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Thread: Nodal Ninja 3 has arrived

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Bill Bailey
[NodalNinja]

Posts: 615
Location: Phoenix, Arizona, United States
Registered: 27 Jan 2005
Re: Nodal Ninja 3 has arrived
Posted: 29 Jun 2006 at 16:09 GMT

mshakeshaft said:

...

What would be nice is small metal tabs/stops that could be left in place...

Just wanted to jump to tell folks this image is a bit distorted (fisheye effect). I'm sure most would catch that but thought it best to make mention anyway.
Good idea on the stops mshakeshaft smile

cheers
Bill
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Bill Bailey
[NodalNinja]

Posts: 615
Location: Phoenix, Arizona, United States
Registered: 27 Jan 2005
Re: Nodal Ninja survey
Posted: 29 Jun 2006 at 16:22 GMT

Nick Fan said:

Thanks Martin for the ideas. I will try to make some plastic blocks for preseting location on the rails.
for the other feature, I am developing vertical detent system for the same purpose. It will take some time and will only be in the next model. nick

Now how many manufacturers make tweaks to their products so quickly based on customer input? Nodal Ninja is truley built from customer suggestions based off needs presented.

Nick is always looking for continued feedback on his products and I would encourage folks to submit design suggestions in our online survey form at: nodalninja.com/survey.html - all fields are optional and NO spam or junk email will ever follow. All info is kept in-house. This way we can then better log all suggestions.

keep them coming laugh

Cheers
Bill
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John Houghton

Posts: 3934
Location: Hitchin, United Kingdom
Registered: 17 Jan 2005
Re: Nodal Ninja survey
Posted: 1 Jul 2006 at 6:44 GMT
updated: 1 Jul 2006 at 6:44 GMT
I did my first pano with the nn3 yesterday. I wanted something with detail all round so I chose the interior of the church at Ashwell. I was pleased with how the ninja performed, and the result is here:

homepage.ntlworld.com/j.houghton/ash5000.htm

The only problem I had is the one already discussed above. Because I took the camera off the head to take the nadirs, it was fiddly to mount the camera at the correct position on the arm each time I replaced it. An adjustable block on the arm would be really helpful.

John
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Dave Tonnes

Posts: 8
Location:
Registered: 27 Jul 2005
Re: Nodal Ninja 3 has arrived
Posted: 1 Jul 2006 at 20:11 GMT
In the past I've made my own panoheads - detents and everything - because my primary criteria for a panohead was productivity. Productivity for me meant:

1. No setup. Nothing to adjust. Attach the camera, level, shoot.
2. Accuracy. Good enough for batch stitching.
3. Size. No bulky arms poking out into nowhere.
4. Robust. Built for continuous use, oversized components.

This sounds a lot like the 360P head right? And yes, the ones I've built do look remarkably similar. However, I do not think that their design is the best route for a manufacturer. The reality is that there are lots of cameras & lenses that people use, most photographers change their equipment from time to time and need setup flexibility from a panohead. A panohead designed for mass production needs to fit this reality.

As far as accuracy goes, although I value a panohead with accuracy capable of batch stitching, I do not think it's the holy grail. Even if you had a sub-pixel accurate panohead, there are other factors that creep into the process that can make it a moot point: Thick carpet, soft soil, loose ballhead or tripod legs, wind, inadvertantly touching the tripod leg with your foot - on and on. If you spend too much time trying to mitigate all these factors just so you can get 100% batch stitched panos, you're going to be less productive. You'll miss moments and you won't shoot as many panos in a day's work. Since many of us get paid "per pano", productivity on site is important. Secondly, we can expect stitching software to get better and better. In the last 5 years we've seen this phenomenon and there's no reason to think the trend won't continue.

