Spherical Photography 360 And Virtual Tour Service
  • Spherical photography examples
  • Spherical photography examples
  • Spherical photography examples
  • Spherical photography examples
  • Spherical photography examples
  • Spherical photography examples
  • Spherical photography examples
  • Spherical photography examples
  • Spherical photography examples
  • Spherical photography examples
  • Spherical photography examples
  • Spherical photography examples

Leveling base

Leveling base (level-sensitive base) is meant for the accurate horizon regulation.  It is installed between the tripod and the panoramic head. It is possible to expose the horizon not only with the help of leveling base. One of the variants is the usage of the tripod’s ordinary ball or 3D head. However, it is worth mentioning, that such a construction can turn out to be heavier and more expensive, than the leveling. The second variant is to install the panoramic head right on the central column and adjust the horizon by adjusting the length of tripod’s legs. However, such a variant doesn’t guarantee the enough level of accuracy and takes more time. In principle, one can choose not to complicate the spherical panoramas shooting with the horizon adjustment and do it only on the stage of stitching the panorama together. On the other hand, the properly adjusted in the process of shooting horizon can save much time and make the process of stitching much faster. So in this case everyone has to make his or her choice – whether to use the leveling base, or not.

I’ll describe several most well-known level-sensitive platforms in detail:

Acratech - Gitzo GS5121LVL - Manfrotto 338 - Manfrotto 438 - Manfrotto 555B (556B) - Nodal Ninja EZ-Leveler-II


Acratech Leveling Base


Acratech Leveling BaseNot big and light leveling base. The principals of adjustment Acratech is similar to the principle of ball-and-socket heads adjustment, the level can be set up easy and fast.
The Acratech leveling base cannot withstand heavy loads and isn’t suitable for the work with the heavy telephotographic lens. The unquestioned pluses of this base are not large dimensions and the easiness of adjustment.


Base weight : 0,24 kg
Maximum inclination : +/- 10°
Approximate price : 150$


More about Acratech leveling base you can find here.


Gitzo GS5121LVL


Gitzo GS5121LVLThe leveling base for the Gitzo series 3,4 and 5 Systematic stands. The fixation in the required position is executed by Quick Release.
The large size and weight of this leveling base doesn’t do it an ideal choice for the spherical panorama shooting. Besides, the tripod, equipped with this platform, cannot be accurately adjusted in terms of the working height, because Gitzo GS5121LVL occupies the place of the central column.


Base weight : 0,6 kg
Maximum inclination : +/- 15°
Approximate price : 190$


More about Gitzo GS5121LVL leveling base you can find here.


Manfrotto 338


Manfrotto 338The adjustment of the Manfrotto 338 leveling base is executed by 3 leveling rollers. The construction of the Manfrotto 338 leveling platform allows to adjust the base fast and accurate, using the fingers. After the level set-up, the leveling rollers can be blocked with the locks to avoid the accidental level change.
Because of its big diameter (115mm) Manfrotto 338, when shooting the spherical 360 panoramas can cover the considerable part of nadir zone, especially in the situation, when the panoramic head, which has not big dimensions (the height in particular), is also used. The second disadvantage of Manfrotto 338 is not big possible inclination angle.


Base weight : 0,53 kg
Maximum inclination : +/- 5°
Approximate price : 120$


More about Manfrotto 338 leveling base you can find here.


Manfrotto 438


Manfrotto 438 leveling baseThe rollerball level regulator Manfrotto 438 is the heaviest and the cheapest leveling platform from my list. The clamper is situated sidewise. The range of motion is small - only 5°, maximal load – 15 kg.


Base weight : 0,65 kg
Maximum inclination : +/- 5°
Approximate price : 80$


MOre about Manfrotto 438 leveling base you can find here.


Manfrotto 555B (556B)


Manfrotto 555BThe central column Manfrotto 555B is meant for the usage with the Manfrotto series 055 (for the Manfrotto 190 series the similar 556B column is used) stands.
Manfrotto 555B combines the leveling base and the central column of the tripod into the unified whole. The weight of such set is much smaller, than the total stand and separate leveling base weight.
The platform’s position is fixed by the handle rotation, situated at the bottom of the column. If the legs of the stand are not disclosed enough, the handle manipulation turns out to be a bit more difficult because of the relatively small length of Manfrotto 555B.


Column weight : 0,67 kg
Maximum inclination : +/- 15°
Approximate price : 140$


More about Manfrotto 555B columnyou can find here.


Nodal Ninja EZ-Leveler-II


Nodal Ninja  EZ-Leveler-II leveling baseThe construction of the Nodal Ninja EZ-Leveler-II is similar to the one of the leveling base Manfrotto 338. The level adjustment here is also executed by the 3 roller rotation and the inclination angle is the same. But Nodal Ninja EZ-Leveler-II has the significantly smaller diameter (only 86mm) and weight (because the product is made of the aluminium alloy). The maximum load of the EZ-Leveler-II is 10 kg (opposed to Manfrotto 338‘s 15 kg), but it’s not of high importance when shooting the 360 panoramas anyway.


Base weight : 0,2 kg
Maximum inclination : +/- 5°
Approximate price : 110$


More about Nodal Ninja EZ-Leveler-II you can find here.


A few words about the tripod


I strongly recommend you to shoot the spherical panoramas using the tripod. In the situations, when it’s forbidden to use a stand for some reason, you can use the alternative shooting techniques, such as the shooting from a «philopod» or just using hands. But while doing this please don’t forget, that parallax effect, which appears when using such techniques, can make the post processing very difficult, especially the process of panorama stitching. Such techniques also almost exclude the possibility of shooting at the slow shutter speeds and of exposure bracketing with the exact frame match (for the HDRi technique).
Only the stable tripod stand can ensure the stable spherical panoramic head with camera fixation.

Speaking about the tripod choice I’d recommend you to purchase the stand of the well-known brand in order to easily get the additional accessories for it. There’re no special requirements to the tripod for the spherical panoramas shooting, except for the sustainability, of course. It can be useful to have an opportunity to install the central column horizontally. The other criteria of choice – the weight and dimensions, in particular – depend on the purpose of its usage.  


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