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Thread: My first few weeks doing Panos (problems)

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Birder

Posts: 73
Location: Boston, United Kingdom
Registered: 1 Apr 2012
My first few weeks doing Panos (problems)
Posted: 20 May 2012 at 11:32 GMT
updated: 20 May 2012 at 11:34 GMT
I have been a hobbyist photographer for many years and recently was asked to do a pano tour for a mates new Pub in the UK.

A quick search on the net found me this site and loads of information, i downloaded the demos of software and spent several hours working out what i needed without breaking the bank.

I have several Canon cameras and chose my 7D to be my Pano camera, I have a couple of 18mm Canon lenses (18/55 and 18/135) so was soon out in the garden doing my first Pano with a normal tripod head.

I did 12 round and then started to stitch it. It was easy to get a cylindrical image but my mate wanted a full 360x180 pano

I had not enjoyed my photography so much for ages. More reading on this site and others and I decided on buying a Fisheye lens and a Pano head. I didn't want to spend a fortune and after seeing that a lot of forum members use the Samyang 8mm lens (Or its other names) i purchased a new one online from Glasgow. It arrived 5 days later from Poland but it was perfect.

Next was the Pano head, after reading on this site I had decided on a NN3 but could not find a NN3 in stock in the UK. Another search on the forum and I found Pano-Maxx, sort of a NN3 clone and found one in stock at Amazon UK so I ordered one. It arrived 6 days later from Germany.

Over the next few days I did a few practice panos around the house and using PTGui could stitch some of them. I found 4 round at -15 and a Zenith at +75 was best and stitched every time.

Next was the tour software, after looking at all the tours about I choose Flashificator (FFC) as my software but try as i did I just could not get it to work. What the tutorial said it should do just didn't work. I downloaded the template skins from their site but i was getting nowhere. I contacted their support but being in Peru the time difference was a huge problem. After several days I went online with Flashificator and he went over how to use it. In fact i was doing what he said anyway but it still didn't work. It was then that it was found that the FFC website was well out of date and the downloads were not for my latest version. FFC was very apologetic and uploaded the proper version. A few days later i was no further forward and found that Flashificator had a lot of unresolved issues. I downloaded Pano2VR and it worked "as it said on the tin". I must say the FFC tried to help me but the time zone difference was just to much and in the finish gave me a full refund. The owner of FFC is a true gentleman who can be trusted 100% and since their website has been updated and I wish them well.

I produced my first pano and the pub owner loved it and he told his mate who wanted one doing, who told his mate (and so on).

So far my Pano-max had done 6 panos and worked well but i found it was starting to not turn freely. I stripped it only to find the alloy step plate marked with the metal looking dark grey. I cleaned it up ready to do the next customers pano's.

By now I had 5 people wanting Pano tours so i decided to do a trip round 3 of them in one day.

On arrival at the first ones store he wanted 18 Panos for his tour. I started but found that there was problems with the Pano-maxx head after just the first 2. With the client looking at me gone out I stripped the head to find that the ball had stuck in its carrier cutting into the alloy plate and the slots damaged.



As you can see from this image once the ball sticks due to any particle of dust it eats into the slotted plate, the biggest problem is that you cannot tell when this is going to happen until its to late as you are half way through a pano. Once you feel the head become "lumpy" as you turn it in use the damage is done. You can only tell there is a problem while turning the head and by that time its too late. Any adjustment does not cure the issue. The slotted plate is now also damaged



IMHO this weakness in design is going to be a constant cause of problems.

I cleaned the ball area 4 times at the first clients but the problem still came back, time and time again.

My Camera/lens combo is well below the weight limit of the Pano-maxx, so I tried a light point and shoot but the same happened again so I conclude the ball is either faulty or some dirt must be coming from below the ball and jamming it.

A quick seach on the net found others with the same problem and this image in a review, which was not in English so i have no idea if they were complaining.



