has anyone tried the Kingpano head

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mkrochta
Posts: 18
Joined: Fri Jun 25, 2004 9:19 pm

has anyone tried the Kingpano head

Post by mkrochta » Thu Mar 31, 2005 9:30 am

Looking for feedback on the Kingpano head. http://www.kingpano.com/. I'm using a Prosumer camera Fuji s7000. In your opinion how does it compare to the Nodal Ninja. I do know shipping is a lot more.

Oh and thanks Max for the inspiration.

Mike

halley
Posts: 383
Joined: Sun Nov 23, 2003 11:47 pm
Contact:

Post by halley » Thu Mar 31, 2005 10:43 am

I haven't used the KingPano before, but it's made of smooth acrylic and it's as big and bulky as the Panosaurus.

The biggest thing that steered me away from the Panosaurus was its bulk-- if I don't take it with me in my gear bag, I won't use it.

Acrylic is harder than the PVC plastic of the Panosaurus, but don't expect it to look nice for long since every scratch and fingerprint will show up. It's probably more rigid than the Panosaurus, even with a bit more weight, so that's a plus. Does it have rubber or cork or any other gripping surface?

blink-1
Posts: 2
Joined: Thu Mar 31, 2005 12:02 pm

Post by blink-1 » Fri Apr 01, 2005 1:40 pm

I had coresponded via e-mail w/ the creator of this product and he seemed very helpful and personable. He advised that there is forthcoming review. I'm waiting to read that before I make any decisions.

I like the idea of aluminum more than acryllic plastic, but the King Pano looks very beefy. I don't know for certain, but I suspect little if any sag when a heavier camera is mounted. I wonder how well/quick it assembles/disassembles and how small it packs.

I also like the looks of the built-in leveling base.

If anyone has any pre-review info., please post your opinions!

Thanks

Buck

hvengel
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Joined: Sun Apr 03, 2005 8:35 am

Post by hvengel » Sun Apr 03, 2005 9:19 am


megaweb
Posts: 15
Joined: Fri Apr 01, 2005 7:57 am

Re: has anyone tried the Kingpano head

Post by megaweb » Sun Apr 03, 2005 10:07 am

mkrochta wrote:Looking for feedback on the Kingpano head. http://www.kingpano.com/. I'm using a Prosumer camera Fuji s7000. In your opinion how does it compare to the Nodal Ninja. I do know shipping is a lot more.

Oh and thanks Max for the inspiration.

Mike
not much specification info at the http://www.kingpano.com/

does it has the degree marking for the rotating ?

hvengel
Posts: 85
Joined: Sun Apr 03, 2005 8:35 am

Post by hvengel » Mon Apr 04, 2005 1:56 pm

It has horizontal axis click stops every 7.5 degrees with engraved markings. The veritcal axis has marks every 5 degrees with number lables every 15 degrees. I read some where that the veritcal axis markings are limited to up only but I don't know for sure if this is correct for current production. That same source said that for down markings all you had to do was add an additional indexing mark yourself. So if this is the case I don't think it is a big deal. Here is a link to a photo of the "nodal point control arm" http://www.kingpano.com/gallery/photo.php?photo=62 If you select the larger size you will see the markings. To get a closer look at the markings in the base go here http://www.kingpano.com/gallery/photo.php?photo=49

The 7.5 degree click stops means that you are limited to how long of a lens you can use with this unit to less than about 200mm on a 35mm full frame camera.

It looks to me like the web site is still being worked on. It would be nice if there was a detailed specs page on the web site. As it is most of the details are there but you have to dig around to find specifics.

I exchanged emails with the guy that makes these to ask if my somewhat larger camera would fit. He got back to me very quickly and seemed to be a straight shooter. For example, he told me that he considered 3 lb to be the upper weight limit. This in spite of the fact that this unit, to me, looks like it is much more rigid than the panosorous which also is rated for 3 lbs. In other words it appeared to me that he was being very careful not to over state the cabablities of the unit.

