The biggest reasons one of your competitor’s pano head is so expensive is because they do not make enough pieces each time they set up the CNC machine in order to bring the final cost down. There is a cost in just setting up the machine. The more pieces you make, the more you spread out the cost of the set up between each piece. Once a machine is set up, you can run 1 part or 10,000 parts. The set up cost is the same. Unfortunately if you do not sell all the parts, you end up sitting on the inventory for longer than planned. That is something called planning.
The same thing is true for casting. The time it takes to set up the casting machine is the same, no matter how many parts you run. The difference is that casting a part is so much cheaper than machining a part. If you design a casted part correctly, it comes out of the mold completed (except for deburring and painting).
Nick has made a small run of the swivels using CNC fabrication. That gets the part to market. If enough people buy the swivel, and demand continues, casting becomes a very attractive alternative. Making a mold can cost $10,000 (+ or - a few K) and up. That cost needs to be spread out over the parts that get made during the life of the mold. Some molds do wear out and need to be repaired or replaced.
The previously mentioned competition (whose name cannot be said) CNC everything. Nothing is cast. While I have never used one, I am quite sure their pano head is a thing of beauty and works great. The cost, however, puts the price out of way too many people's hands.
For those of you who have seen my pano head, it takes me two days to manually machine the parts on my old WW2 Bridgeport mill. If I had a modern day mill, I could get that done in 1/2 the time and probably make 5 of them at once. For me to take the time to play in my garage in order to make my own stuff, time is not an issue. To start producing the pano head for market, that is a completely different story. Who out there would pay me for two days worth of labor plus the bit you would still have to purchase from Bill? Nobody would. About a dozen people have asked me, but are not willing to pay. No biggie. Nick has finally produced the design (ring mount, 180 swivel). I can't wait until it finally goes on sale. I may just break down and buy one.
Sorry to go on and on about machining parts. Machining is a hobby of mine (it was my profession for over 15 years). Photography is a hobby but does not pay the bills. I am just not good enough and there is way too much competition.
Thanks DennisS, for these explanations!
Most of it I already knew. But it is very interesting for me (German) to read all these specific, not daily used, idioms in English.
I guess that there is another competitor in Germany with the same problem regarding the price and low amount of pieces in cnc production. But this is another story.
It's probably inconsequential to the design and usage of what we're talking about but my impression was that machined parts are generally more durable than those that are from casting?
OK. I just got my nadir adapter just arrived and I have it on the NN5. Any tips on its use? How far do you move the tripod? Is it critical that the camera is "restored" to its original position when taking the nadir shot? Any & all tips appreciated to cut down on the trial & error cycle.
Measure from the center line of the pivot point to the center line of the lens. Double that and you have the amount you will need to move the tripod over. Using your favorite graphics editing software, you will need to rotate the patch shot 180 degrees so it will line up with the Nadir shot.
Make sure you orient your tripod and pano head correctly before you start. Go to the above link and you will see what your pictures should look. In order to orient my pano head, I had to use some paper shims between the tripod and head.
You may need to get a short center column, as a normal length column may extend down into the picture and overlap the tripod leg in the Nadir shot.
Before moving the tripod over, put a lens cap or something on the ground directly under the tripod. Use this as a reference when sliding the tripod over. Practice a few times and you will see you do not have to be precise, but you do need to pay attention to what you are doing. I carry two small rulers with me. After taking the Nadir shot, I put them on the ground next to the tripod legs, move the rig over, then pick up the rulers. Piece of cake.
It will be very interesting to see how this device impacts people's workflow. Some may embrace it, others may dismiss it without even trying it, still others may decide that hand held patch shots are quicker. Whatever gets the job done.
Another question, what is the speed screw for? It doesn't seem to control the friction when swinging the adapter. Thanks.
Just a thought...
Mine is as tight as a drum, and I can't open the adapter with it locked (which is handy when I pick up the whole rig and move it).