, for no actual gain.
I disagree. Shift up and down is accomplished is a few seconds. Horizon anywhere I want it. I use that feature all the time. When greater DOF is required and I don't want diffraction-induced artifacts, a little tilt handles the situation. When light is falling and I want more DOF, I can leave the iris open and tilt and not need a slower shutter speed (great when it is windy) or have to turn up the ISO. As to entrance pupil shifting, I've dont the standard NPP test with the lenses tilted and noted the change. And besides, I'm carrying the T/S lenses as they are lighter than my 4x5 field camera. They are essentially my replacement for it, and will be in my pack anyway.
Terrywoodenpic wrote:If you want to include the tops of things, Just point up a bit more, the Stitching software sorts the verticals.
In very many situations no head is needed at all. When parallax is not a major issue. simply take hand helds.
Sorry, no offense intended, but that seems sloppy to me. It just isn't how my brain is wired. I've always attempted to do as much in-camera as possible. Part of that comes from many years in the motion picture biz where "Just fix it in post" was spoken by people who did not know how to do things correctly. They were often not found on the same set again. There are times when you have to fix things later; I try to eliminate them before hand.
Terrywoodenpic wrote:I use a, now old NN3 MK2, or take Hand helds for all my pan shots. I use PTAssembler and smartblend as the blender. It is very rare I have the slightest problem with stitching. When I do, it is always unsuitably selected points. Manual selection sorts that one.
I use AutoPano Pro, and am upgrading to Giga for the Lightroom plug-in feature (among others). I don't want to spend more time in front of this monitor. I want my software to see an imported pano, and think this: Ok! Images have been shot like this: Perfect NPP, correctly overlap with many control points, perfectly leveled pano head, rock solid tripod. The less post I have to do the better!

Thanks for your Reply!

Jon
http://www.jonwitsell.com

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thinkstopthink
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Re: RSS Rotator or Advanced Rotator RD16-II... or?

Post by thinkstopthink » Tue Dec 25, 2012 6:30 am

Hi everyone,

Thanks again for everyone that posted helpful info. I bought the RD16 and it is a nice piece of kit. If you are interested, I wrote up a blog post about how I incorporated it with my Really Right Stuff gear:

http://jonwitsell.com/rrs-nodal-ninja-panoramic-gear/


Jon
http://www.jonwitsell.com

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waters
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Re: RSS Rotator or Advanced Rotator RD16-II... or?

Post by waters » Wed Dec 26, 2012 12:04 pm

Nice rig, but why the RRS rotator between the RD16 and the A rail? Couldn't you just use a simple clamp? Your setup is essentially what I have used for some time, albeit with Kirk parts. I have also had Arca plates on my cameras for years, so it was a question of how to integrate with the NN3 etc. It is a nice feeling to know my expensive equipment is securely mounted in whatever configuration or crazy place I choose!
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thinkstopthink
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Re: RSS Rotator or Advanced Rotator RD16-II... or?

Post by thinkstopthink » Wed Dec 26, 2012 12:41 pm

Hi!

I had originally planned on just using a plain QR clamp, but as I wrote here:

The camera can be rotated 360° with either the RSS clamp or the rotator, and everything stays leveled. It is very fast in use: After leveling the Unit, I rotate the camera with the PCL-1 to my start positions, lock it, and then rotate the camera through the RD16′s detented positions. Any fine adjustments to the rotational position of the camera is easily done with the PCL-1.

Having a leveled free-moving rotator just makes using the set-up a dream. If I'm off a bit, I can just rotate the camera rapidly with that. And, I already had the PCL-1, so it was just a matter of ordering the RD16 with the thread adapter. I'm really glad I did it this way. It just works.

Jon
http://www.jonwitsell.com
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thinkstopthink
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Re: RSS Rotator or Advanced Rotator RD16-II... or?

Post by thinkstopthink » Wed Jan 09, 2013 8:39 am

Finally got time to play around with AutoPano Giga's color anchors. Helped this image a great deal. :)

Jon
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