View Full Version : Pole panorama

05-08-2008, 12:00 AM
Hello Forum,

I hope this pano can inspire you to do more with your NN panohead.


About the gear:
I dismantled the rotator of my NN5 panohead and placed a QuickMount (upside down mounted Giottos 200) on top of the rotator and the other part of the QuickMount under the panohead's underrail.
I also mounted a QuickMount (also upside down) on top of a motorized Seitz VR Drive.

By separating the NN5 panohead from the NN5 rotator I can use the upperpart of the panohead on different types of rotators.
When I shoot on a fixed high pole (Manfrotto 269HDBU @ 7.3 m) I put the panohead (without the rotator) on the Seitz VR drive and when I shoot on a tripod, and when I prefer to travel as light as possible, then I use the NN5 rotator instead of the Seitz VR Drive. To take the shots I use a wireless remote controller whenever I can.

I like the versatile use of the NN5 a lot, for a high pole I shoot 5 images around with the panohead mounted on the Seitz VR Drive and a Canon 5D+shaved Tokina 10-17mm @14.6mm wit a downtilt -15 degree to get a nice leap in nadir.

I skip the topshot as in this kind of panos nobody is interested in the "roof" of the pano. For a high pole the camera and lens is shifted 25mm forwards out of nodal point so the front of the lens is in line with the outside of the pole.

The result of the 25 mm shift is that the footprint of the pole is very small and the nadir of the pano can be very easy retouched without using a separate nadir image.
The rail stopper on the swingarm of the panohead is very handy, within seconds I can shift the camera forwards for a pole shoot and when I have finished the pole shots then the camera is shifted back in the proper NP position just as fast.

So I use the parts of the NN5 where and when they suit me best, besides the NN5 panohead I also use a fixed bracket without a swingarm and a simple Feisol rotator without clickstops and those items can be mounted on the separated NN5 parts as well.

Hope you enjoy the pole pano,



Added brand and model of high pole

05-08-2008, 03:16 AM

Very interesting setup and a great image! The elevated perspective is nice. Thank you for the detailed description. At 7.3m, how much weight and wind can the pole withstand? A 5D + lens + head + motor + plates... is not so light.

Were you able to buy just the VR motor without the head?


05-08-2008, 05:20 AM
Hello David,

I have no idea what the maximum windspeed can be, I guess it stops at windspeed Beafort 3.

I always point one leg to the wind direction and attach a large counterweight of 4.5 kg at the end of that leg.
Besides that I always use 3 thin strong iron wires with tensioners. Each wire is attached at the top of the pole and to the end of a leg, the wires really helps a lot in stabilizing the camera.
When there is some wind the top of the pole can swing easily 20-30 cm without wires but with the movement is just a few cm and barely visible.
The extra tension of the wires and the weight of the gear is not a problem, the pole is designed for 10 kg and I guess it will not collapse before at least 30 kg of weight.

For several reasons (not in the least the price and size of the Seitz panohead) I bought just the VR Drive and with the electrical wire schema supplied by Seitz and the Dutch vendor I made the connection cables for the wireless remote controller, the camera cable, the remote timer and a cable adapter for generic switches myself.
Making the cables saved me a lot of money and was necessary to make it possible to use my wireless controller.

For transporting the pole, counterweight, wires etc, etc. in the field I use a golf sport trolley, idea Bigwade ;-)

I hope this extra info is of some use.

05-08-2008, 11:43 AM
Nice Pano Wim !
Can't see any evidence of you running around the pole with the trolley in de Nadir , not a sign..:-)

The versatile use of the NN5 and NN3 is indeed great as you say.
The hidden treasure is the 3/8 femaile in the underrail.
The NN3/5 can be mount on any rotator and that's a big plus !
For traveling I like the Feisol PB-70, cheap and very good.
For automatic I use the Seitz.
I am looking forward to see the new NN rotators.

you can order a Seitz without head.
I am using it with the NN3 with 5D or 450D, perfect !
Cables, guess what ? Wim.K..........haha !
Have Fun !

Bill Bailey
05-12-2008, 05:30 AM
Hey Wim,
Pole pano's allows one to take their 360's to all new heights :-)
Curious if you might share a photo of your rig?
Many thanks

05-12-2008, 07:10 AM
Hello Bill,

Sorry but at this moment I have few pictures of the pole setup, for the moment this one is all I can publish.


