Nodal Ninja 5 with Rotator 12 review
The specialist world of panorama photography is growing, and with it demand for the right specialist kit. Fanotec's Nodal Ninja range has been around for a while, but the new Ninja 5 has caused a great deal of comment.
Like other Ninja models this is a 'spherical' panoramic head, capable of taking shots at different angles up and down as well as 360 around. It's also fairly compact, although still a little larger than the previous model. This means it is able to hold a large DSLR with a heavy lens, even telephoto lenses for ultra-high resolution 'gigapixel' panoramas.
Like all panorama heads, this rotates the camera around the lens's nodal point - the optical centre to put it simply - to eliminate parallax in image overlaps. Both arms have clear measurements to help set it up for your particular camera and lens combination, and there is a fairly lengthy list of measurements at nodalninja.com to save you having to run through your own tests.
We used the Nodal Ninja 5 with the Rotator 12, a tripod head base that provides precise click-stop rotation points and a screw plunger to set up different rotation increments. Results were very good, as we expected. One of our only small quibbles was to do with the camera mounting place that is needed to fix the camera to the upper arm. This aligns well in the arm, but there's no simple way to ensure perfect horizontal alignment on the camera itself. Very slight misalignments here shouldn't affect shooting or production, but a better mount design would be good to see. The upper arm rotation, used to take upwards and downwards shots to complete the spherical image, is locked using a combination screw knob and lever. This secures it well, but it takes two hands and attention to get right. This could be a slight problem if you need to work quickly.
Other than that this is a very nice panorama head; it packs down into two compact parts and assembles quickly, and the price is reasonable for this market.