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Choosing tripod and quick release system w/ NN + D90 & 10.5mm

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  • Choosing tripod and quick release system w/ NN + D90 & 10.5mm

    Hi all. Firstly, congrats must go out to the Fanotec team for such a great range of products!

    I have done plenty of research on available gear but haven't been able to work it all out, so I'd like to lend your valuable expertise in choosing a tripod, camera plate and particularly the quick release system appropriate for my camera and needs. And they are as follows;
    • D90 w/ 10.5mm fisheye
    • Must be able to mount and dismount all components quickly, easily and 100% accurately, so quick release plates must be between all components (ie camera, pano head, tripod / tripod head), and camera plate. Will pay for quality couplings, ie all metal no plastic
    • Camera must be able to be mounted directly to tripod head via quick release, and tripod head to tripod, for conventional photography (but leaving tripod head off while shooting panos)
    • Always shoot full spherical
    • Sometimes shoot interiors with tight spaces whereby I point the lens downward 7-10 degrees; tripod upper extremity (no head) and quick release system should not protrude beyond NN rotator
    • Always HDR, so all nadir shots must be securely mounted, often preferable to be shot some distance away from normal position to avoid all shadows (currently use a long horizontal rail, camera on one end, counter-weight on the other, allowing nadir to be shot quite a distance up/away if need be)
    The U2 camera plate, which is designed for the D90 & similar bodies, looks really good. I notice the dovetailing it has, but what clamps is it supposed to connect to?
    The "Quick Release Clamp 55mm for Lower Rotator" looks like it has a round catch in the right position to slot into a hole of the U2 camera plate, but it says it's for the lower rotator.

    The clamp that joins the camera to the pano head should preferably mate with the pano head such that it can't twist out of position.

    My local (Australian) distributor lists a nodal ninja quick release system and an "Arca Style" one;

    Both of these have dovetailing that looks like they might fit the U2 camera plate, but I can't see what holds it centred within the clamp - if anything?

    How standard is "arca style"? Which brand tripod heads would this fit? Or must I put the matching "arca style" clamp onto any tripod head I use?

    Camera Plate U2 appears to not be on the Australian site.

    I haven't purchased a nodal ninja yet but think I will order the NN4 w/ R-D8 next week, unless somebody can advise otherwise. It is my understanding that the NN4 has upper rotator click stops of 5, 7.5 and 10 degrees from horizontal, and the NN3 has no upper rotator click stops, instead you need to visually line up the marked lines in order to set a specific angle - is that correct?

    As for the tripod, it's important to me when shooting conventional photography, with a head, and legs at full length standard angle, to suspend the lens at eye level (~170cm). Studyness is critical. The budget is about AU/US $200, up to $250 (no head, can worry about that later).

    So far I like the look of the Manfrotto 055XPROB, with horizontally extending centre column and good max height. $AU210 / $US220 to my door.

    Any other suggestions?

    My apologies for the essay, but there's a lot to work out .. you know how it is. ;)

    Kind Regards and thanks!