My first attempt at Panoramas

I've always wanted to learn how to do panoramas. For some reason I always thought that it was too damn fiddly so I filed it in the too-hard basket. Anyway my interest was peaked after a friend sent me his attempt at panorama. I noticed quite a few alignment problems, which I later learnt were cause by parallax errors. I wondered if I could do better.

I did a lot of reading on the internet on that topic and there are heaps of info on the causes and how to eliminate it. I first had to wrap my head around terms like nodal point, rotational axis and parallax errors. I later found out that the correct terminology is entrance pupil and not nodal point. There are loads of information and tutorial on how to achieve it.

I was salivating over a pano package from Really Right Stuff (RRS) could not justify paying over USD $360. After some thinking and I realised that I could use my panning BH-40 Pro II ballhead and MPR-192 rail from RRS.

Really Right Stuff MPR-192 rail

Really Right Stuff BH40 Pro II ballhead


1. Calculate entrance pupil of lens. The entrance pupil of the lens must be directly above the rotational axis of the tripod to negate parallax errors.

2. Tripod - preferably a sturdy one.

3. Panning ballhead or a panning base. Excellent, the BH-40 has a panning base.

4. Slide rail. Luckily for me I had an old RRS MPR 192 slide rail which I originally bought to do macro photography but was not suitable as the movements were not smooth enough.

Entrance Pupil

This is how I found the entrance pupil of my Nikon 14-24mm. I place my speaker stand in the foreground and align it with a door frame in the background or any straight vertical line. I then look through the view finder and panned the camera left and right and adjust the position of the camera, by moving it either backwards or forwards on the rail. This process is repeated until the foreground and background objects stop moving when panning the camera left and right.

My D700 mounted on the RRS MPR 192 rail. As you can see from the photo above, the entrance pupil for the Nikon 14-24mm is towards the front of the lens roughly where the focus ring is.

The tripod must be dead level. This is the hardest part of the whole exercise, it takes a bit of time and lots of patience. It can be very frustrating especially when perched on a rock. I discovered that the spirit level on my Manfrotto 055PROB was crap. I wasted a few hours scratching my head wondering why I couldn't get the tripod level. I ended up using a two axes spirit level instead.

2-axes spirit level. You can get them on ebay.

Once the tripod is ready, make sure that the ballhead is level. The spirit bubble on the quick release plate is accurate but I double checked using the 2-axes level. Now you are ready to take some shots. Since I had no idea what I was doing I just took multiple shots, anywhere from 3 to 13 shots, in both portrait and landscape mode.

Panorama shot in portrait mode. This one comprise of 3 separate shots.

Panorama shot in portrait mode. This one comprise of 5 separate shots.

Panorama shot in landscape mode. This one comprise of 5 separate shots.

Panorama shot in portrait mode. This one comprise of 8 separate shots.
Click here for a larger view

Panorama shot in portrait mode. This one comprise of 13 separate shots.
Click here for larger view

All the shots were taken with my Nikon D700 and 14-24mm. I use Adobe LR2 and CS4 to do all my adjustments and stitching. I am very please with the results from my first attempt at panoramas. Now I would really keen to do more panoramas and also work to improve my technique.


Really Right Stuff L-Plate for Nikon D700

I finally received my L-bracket for my Nikon D700 from Really Right Stuff (RRS). It is designed specifically for the Nikon D700. The L-bracket really does hug the contours of the Nikon D700, the fit is perfect. The workmanship is second to none. Absolutely no movement at all when attached, and it keep all the buttons and panels (such as the remote port) accessible. Once mounted on my RRS BH40 ballhead, this thing is rock solid.

Side View

Bottom View

Top View

All RRS camera body plates are Arca-Swiss style quick-release compatible. This is my third L-bracket from RRS, D70, D200 and now the D700. I guess that's a good endorsement. It is not cheap, costs me a total $280 AUD to get it shipped over here. I wished it was cheaper but it is definitely worth the money as you are paying for quality.

Nice and cosy

If you need access to your ports

Tethered in portrait mode

With the slot design it is now possible to shoot tethered. You can plug your usb cable and have the flap opened without fouling the L-plate. Nikon Camera Control Pro 2 supports tethered shooting. I have never tried it but perhaps in the future.

