Years ago, I converted a huge plate camera to 5×12″ service. I was infatuated with panoramas, and the 5×12 was feeding that. Unfortunately, the camera was heavy, unwieldy, and expensive to shoot. I sold it off, but still had a desire to shoot panos.
Someimte in late 2008, I started pondering on a pano head to use with my Canon 20D. They’re neat, look fairly easy to use, but were expensive, even on the used market. I had pieces of aluminum on the garage, and figured anything I’d make couldn’t be so bad as to be worthless, so I got working.
I can’t remember what design I borrowed, but the first rev of the home-brew pano rig turned out fairly well, and completely functional:
In use, everything was fine. I’d done a bit of research on entrance pupils and setting the thing up (which is lost in the ether that is my memory now) and I ended up with panoramas that needed little, if any, cropping. But the aluminum stock was thin, the camera set too high, and the mount a little insecure. All this made for a wobbly, slow rig to use.
Rev. 2 of the design came about with thicker aluminum, more care in placement of the entrance pupil (specific to the lens I was using, a 17-40L) and better hardware.
This was, and still is, golden. A joy to use, sturdy and stable. I got crazy shooting panos for a long time:
Even got the kids involved for some creative photo shooting. As usual, they were good at it:
I’ll admit to feeling stagnant lately. In looking for some large format gear in the drawer today, I pulled out the old pano rig. Made a few modifications to it – cut down some of the 1/4-20 bolts to make attaching the camera quicker – and even cleaned the sensor on the 20D. I think it’s time to take the rig out again. May be just the thing to pull me out of this rut…