Experience with a motorized pano head?

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ThomasS
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Experience with a motorized pano head?

Post by ThomasS » Fri Feb 02, 2007 6:19 pm

From what I know, there are only a few on the market, e.g. Roundshot VR drive, PanoMachine, Clauss Karline Rodeon, PixOrb and some pan/ tilt heads for for video/ movie cameras.
I think, if you have a head that is sufficiently precise, that it can be useful if you want to do really large panos with > 100 images to avoid manual errors.
I'm thinking about either buying one or building one for myself (unfortunately I'm neither a mechanical nor a electronic engineer). Either way, it will be quite expensive so I'm wondering if it's worth it.

Thomas

pentaximees
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Post by pentaximees » Sat Feb 03, 2007 8:42 am

selfmade motorized panohead is tricky business :D , trust me - I know. I am working on that kind of project about 1,5 years and finishing my second version , called EVO 2.

If you have money, buy one (why not usedone).


Cheers , Raivo
Let the Force be with You!

baflobill
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Panobot

Post by baflobill » Sun Feb 04, 2007 8:36 am

Well, it is more of a toy solution but I am still planning on building one of these Lego mindstorms panobots

It is a relative cheap solution for because I already have the Lego.

pentaximees
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Post by pentaximees » Sun Feb 04, 2007 2:35 pm

Lego is great ! But I recomend to use this http://mindstorms.lego.com/Overview/The_NXT.aspx as control unit. My one idea was use NTX unit to control EVO2.
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bill t.
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Post by bill t. » Sun Feb 04, 2007 4:18 pm

I keep thinking I should build a motorized panohead. But even though I do stuff like that professionally, I think it's just too easy to stay in good old manual mode. Human beings are highly portable motion control systems that can put considerable torque on an input shaft, and can operate in the field for days at a time powered with nothing more than Twinkies and soda pop. No battery packs, no chargers, no cables, and no small parts to get lost except one's sanity. They also often understand and respond to ambiguous directions, and can be programmed in ordinary human languages.

Plus, there's more to it than just motorizing pan & tilt. There's also the issue of triggering the camera, making sure the camera really responded to the trigger as the flash card delays build up, and so on, the list is long. Mabye if the camera were up on a pole or otherwise in a remote location you could make a pretty good case for motorizing, but then you would also need to have a system for remote focusing, exposure setting, etc. I have found that with practice and careful procedure I no longer skip over exposures, although that took a while.

So here's a potentially motorizable system that I still use in manual mode. This is a 6" Velmex rotary table with a manual rotating nob, but note the holes to mount a stepping motor. I've got another one stored away for tilt. These things show up ebay but lately have been getting pricey. The white incrementing band around the table top was created in PS and printed on RC paper for durability, it's taped on the opposite side, I have versions for all my favorite lenses. The plate with the holes lets me position this on top of 6" and 10" ladders with 3 vertical screws driven into ladder top step. Wing nuts on either side level the plate. Yes, it's heavy! But it is immune to pretty decent winds even on long exposures. The 18 turns per 360 degree ratio of this table is great for manual use, but maybe a little too fast for optimal motorizing.

Someday I may motorize it, but so far I feel no compelling reason to do so. But I have also seen some of the cool Lego-esque things some of you guys have come up with, and I have to say I'm impressed! I bet they work pretty good!

Image

pentaximees
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Post by pentaximees » Sun Feb 04, 2007 4:28 pm

wow ! great job !
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ThomasS
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Post by ThomasS » Sun Feb 04, 2007 6:04 pm

You built an interesting pano head - and I follow absolutely your argument regarding the (in)abilties of human beings (especially, because I forgot more than once a shot in a sequence...).

My question arose from regarding the existing motorized heads. They are all microprocessor-controlled. At least form the VR drive and from the PanoMachine I know that you can program them to respect delays like camera wake up, stabilizing time after movement, exposure time, recording time on card, bracketing etc. You can use them also to create object movies, which is - for me - usually a pain in the a...
Also these heads add only around 2 pounds to your backpack (although the needed batteries do much more
:-( ) but they add some heavy EUR 1000-1500 to the debit of your account. And, unfortunatly they support only single-row movement.

My conclusion at the moment is, that building such a head for myself is out of the question.

Still open and important for me is to know, can the available heads speed up the job significantly to justify the money spent and are they precise enough?

GURL
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Post by GURL » Sun Feb 04, 2007 6:08 pm

Bill t. wrote:The white incrementing band around the table top was created in PS and printed on RC paper for durability, it's taped on the opposite side, I have versions for all my favorite lenses.
Bill, your band gave me an idea: suppose panohead manufacturers providing some sort of groove where such a band could be placed to mark the camera location along the horizontal arm. we could exchange as a JPEG and print the bands to be used for a given camera and some primes lenses or the different settings of a zoom lens...

Billband®: "Where can I get the billband for my new ###on 10-500mm F/1.99 EF-AF-USM-VR-D ?"

This should be easy for Panosaurus because the horizontal arm is wide and IMHO this is possible for Nodal Ninja, too.

Hello Nickfan?

Hello Greg?
Georges - - Stay tuned, this is just the beginning of digital photography

bill t.
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Post by bill t. » Sun Feb 04, 2007 8:56 pm

ThomasS wrote:Still open and important for me is to know, can the available heads speed up the job significantly to justify the money spent and are they precise enough?
It is not worth it for...
Tourists
Hikers
People who only shoot a small number of panos each day.