I took it out on the weekend to test it out. Worked like a charm, I am giving it two thumbs up. Highly Recommended.


Nikon D700 - DIY GPS Project - The Build

Parts list
1 x 2K2 Resistor
2 x 4K7 Resistor
1 x 10K Resistor
1 x 2N222A NPN transistor

1 x USGloblSat EM-406A GPS module
1 x USGloblSat header cable (Got both of these items from from Starlite-intl) otherwise you can get them here if you live in Australia.
1 x Hammond Miniature ABS enclosure P/N: 1551RFLBK or 1551RK
1 x Nikon 10 pin connector DIY cable (Got mine from Stellardesign on ebay)
1 x Hot shoe (pc sync port) adapter
1 x Veroboard
1 x length of ribbon cable. had some lying around.
1 x heat shrink tubing, small ones. had some lying around
1 x 40 way header pin

Tools Required

  • soldering iron
  • dremel
  • wire cutters
  • pliers
  • solder
  • voltmeter
  • Power supply

GPS circuit diagram - click for larger view

Testing on breadboard

I tested the circuit design on my breadboard and made sure that it was working correctly before building it on veroboard. Once the red LED starts blinking you are in business.

To simplify the build I laid it all out on graph paper before soldering anything. I worked out exactly where all the components, links and cuts had to be. I also measured and cut the veroboard to size so that it fits into the case. I also notched out on diagonal corners so that the veroboard fitted around the column where the top lid screwed into.

GPS module interface to Nikon D700 completed

Once I am happy that everything fitted correctly then I start soldering the components together. Double checked everything has been done correctly and when you are confident that all is 100%. You can plug the 10 pin connector into the D700 and you should start seeing the GPS symbol blinking on the top panel.

Top view of completed circuit

Veroboard with the level converter circuitry, Nikon 10 pin connector and the 2.5mm stereo jack all wired up. Ready to be mounted into the case.

2.5mm Stereo jack connection to Nikon 10 pin connector

Close up of the 2.5mm Stereo jack and Nikon 10 pin connector. I also made sure that all soldered wires were heat shrunk to eliminate any short circuits.

Connect the following wires on the 2.5mm stereo socket to the Nikon 10 pin connector.

  • Red wire - auto-focus - Pin 9
  • Orange wire - shutter release - Pin 4
  • Yellow wire - ground - Pin 6

Side view of circuit

Close-up of the level converter circuitry. It converts the 3.2V signal from the GPS to 5V for the Nikon D700.

Hole for 2.5mm stereo jack

Hole drilled for the 2.5mm stereo jack. Required for remote shutter release. Do the drilling at the lowest possible torque.

Top view of inside of case

Removed pcb support as it gives extra clearance (height) so the GPS module can fit in. I used the Hammond Miniature ABS enclosure P/N: 1551RFLBK, you should get the one without the flange 1551RBK!

Nice job

Cable relief

Cable strain relief for Nikon 10 pin connector. I used my dremel to ensure a snug fit. Take your time.

Tight fit!

All snugly packed into the case. This is where I plugged it into the D700 for the final test before screwing the lid on.

Hot shoe adapter - pc sync port.

I wanted to have the GPS unit mounted on top of D700. To achieve this I bought a hot shoe adapter off ebay.

Hot shoe pulled apart. Only held together with two screws.

We are only interested in the bottom half.

The plan is to cannibalise it just for the base. I made sure that it could be pulled apart before I bought it. It involves removing 2 screws which takes less than 10 seconds.

Top view of hot shoe

I cut a piece of scrap veroboard, using my dremel, and glued it onto the hot shoe to make a platform. I can now use glue, velcro or double-sided tape to attach the hot shoe base onto the GPS case.

The Finished Product

Check-out part 1 of DIY GPS Project.


Zack Arias - An Inspirational video for all photographers

I just watched this video by Zack Arias. He was doing a guest blog for Scott Kelby. I found it both moving and inspirational. I highly recommend that you watch it.