If I were to design a panohead for production it would probably look a lot like the Nodal Ninja. Their product is looking really good. Portability, quality, flexibility, price - all great. My design would make sure the horizontal and vertical axis rotate without wobble, I would make the horizontal detents firm and precise, without slop. I would make the vertical axis with a plunger or very stiff detent, with a capability to move the plunger or detents to suit the photographer's need, but once you lock them in they stay there for for the life of the camera/lens combo. Same thing for the camera mount: adjust the location once, lock it in, successive camera mount & dismounts put the camera in the same place. This can get tricky because most cameras don't have a good way of keying the camera into a repeatable mount (why don't they give us two mounting holes instead of one?). However, every slr has a distinct shape at the bottom, might it be possible to pull molds off them so you can provide camera-specific mounting plates? I know that this doesn't sit well with a manufacturer's goal of making a single widget for everybody, but it might be the only "custom" part you'd have to stock. In the interest of keeping it compact & portable, you might consider providing one of two options for the horizontal arm: a long arm for cameras with a vertical grip, a short arm for cameras without. Again, once the photographer sets the vertical arm's location, he should have a "no brainer" way to remount it quickly.

I have found that a compact, ready-to-go, "no setup" panohead is great for productivity. It allows you to concentrate on other stuff and removes a number of things from your mental checklist. The fewer things you have to do to the panohead to get it ready the better.

Here's the panohead I've been using for the last 6 months. It does 6 around and 1 up. I designed the indexing base (the lowest portion) using emachineshop.com, and built everything else from 13-ply plywood. There are identical pairs of thrust washers & rollerblade bearings for no-slop precise rotation on the horizontal- and vertical axis, the horizontal index plunger is a 1/4" stainless ball attached to a thrust washer race, cut in half. Indexing is just perfect. There is no slop. The vertical axis uses a plunger that clicks into two drill guide bushings - one for straight up and one for -12 degrees. The Canon 350d has a small tapered hole on the bottom. I made a tapered brass pin that indexes with this hole for exact repositioning. It's covered with veneer and a thick layer of epoxy bartop finished off with spar varnish for UV protection.

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mhc1

Posts: 245
Location: Hamburg, Germany
Registered: 29 Dec 2005
Re: Nodal Ninja 3 has arrived
Posted: 4 Jul 2006 at 13:07 GMT
Hi everyone,
I just got my Nodal Ninj V3 and used a Nodal Ninja V2 in the past (hopefully).
There are significant improvements to find. It is a little more stable I guess, sag is smaller than before but not 0 with a D70 and a Sigma 8. But that does not effect my shootings so far.
It is easier to set up and quicker.
The detent plate seems to has a little more play than the old one - wel´ll see. I use the 15 degree one.
Very important: PUT GREASE ON THE DETENT PLATE !
I did and it run very smoother and more accurate. It´s been the same with the Version 2 though.

John mentioned the little unfortunate mounting of the camera. Yes, when you loosen the cam you have lost your fixing-point.The litte white dot is hard to read, so you find a mark at your camera to set the axial offset properly.
That´s a thing Nick schould think about.
I will drill a litte hole with a gear into the axial offset arm (3 mm) to set a screw into it - that should keep the cam´s mounting base in position and still be able to adjust it.
Anyone a better idea ??

Sure, there are hundreds of different adaptors, but what can you do with them- not one thing more as with the Nodal Ninja. It really is extremly valuable!

Well thank you Nick, Bill and all others for this work. I appreciate the Nodal Ninja very much.

Ciao
Mike
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Bill Bailey
[NodalNinja]

Posts: 615
Location: Phoenix, Arizona, United States
Registered: 27 Jan 2005
Re: Nodal Ninja 3 has arrived
Posted: 4 Jul 2006 at 13:53 GMT
Hi Mike - Glad to hear you're overall happy with the NN3.
I have some concerns however:

mhc1 said:

..I guess, sag is smaller than before but not 0 with a D70 and a Sigma 8. But that does not effect my shootings so far...

There should be no sag. Look up on this thread and follow the steps outlined to John on how to properly tighten the lower rotator base. This should eliminate any sag.

mhc1 said:

..Very important: PUT GREASE ON THE DETENT PLATE ! I did and it run very smoother and more accurate...

hmm - while a very tiny bit of grease or light oil may help I would strongely encourage you to take caution. Using grease or oils will usually find it's way onto fingers and onto lenses and equipment. Especially as these pieces can be swapped out with interchangle plates. You could end up with a real mess. There may be minor wear on the detent pins after lots of use - we enclose extra pins you can swap out "should you need to" in time. You can also loosen the tension of the detent spring by using the enclosed hex key and turning the hex nut, located on the underside of the lower rotator base, counterclockwise.
Hope this helps.

