tripod head

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Review: Manfrotto MBAG80PN Padded Tripod Bag

Saturday, February 25th, 2012

Summary: The Manfrotto MBAG80PN Padded Tripod Bag is roomier than expected. Not only does it hold my Manfrotto 055CXPRO3 Tripod with a Manfrotto 322RC2 Joystick Head on it but I can also store two more heads in the bag. This bag is really heavy duty!Manfrotto MBAG80PN Padded Tripod Bag

  • Recessed zippers
  • Comfortable carrying handle
  • Easy access even with the bigger video tripods
  • Thermoformed padding

Review: As I stated in the summary, the bag is very roomy. At first, I wasn’t so sure that my tripod and head were going to fit because I have the optional Manfrotto 204SPK3 Retractable Rubber Spiked Feet attached. Click to continue »

Review: Manfrotto 460MG Magnesium Camera Head

Monday, January 16th, 2012

Manfrotto 460MG Magnesium Camera HeadSummary: I can’t recommend this head unless you have lightweight equipment. I really like the compact style but it droops too much with a long lens.

Review: I have used the Manfrotto 460MG Magnesium Camera Head with a variety of lenses and the head doesn’t tighten enough to prevent droop with a long lens. I really wanted to like this head because it is light and compact. I intended to use it for landscape and architectural work. On a positive note, it does use the same quick release plate as my other Manfrotto heads and works well with a wide angle lens. This head can also be twisted into some unusual positions.

Manufacturer’s Description: An innovative 3D Head unlike any other! Cast from lightweight magnesium, the head can be positioned in virtually any position to get the exact framing of the image. The lock-system using spring-loaded conical joints allows greater flexibility than any other 3D head whether mounted on a tripod centre column or lateral arm. The rubber grip knobs provide finger tip control and won’t poke you in the eye like conventional handles do. The 460Mg is the ideal head in combination with the Carbon Number One line for 35mm SLRs and medium format cameras. This replaces the Bogen Manfrotto 3437.

I am still searching for the best head to use for landscape and architectural work. If you have any suggestions, feel free to leave a comment.

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Video: Finding the No Parallax Point of a Lens

Saturday, November 26th, 2011

Finding the no parallax point of your lens mounted on a panoramic head can be a task. This video does a great job of explaining how to do it.


Follow this link to read my review of the Panoraurus panoramic head.

This link leads to my post, “How to Shoot 360×180 Degree Panoramas with a Panosaurus Panoramic Tripod Head.”

Photography Tip: Levels

Friday, November 11th, 2011

You may have noticed the bubble levels on your tripod and tripod head. Use them! Each serves a different important function. The following is a list of level and tripod related tips:

  • The level on your tripod itself is used to ensure that your tripod doesn’t fall over. If you are using your tripod on uneven ground and the legs are different lengths, the level can be used to center the center column of the tripod over the legs which centers the weight of your camera over the legs so that the tripod will be less likely to tip over. If the tripod is level, the center column will be perpendicular to the ground.
  • Another important tip for your tripod is to always have one leg toward the lowest ground. Let’s say that you have positioned your tripod on a hill with the camera pointed up the hill. One tripod leg should be toward you rather than two legs. The single leg toward you will be more stable and the tripod less likely to tip over. The tendancy is to always have two legs toward yourself so that it is easier to approach the camera. This is the time to not do that.
  • Add weight to your tripod. I know, you bought a carbon fiber tripod so that it would be light and easy to carry but, while shooting, you may need some extra weight to keep it from moving. Tripods often have a hook on or near the center column of the tripod. I have a backpack camera case that I hang under my tripod.
  • The bubble level on your tripod head is used to ensure that your camera itself is level.
  • If you shoot a lot of landscapes, you will want to invest in one more kind of level. It fits in the hotshoe of your camera and can be more accurate than the round levels attached to your tripod head. I use a hot shoe level to make sure that the horizon is level. There are times when I am taking long exposures at night and I can’t even see the horizon. I use the level to make sure the camera is level and I know the horizon will also be level in the photograph. I only need to illuminate the level to see it, not the subject. Works great and I highly recommend that you get one.
  • For panoramas, you can use the hotshoe level to ensure that your lens is parallel to the gound. That is what I do when I am using my Rokinon Fisheye Lens to take a 360×180 degree panorama. I mount the camera on a Panosaurus panoramic head and make sure the tripod is level, the head is level, and finally that the camera is level and the lens is parallel to the ground. If everything isn’t level, software such as Hugin will have difficulties stitching the shots together. Click here to read my article about using a Panosaurus panoramic head to shoot a 360×180 degree panorama.

