DIY minimal panoramic head

When you have a small camera and a compact lens you really want to make it small. And cheap. And also somehow homemade.

The first thing to know is that it will cost you some money, and that is not granted will fit your camera combo unless you try, you take measures before, etc.
You MUST know how a panohead works. Two sliders to set up once in a lifetime for the camera and lens combo, and two rotators you will actuate during the shooting. Having a lower rotator without clicks is a risk. The risk to forget images, or misplace one and have black holes…
It is uncomfortable, but it’s cheap, it’s more lightweight and you can also use some small ballhead that have one rotator plate ABOVE the sphere… so the ball head travels with you in any case and the weight to carry in order to ALSO make VR panoramas in your trip is reduced to a minimum.
I put 3 cheap ballheads, the Ulanzi U70 being the absolute best because of the bigger ball, I do have all 3 and I’ll do some tests for you one day.

This small reverse head demonstrated to be able to hold a mini head and a very small and light pano setup like a Sony 5100 or OMD em10 with Samyang or 7Artisan fisheyes.

If you want a clicked base, and want a more sturdy setup this could be a solution, a 60eur on Amazon, few money less on ebay in the links below. It will make your footstep bigger, and you will rise a bit the number of things in the bacpack.


If you want clickstops you should take into consideration the idea to buy a Nodal Ninja RD5 or RD10. You can adapt the top with an arca clamp, or put a fixed arca rail on it, keeping a far lesser footprint, FAR better clicks, wiser spaced indexing values.

One of my favorite heads is a mix between various Nodal Ninja and custom pieces. It makes a lightweight reliable and perfectly packageable solution, supporting a reliable radio Pixl transmitter, allowing direct use of lens rings as well as Arca sliders etc.

Also please read this

DISCLAIMER

I have nothing to do with these following ebay sellers, I do not work for them, easily never even bought from them, and I’m not responsible for anything you decide to buy yourself.
I also ADVISE YOU to make a list of your needs before, take a look to the prices, expedition, duties when applied and MAKE THE SUM BEFORE STARTING BUYING THINGS, because you easily end up with a sensible amount of money, and from a quality point of view you are far below anything like a Nodal Ninja 3mk3, or a Bushman panoramic head.
I used ebay, you can find similar stuff on Aliexpress and even on Amazon


Recommended L brackets:

This needs a small arca plate on the 1/4″ perforated arm to become a proper horizontal slider:

These have all the same thickness and holing system. You can choose to keep them as a fixed L bracked or use the L clamp, adding some MM to the vertical arm and a poor-man’s nadir adapter option.
220mm IS just a bit TOO LONG and will result in a wobbling head if your camera is heavy. 120 and 160mm are OK, we miss a 180 or 200:

Arca clamps

cheap upper rotators

Lower rotators

click-rotators

There are things to AVOID
always wobbling and unprecise rotator- fast release very unreliable rotator-clamp with click-stops. Bent metal flash brackets take wobbling and instability to a newer level. Some L brackets are defective by design, with arca rail facing the wrong side, wrong also for a panohead, others are too thick or with one side too short, good as a generic big-camera L bracket or as special mounting L plates but are not for making a panohead. Some vertical mounting clamps seem good at first sight but are too big, visible in the fisheye picture and have space-wasting mounting issue.

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