I'm zeroing in on my purchasing decisions for a Nodal Ninja setup and am looking for a last bit of advice before pulling the trigger. I'm sure this will rehash some prior Forum discussion, but I appreciate your indulgence as I'm trying to do this quickly before an upcoming trip to Big Sur or the Russian River Valley in early May.
My current interest is in architectural (indoor and outdoor, but not VR - I just like buildings) and landscape panoramas, including HDR. I'm mostly interested in one or two row 180s but would like to leave my options open with regards to 360s, spherical, vertical, etc. I'd like to have a lot of precision for my image spacing/overlap. I do most of my image taking while traveling and/or hiking, so reducing size/weight is important. (This is one major reason why I've settled on a NN of some type rather than a Manfrotto or some other brand.)
I'm currently shooting with a Nikon D80, a Nikkor 20mm f/2.8, 18-200mm DX VR, and a Sigma 30mm f/1.4 EX. However, there is a D700 somewhere in my future. I hope.
I have a Bogen/Manfrotto 3221 tripod. It's big and it's heavy, but I'm going to stick with it for the time being.
I'm leaning towards the NN5 w/RD16 for the reasons given above. I'm guessing that the NN3MKII would give me most of what I want except for accommodating the D700. Is that true or, if I decided to forgo panos full spherical panos (360x180), would I be okay with the NN3 with the D700? I'd like to use both a D80 or D700 in both portrait and landscape orientation even for one or two row 180s. And, or course, the smaller/lighter the gear on my back, the better. :-)
In addition to my NN5 vs. NN3 decision, I am also interested in a quick release plate and clamp and a leveler for my tripod.
Which quick release system would folks recommend? I'd like to keep things as compact as possible - the thinner/lighter the better.
What do people think about the EZ-Leveller-II versus the Manfrotto 338/3416 Leveling Base? The Manfrotto has a bubble level integrated which makes it useful when not using the NN. Otherwise they seem very similar. I can get the Manfrotto for $20-$30 less than the listed price of the EZ-Leveler.
Thanks in advance for everybody's help. I'm looking forward to making a decision very soon and making some test images here in Chicago before hitting the trails.