The setup on the image is without support wires but since recently I always use them because without them the flex is to much to get shots with good nadir details in the stitched pano.
I will take and publish some more pics later.



Bill Bailey
05-12-2008, 07:15 AM
wow - that's a stretch of height. :ohmy:
I know your heart must pump a bit harder with all that expensive gear so far up in the air.
Thanks for sharing.

05-12-2008, 11:28 AM
again wow...does it come with a parachute....

05-12-2008, 01:53 PM
Nah, don't worry.
Do you use a carpet below a normal tripod :-) ??
The Manfrotto is about 10 kilo's
And with the cable/wire-set Wim mentioned it's just as safe as a normal tripod and much, much safer than all those fiber poles, fact !
I have the same set, Wim invented the cables (thanks Wim! :-) and all works fine.
Have Fun !

nick fan
05-13-2008, 06:34 PM
And with the cable/wire-set Wim mentioned it's just as safe as a normal tripod and much, much safer than all those fiber poles, fact !
I have the same set, Wim invented the cables (thanks Wim! :-) and all works fine.
Have Fun !

Hi Frank and Wim,

Where do you attach the wire at the base? on the ground or just on the legs at the base?


05-13-2008, 10:34 PM
Hello Nick,

This picture answers your question about the wires:


Because the legs are missing any wire attachment possibilities I had to drill the wholes for the screws at the end of the legs myself to make easy mounting of the support wires possible.

At the time this shot was taken there was a lot of wind and therefore I added an extra weight in the center of the setup.
Although the camera was in a steady position the pole itself was vibrating a lot and was swinging approx. 5 cm in the middle and therefore I recently added an extra mounting ring that slides over the 30mm tube between segment 2 and 3 (from the top). The extra mounting ring makes it possible to attach an extra set of support wires.
The truth is that since I added the extra mounting ring I didn't used it and neither did I used the extra center weight.
Its better not to shoot when it is very windy because raising the pole is then to difficult so I guess I will rarely use the extra support wires.
The counter weight at the leg and the extra weight in the center makes the pole very stable.

BTW, as you can see I had to put a stone and a piece of wood under one leg, the pole has only one leg that can be leveled.
I did not have the choice to turn the pole in such a position that leveling with one leg was enough because then none of the legs was pointing towards the wind direction.
Shooting with a high pole can be very stressfull, there are so many things to take care of and therefore most times Margriet (my wife and business partner) is assisting me on such shoots (she also took this setup shot).



Added some extra info about the leveling of the pole

05-28-2008, 12:52 AM
About the gear:
I dismantled the rotator of my NN5 panohead and placed a QuickMount (upside down mounted Giottos 200) on top of the rotator and the other part of the QuickMount under the panohead's underrail. I also mounted a QuickMount (also upside down) on top of a motorized Seitz VR Drive.

Indeed a pole adds a totally new perspective to panorama photography! And you can experiment with it with less expensive gear. I extented my old Velbon tripod column with a 3 meters long central heating pipe which happened to be the same diameter (22mm) and put my NN3 with D70s and Nikkor 10.5mm on top, operated with a remote control cable. Needless to say I use manual focus and manual exposure. Then, I rotate the pole by hand. It's not very precise but I get away with it by taking a couple of extra shots. For the nadir, I take two shots standing on either side of the pole. Then, I stitch the pictures with Autopano Pro using Smartblend, which automagically blends me out of the picture. After that, the NN3 still needs to be edited out, of course.

Total cost of my setup apart from the stuff I already owned to make normal panoramas: about 20 euros (30 dollars?)

For some examples, see: http://www.molenvrienden.nl/panoramas/10.html
or: http://www.molenvrienden.nl/panoramas/15.html
or: http://www.molenvrienden.nl/panoramas/16.html

(There are 17 more panoramas of wind- and watermills in the region where I live on www.molenvrienden.nl but I haven't finished the rest of that website yet)

05-28-2008, 01:45 AM
Hallo pgielen,

Wat een plezier heb je mij gedaan met deze posting, als een echte molengek heb ik genoten van je panos en de molen database, werkelijk schitterend !

I continue in English.