I suspect that when the ball is compressed between the slots where it works as the "clicker" a gap opens up between the ball and its carrier and tiny ally dust or other debris from the soft alloy slot plate gets into this gap, jamming the ball.
I also suspect that the flat roller bearing also causes minute particles to be polished off the alloy plate at the same time turning the plate grey.
Its a known fact that polishing alloy plate causes tiny alloy dust that can clog up bearings. If you simply take a white cloth and rub the bearing and where they run the cloth will show a greasy looking black mark.

In my case the lower flat roller bearing when rubbed between the fingers, covers the my fingers with black so its full of alloy dust. Any lubricant on the bearing will attract this dust.
The top bearing is not as bad, no doubt as its not on the soft alloy plate but running on the black anodized coating, however you can see marks where it is starting to mark the lower horizontal arm with a grey mark as it goes through the anodized coating.

I then spoke to a bearing supplier to see if i could get some spare bearings and showed him the problem.

He immediately said these type of "Thrust Roller bearings" are not suitable to run on soft alloy and they should have a hardened "thrust pad" between the the bearing and the alloy

He showed me a kit fitted to a sports car to give me an idea of what he was meaning. On getting home i looked on the net for a picture of one with thrust pads and found one at 360precision showing the same type of bearing with the thrust plate.



I have contacted Pano-maxx by email several times and as yet they have not even bothered to answer. In the finish I had to contact Amazon UK who have paid for the items return and given me a full credit so i can go and buy a head without the problems.

Just thought you guys might want to be aware that IMHO there is no way a Pano-maxx will do Panos for the 2 years its covered by warranty. There support also does not answer.

Be warned....
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mediavets

Posts: 2144
Location: Isleham, Cambs., United Kingdom
Registered: 8 Feb 2008
Re: My first few weeks doing Panos (problems)
Posted: 20 May 2012 at 11:50 GMT
I am surprised you were unable to find a UK retailer with stock of the NN3.

What pano head did you choose finally to replace the PanoMaxx?

Andrew
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Birder

Posts: 73
Location: Boston, United Kingdom
Registered: 1 Apr 2012
Re: My first few weeks doing Panos (problems)
Posted: 20 May 2012 at 13:19 GMT
Not made my mind up yet, from what i read somewhere my gear is over or near the NN3 weight range, so i think i will get a Manfrotto as I have always used their tripods with no problems.
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Hans Nyberg

Posts: 2873
Location: Denmark
Registered: 28 Aug 2005
Re: My first few weeks doing Panos (problems)
Posted: 20 May 2012 at 13:42 GMT
Sorry but why are you posting this problems here.

Contact Panomaxx and describe your problems. He is a very nice guy and I am sure he will help you.
www.panorama-hardware.de/2/shop_content.php?coID=7

The PanoMaxx is a very nice and good pano head for the price and I never heard anyone complain about the problems you describe.

Doing it like this in an open forum without having talked to the vendor is bad manners.

And BTW not a quick search but a very thorough search does not give me anything with these problems. Not even in German search. Instead I get very fine reviews.

Hans
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mediavets

Posts: 2144
Location: Isleham, Cambs., United Kingdom
Registered: 8 Feb 2008
Re: My first few weeks doing Panos (problems)
Posted: 20 May 2012 at 14:00 GMT
updated: 20 May 2012 at 14:05 GMT

Birder said:

Not made my mind up yet, from what i read somewhere my gear is over or near the NN3 weight range, so i think i will get a Manfrotto as I have always used their tripods with no problems.

The Manfrotto is an ancient design; bulky, heavy and clumsy to operate.

If you are concerned about weight with the NN3 then check out the remaining Nodal Ninja 5 (factory irregulars):
www.red-door.co.uk/pages/productpages/nodal-ninja...

Or if cost is not an issue then either the new Nodal Ninja Ultimate M series:
www.red-door.co.uk/pages/productpages/nodal-ninja...