Cheers
Bill
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Smooth

Posts: 4310
Location: Mount Panorama, Australia
Registered: 21 Jul 2004
Re: Nodal Ninja 3 has arrived
Posted: 4 Jul 2006 at 14:33 GMT
Natural soap would be a better alternative lubrication.

Regards, Smooth cool
www.smooth360.info
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revmark

Posts: 50
Location: Harvey, United States
Registered: 22 Feb 2006
Re: Nodal Ninja 3 has arrived
Posted: 4 Jul 2006 at 15:13 GMT
updated: 4 Jul 2006 at 15:18 GMT
Bill, Thanks for letting folks know why you sent the extra pins. When I got my additional detent plates and the extra pins, I automatically assumed it was because the "manufacturer" preferred not to use lube and provided the extra pins for wear replacements. This is also why there are the teflon washers.

But I think if someone really wants to lube it up. Just but a very small dab in the detent holes and let the pin squish the excess out for distribution when rotating since this is where most of the friction is occuring. Also, since there is no lip or grease seal to prevent it from leeching out, be very sparing.

If I were to use lube, I would use a lithium grease. As most pro fluid video heads use lithium grease. But as Bill stated, this stuff gets on everything if you are not very careful. Make sure that you wipe any excess, leaks, or contacts with your hands before you handle your camera.
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revmark

Posts: 50
Location: Harvey, United States
Registered: 22 Feb 2006
Re: Nodal Ninja 3 has arrived
Posted: 4 Jul 2006 at 15:14 GMT
Good idea John, on the plumb line. I did not even think of that. I suppose you could do that with the nodal point on the lense as well?
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John Houghton

Posts: 3934
Location: Hitchin, United Kingdom
Registered: 17 Jan 2005
Re: Nodal Ninja 3 has arrived
Posted: 4 Jul 2006 at 16:22 GMT

revmark said:

Good idea John, on the plumb line. I did not even think of that. I suppose you could do that with the nodal point on the lense as well?

If I understand your question correctly, you can use a related technique but not a plumb line. You are wanting to maintain a constant postion of the entrance pupil (not the nodal point!) as you rotate the lens. To enable any sideways movement to be observed as you rotate the camera, you need some sort of sighting device to provide a point of reference. I have used the barrel of a ball point pen fixed close to the lens so I can peer through it and see the bright disc at the centre of the hole at the end of the tube. It's easy to judge when the spot is centered. I'm sure there are many alternative ways of doing it.

The acid test comes when you take some overlapping shots and you check the images themselves for parallax effects. That is the best way of fine tuning the position. But with a fisheye lens, there is no single no-parallax point anyway, so you need to find a compromise position that suits you.

John
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Nick Fan
[NodalNinja]

Posts: 770
Location: Hong Kong
Registered: 26 May 2006
Re: Nodal Ninja 3 has arrived
Posted: 5 Jul 2006 at 5:10 GMT

mhc1 said:

The detent plate seems to has a little more play than the old one - wel´ll see. I use the 15 degree one.
Very important: PUT GREASE ON THE DETENT PLATE !
I did and it run very smoother and more accurate. It´s been the same with the Version 2 though.


Hmm, don't use grease UNLESS you DON'T want to change the detent. if you change the detent disc. The grease will get everywhere! and use minimum amount of grease in any case. The detent will run smoother upon use. you will see some wearing of detent plunger when using a new detent disc. but after the detent disc is used for some time, the wearing will be very minor. I have include a few plungers in the packge. Replacement is very easy. Thire is a screw under the horizontal turntable, use the hexagon key to unscrew it and replace the pluger.


mhc1 said:

That´s a thing Nick schould think about.
I will drill a litte hole with a gear into the axial offset arm (3 mm) to set a screw into it - that should keep the cam´s mounting base in position and still be able to adjust it.
Anyone a better idea ??


