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Wide Angle Lens

PSA: Wide Angle Lens Hack5579

3rd Party
Metroplex360 private msg quote post Address this user
Hi All!

If you're like me, you own a 10mm wide angle lens and wouldn't dream of shooting a home without it. Compared to shooting with a kit lens, it's like taking a giant step backwards -- and for indoor photography, there's no way to walk backwards through a wall to capture a WIDE shot of a space.

Do you ever want to go even wider? Or should I say, do you wish you could get even closer to the wall to truly frame the widest angle possible?

I started with a Tokina 12-24mm lens. I sold it and bought a Sigma 10mm-20mm lens. Why? Because I wanted to go wider.

The lens is half of the equation for getting the widest possible space -- standing in the right place has a lot to do with it too. Half of where we place our camera has to do with where we WANT to be, and the other half is where our tripod will allow us to be. The traditional 3 legged tripod has quite a footprint to where we are never truly able to be stand against the wall with our camera and do this.

There are solutions -- you could get an 8mm - 18mm lens -- I've heard the distortion can get a bit intense (anyone care to share?). You could get a monopod with tiny little feet for stability... anyone here do that and care to share?

Or -- one more idea, which is a secret method I've used for the past 6 years (And that stacks with a monopod OR an 8mm - 18mm lens) -- is to use a tripod rail to move your camera back to where the end of your lens is at the center of your tripod.

Here's my Nikon D7000 attached to the lower rail of a 'retired' Nodal Ninja MK III panohead.

Background: The Nodal Ninja is a "pano head" that is used for shooting panoramic photography with a DSLR. The idea is that in order to capture a panorama, one must be able to rotate their camera at fixed intervals while keeping their lens (usually a fisheye -- like the Theta) in the same exact position. This is impossible unless the camera is offset to where the fisheye lens remains centered -- at the nodal point. Thus, the Nodal Ninja is an adjustable system that fits most cameras and lenses and can affordably provide you with a powerful rig for DSLR panorama photography.

The lower assembly of the Nodal Ninja is also a great way to augment your wide angle lens - offering 96mm (3.75" of offset from the center of your tripod. That's HUGE. Just grab your camera and ruler and look at the difference.

It's quite easy to attach your camera to the lower rail using a 3/8" screw. I use a winged screw that allows me to easily attach and detach my camera. I lose them all the time, so I stocked up at home depot.

One thing I like also is that I have the advanced rotator (it's a bit overkill for this purpose), so it's easy for me to rotate my camera on the tripod while keeping it 100% horizontally level.


So how do you get one?

Lower Rail - $25

NN3 MKII Standard Rotator - $60 (this connects the lower rail to your tripod as well as allowing you to rotate your camera around)

Rail Plate - $15 (this attaches to the bottom of your camera)

3/8" Zinc Plated Steel Wing Screw - $0.91(attach rail plate to the rail)
Get it at Home Depot


Total Cost: $100.91 + Shipping.

I usually keep my camera attached to this even when holding it for exterior shots as I am fond of the weight.
Post 1 IP   flag post
HarlanHambright private msg quote post Address this user
OR you could move to FX format (full frame) and get the Alowa 12mm lens which has virtually no barrel distortion, or to really fix the problem get a sony a7 and the new Voitlander 10mm! It, too, is about as rectilinear as you'd ever want and needless to say, is WWWWWIIIIIDDDDDDDEEEEEE.
I don't really like shooting the Sony (mirrorless), but if you want the coverage, that's the only option. This lens is pretty much useless for anything else other than special occasion tight spots or long facades with limited view point access (trees, adjacent buildings, etc.) Both lenses have excellent glass and optical characteristics.
Post 2 IP   flag post
Chadcloses private msg quote post Address this user
You could also buy a tilt/shift lens.
Post 3 IP   flag post
3rd Party
Metroplex360 private msg quote post Address this user
@HarlanHambright - Let me ask you a question -- would moving to FX with an Alowa 12mm lens combine nicely with this rather inexpensive ($100) trick and allow for an even wider shot -- perfect for capturing small rooms?

@ChadCloses - I'm not sure that you read my post.
Post 4 IP   flag post
HarlanHambright private msg quote post Address this user
yes, but i can't imagine you'd ever need to. it's over 112° horizontal FOV. Also the lens is quite small, so you'd only get another 2" max before the rig would be in the photo.
The 10mm is 122° and the whole thing, camera and all, can't be 2" deep.
Speaking of tilt/shift, nikon's new 19mm is a work of art!
Post 5 IP   flag post
Nodal Ninja
Bill private msg quote post Address this user
For those that do not know I am also CEO of Nodal Ninja so I know a little about the products. I usually don't talk about NN unless there are some public questions that might need a bit of assist in clearing any confusion.

