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Nodal Ninja Calibration Tutorial


Ever since Bill Bailey sponsored our Google Summer of Code team with Nodal Ninja panoramic heads, I’ve been using it for higher resolution partial panoramas.

The guy in red with the white beard brought me a Sigma 15mm Fisheye lens. And the guy in blue with the black beard had to calibrate it right away. And at the same time describe this ingenious method he first saw from John Houghton. This works only for dSLRs. All you’ll need is a second camera and a source of bright light.

Assemble the Nodal Ninja with the lens to be calibrated and position it with the source of light in the back.

Position your second camera so that it can see the center of the lens.

Calibrate the horizontal position (left/right relative to the rotator in the horizontal plane) by moving the camera between two symmetric positions and checking that the entrance pupil disc is in the same place at the two positions. The symmetric positions are simply 180° apart by turning on both the horizontal and vertical rotators.

Once the horizontal position is calibrated, calibrate the depth of the camera on the upper arm. Again, the principle is the same: take two pictures of the panoramic head in two different positions and compare the positions of the entrance pupil disc.

For fisheye lenses the yaw difference between the two pictures must be the stepping used during shooting because the entrance pupil moves with changes of the light’s angle of entry. So if you shoot six around at 60°, turn the panoramic head to -30° and to +30° relative to the second camera. Shoot and compare the two pictures.

Music courtesy of Quantum Jazz, licensed CC-BY-SA.

Happy calibrating!

7 Responses

  1. could you send the guy in red with the white beard to my place too?

    even though i don’t have a pano-head the tutorial was perfectly clear. the only thing that could maybe be changed is the voice, sometimes it was a bit hard to understand you.

    happy holidays!

  2. and 15 minutes later i’m a (soon to be) proud owner of a new Tokina AF 10-17mm f/3.5-4.5 DX Fisheye for my Nikon. through ebay for an unbelievable 88€. can’t wait to see where where the catch for this http://habi.gna.ch/u/1o lies…

    now I only need a nodal ninja, then I can follow your tutorial :)

  3. The last thing I heard about the guy in red is that he started his tour up here in the cold North and should complete a world wide tour by tomorrow.

    88 EUR for a Tokina 10-17? too good to be true! I hope it is. The lack of Tokina 10-17 is a pain with the SONY Alpha.

  4. it really was too good to be true: “We would like to inform you that we marked an incorrect price with this item: Tokina AF 10-17mm f/3.5-4.5 DX Fisheye 10-17 for Nikon. The price should be 388 Euros. We have refunded the total amount to your PayPal account and we are not able to ship this item to you.” meh!

    so I’ll keep waiting for the guy in red :)

  5. Great video, Yuval. I much liked the cat, and your smart way of anti-parallaxing a Nodal Ninja setup is amazing.

    Best wishes for 2010 !

  6. Habi, it could be late but try to inform eBay.
    Yuv, rock on!
    Though the voice is hard to follow at times. You could try off camera sound recording (mp3 player or a wired headset +cellphone would work) and mux it in post.

    The cat was ++

  7. Panocat rules!
    Nice tutorial BTW.

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