This unit will handle bigger cameras than the NodalNinja. When I checked on my camera demensions the NodalNinja was too small to work. My camera is a full size SLR. On the other hand NodalNinja is rated to handle slightly more weight and is all aluminum contruction. It looked like a very nice unit and if it is big enough for your camera then you should take a very close look at it. But if you think you may someday want to get a bigger camera it may not be for you.

I found two sources on the web that had either reviews of the unit or users reporting to forums about thier experiences with this unit. Both sources had good things to say about it being almost completely positive. Still not much to go on.

I used to shoot nothing smaller than medium format and am not totaly satisfied with the results I am currently getting with other formats. So I have been stitching photos for a while but I do not currently have a panohead and I have grown tired of dealing with the problems that come from not having one. So I decided to get one of these. It should arrive later this week.

megaweb
Posts: 15
Joined: Fri Apr 01, 2005 7:57 am

Post by megaweb » Tue Apr 05, 2005 8:29 pm

Thank you hvengel for such informative reply :)


I bought the nodal ninja and realise it cannot support my setup point upward directly (90 degree - vertically). I am quite satisfied with it due to its weight, size and stability which suit my setup. I am looking forward for the new upgrade like higher Vertical Headroom.

hvengel
Posts: 85
Joined: Sun Apr 03, 2005 8:35 am

Post by hvengel » Sun Apr 10, 2005 4:32 am

It arrived today so here are my initial impressions.

The web site does not do these heads justice. The detailing and workmanship are very good. The engraved angle and position markings have all been painted white and are very well done. These are easy to read even for someone who's eyes are not as good as they used to be. (read as I am getting old and my sight is starting to go)

The head weights 1 1/2 pounds. So it is fairly light. This is comparable to the Panosorous and the Nodal Ninja.

The tripod mount hole is 3/8 inch and it comes with a 1/4 inch adapter. So this will work with any tripod even one that does not have a head.

The click stops in the base work well but at 7.5 degrees limit how long of lens you can use. To allow for enough overlap I think that the upper limit is around 150mm equivalent.

The head is fairly stiff and most of the flex that I do see is from the leveling system in the base. I am very picky about tripod/head stiffness and I like my tripod and head to be very stiff. This unit is stiff enough that I can live with it. I could not see any sag but there may have been a very small amount.

The upright and the swing arm can be quickly removed by removing two thumb knobs. But it is probably best to leave the swing arm on the upright and just line them up and tighten the thumb knob to hold them together as a unit. The disassembled head is fairly compact for one that will handle full size cameras and that is this rigid.

Of course compact is in the eye of the beholder so here are some dimensions. The base is about 180mm x 75 mm and the thickness at the mount, where the leveling system is located, is about 48mm. The upright is about 160mm x 75mm and it is about 68 mm deep at its base. The swing arm is about 165mm x 75mm and the camera mount is about 133mm x 82mm. Most the material is about 12mm thick.

If you are looking for something that packs up small and you have a small enough camera then you should probably look into the Nodal Ninja as this unit is significantly bulkier both assembled and disassembled. On the other hand if you tend to carry a camera bag with one or more full size cameras, a bunch of lenses and a full size tripod then this unit will not be a problem for either bulk or weight. For those that are some where in between this head is still a contender.

The swing arm is calibrated with millimeter marks starting at the pivot point back to 110 mm. The head will go full vertical with the camera back up to about 120mm in back of the pivot point. It easily handled my full size SLR with a 135mm lens with room to spare (probably about 35mm). The camera setback adjustment allows for the tripod hole on the camera to be positioned from about 10mm behind the pivot point to about 110mm behind the pivot point perhaps a little bit more. At this point I believe that almost any camera smaller than medium format will fit this head and even some smaller medium format cameras might fit. The only limitation is weight.