Or the 360Precision Adjuste:
www.360precision.com/360/index.cfm?precision=prod....adjuste&MainSlideID=2&mainnavID=2

Andrew
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kelvin lau

Posts: 7
Location: kuala lumpur,
Registered: 26 Aug 2011
Re: My first few weeks doing Panos (problems)
Posted: 20 May 2012 at 14:19 GMT
i am using manfrotto 303sph (modified). yes, it is bulky and heavy. fold up like a light machine gun.

i choose this pano head bcoz it is much easier to get one at my place. if let me choose again, i wont choose manfrotto.

however, manfrotto 303sph is quite easy to modified/customized to suit your need. u can take down whatever parts u dont need. or add on another rotator for clear nadir shoot, as mine one.
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Hans Nyberg

Posts: 2873
Location: Denmark
Registered: 28 Aug 2005
Re: My first few weeks doing Panos (problems)
Posted: 20 May 2012 at 14:35 GMT
"A quick seach on the net found others with the same problem and this image in a review, which was not in English so i have no idea if they were complaining."

I suppose it is this.
www.panophoto.org/forums/viewtopic.php?t=3056

Just drop the link at Google translate.

Nothing but positive experiences there.

Hans
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Birder

Posts: 73
Location: Boston, United Kingdom
Registered: 1 Apr 2012
Re: My first few weeks doing Panos (problems)
Posted: 20 May 2012 at 15:45 GMT
updated: 20 May 2012 at 15:57 GMT
I posted it here just so others was aware of the possible problems. I agree no doubt he is a nice Guy but he or anyone from the company does not answer support emails.

I have sent 5 including a PM, one on their website and direct. If someone had answered no doubt we would have sorted it but the lack of contact is the problem, hence the post.

There are loads of good reviews which is why i bought one but to be fair i find no answer really not good enough.

Sorry didnt want to stir anything up but i thought that is what forums are for.

Maybe he is away or something but luckily I purchased through Amazon and their support is always good.

As to the search I found the image i used at www.panophoto.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=138&t=30... but as i said i have no idea whats its about but the image shows the same problem.
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Birder

Posts: 73
Location: Boston, United Kingdom
Registered: 1 Apr 2012
Re: My first few weeks doing Panos (problems)
Posted: 21 May 2012 at 10:17 GMT
At 9.50am this morning i had an answer from Pano-maxx"

"i was away with my family for 4 days.
This is a one man company and there was official holiday in germany on thursday and friday
followed by weekend. Please give small companys its time to answer your requests (I know Amazon
does answer your emails within minutes, but they have 1000s employees and earn billions that they can
connect you to their customer hotlines).

I think the pano-MAXX you got has a manufacturing error."

I have said sorry to the owner but i had no idea it was a single man company. I run a single man company myself but make sure I check emails every day or switch on an auto-responder saying when i will be available.

I had not sent the Pano-maxx back to Amazon (It was going on Wednesday) and even though I think running the bearings on alloy is a bad design issue I will give him time to sort it.
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Smooth

Posts: 4258
Location: Mount Panorama, Australia
Registered: 21 Jul 2004
Re: My first few weeks doing Panos (problems)
Posted: 21 May 2012 at 11:51 GMT
One answer would have been to fit a superior rotator like that made by Nodal Ninja, the RD-4/8/16 for example or even the Manfrotto 303 rotator. All could have easily been fitted to the Pano-maxx.

What ever you purchase next make sure you purchase one with external detent adjustments like those I have mentioned.

Regards, Smooth cool
www.omnipix.com.au
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Birder

Posts: 73
Location: Boston, United Kingdom
Registered: 1 Apr 2012
Re: My first few weeks doing Panos (problems)
Posted: 21 May 2012 at 15:07 GMT
Pano-Maxx are sending the parts to replace the faulty parts and as other than this problem and the owner being away I had no problems with stitching using it.

Hopefully they will arrive before the weekend as I now have 15 people who want Pano's doing in my local area. No doubt the number wanting one will drop off but if i get more I will buy a top of the range head and keep the Pano-Maxx as a spare.

