AG's machine shop

Click here to edit subtitle


Lightweight pano head for micro four-thirds system



First off, I need to tell you this. For ultimate portability and light weight, this pano bracket has a fixed geometry.  Its dimensions are matched specifically to the Olympus OMD with the Samyang (or Rokinon) 7.5mm fisheye lens.  Unlike typical pano heads, there are no sliding platforms and variable alignments. 

For a new camera/lens combination, I need only to fabricate a matching part for the upper section that holds the camera. In fact I already have 3 such interchangeable pieces (see below).

This novel fixed-geometry system keeps the size and weight down, and works fine with a light-duty tripod and a small ball head. This nicely complements the micro four-thirds (and other mirrorless systems) philosophy.

To give you a feel of the size here's the camera and pano head in my (smallish) hands, with a combined weight of just 825 g!

Here are the different components of my system....

The upper section holds the camera and lens, and I have three interchangeable options so far.

Each one provides correct alignment for: (1)  7.5mm fisheye (horizontal mounting), (2) 7.5mm fisheye (vertical mounting), and (3) 14mm Panasonic lens (vertical mounting).  (from left to right)   The 3rd bracket shares the circular base with the first.

The lower section is the rotational base that supports any of the above brackets.

left to right:   (1)  Base plate (50mm dia.) wlith index markings at 45-degree intervals.

                     (2)  Optional indexing disc (50mm dia.), with 60-degree markings.

                   (3)  Manfrotto knurled ring with 1/4" 20 TPI thread, connects system to ball head & tripod

A single 1/4" screw holds everything together. It pulls the Manfrotto ring against the threaded base plate, allowing me to vary the rotational tension of the upper section.

My favourite setup is the 7.5mm fisheye in vertical orientation. Its nodal point is 1.5mm behind the built-in hood, and the bracket takes care of all the alignment as soon as the camera is mounted.

A small tip:- If your camera strap is not removed, a humble rubber band really helps to manage the strap as you pan around.            Best place for the strap?.....loop the rubber band over the camera's tripod screw.

Even in the tight confines and wide-ranging subject distances in my home study, this 360-degree pano shows no stitching artifacts.

Here are 2 other configurations (7.5mm fisheye in horizontal format, 14mm rectilinear lens in vertical format):

All 3 configs have been tested and proven to give seamless 360 panos. The 60-degree indexing disc gives 6 images with enough overlap for the 7.5mm lens in both horizontal and vertical orientation.

As you can see here, this is nowhere close to even the smallest Nodal Ninja, but certainly is a lot more practical for travel panos with a mirrorless dSLR (and an ageing photographer - yours truly!), within its limitations.