Table Panorama with Manfrotto 209
Following my passion for panoramic photography, I finally decided to take it one step further and try capturing a table panorama. I have seen those kind of images on the Web, and even once tried to capture one, but failed mainly due to the lack of the right equipment. However, this time I managed to capture and stitch a full 360 degree table panorama and here are some of my thoughts you may find useful.
First of all, in order to capture such images, you will need a table tripod sturdy and stable enough to carry a panoramic head. After a long internet search, I found and personally tested two of them : Joby Gorilapod and Manfrotto 209. Both of them are excellent tripods but for this particular task Manfrotto proved better and below you can see the set-up I used for this project.
In my opinion, Joby Gorilapod, despite being able to support a panoramic head, is quite tricky to set up due to the fact that each leg consists of many parts which can be positioned in a different direction. Secondly, once you set it up, you have to give it some time to rest as the tripod may still slightly vibrate due to its flexibility. Manfrotto 209, on the other hand, is very stable and takes seconds to set up. Most importantly, it is also much smaller, which makes erasing it from the final image easier. All in all, Joby Gorilapod is more of an outdoor tripod, which can be useful if you are shooting in an uneven terrain. Manfrotto 209, on the other hand, is much better for simpler project where you have a lot of flat space available to set up your tripod.
Manfrotto 209 comes in two versions. You can buy the basic version, which only consists of the tripod legs. Therefore, you will have to purchase the ball-head separately. You may also invest more money and get the kit version, which consists of the tripod legs, an extender, a ball-head and a pouch. However, the ball-head supplied with the kit is very small and is not equipped with a quick-release plate. As a result, I decided to replace it with the 496RC2 for improved stability and convenience. Whether you decide to get the basic or kit version, it’s definitely worth upgrading to the 496RC2 as it’s an excellent ball-head.
Once you set up your tripod, start capturing the images as if you were shooting a regular 360 degree panorama, maintaining a good overlap and capturing both the Zenith and Nadir separately. Remember, you will be shooting in very tight conditions so your panoramic head has to be set up properly in order to avoid stitching errors. If you want to include yourself in the image, it’s a good idea to trigger the shutter with a remote. Just change your camera’s remote mode from immediate to delayed reaction to give yourself some time before the shutter opens. Finally, in order to achieve a more realistic perspective, use the extender provided with the kit. The extender will position the camera slightly higher, which helps to capture a bigger Nadir and makes the viewing point more natural. You may also experiment a little and capture the panorama without the extender, achieving a different perspective. I recommend trying both approaches.
I hope you will find this post useful and capture your first table panorama soon. You may also enjoy the interactive version of this image here. Just click on the play icon below the image and turn your speakers on.
If all this sounds too technical for you and you are new to panoramic photography, you may start from the beginning and learn hot to capture and stitch an equirectangular panorama first. Then, learn how to turn your images into interactive panoramas with Pano2VR.
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