I can use my Pano-Max as long as I strip it between panos' which is a pain.
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vrbali

Posts: 197
Location: Bali, Indonesia
Registered: 12 Feb 2010
Re: My first few weeks doing Panos (problems)
Posted: 21 May 2012 at 17:17 GMT
When your problem was caused by parts with manufacturing errors, I think the replacement parts will not have the problem and you don't have to take your gear apart anymore.

When people value your work and are aware of the benefits that interactive panos have for the marketing or visualization of the places they want you to shoot, they will not drop off in one week.

Payment of 15+ pano's should easily cover the expenses on one of the by Smooth suggested rotators..
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Birder

Posts: 73
Location: Boston, United Kingdom
Registered: 1 Apr 2012
Re: My first few weeks doing Panos (problems)
Posted: 21 May 2012 at 18:05 GMT
updated: 21 May 2012 at 18:07 GMT
Marco, I do hope that the new parts cure the problem but i think it may well be a design issue of the roller bearing running on soft alloy however Pano-Maxx say they can cure it so I will give them every chance.

I also never said i was charging anything for the Pano's as its just a hobby and I am in the lucky position that I dont need the money. (Rich old fart....)

If they use the Pano's and want to pay me something then all I will ask is that they give it as a donation to charity.

When i purchased my Pano head I thought I would do a few and get the bee out of my bonnet but I find it very relaxing taking them.

Reading the specs of the NN3 it has a 1.8k max load limit and the Pano-Maxx with 3k load limit so I thought the Pano-Maxx was heavier duty and decided it should do what I wanted. I do quite a lot of Time Lapse so it will be good to take a few Pano's while waiting. If i had my time again i may well had bought a different Pano head but I dont think so, the Pano-Maxx should do what I want and with 2 year warranty it should be fit for purpose for many many Pano's and hopefully when the parts arrive it will be.

My thoughts are if the images are good and they stitch OK then what does it matter which head you use. If i dont have to clean the head each time i can do a Pano in a few minutes so as long as the problem is cured I will be quite satisfied.
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Birder

Posts: 73
Location: Boston, United Kingdom
Registered: 1 Apr 2012
Re: My first few weeks doing Panos (problems)
Posted: 28 May 2012 at 13:46 GMT
New rotator just arrived from Pano-Maxx, it has thin steel washers where the bearings run on at both the top and bottom, the ball part looks the same but obviously sticks out more to take into consideration of the washers.

It feels how the old one did when it was new so i need to go out and do some Pano's and see if its any different. It certainly should be.

Thanks to Pano-Maxx for sending the parts and i will report back after a few pano's
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Birder

Posts: 73
Location: Boston, United Kingdom
Registered: 1 Apr 2012
Re: My first few weeks doing Panos (problems)
Posted: 1 Jun 2012 at 14:27 GMT
Completed taking images for a tour yesterday and after taking 6 sets the new rotator feels better than the old one but sorry to say after just 6 rotations the problem is showing itself again.

The fitted thrust washers each side of the roller bearing have stopped the bearing polishing and wearing the alloy and so is no longer is an issue however the rotator ball has made a grooved mark in the alloy rotator plate which gets worse with each new rotation.

When it was assembled Pano-maxx used clear grease on the ball area, where it runs on the alloy plate but on inspection the grease has changed from clear to a dark grey almost like graphite and is contaminated with alloy dust.

I am convinced that having hardened steel running on any alloy surface is no good and in doing so it is in fact simply bad design. The the roller bearings are now fine as they run on steel but the ball still runs on the alloy rotator plate which is obviously still a problem.

Pano-maxx kindly supplied an extra alloy rotator plate so I can do some more pano's however there is no way this head will ever last the 2 years of its warranty without many many alloy plates. It needs a steel plate for the ball to roll on to cure the problem. On their site Pano-maxx sells the rotator plates as a spare so there is little doubt others have the same problem.

Basically the Pano-maxx is a good head, its sold at a good price, its well made and it works very well and as i see it running hardened steel on alloy is its only problem which can be easily fixed.

I will report back to Pano-maxx to see what they say.
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