I am just about to buy my first pano head, probably the NN5L + RD-16 + EZ-leveller 2, but I haven't entirely decided. I've gotten a tremendous amount of help from Bill Bailey, but a few questions remain...
First, I am on a restricted budget (due to recession budget cutbacks that affect my income, unfortunately), and I'm wondering if it's worth it for me to pay extra for the locking upper rotator of the NN5. I may use the pano head with heavy gear sometimes, but I'm not sure.
If I understand the NN5 upper rotator device correctly, the rotator will lock at exactly 0 degrees, 15 degrees, etc., but the extra holding power of the system would not be a benefit if the rotator is locked at, say 10 degrees. In other words, it can be friction-locked between 0 and 15, but the positive lock will only kick in at the exact 15 degree intervals. Do I understand the operation of this locking device correctly?
If this is the case, the advantages of the locking rotator would be mostly lost to me, because with most panoramas I've shot, I don't want the camera pointed straight at the horizon (at 0 degrees), or at some other exact amount like 15 or 30 degrees. I want to place the horizon exactly where I want it, and lock it there.
Second, I have the little rectangular Manfrotto (Bogen) quick release plates on all my gear. The Manfrotto number is either 3157N or 200PL-14 (they changed the part number for some reason... actually, they changed it at least once before; I use the older 3157, which is a simple rectangular plate that is similar to the 3157N, but without the newer cutouts). Are these Manfrotto plates compatible with your clamp QRC-2 (or the QRS-2 kit)? Do they clamp tightly in the QRC-2?
The Manfrotto plates are not great, but for now I am stuck with them because they are on every camera, bellows, tripod head, etc.. that I use. If I can use the QRC-2 on the NN5L, and mount my camera on it securely, then I will be happy for now.
The gear I will use mostly is a D200 or D700 (possibly a D3X, but not this year), and for lenses a 17-35 f2.8 Nikkor, and possibly other lenses up to about 150mm to do panoramas. I also have a Shen-Hao 4x5 field camera that I might use for the occasional panorama (that weighs under 10 lbs with a lens).
I did see the interesting website by Thierry Rebours, who has tried some 4x5 gear on the NN5.
I have used the Manfrotto pano head 303SPH, and I am interested in comparing it closely with the NN5L. One of the worst things about the Manfrotto head was how long it continued to vibrate after touching it. Someone described it as 'twangy'.
Thanks very much! Can't wait to use one of these this summer.