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I would like to take wide pictures however I have only a 18mm lens.

I thought instead of spending lots of money on a wide-angle lens, just to stitch into panorama with Lr/Ps afterwards.

I thought to buy a Zomei z669 tripod as I saw it got good reviews as a traveling tripod.

My gear is Sony a6500 + Sony 18-105 f4.

Is there anyone who owns this tripod and can share some knowledge of how good it is in staying stable in the horizon and how good the ball moves?

Thank you

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3 Answers 3

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A ballhead alone doesn't help much when you do panoramas because it doesn't ensure that the camera remains level while you change its orientation. From that point of view it is not much better than shooting hand-held.

If you want to shoot panoramas with a tripod, you need something that lets you turn your camera around a strictly vertical axis. This mean

  1. To make sure that your axis is vertical. You can spend a while adjusting tripod legs, you can use your ball-head (if it is good enough), but a better solution is replace the ball head by a levelling head(*):

enter image description here

2) You add to this something that prevents any other moves than the required rotation. Ideally this means a panoramic head. The simpler panoramic heads aren't too heavy or expensive:

The simpler panoramic heads aren't too heavy or expensive.

There are more expensive models with sliding plates that will let you rotate your camera around the optical center of your lens, but this is not necessary for landscapes. You can also use a "3D" head in which you lock up the two unneeded axes (this 3D head can often replace the ballhead for most purposes, but it is heavier).

Last, for maximum coverage it is common to use the camera in portrait mode, so you may want to invest in an L-bracket:

enter image description hereenter image description here

(*) I cannot praise enough the levelling head. In most of my uses for a tripod the camera is hozizontal or nearly so, the range of the levelling head is enough. It is lighter and takes less space than a ballhead or a 3D head, it balances the camera better than a ball head and once locked it won't move.

PS: This said, my panorama software (Hugin) can compensate for my signature 1.6° CCW tilt when I shoot panoramas hand-held.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ If I buy the head you linked it will fit the zomei tripod tho? the connections are compatible for all tripods? \$\endgroup\$
    – Ben
    May 4, 2020 at 4:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ From the pictures on Amazon, the ball head looks removable. There are only two type of screw/threads, large (3/8") and small (1/4"). Large is usually for tripod parts (the bottom of your ball head likely) and small if for the camera. Screw adapters are easy to find, especially to make a 1/4" screw fit a 3/8" thread. \$\endgroup\$
    – xenoid
    May 4, 2020 at 6:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thank you very much mate \$\endgroup\$
    – Ben
    May 4, 2020 at 6:57
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I have used a similar model, the Zomei Z-668-c for a few years now and have been very happy with it. It was a big upgrade from my first Aluminium tripod but as I have never used a big brand, professional model I can't say how it compares.ZOMEI Z-668-c tripod kit I still haven't figured out what I'm supposed to do with that little pocket thingy. ZOMEI Z-668-c tripod The only major drawback is the size of that centre column. It's long to increase the overall height - a headline selling figure. This means the tripod can't be used very low without reversing the column (or buying a shorter one). Z-668-C ballhead The ballhead has the usual rotation and ballhead locks as well as a ballhead friction control and arca swiss style clamp and plate. The head is marked in degrees where it rotates around the base but I've never found a need for it. I've found the head up to the job of controlling a telephoto lens on a small dslr when the friction is properly set. There are a couple of drawbacks to using a ballhead for panorama's.

  1. Levelling. The two bubble levels on the head aren't much help because they are on the clamp, whist the movement for panning across your scene comes from the base.
  2. Parallax errors. Because you're not rotating the camera about the correct point on the lens objects will appear to move across each other as you pan. Not a problem if you are shooting distant horizons but a nightmare in a forest.

Because of this I add a couple more items to my panorama kit list. flash bracket I got this twin flash bracket off the internet for next to nothing. It came with two camera threaded nut/bolts and three threaded areas in the bar. The washers are to space everything out. flash hot-shoe cover bubble level Again, cheap and cheerful from the internet this hot-shoe cover bubble level helps get your camera somewhere near level. I know your hot-shoe might not be perpendicular to your sensor but come on, how accurate do you want to be! Also my original cover is on a hillside somewhere.

Another possibility is a remote shutter release to avoid knocking my slightly dodgy rig between shots. panorama setup

And here it is, my Heath Robinson panorama rig. I have successfully stitched panorama's shot in woodland and even inside my home with it. Obviously the bracket sticking out behind the camera is not ideal and I could cut it off but then I wouldn't be able to put two flashes on it would I?

The biggest tip is: get good at levelling your tripod. The trick is to set everything up as straight as possible with the legs fully extended and point your camera so the lens extends over one of the legs. Adjust the length of that leg till the camera is level in that axis. Next turn the camera 90degrees so the lens is parallel to the other two legs. Adjust one of these till the camera is level in that axis. Provided your ballhead is relatively vertical in its socket your camera should be level enough. 6 image hugin panorama This 6 image, 180degree panorama was shot with a 30mm equiv lens and stitched together in hugin. I left the empty space to show how level the images worked out.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ What an awesome answer. Thank you very much mate! \$\endgroup\$
    – Ben
    May 11, 2020 at 6:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Ben Glad to help, I've got a bit of spare time on my hands just now thanks to lockdown. You may be interested in this answer I've just posted which was how I got to this method a little while back. \$\endgroup\$
    – dmkonlinux
    May 13, 2020 at 6:22
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The tripod seems to be fine, however I do not own it and can therefore not make specific statements to it.

For panorame stitching, it is recommended to use a panoramic tripod head. It allows you to rotate the camera around a point that can be the front element of your lens. This reduces parallax and distortion.

It is also possible to make panoramas with a regular tripod head and usually, the effects won't be very noticeable, unless you have subjects very close to the camera.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ @Ben I have never really had any issues stitichin panoramas with a normal ballhead.Providing you take your time and make sure everything is level firstly then just rotate round on the ball head underneath.To get good stitching I usually overlap each image by a third.make sure you are in portrait for the images and your setting are on manual mode.Dont use auto white balance or shutter sppeds and arpeture as this will cause issues stitching, so make sure you determine the correct exposure you need first \$\endgroup\$ May 4, 2020 at 16:12

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