The claimed weight limit is 3 pounds but the builder told me that he regularly uses heavier cameras and that he is being very careful to not make inflated claims. How refreshing. Having spent the afternoon playing around with it I am confident that the 3 pound limit is in fact very conservative. The camera I was using was 2 1/4 to 3 1/4 pounds depending on the lens that was mounted. I did not mount any really heavy long lenses since it would have exeeded the weight limit and this head it not well suited to really long focal length lenses.

The camera mounting surface is rubber and grips the camera very securely. There is a rubber ring between the swing arm and the upright arm. This is very secure but it does not move smoothly. So you must loosen the thumb knob then free the arm and reposition it before re-tighting the thumb knob. Not as good as it could be but also not a real big problem either.

The built-in leveling base is very nice and works well. It is however the source of most of the flex in the head.

The camera screw and the screw that holds the universal camera mount bracket (UCMB) to the swing arm are conventional slotted screws with a large slot that is big enough to use a coin. I intend to get a stubby screw driver to keep in my camera bag for this.

I found the screw that holds the UCMB requires a little bit of thought to get in place smoothly. Not a real big deal but you have to be careful not to drop the screw which could be a problem in the field. When it does not have a camera mounted the camera screw is lose so you must be careful not to loose it. I will probably go by the hardware store and get a few extras of each size screw to have a few spares to keep in my camera bag just in case.

hvengel
Posts: 85
Joined: Sun Apr 03, 2005 8:35 am

Post by hvengel » Tue Apr 26, 2005 8:27 pm

Another follow up. I have had a chance to shoot a few panos with this head. At this point I am very pleased with it.

The head is stiff and has almost no sag or flex. It copes with windy condition even with cameras that approach the upper weight limit of the unit if mounted on a good tripod. In spite of it being the source of most of the flex in the head I really like the leveling base as it makes doing final leveling very easy.

The stickyness of the rubber ring between the swing arm and the upright has mostly gone away with use and I expect that with continued use this will improve some more. At the same time it still locks down very securely with I tighten the thumb knob.

The few panos that I have had a chance to stitch have stitched up very nicely and I have not even bothered to do any hand blending on any of these images as they have been seemless coming out of both PTStitcher and nona/enblend. After optimization the angles reported for yaw, pitch and roll varied by less than 0.4 degrees from shot to shot. So camera positioning is repeatable and fairly accurate.

For me the head breaks down into a fairly small package of two assemblies that fits easily into the back pocket of my camera bag. And I find it easy to transport since it adds little weight to my camera bag. Having said that I will trade stiffness in a tripod head for weight or bulk any day and as I said in the last post this is not a unit the you stick in your pocket. It is light but it is also some what bulky. IMO the level of rigidity more than makes up for being a little bulky.

trebs
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Location: Belgium
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Post by trebs » Sat May 07, 2005 3:14 am

Being very handy in the machine shop, I thought I'd try to build my own pano head but after seeing the kingpano I'm not sure I'll bother.
I think I'll be adding one of these to my kit very soon.
I shoot now free-hand with my D70, fine for outdoors landscapes, but interior and close-quarters work is very tricky.
I looks very robust compared to the others available, (I'm not knocking the nodal ninja or the panosaurus, but from what I gather DSLR use wasn't 100% in mind when they were released) especially when I want to hang a D70 and a fast lens on there.

Just one question.. can the base plate be modified a touch to allow battery access? the only downside I can see is that by cutting a little off the end the adjustment slot becomes weaker...

Regards. Trebs.

www.vistapan.com

D.Fru
Posts: 1
Joined: Sat May 07, 2005 10:09 am

Post by D.Fru » Sat May 07, 2005 10:19 am

I received the KingPano head several days ago. It is built very sturdy. I am using it with a Canon 10D and several small zooms, it holds then without sag and very little vibration, I also think the 3lb weight limit to be very conservative. As of yet I have not had a chance to shoot any panos with the setup but have found the nodal point on my 28-135 IS zoom.
Bill King is great to deal with, very prompt answers to E-mail, and fast shipping. Overall a nice pano head. I hope to use it soon and will keep all posted as to the results. Dan
Dan

shelbuh
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Another New User

Post by shelbuh » Sun May 08, 2005 3:35 pm

Just another kind word about bill king...

