Review: Panosaurus Panoramic Head

Posted by Gary Ramey on April 11th, 2011

Summary: The Panosaurus is a low-cost panoramic head that can be used to take 360×180 degree panoramas. Don’t let the cutesy name put you off, this head actually works. I had read quite a few reviews of the product before purchasing it. This kind of head usually costs over $600 but the Panosaurus is just $89.95.

This review is about the latest version of the Panosaurus that started shipping on April 11, 2011.

The newest version of the Panosaurus head has an upper horizontal arm constructed of expanded PVC plastic.   The rotator arm and camera mounting block are both solid pieces of 3/8″ machined aluminum.   The upright metal arm is made of 3/16″ aluminum. The base of the Panosurus is also made of expanded PVC which is an excellent vibration dampener – which helps make the Panosaurus one of the most stable panoramic heads available.  Total weight of the Panosaurus is under 2 lbs (.9 kilograms).

Review: It took about an hour to assemble the Panosaurus and make the adjustments to center the entrance pupil/no-parallax point of my lens over the pivot point of my tripod. I expected it to take longer but the instructions for the Panosaurus were easy to follow and the device even came with a mm ruler and a small nail mounted on a circular plastic disk. Basically, you focus on the small nail and reposition the camera until the nail and a printout of a line on the wall behind it are aligned properly. The nail and line should should line up whether the nail is positioned left or right in the viewfinder. You need to find the entrance pupil/no-parallax point for each lens that you plan to use with the Panosaurus. If you want to use a long focal length telephoto lens with the Panosaurus, you will probably have to go outdoors to find the entrance pupil/no-parallax.  There are instructions for this procedure as well.

For my test shots, I used the kit lens for my Canon T1i at 18mm and rotated the head 30 degrees for each shot. For a 360×180 degree image, I shot a total of 62 images. That translates to 5 rows of 12 shots plus 1 shot pointed directly up and 1 shot pointed down. The degrees dial on the base is now color coded for 30 and 40 degree increments. This makes it easier to rotate the camera to the next shot. The number of shots that need to be taken depends on the focal length of the lens that you are using. For instance, a 35mm lens on a T1i would require twice the number of shots in order to have the appropriate amount of overlap between shots. You want to see 1/3 overlap between shots – horizontally and vertically – or the images won’t stitch together properly.

There was only one small problem. The Panosaurus comes with a screwdriver. The glue for the magnet on the screwdriver base didn’t hold. I simply re-glued the magnet to the screwdriver base and was good to go.

If you want to take precise panoramic shots, the Panosaurus is definitely a viable option. I highly recommend it.

Follow this link to the Panosaurus website.


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