As I wrote above my compliments for the nice panos and database of Dutch mills.
Indeed it is possible to shoot pole panos with less expensive equipment.
I started shooting on a high pole 1,5 year ago with a much less expensive fiber pole of Walther Spieth, skipped the 5 top elements of it and only used 5.2 meter.
I mounted the pole on a sturdy tripod and I rotated the pole by hand.
The use of a high fiber pole however is limited to situations with less wind because it is hard to stitch an image when the camera is swinging 30 or more cm.
Because the swinging is weakening the connections of the pole it happened that the pole collapsed, luckily without any damage to the equipment on top of it.
A tip for anybody who are using such a fiber pole, later I drilled 3mm little wholes in the fiber tubes and secured the connections with small removable plastic plugs that I pushed in the wholes when it was erected.

In the region where I live there is very often a lot of wind so using a pole that can be supported by wires is almost a must but such a pole is hard to rotate by hand unless you design a smart supporting system that rotates at the top.
So that's why I think the Seitz VR Drive is a good choice for a supported high pole.


05-28-2008, 04:23 PM
So that's why I think the Seitz VR Drive is a good choice for a supported high pole.

It is, definitely. But since it sells for about 1300 euros and I am not making money with panoramic photography, I wonder if there is a more affordable alternative. There must be a market for it (hint!).

07-01-2008, 09:39 AM
Here are my first attempts at pole photography..


15m mast attached to my truck. No guy wires (yet) I need to find some fast!

Shot #3 is full extension (49 feet), it was leaning over a few feet to one side, probably because I didn't pump up enough air in the shaft.


07-01-2008, 12:06 PM
Hello Kirk,

15 meter, that's impressive !
Except for the huge footprint of the panohead+remote control the results looks really fine.
If there is an option to reduce the size of the footprint in such a way that it only covers the truck then that would be great.

I can see that you rotated the mast by hand and shot 7 images round and because the yaw between the images is not equal I guess that for each image you had to lower the pressure and perhaps even have to collapse the mast to rotate it, am I right ?
Can you tell something more about the workflow ?



07-01-2008, 02:08 PM

I didn't rotate by hand, I used a Bescor MP-360 motorized pan/tilt head with a wireless remote.

The footprint is large because I put the receiver box on the side w/velcro. I didn't realize it would block that much of the shot, so I'll have to readjust where I put the box before I do my next tests.

The images are not equal, because it's rotating remotely and there's no set rotation, so I just rotated until I felt it was far enough over with a bit of overlap.

I used the WFT-E3A wireless grip attached to the Canon 40D to send the images down via 802.11g wifi. Since the 40D has a "live view" function, I could watch in almost realtime (3 frames per second or less usually) as the camera rotated, and then when I saw a good shot, I'd take one and then continue.

It's also not equal on each shot because the wind was blowing, so the pole was moving a bit (I didn't have guy wires on it, which I really need to install)


07-01-2008, 10:31 PM
Hello Kirk,

Thanks for sharing the details of your gear.

I looked at the specs and the price of the Bescor MP-360 and it seems to me that the device is very usefull as soon as you find a solution to mount the remote controller behind/besides the camera.
Perhaps you can place some kind of spacer device between camera and the drive, than the footprint of the bulky drive will be reduced a lot as well.
And if you can make a visual aid, some small pointers ( 4 or 5) that are attached to the fixed and (1) to the rotating part of the base rotator than you can get a more precise position for each shot and than you also have to shot much less images.

It seems to me that the WFT-E3A wireless data transfer device is pretty expensive but I guess that the live view support makes it worth.
Personally I think of buying a EyeFi-Home wireless SD card + SD>CF card adapter + small pocket router to make a wireless connection to my MacBook Pro, the price of this combination will be under 200 euro.

If you managed to get a smaller footprint I hope you can post the results and the info about the gear again.


This is totally off-topic. When I tried to order the Eye-Fi card @ Amazon.com I got a message that due to restrictions mandated by the manufacturer they could not delver the card outside the US.
Customer service of Eye-Fi confirmed that this restriction is mandated to all US vendors :-(
Despite the restriction I could order a Eye-Fi card @ Photojojo (no warranty/support outside the US).
The setup wasn't easy but after I managed to get a reliable connection with the portable router it is working fine in a Canon 5D, 350D (both with a CF>SD card adapter) and a Panasonic FX30 compact camera.
Negative issues: the wifi range is limited to approx. 8 meter outside in all camera's and the writing speed of the memory is terrible slow, compared to my Sandisk Extreme IV cards it is 7x slower !
So the Eye-Fi wifi memory card is basicly a fun card (great fun :-) and not suited for Pro purposes.

