DIY QTVR Panorama Head.

This panorama head is no longer in use - a smaller DIY QTVR Panorama Head has been made.

My camera is a Canon EOS 1D MkII. It is really too heavy for QTVR work, but it's the camera I have, and I will have to make the best out of it.

The QTVR head is made from wood, with fixed distances to place the entrance pupil of the lens at a single position - the entrance pupil will not move regardless of how the camera is turned or tilted. A Manfrotto 3299 Quick Release Adapter with 3157N Plate (RC2 System) is used to attach the camera. Notice the extra piece of wood next to the adapter - it will prevent it from twisting.

The mounting screw for the adapter has been recessed, allowing vertical zenit shots to be performed.

The distance from the base of the camera to the center of the lens is 83.5 mm. The distance from the mounting screw of the camera to the entrance pupil of the EF 17-40/4.0 (at the tee nut of the camera arm) is 102 mm. The 1D MkII is a very heavy camera, and a very tight connection is needed to prevent slipping - hence the use of a M10 tee nut and a M10 screw with an oversized handle.

The Manfrotto 300N panorama base is not essential, but is very nice to have. It has precise click stops, and eases the stitching of high quality panoramas.

Setting up the camera.

Erect the tripod with the legs fairly close together - this is to enable the nadir cap to be as small as possible. Just make sure that it does not become unstable or too easy to knock over. I have tried taking nadir shots hand held, but the camera is too heavy to get any kind of precision, and the nadir shot will mess up the stitching of the rest of the panorama. I find the nadir cap a convenient place to print a few words about the movie.

Leveling the tripod head is very important. If your head does not have bubble levels, use a loose one that can be placed in the camera's hot shoe, and just place it on top of the head before attaching the panorama rig (assuming, of course, that the rig will be level using this procedure).

Level the camera for the horizontal shots (8 with this camera/lens combination). Then take a row upwards high enough to include zenith, and finally a row downward low enough to include nadir. Place lines on the wood upright part of the rig for quick positioning of the camera.

Notice the lens hood - it is a EW-83DII meant for the EF 24/1.4, but it works just fine without any vignetting on the EF 17-40/4.0 mounted on a 1.3 or 1.6 crop factor camera. It is much narrower and deeper than the supplied hood.

The RC2 plate is prone to twisting, so Manfrotto makes a anti-twist plate. I took a different approach to this problem. The top of the plate is covered with rubber, so what I did was to cut off the center portion of this rubber, leaving only strips at the end. Now, when the screw is tightened, there is much higher pressure on these smaller strips of rubber, and they are also positioned as far away from the mounting screw as possible. The result is a plate that will not twist once it is screwed on tight.

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