How to Shoot 360×180 Degree Panoramas with a Panosaurus Panoramic Tripod Head

Tuesday, November 1st, 2011

Required Equipment: Panosaurus

17th Street Causeway BridgeShooting 360×180 degree panoramas usually requires a special tripod head. Trying to shoot this kind of panorama hand held would not be an easy task. Each picture has to overlap by 25-30% not to mention the likelihood of seeing parallax errors in the final image. Parallax errors occur when the camera rotates around a point other than the no parallax point of the lens. The bottom line is that the shots can’t line up properly if there are parallax errors. I have gotten great results with an inexpensive Panosaurus panoramic tripod head. Click here to read my review of the Panosaurus.

Software

To stitch the images together I rely on two programs. Hugin is free software and does a great job with a 360×180 panoramas shot with a fisheye lens such as the Rokinon 8mm Fisheye Lens. If you use an 18mm lens, then Serif PanoramaPlus X4 is a better choice. Each program has its strengths; what one can’t stitch together the other can. Click here to read my review of PanoramaPlus. Your camera may have come with software that can stitch together panoramas but don’t expect it to work with a 360×180 degree panorama. Click to continue »

Review: Sigma 150-500mm F/5-6.3 APO DG OS

Tuesday, September 13th, 2011

Sigma 150-500mm LensSummary: The Sigma 150-500mm f/5-6.3 AF APO DG OS HSM Telephoto Zoom Lens for Canon Digital SLR Cameras is a huge, heavy lens. Be prepared to use a monopod or tripod with this lens.

Review: The lens weighs 4.2 pounds and is 3.7 inches in diameter by 10 inches long when at its shortest length. This is the longest lens I have owned so please bear with me if I write about some things that anyone would already know if they owned an ultra-telephoto lens.

The build quality is solid. The only thing that feels cheap is the lens hood which is made out of a relatively thin plastic that feels like I could crack it if I squeezed it too hard. It comes in a well padded case and two straps — one for the lens itself and another for the case. It is good that they included a strap for the lens because I’m not so sure that I would want my camera to support the burden of this lens hanging around my neck. Click to continue »

Photoshoot at Vizcaya

Friday, June 17th, 2011

Vizcaya was built by agricultural industrialist James Deering in 1916. Vizcaya Museum & Gardens features a Main House, ten acres of formal gardens, and a rockland hammock (native forest).

I used the Panosaurus panoramic head and a Canon T1i to take all the examples in this post. Since I have also become obsessed with infrared, all of the photographs were taken with a Hoya 58mm RM-72 Infrared Filter.

Click on the thumbnail to see the full photograph.


Follow this link to find out more about taking panoramas and infared photographs.

Enhance Google Searches for Photography

Thursday, June 2nd, 2011

Google has a new service to enhance Google searches.

In order to use Google Subscribed Links, you must create a new Google Account or sign in with an existing Google Account.

Review: Panosaurus Panoramic Head

Monday, 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. Click to continue »

Review: Manfrotto 322RC2 Joystick Head

Saturday, March 26th, 2011

322RC2 Ball HeadSummary: The Manfrotto 322RC Joystick head works as advertised but expect to have to bulk up to use it. The grip takes more forearm strength than I imagined but performs extremely well. Click to continue »