08-01-2008, 02:48 PM
Great shots spyboy

I have just started trying to use my fiberglass pole for panoramics. My original system was too complicated and I felt like my energy was sapped after trying to get an HDR still with my architectural mount and then shooting a spherical panorama. With the reduced complexity of my setup I can probably manage not to run out of energy :001_smile: The Bescor seems like a pretty good option to me for getting panoramas from a higher pole height. The cost is reasonable as well. Which model do you recommend? A real product opportunity exists for someone who develops a pole that is more rigid and can be extended in the vertical position as well. My pole easily fits inside of my car when I slide the passenger side seat back a bit and lower the seat a bit.

Reduced complexity of setup
I reduced the complexity of my pole setup and strapped the center pole from my manfrotto tripod with my NN5L attached and Canon 40D with quick ties. I use a wireless shutter release and try and set the ISO and fstop where I use a higher shutter speed to compensate for rotating the pole by hand. I do not extend my fiberglass pole the full 50 feet / 15 meters because it flexes / bends too much. I loosen the center knob on my NN5L so that it will not rotate.

Don't see need to use wireless flash card
I don't see any need to capture the images on the ground unless you want to see them real time. I already have USB cables with repeaters that I can daisy chain and connect to my laptop with timelapse software that will display the image from the camera (Canon distributes software that does the remote capture, but it does not work as well as my timelapse software that I can use to make adjustments to the camera such as ISO, fstop, shutterspeed, etc.

08-16-2008, 01:21 AM
Here is my attempt at a low tech pole panoramic. The light was changing and my photographs were shot at 1/100 to 1/80 of a second. I was planning 1/500 of a second. So my stitch in ptgui has problems. Autopano pro wouldn't stitch it well and It is much more trouble and time consuming to change control points in autopano pro.


08-19-2008, 11:12 PM
I did not expect this pole panorama to work because I started taking the photos at sunset and I could not realize fast enough shutter speeds. I used ISO 1600 @ f10 in aperture priority mode because the light conditions were changing so quickly.


This panorama is a krpano multi-resolution panorama that will give a few errors about certian non existant tiles not loading.
The largest resolution 1k tiles from an up sampled 24000x12000 image and does not contribute to increasing the quality as you zoom in.

08-19-2008, 11:57 PM
Hello Castillonis,

Despite the difficult light situation the last pole isn't so bad at all.
But shooting in automatic mode isn't the best solution to tackle the difficult dynamic range issue of the scene.
If you can't get the results you want from a single exposure (please use RAW not JPEG) then you should consider shooting bracketed and fuse the results.
Is it possible that the KRpano layer is set to fisheye mode ? I am sure it is a matter of taste but I don't think everybody will like it to see curved flagpoles that should/could be straight.
The same for the corners of the building.


08-20-2008, 11:32 PM

Thank you for your constructive advice, I need it :001_smile:

I always shoot in a mode that gives me both a RAW and jpeg image. The reason why I have been shooting the pole panoramas in aperture priority mode for sunsets is that I usually arrive with not much time to set up and I have not shot many of these. So, I feel like a dog chasing his tail in regards to the shutter speed when the sun is setting. Though, now that John Houghton pointed out that I need to take off the cylinder part on my fisheye lens, I might be able to get away with shooting one row, a nadir, and a sometimes optional zenith.

In the few panoramas that I have shot, I took the pole down to change the pitch of the upper arm -30, +20, -90, 90 which takes some time to do safely. I stitched this together with the six -30 degree images and a nadir. I copied a section of sky to patch the zenith. So, I might be able to reduce the number of times that I need to raise and lower the pole.

I now wish that I had purchased one of the manfrotto systems that you, the panoTwins, and Martin from czech360 use. I looked around at the time, but I was not able to find anything when I first put my system together. Now, I am aware of so many other options.

As far as the fisheye parameter. I am not sure, I am using the default parameter settings. It may just be a wide FOV. I was working away at learning actionscript to make tours. I am a little overwhelmed by all of the stuff that you need to know. Currently I am trying to use the workflow that GURL (autopano forum) uses from a single series of RAW images.