I just recieved my KingPano in the mail, and the "horizontal stabilizer" was snapped in two... mailman must have pitched it about 50yards onto hard pavement to get enough force to snap the acryilic. Acryilic may be brittle... but 3/4-inches of it should take quite a beating.

Emailed him, and he's expressing a replacement part out immediately.

Great friendly service, and a product (Despite what happened to mine in shipping) that seems to be built very precisely and like a mack truck.

definitely recommended.

shelby

moulton
Posts: 21
Joined: Tue Nov 30, 2004 10:18 pm

Post by moulton » Sun May 08, 2005 7:53 pm

I'm a happy owner of a new KingPano. I've been too busy to take many shots w/ it but very pleased w/ the quality so far.

I had been using a Jasper Pano Head, It's top-notch quality and built like a tank, however I wanted a head that easially accomodated multi-row pano shots.

I e-mailed a few questions to Mr. King and his replies were sent quickly, he even made a modification to his "universal-camera-mounting-bracket" so it would fit my camera, allowing the UCMB to line up w/ the center-line of the lens/camera, a Canon Powershot Pro1.

I finally got out w/ the camera and KingPano today and am pleased w/ it's performance, I'll post a few shots as soon as I get them stitched.

I found one limitation <YIKES>, it's particualr to my camera and NOT a complaint against the unit. With my lens set to it's widest angle, 28mm <35mm SLR format equiv> it does not protrude out of the camera much. I use a rectangular graduated neutral-density filter to darken the skies, it attaches to the lens w/ a Cookin filter adapter. Unfortunatly the filter assembly does not clear the side of Pano head (Nodal Point control arm) and I see no way around this. Perhaps I can get another type of G-ND filter that's not so large? If I set the lens to 50mm <35mm format equiv> then I have no clearance issues.

Anyways, So far I'm please w/ Bill's quick responses & willingness to adapt his product to my camera, as well as the unit.

Big Pix
Posts: 29
Joined: Fri Apr 29, 2005 2:30 pm
Location: Central Coast of NSW Australia

Post by Big Pix » Mon May 09, 2005 5:38 am

I received my King Pano head this morning, just 4 days after being advised that it was on the way and I live in Australia, just great service. I have been stuck inside all day due to it raining so my test of the new head was a little tight. I have used the nodal points as on the King Pano web site and have found these very good for the D70 and kit lens, so if the sun shines tomorrow ......... some pix's of Australia

cheers
big pix
too much time for play......
http://bigpix.smugmug.com

hvengel
Posts: 85
Joined: Sun Apr 03, 2005 8:35 am

Post by hvengel » Mon May 09, 2005 11:24 pm

trebs wrote:...

Just one question.. can the base plate be modified a touch to allow battery access? the only downside I can see is that by cutting a little off the end the adjustment slot becomes weaker...

Regards. Trebs.

www.vistapan.com
The camera adapter is a very simple assembly that is made from three pieces of 6mm thick matterial and piece of rubber pad. The problem for the maker of this head (and perhaps others as well) is that many cameras have various things on the bottom. In your case it is the battery compartment. In my case it is the film rewind button and the control to open the camera back. On every cammera these things are in different locations and designing a camera bracket that will work for every variation is an imposible task.

Given that I don't think it would be too difficult to build a custom camera bracket for a specific camera. The only real limitation is that what ever you need access to must not be obscured by the swing arm when the camera is mounted to the head. The swing arm is about 65 mm wide. So if your battery compartment with the door open is at least 33 mm from the lens center line then it should be possble to build a custom camera bracket that will allow you to change batteries without removing the camera from the head. You should contact the builder and ask about your camera. He may be able to supply a custom camera bracket for a very afordable price.

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