The problem can be solved by using a dedicated quick release system. The system has to fit on the swing arm to prevent rotation of system. I plan to make two system: one is Arca Swiss compatible (expensive to make by CNC machining), the other is a general purpose QR that can be made in bulk by die-casting. and I will also make QR adapter plates for systems in the current market--this is a better solution for those who have QR already. if you camera is not too big, you can mount a QR on the T-adapter for the same purpose.
I am doing everything I can to make them available ASAP. Your early support has make my progress one step forward.


nick
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Nick Fan
[NodalNinja]

Posts: 770
Location: Hong Kong
Registered: 26 May 2006
Re: Nodal Ninja 3 has arrived
Posted: 5 Jul 2006 at 10:05 GMT

mhc1 said:

Hi everyone,
I just got my Nodal Ninj V3 and used a Nodal Ninja V2 in the past (hopefully).
There are significant improvements to find. It is a little more stable I guess, sag is smaller than before but not 0 with a D70 and a Sigma 8. But that does not effect my shootings so far.
Mike


Hi Mike,
Do you think the sag could be due to the rubber pad on the base of D70? People say that the rubber is quite soft. Try to mount your D70 to the bracket using the T-adapter and see if the sag will disappear/ diminish. The T-adapter has a larger contact area to provide better support for your camera.


nick
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JohnnyV

Posts: 11
Location: Coast, United States
Registered: 15 Jun 2006
Re: Nodal Ninja 3 has arrived
Posted: 7 Jul 2006 at 2:23 GMT
Nick wrote>I plan to make two system: one is Arca Swiss compatible (expensive to make by CNC machining)

I'd be interested in the Arca Swiss QR. I have an aftermarket Arca Swiss QR that works with the N3-T30. If the locking knob on my QR was a smaller diameter it wouldn’t need the N3-T30, but the N3-T30 lifts the QR for complete clearance of the QR locking knob. The other option would be to buy RRS’ Quick Release Clamp (not the QR with Screw Knobs) to avoid the locking knob interference.

www.reallyrightstuff.com/clamps/index.html

I do have an option as my father has a complete machine shop with a CNC Bridgeport. My idea is to cut the bottom of the Arca Swiss QR in the shape of the N3-T30 (at least the area that slides in the NN3’s upper arm channel) but might lose some rear travel. Have to do some more figuring!

My Canon 350D has the RRS L-Bracket that works in landscape camera orientation without dismantling the NN3. I’d recommend the L-Bracket big time!

Overall I’m very impressed with the workmanship, concept and quality of the NN3. Don’t know how you can sell it so inexpensively!

John V.
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ron smith

Posts: 48
Location: Vancouver, BC, Canada
Registered: 14 Jun 2006
Re: Nodal Ninja 3 has arrived
Posted: 7 Jul 2006 at 23:09 GMT
Hey John

Looking at your picture with the canon and the sigma 8mm lens, there is alot of room for the zenith shot! I just tried my nikon d70s and a sigma 10-20mm lens after adjusting for the nodal point and there is not enough clearance to do a zenith shot. The bottom knurled nut contacts the camera.

Any ideas? I will send you a photo. I dont have a url so I cant post it here for everyone to see.

Ron
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John Houghton

Posts: 3934
Location: Hitchin, United Kingdom
Registered: 17 Jan 2005
Re: Nodal Ninja 3 has arrived
Posted: 8 Jul 2006 at 7:35 GMT
Ron, In your setup, you have the camera set about 13mm further back than mine. I think would have a similar problem with that lens on my camera too. You can still cover the entire sphere with 6 at -30, 6 at +50, + nadir. (You can try out alternative possibilities by dragging images around in PTGui's panorama editor window).

Or, if you loosen the camera a little, you might be able to rotate the arm down while keeping the camera pointing upwards if there is some clearance in the final position. Even if you had to move the camera forwards a little, it would generally be accurate enough - after all, many people take the zenith shot hand-held. It's a clumsy solution, though, and takes time. Outdoors, you want to do things as quickly as possible as clouds can move quite rapidly.

The other (not very elegant) solution might be to have a spacer block made to raise the upright arm by 15mm, say. That would need to be properly made so as not to unduly compromise rigidity and general alignment accuracy. I expect Nick would frown on this suggestion, though.

John
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