Firstly the NN Metroplex360 is showing appears to be the NN4/5 lower rail with Advanced Rotator either the RD8/12 or 16. Camera mounting knobs are usually mounted using retaining washers to prevent knobs from following off when pushed back to end of rail.

The challenge here is it appears Chris would like to back his camera up as far as possible against the wall while being able to capture the nadir (footprint) as well and the zenith (direct upshot). The easy fix is change in workflow. Collapse tripod legs as much as possible with camera as far back as possible and take 2-3 shots across the horizontal axis. The cropped sensor on the D7000 unfortunately won't allow enough to capture full nadir and zenith. Using a ball head rotate the assembly 180° and point camera straight down while keeping same relative position of camera's no parallax point (NPP). You will need to move the center column of the tripod up to match previous NPP. Move tripod legs slightly out as well. This will give you the clean nadir shot needed to add in during post.
Here is sample video that shows shooting a nadir/zenith "without" using a tripod or panoramic head as well as with.
For indoors you'll need to dial up the ISO if manually shooting. Should give you enough of an idea to adapt with what you have.

Hope this helps a little.
ps - talk to your dealer about getting some retaining washers- should be very cheap.
Post 6 IP   flag post
3rd Party
Metroplex360 private msg quote post Address this user
@Bill You are an absolute rockstar and I used your Nodal Ninja MK3 for about 8 years capturing panoramic photography! I think you have misunderstood my post as it is not about panoramic photography.

@HarlanHambright I'd be interested in trying the Venus Laowa 12mm f/2.8. Reviews seem very positive and it's priced reasonably. This lens is enough to make me seriously consider a new camera. What do you have this attached to?

Concerning FOV -- I wonder with a crop sensor and my Nodal Ninja hack, how much the effective FOV is when the Nodal Ninja kicks my camera back by 69"... think it's taking my 122 to an effective 112?
Post 7 IP   flag post
HarlanHambright private msg quote post Address this user
D810. thinking about D850.
moving your camera, by whatever means, does nothing other than moving your camera. and don't think about the crop sensor, it's a relative term. that term should have never been invented. you have a camera with a smaller imaging area (than traditional 35mm) and you need lenses designed for that. there's lots of different film sizes: 2.25 square, 4x5, 8x10, 16mm, etc, and they all need different focal length lenses to do the same thing. it's not magic, it's physics.
the only way to increase your FOV with the ninja gizmo (which i do all the time with a bracket I had fabricated) is to make multiple exposures rotating the camera, correcting the perspective, and merging the images. my bracket rotates vertically and it [redacted] me off that nobody made a simple vertically rotating nodal whatchamacallit. a PC lens does the same thing and easier, but I still get wider and more dramatic images with the nodal rotator but I don't use it much now that I have the 19mm shift/tilt.
Post 8 IP   flag post
3rd Party
Metroplex360 private msg quote post Address this user
@HarlanHambright - Offsetting the camera from the center of the tripod by 69mm towards a wall when your tripod is against the wall means that your final shot will be wider... I'm not understanding your response.

Concerning 'crop sensor' - I am using this slang to identify that I'm not using a full frame and that if I used a compatible FX lens, it would be cropped. But you know that. I'm not enough of a gear head to know why these slang terms are disliked - but I understand that terminology is important, especially for instruction, thus avoiding them so as to not confuse others makes sense.


Again, I think that people missed what I was posting. I'm not using the Nodal Ninja to rotate the camera or merge images. I'm just using it to kick the camera back 69mm from the center of the tripod - thus allowing the equipment that I am using have the opportunity to shoot an even wider angle when used in a corner or against a wall.

I can understand why responding that I should upgrade my gear sounds reasonable; however, I do not believe that it's a proper response as this little 'hack' is applicable in many scenarios and may be helpful to others.
Post 9 IP   flag post
HarlanHambright private msg quote post Address this user
I am not dissing your hack whatsoever. Whatever it takes has always been my MO. I've done weird things to achieve the very result you're describing, long before the advent of ninja gizmos. You can get an even wider POV by just leaning your tripod against the wall and guessing at the frame and leveling by eye and firing the shutter with a remote. Been there, done that, have the Tshirt. And that was before Photoshop when you could post-correct perspective errors. And with a 4x5 laying on the floor with an extended cable release. What a pain that was.
Post 10 IP   flag post
3rd Party
Metroplex360 private msg quote post Address this user
@HarlanHambright I didn't see your response. Thanks for acknowledging this - and I agree with the 'whatever it takes'. What I love is that I was able to reuse something in my gear that I no longer use (as I'm 100% Matterport for panos now).
Post 11 IP   flag post
3rd Party
Metroplex360 private msg quote post Address this user
One of my team members loved the idea and rather than investing in parts of a Nodal Ninja, she found this:

Out of the box, it needs tightening, but its a great way to get your camera further away from the center of your tripod and to get even wider shots with your existing gear!
Post 12 IP   flag post
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