Lowepro Classified 160 AW

Just browsing through a camera shop the other day and my friend pointed out a new Lowepro camera bag to me, the Lowepro Classified 160AW. One which I have never seen before, he told me it was pretty new on the market, only released to world back in November.

Hmm, very nice I thought. Doesn't even look like a camera bag. Very stealthy, won't attract those camera theives. I opened it up had a good look at the innards, looked well padded, in a light greyish material.

I needed a new camera bag as I recently discovered that my new Nikon D700 and 14-24mm combo will longer fit into my faithful Lowepro slingshot 100.

I decided to go home and find out more about this camera bag. I found a couple of reviews both had goods things to say about it. I then found an online retailer in Sydney selling them for only $215 AUD. Nice.

I called them up and asked if we could come and check if my camera and lenses would fit. My kit consists of a Nikon D700, Sigma 70-200mm, Nikon 14-24mm and Nikon 50mm. They said no problems. Anyway, everything fitted nicely and only comes in two colours, black or sepia (looks more khaki to me). I got the sepia.

Outside - Lowepro Classified 160 AW

Front View

Back View

The outside of the bag is made from nylon, looks and feels quite tough and durable. Will definitely be able to stand up to the elements. The stitching is uniform and straight which good news. The shoulder strap is padded provides cushioning and relief for the "poor" shoulder when the bag is fully loaded.

There are 3 separate compartments, 2 in the front and one at the back.

First compartment

The opened zipper you can see is not another compartment, it is a gusset to allow for expansion if additional capacity is required.

Second compartment with memory card wallet

Memory card wallet opened

The memory card wallet can hold up to 6 CF cards.

Third compartment is around the back

Uniform and straight sticthing - check the discrete logo

Uniform and straight sticthing

Buckle for attaching the strap

Lowepro Logo - very discrete

The Lowepro logo is more discrete, which is excellent. I really hated the logos on my other Lowepro bags. It's a beacon for camera theives.

Inside - Lowepro 160AW

The interior is grey padded material, nice and soft. There are 3 separate compartments. The center one has leather trimming on the top where the camera rests with an adjustable support pad depending on the length of your lens.

The compartment on the left has 2 separate pouches on opposite sides, one at the top and other at the bottom. The one at the top contains a microfibre cloth, the bottom is empty for storage. Closer inspection revealed that the compartments can be adjusted to suit, they are held in place by velcro.

View of the inside - coat hanger used to keep it opened

Can I really fit these items in?

Sigma 70-200mm and Nikon 50mm in first

Nikon D700 with 14-24mm last to go in

With everything packed in the bag does not look bloated at all. Check both views of the bag. Still pretty streamline. Nice.

Horizontal View

Vertical View

The only annoying thing is that whenever I pull my Nikon D700 & 14-24mm out the lens cap on the 14-24mm gets left behind. This only happens when the Sigma 70-200mm is packed in. I guess the girth of the Sigma pushes the padding against the 14-24mm lens cap and holds it in place as the D700 is pulled out.

It is also a tad heavy, not sure if I would want to walk around for long periods with his across my shoulder. I bought it mainly to the carry my 14-24mm and 50mm. If I need to carry all 3 lenses then I will resort to my Lowepro micro trekker 200 which is more comfortable and less stress on the shoulder.

I have only ever taken the bag out with just the Nikon D700 & 50mm combo. It was very comfortable but that combination didn't exactly weigh that much. I will test it with the Nikon 14-24mm next time and see how that goes. I let the bag hang around waist height as it allows me access to the camera quite comfortably and easily.


I took it out on the weekend with both the 14-24mm & 50mm. It was very comfortable, my shoulder didn't get sore and I never took the bag off once in over 2 hours. It was quite handy as I was able to store the 14-24mm lens cap safely inside the bag and was able to quickly retrieved it when I needed to replaced the lens cap back onto the lens.

All weather (AW) - Classified 160 has its own built-in "rain coat"

Hidden in a secret pouch at the back

Back View

Front View

Buckle poked through the "rain coat" slot

Won't have to worry about inclement weather. You need to undo the strap and poke the buckle through the slot in the "rain coat" and put the strap back on.

Stealthy & discrete apperance
Nikon D700 and 14-24mm combo fits
Excellent build quality

Highly Recommended!