I wonder if Fanotec has contemplated a pole design? It would be more of a niche product with lower volumes. They would need to market it to landscape photographers as well as photographers that shoot panoramas.

10-01-2008, 01:31 PM
So that's why I think the Seitz VR Drive is a good choice for a supported high pole.

Boys will be boys. So when I came across a building site with a huge crane, I couldn't resist the temptation to make the highest pole panorama in history, using the 220ft crane as a tripod and vr-drive in one :-)


I did actually bring my Nodal Ninja up there, and used it to make some shots of the crane itself. For the panoramic view of Nijmegen (The Netherlands), the camera was locked into position however, and the crane driver agreed to rotate the entire crane 360 degrees. Unfortunately it's not possible to make a nadir image this way, so I inserted a nice mirror ball...

For those who can read Dutch, there is an article on this panorama on my blog www.duizelingen.nl/serendipity

10-01-2008, 02:50 PM

this is not a 30m pole panorama. just a sidepole. but they are fun too.

10-02-2008, 12:50 AM

Pierre despite some stitching errors (*) this pano is fabulous and it could be very well that this is the highest pole panorama ever made.
I really love the view at Nijmegen, possible the number 1 of oldest Dutch cities with a history that goes back deep into the Roman time so I am sure that deep below you the archaeological department of Nijmegen spend a lot of time.......
(*) On your blog you tell about the setup, I guess you used a Nikon 10.5 without a downtilt of the lens, that could explain the large footprint.

BTW, I am not 100% sure but I think that the ViewPoint correction method of PTGuiPro could do a better stitching job for this particular pano with less errors on the horizon, not that is matters much because the pano is already very nice.

@ ti360
This sidepole pano is a real beauty and as far as I can see without errors.
I know how hard it is to stitch such a side pole pano without getting errors so I take my hat off for this one.
The scene is really great and it is obvious why this place is on the UNESCO list of monuments to preserve.

All the best,

10-02-2008, 04:10 AM
I guess you used a Nikon 10.5 without a downtilt of the lens, that could explain the large footprint.

Yes I did. I can see two errors on the horizon. Possibly, I can edit them out in the cubefaces. I will try out the new PTGui version on this panorama, but in my experience, PTGui is not so forgiving with large parallax errors.

10-02-2008, 09:58 AM
i had newer heard of the "coast of ouddorp" on the isle of "goeree overflakkee" before. but i looked it up un on google earth. wery nice job with the beach pole pano. closer to the "vuurtoren ouddorp" would be fun.

John Houghton
10-02-2008, 10:35 AM
Yes I did. I can see two errors on the horizon. Possibly, I can edit them out in the cubefaces. I will try out the new PTGui version on this panorama, but in my experience, PTGui is not so forgiving with large parallax errors.

There will be no parallax as far as the distant horizon is concerned, and so that at least should stitch perfectly without any trouble. It will do so if you put control points only on features in the far distance and use a known good set of lens parameters (don't optimize a,b and c). That will also get your horizon flat and correctly placed in the equirectangular image (on or slightly below the centre line). As it is, the position of the curving horizon suggests the camera was some 37 miles above the earth's surface! Getting the distant landscape right does mean that you will get the expected misalignments on near features due to parallax. Dealing with those can be trcky and time consuming. In similar situations, I have used morphing and Photoshop's transform tools with layers, to coax the images into alignment. This one from the Monument in London was taken from camera positions around the top about 5m apart - giving huge parallax problems: http://www.johnhpanos.com/monument.htm. Note the flat horizon.


erik leeman
10-02-2008, 12:13 PM
Nice to see Nijmegen from so high up!
I used to live in that city but I don't come there too often anymore, so this is a nice 'fresher-upper' for my memories : )


Erik Leeman

Bill Bailey
05-21-2010, 12:38 PM
congrats Wim - this thread has reached 6501 views! Small time in the world of bigger forums but big time for our little forum network.

05-22-2010, 12:06 AM
congrats Wim - this thread has reached 6501 views! Small time in the world of bigger forums but big time for our little forum network.

Wow, that is a huge number of views, I hope everyone enjoyed the pole pano.

05-22-2010, 10:58 PM
Of course we did Wim.

I suppose you'r getting so much views cause you are one of those guys who try to "expand our horizons". Trying to go new ways in panos and sharing this with us.

Go on Wim. We like to enjoy more.