Manfrotto 804RC2 Pan Tilt Head with Quick Lock

I like the simple ball head mount with quick release for my tripod and monopod because it’s fast. One clamp to release, set, and shoot. The more typical pan tilt head has three handles to adjust. I don’t worry much about horizons being straight because I can eye it up pretty good and adjust it easily with PhotoShop. Today I tested a Manfrotto 804RC2 pan tilt head. Just a test, then the real fun begins hunting for more panoramas on those cloudy days to come. I’ll certainly share to good stuff with you.

First Panning Test – Old Main Street in Newmarket, Ontario.

Click photo to enlarge.

Main Street Panorama by Marc Mantha

How this was shot for photo stitching.

  • Level the camera on the tripod. The pan tilt head used here has a bubble level.
  • Eight portrait orientation photos with lots of overlap for better stitching results.
  • f14 aperture for long of depth of field (use Aperture Priority so the DOF is the same on every shot).
  • Engaged the auto focus on the first shot and switch the lens to manual for the same focus on every shot.
  • Picked an overcast day so dynamic range is less of a problem. Clouds are great.

You can still do panoramic photo stitching using hand-held shots. As I’ll be doing more of this, using a pan head will mean being successful more often.

How to stitch with PhotoShop’s Photomerge

  • From the file menu at the top, select File > Automate > Photomerge.
  • When the Photomerge dialog box opens, select Cylindrical when using wide angle focal lengths. If you find your horizon bulging upwards, select Spherical. Some experimenting may be required.
  • Now browse your and select all the images for your stitching.
  • If preferred, you can open all your images for stitching in PhotoShop first, follow the same steps and instead of Browsing, select Add Open Files.

Similarly outlined in this article complete with screen shots.

Manfrotto Pan TiltManfrotto 804RC2 Pan Tilt Head with Quick Lock

It’s pretty bulky for my liking and hiking. This will be fine for urban safaris. Before the next trip I’ll likely pick up a Markins Q-Ball. The Manfrotto for now is a great value and sturdy enough for a full size SLR and lens. The horizontal pan moves smoothly with no vertical jiggle. Not pro gear, but good’n’firm build, very well priced.

For panoramic shooting, the Markins Q-Ball is really optimum for trekking and traveling. It’ll cost ya, but it’s top shelf.

Thanks for dropping by.

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