It might be worth it for...
People who shoot many panos each day
People who shoot panos with many, many frames
People with an assistant

One very important thing to consider is this... I have a software program that is sometimes used to motion control a DSLR for motion pictures. About 1/2% of the time, the camera will not shoot a frame when it is asked to, or it will shoot the frame only after a delay. This is a very big source of trouble, it is the same as when a human forgets to shoot a frame. If the motorized pano system can not always detect a "failed frame" then it is useless! For most cameras, there is no easy way to detect a failed frame through electronics...a person must always be watching or listening.

But personally, I suspect that if I had such a system, it would often give me an excuse not to shoot a pano, especially if I was feeling a little lazy! I think I would use a motorized system if it were EASIER than a manual system...but it really isn't, at least not now since I don't like to carry extra items with me.

Georges, thanks for registering Billband®. I will of course share with you the huge fortune I will make selling these useful items!

davterrob123
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Post by davterrob123 » Mon Feb 05, 2007 12:03 am

GURL wrote:
Bill t. wrote:The white incrementing band around the table top was created in PS and printed on RC paper for durability, it's taped on the opposite side, I have versions for all my favorite lenses.
Bill, your band gave me an idea: suppose panohead manufacturers providing some sort of groove where such a band could be placed to mark the camera location along the horizontal arm. we could exchange as a JPEG and print the bands to be used for a given camera and some primes lenses or the different settings of a zoom lens...

Billband®: "Where can I get the billband for my new ###on 10-500mm F/1.99 EF-AF-USM-VR-D ?"
Although it is not interchangeable “bands”, but rather interchangeable indexes, this is the functionality that I am aiming for with the Isodex Panoramic Head. You, the photographer, use a simple design utility to create rotation indexes for the camera(s) and lens(es) you are using. Yaw and pitch rotation, image overlap, and camera sensor size are all factored into the indexes. The discs are quickly changed on location without needing to remove the camera from the pan head.

http://www.southernicons.com/isodex_panoramic_head.htm

nickfan
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Post by nickfan » Tue Feb 06, 2007 9:04 am

GURL wrote:
Bill t. wrote:The white incrementing band around the table top was created in PS and printed on RC paper for durability, it's taped on the opposite side, I have versions for all my favorite lenses.
Bill, your band gave me an idea: suppose panohead manufacturers providing some sort of groove where such a band could be placed to mark the camera location along the horizontal arm. we could exchange as a JPEG and print the bands to be used for a given camera and some primes lenses or the different settings of a zoom lens...

Billband®: "Where can I get the billband for my new ###on 10-500mm F/1.99 EF-AF-USM-VR-D ?"

This should be easy for Panosaurus because the horizontal arm is wide and IMHO this is possible for Nodal Ninja, too.

Hello Nickfan?

Hello Greg?
The previous model of nodal ninja has a groove on the horizontal arm for sticking label for different camera settings. But I dropped it in NN3. I don't think it is necessary because few people use different cameras on NN3 over the same period of time. Labeling will only help at the early time of using a new camera on NN. After a few practices, you know what settings to be adjusted. A place holder to remember the setting is more important. It is under production.
I like the Bill's idea of rotatory table and the BillBand. Where can I apply for a license to use the BillBand? ;-) Probably I can use it in the new rotator bases.
nick

ps I apologize for Thomas for hijacking his post.
Last edited by nickfan on Thu Jun 21, 2007 10:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Juergen
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Post by Juergen » Tue Feb 06, 2007 3:28 pm

Motorized heads do make sense in extreme situations where the photographer hast to shoot in as little time as possible to the most possible accuracy.

Imagine you are climbing a "real" mountain in ranges above 12,000 ft where you can't rest wherever and whenever you like. Mind that there you wouldn't want to spend the time to shoot 40+ pictures for a hi res panorama anyway.

Another suitable job for motorized heads are pole panos in difficult situations, especially when time martters.

Or, as Thomas said, any situation where you would want to keep your mind free of all these tiny steps where you easily could miss one or worse.

I have seen the one from Roundshot in action and it worked very well. It can even do sphericals, but you have to move the arm for the horizontal axis manually.

So in cases where it is useful it is worth every cent. But even if I had one I personally wouldn't use it for everyday jobs.

pentaximees
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Post by pentaximees » Tue Feb 06, 2007 3:37 pm

I like to develop things :o))).
Let the Force be with You!

whosaidthat
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Post by whosaidthat » Tue Feb 06, 2007 4:52 pm

The VR Drive looks like a great idea but out of the reach of most pano people.
Maybe Nick Fan could develop a more down to earth motorised base for the NN3-4!!
Something in the $200 - $500USD mark as an addon to a NN3 would be very good value indeed.

From what I can see, such a motorised base could be a lot simpler in design.

What if instead of all the micro processor settings, the unit simply stopped at each indent on the disk that Nick supplies with the NN3?

A simple timer delay knob with 3 settings
1 Sunny day - 5sec delay before next rotation
2 cloudly day - 20sec delay before next rotation
3 night shot - 5min delay before next rotation

What if instead of the 130 euro cord, Nick made a slot for the D70 IR on the head so that the motor could pause at the click stop and press the fire button on the remote? A $10 solution ;-)

Or maybe someone could develop the design of the following:

http://www.yankodesign.com/product_info ... cts_id=764

http://www.cedrictay.com/

Lets see what happens, would really like to have something like this soon on the end of a pole...

Juergen
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Post by Juergen » Wed Feb 07, 2007 9:36 am

Yeah! Put me on the list, Nick :)

Actually I am planning to built my own one and you could save me a lot of trouble.

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