Further advances in software technology made it possible to stitch together photographs taken on more than one horizontal row, in order to create immersive 360° x 360° "cubic" or "spherical" panoramic VR environments. This in turn has led to demand from the market for a dedicated support system, capable of rotating ANY camera (traditional or digital) around its nodal point on both horizontal and vertical axes.
The answer is the 303SPH Multi Row Pan Head. Taking advantage of the introduction of this new head, Manfrotto/Manfrotto has re-designed some of the key components of the existing range, starting from the heart... the 300N pan head (old code: 3414), which is used as the rotation unit for all models in the family, as well as being a stand-alone product.
The 303SPH is a multi-row (spherical) panoramic photography head. It has sliding plates to position the camera over the panoramic axis of rotation, plus a sliding plate which rotates around the front/back tilt axis. This allows the camera to be rotated on both horizontal and vertical axes around the camera/lens nodal point, so multi-row panoramic photo sequences (cubic VR photos) can be taken accurately and easily.
Using the 303SPH ensures that software used for photo stitching produces a precisely composed VR environment with minimum post-production intervention or software correction.
The 303SPH's vertical bracket can be unlocked and rotated through 90° (then re-locked) so that the head takes up less space in transport, and so that the sliding plate mechanisms are protected against knocks and bumps. The 303SPH comes complete with a extra set of sliding plates for use with cameras of different sizes.
The Head weighs 4.4 lbs and is 12.5" high , its dimensions are 10.3" x 5.5" x 7.8", with a maximum load capacity of 8.8 lbs.
Reviewed by 4 customers
It is beautiful, and well built. I would have liked a gear drive on the slide that you adjust the most like the Manfrotto 454. I may try swapping that slide. The scales are not always easily read, difficult to see the #5 increments so you may have to count lines from where it is plainly visible, but that's just a small inconvenience sometimes. Maybe I will get better with practice. For the 300N rotation, the second last setting 10deg/36 per 360 to the last 5deg/72 shots/360 is too large a jump for my first few experiments, one position in between those would be great. It's heavy, especially when carried with another heavy Manfrotto head and big tripod and bag of lenses/photo goodies. ok, I admit I need the exercise! Especially with telephoto lenses it can shake a bit, give it a few moments to stabilize and delay the exposure. All in all, I love it, even with the high price.
I shoot 360 degree virtual tours for a living and have used this head for nearly 1000 tours. The best thing about these heads is that you only need to set them once for a particular camera and lens combination. Once the settings are made, you're good to go. The settings are also the problem. The head is assembled with screws that hold everything in place. Sometimes these screws come loose during travel from job to job. If you don't catch it, the tour can be effected. I've marked all my settings on the head so I can reset it quickly and easily if something comes loose. The head is extremely rugged and rigid, exactly what I need for my D100 and flash. The adjustments are easily made. I've even shot some 180 x 360 tours with this with good results. If I were looking to replace this head, I'd buy another just like it. I also find the leveler a real time saver and a natural addition to the setup. Here is a link to a sample tour I shot with this bracket: [...]
I used manfrotto and bogen, for 20 years. Never have problem or guarantees pilicyes was used. Resistent, and well meade products compatibles with others, will do you work easy.
I am a professional photographer. I am very technical and demanding on my gear. I always try to provide myself with the best equipment, and if I cannot afford it at the time, I prefer to wait until I have the money rather than jump for a lower quality, cheaper alternative. In my opinion, Manfrotto is THE brand to turn to when I need a tripod, head, light support, or, in this case, a Pano Head. This product met my expectations from the moment I got it out of the box, felt it's solid construction, marvelled at the build quality and outright intelligence of it's design and versatility. You can mount any camera on this Head and adjust the different plates such that you will be able to perfectly position the nodal point of your lens in the tripod's rotating axis. It even compacts down to a folding position for easier and more convenient transportation. The only thing I miss in this Pano Head is a quick release plate for the camera. For a same location, I usually do a series of normal (non panoramic) photographs in my tripod and then switch to the pano head to do the panos. It would be nice to have some sort of system by means of which, the switching could be carried out faster and easierly. I guess you could adapt a quick release plate to the Camera Plate of the P. Head... In every other sense, this product is excellent...