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Help choosing head for Nikon D700

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  • Help choosing head for Nikon D700


    I'm new to stitching. I've done a little research and I think a Nodal Ninja head would suit me as they are relatively compact, lightweight and affordable. I just need some help in choosing the right head.

    Objective: To use a Nikon D700 to shoot high resolution images to match the quality of the best medium format backs (e.g. P65) or scanned 4"x5" film.

    Subject Matter: Urban Landscape, Architecture, Interiors

    Aspect Ratio of final image: 4:5 or 2:3. (I'm not interested in panoramas)

    Focal length: The final stitched image will have a wideangle field of view, somewhere between 20mm and 35mm on a single 35 frame. (Nothing ultra-wide)

    Current equipment: Nikon D700, Manfrotto tripod, Manfrotto 3 way head, Nikon manual focus primes (20, 24, 28, 35, 50, 85). I intend to use one of the wide angle lenses to create a master, single-frame reference shot, and then the 50 or 85 to create a spherical stitch (I think that's the word (?) - 2 or more rows, with the camera vertical).

    Software: I'm looking at Autopano Pro and PTGui. I'm on a mac.

    Quick Release: In general I like to use QR plates for speed of operation. I juggle between the Manfrotto system (rectangular plates) and Kirk (arca style).

    I hope this is enough info for some advice.

    Thanks in advance.


  • #2
    Hi Elliot - welcome to the forum.
    You would need to step into the NN5 series or newer modular series due out end 2010. Unless you change lenses or shoot at different focal lengths frequently (which would require changing the click stop interval) you can get by with the NN5Lx Starter Pkg - these are factory irregulars (very minor cosmetic flaws) for only $294.

    This model uses standard rotator with interchangeable click stop rings. It's not a big deal to swap out rings as shown in this video:

    Or if you have a bit more in your budget you could opt for the NN5 w/RD16. The RD16 advanced rotators do not use rings. Changing click stops is as easy and moving detent knob from one whole to next as shown in this video:

    For quick release systems the Arca style is very widely used and we sell an Arca Style clamp that would allow you to use your existing Arca Style plates.

    Hope this helps


    • #3
      Thanks Bill.

      I will probably stick with one focal length lens per project, so I don't think I need the flexibility of the RD16.

      I hadn't realised that the NN5 has been discontinued - that makes me feel a little uneasy about buying it.

      Is the NN3 too small to be used with the Nikon D700? Let's say I forgo QR plates - still won't fit?

      One more question. Having completed my stitch of an urban scene, I might want to hang around to capture transient things (people, bicycles, cars etc) - things that I can later drop in to my final composition. Can the tension on the screws of the NN be released to allow for a more fluid shooting style?



      p.s. I will probably be buying from one of your two UK distributors.


      • #4
        Well, whilst waiting for an answer I googled 'nodal ninja nn3 d700' and got varied opinions. It seems that the D700 is borderline on the NN3, and the NN5 would be a safer bet. My proposed gear - D700 with 50mm or 85mm prime - fits within the weight and size specs of the NN3, but I gather that I might encounter some issues with flex. Hmm, the compact size, lower weight and lower price of the NN3 is appealing. I think I'm best off talking to a UK dealer - maybe I can buy both, try them, and return the one I like least.


        • #5
          Hi Elliot, I use the Nikon D700 with an 18-70 mm lens. I found the NN5 w/RD-16 to be the one for all occasions. Whenever I do adjust the focal length to gain higher resolution I can easily change detent degrees. Even tho I use the same settings per scene I change settings from location to location. I felt the NN3 too small for my needs. Good luck and welcome to the forum...den


          • #6
            Hi Elliot, forget the NN3 with the D700. Hope that helps the decision! You need either the NN5 standard or the NN5 w/R-D16 as Bill said. If you're not intending to switch lenses mid shoot then the standard NN5 unit (with the locking upper arm) will be fine.

            The "factory irregular" units are a real bargain just now. The defects are only very minor (coating flaws etc) and the units are 100% functional so you get a great head for a discounted price. Yes, you can disable the click stops on the rotator so you can swivel the head left/right in a fluid movement if you need.

            If you are anywhere near our offices in Scotland you are welcome to come in and test both the NN3 and NN5 if you want. Also yes you can order both, decide which is best and return what isn't. Only caveat is the return unit must be in mint re-sellable condition with all original packaging.

            Any other questions - feel free to call us!
            Last edited by badders; 10-22-2010, 01:30 AM.


            • #7
              Ok - the NN3 is out of the picture! I'll likely go for the NN5 together with the RD16. I'm off for a week's holiday, so I'll mull it over. For certain projects I still shoot large format (4"x5") film - I need to convince myself that replacing this with digital stitching is the way forward, and not some hideously geeky enterprise (I worry particularly about the complexity of the software - PTGui or AutopanoPro). I've just dipped my toes in the last couple of days - it seems like a very helpful community. Thank you all for your advice. Andrew, I'll give you a call a week on Monday.


              • #8
                Just to wrap this one up...

                Andrew ('Badders'), from 360 Tactical VR, provided helpful advice, via phone and email, and I have now ordered a NN5/RD16 from him.


                • #9
                  Good choice,

                  and Andrew is well known as a good distributor and helpful reseller.