Tripods : Pan vs Ball Head


Nov 4, 2009
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#1
Im looking for a tripod for panorama shots. The shops recommended pan head as it allows you to pan easily by just rotating the head.
However after further thought i felt the ball head might be a better choice, as I want something that is quick to set up with the least hassle.

For pan head, I would have to adjust to ensure the tripod is level so plane of rotation is level/horizontal. This would involve adjusting leg height etc until perfect. With a ball head, it doesnt matter that the tripod is not level, just adjust the head till camera is level will do

Am I right to say so?
 

Snoweagle

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Jan 26, 2005
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#2
Im looking for a tripod for panorama shots. The shops recommended pan head as it allows you to pan easily by just rotating the head.
However after further thought i felt the ball head might be a better choice, as I want something that is quick to set up with the least hassle.

For pan head, I would have to adjust to ensure the tripod is level so plane of rotation is level/horizontal. This would involve adjusting leg height etc until perfect. With a ball head, it doesnt matter that the tripod is not level, just adjust the head till camera is level will do

Am I right to say so?
Ballheads allow for faster framing/composition but not as precise as geared or 3-way pan heads. Nowadays ballheads all have panning features too but levelling is still a rule of thumb for panning shots.
 

aspenx

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Aug 10, 2008
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#3
If you mean just one shot for the "panorama" that you're talking about and level the shot etc in pp, then sure, a ballhead will be easier for your "panorama".

It gets a lot more complex when you try to stitch images together though.
 

Nov 4, 2009
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#4
Yes,I intend to stitch.

All it takes is a spirit level attached to the camera, after u snap just rotate n level it.
Of course with over lapping areas so stitching can be done
 

Dream Merchant

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Jan 11, 2007
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#5
Im looking for a tripod for panorama shots.
I assume head.

A 3-way pan head is far easier to align precisely, but can be slower for general photography. A geared head is even more precise, and easier to use than a 3-way, but generally slower.

A ballhead ... the rotation can be as precise, but getting the basic precise leveling can be hell.

For pan head, I would have to adjust to ensure the tripod is level so plane of rotation is level/horizontal. This would involve adjusting leg height etc until perfect. With a ball head, it doesnt matter that the tripod is not level, just adjust the head till camera is level will do
Doesn't matter what head one uses. If the legs are not leveled, nothing else will be once you rotate be it with a ballhead, 3-way or geared because the body of the head will have to be off-set (to compensate for the non-leveled legs). Whichever way you look at it, good panos requires patience and discipline, and is generally not a maggie mee affair.

If you're really seriously into panos, you won't be moving the head at all, but will be using a dedicated pano attachment like this:

http://www.novoflex.com/en/products/panorama-photography/panorama-vr-system-pro-ii/

Even then, the head needs to be leveled properly for it to work effectively and with a ballhead, it may just be that much more difficult.

Eventually, it's your call.
 

night86mare

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Aug 25, 2006
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#6
3 way heads with spirit level + spirit level on the base or on legs you pair it with will be faster for pano photography.

comes at the cost of speed of deployment. but who rushes when taking landscapes? not me.
 

coolthought

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Jun 23, 2008
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#8
I assume head.

A 3-way pan head is far easier to align precisely, but can be slower for general photography. A geared head is even more precise, and easier to use than a 3-way, but generally slower.

A ballhead ... the rotation can be as precise, but getting the basic precise leveling can be hell.



Doesn't matter what head one uses. If the legs are not leveled, nothing else will be once you rotate be it with a ballhead, 3-way or geared because the body of the head will have to be off-set (to compensate for the non-leveled legs). Whichever way you look at it, good panos requires patience and discipline, and is generally not a maggie mee affair.

If you're really seriously into panos, you won't be moving the head at all, but will be using a dedicated pano attachment like this:

http://www.novoflex.com/en/products/panorama-photography/panorama-vr-system-pro-ii/

Even then, the head needs to be leveled properly for it to work effectively and with a ballhead, it may just be that much more difficult.

Eventually, it's your call.
interesting VR system pro. Have you used such attachment? Pano pic will be a pleasure to take?

to sum it up.
1. Ball Head
2. 3 or 2 way Head
3. VR head
4. Gear head.

TS have you done your homework properly? There are 2 more head that are way more suitable for taking panoramic photos. Check out the heads from manfrotto
 

Dream Merchant

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Jan 11, 2007
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#10
interesting VR system pro. Have you used such attachment? Pano pic will be a pleasure to take?

to sum it up.
1. Ball Head
2. 3 or 2 way Head
3. VR head
4. Gear head.

TS have you done your homework properly? There are 2 more head that are way more suitable for taking panoramic photos. Check out the heads from manfrotto
A friend who was an Archi and Industrial photographer used it, and I got to try it once.

Basically, you dial in and lock all your settings for a particular lens, and after establishing a central point on location and leveling your tripod and head, it's a click-shift-click-shift-click-shift... affair to get the required frames for a 360 multi-row spherical composite, a bit longer if you have to compensate for exposure differences. It's really fast because there are detents for all your settings.

It's not a magic wand though. One still has to examine the location and make certain decisions before shooting ... besides leveling the tripod and head.
 

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coolthought

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Jun 23, 2008
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#12
A German friend who was an Archi and Industrial photographer used it, and I got to try it once.

Basically, you dial in and lock all your settings for a particular lens, and after establishing a central point on location and leveling your tripod and head, it's a click-shift-click-shift-click-shift... affair to get the required frames for a 360 multi-row spherical composite, a bit longer if you have to compensate for exposure differences. It's really fast because there are detents for all your settings.

It's not a magic wand though. One still has to examine the location and make certain decisions before shooting ... besides leveling the tripod and head.
hmmm.... wah...so good... seems like with a system like this and a bit effort to make sure everything is right....stitching the photos will be a blast.... thank you for explaining.:)
 

Dream Merchant

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#14
hmmm.... wah...so good... seems like with a system like this and a bit effort to make sure everything is right....stitching the photos will be a blast.... thank you for explaining.:)
I dunno ... my friend actually took a short course in it. :sweat:

But in action, it's very fast to operate.
 

CamInit

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Nov 3, 2009
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#15
A leveled head is very important otherwise any tilt will cause your pano to result in an arc after stitching instead of a straight strip. The greater the tilt, the worse the arc and the more you had to crop out, leaving little usable bits.

If your tripod happens to have a removable center column by unscrewing, then you can try double it up as a free "pan head". Loosen the column a bit and raise it until you can rotate the upper section while the lower section is tightened to the rest of the tripod body. That's what I did (using ballhead, btw). Not perfect but I'm not arguing with free. Alternatively, you can purchase dedicated pano equipment like nodel ninja. I remember seeing it at OP, selling NN5 model for like $500 or $600, NN3 was like $400 or something.

Hope this helps.
:)
 

giantcanopy

Senior Member
Feb 11, 2007
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#16
With a ball head, it doesnt matter that the tripod is not level, just adjust the head till camera is level will do

Am I right to say so?
1) NOPE. the tripod is not levelled, and the rotation and hence the resultant pano will not be horizontal

2) but YES. if the ballhead has a pan just below the base of the camera
like the arca swiss dual pan ballheads

I have a friend who has one, and i can imagine it to be a breeze to use.

ryan
 

kenny888

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Oct 24, 2003
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#17
hi,

actually we can just turn the whole machine head or whatever u call it, just above the ring (bottom) it can turn also and allows u to do panorama, just that it doenst have that so called stick that pan head usually have lol. but then again, there are also markings on the ring, and u turn the whole head, the whole big thingy which i call the machine head lol.

individual choice i guess.
 

Dream Merchant

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Jan 11, 2007
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#18
1) NOPE. the tripod is not levelled, and the rotation and hence the resultant pano will not be horizontal

2) but YES. if the ballhead has a pan just below the base of the camera
like the arca swiss dual pan ballheads

I have a friend who has one, and i can imagine it to be a breeze to use.

ryan
That's just plain WICKED looking Ryan!

But how strong is the second lock on the upper pan plate and is it easy to use/see the markings with a DSLR on top of it?
 

giantcanopy

Senior Member
Feb 11, 2007
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#19
That's just plain WICKED looking Ryan!

But how strong is the second lock on the upper pan plate and is it easy to use/see the markings with a DSLR on top of it?
dunno, never did have a chance to borrow to try, but arca swiss quality should not be too far off. many a times on uneven terrain i often wish for such a dual pan to simplify pano rotation ;p
 

daredevil123

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Oct 25, 2005
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#20
hi,

actually we can just turn the whole machine head or whatever u call it, just above the ring (bottom) it can turn also and allows u to do panorama, just that it doenst have that so called stick that pan head usually have lol. but then again, there are also markings on the ring, and u turn the whole head, the whole big thingy which i call the machine head lol.

individual choice i guess.
If you want to use that particular pan to do panaroma, you have to make sure that:

1. The ball head base/ tripod is level.
2. Camera is also level.

With those 2 conditions satisfied, you can use the pan at the base of the ball head. I mean, if you want to do a proper pana.

Thing is, to strictly properly do pana, you need a pana bracket to make sure the center of the turning axis is at the sensor (on many models, you can see the marking for that on your camera if you look closely).
 

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