Sunwayfoto DYH-120-TRO Leveling platform and DDP 64 Rotating Click-stop Indexer Review
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Join Date: Apr 2006
Sunwayfoto DYH-120-TRO Leveling platform and DDP 64 Rotating Click-stop Indexer.
This is a review of gear that can take much of the stress out of professional level photography requiring flat stable platforms with rotation and ability to hold 5-10 kilo or more lb in weight of pro gear.
SUNWAYFOTO photographic equipment company was founded in Shenzhen China in 2008. It aims to produce high-end photographic equipment. It has set itself a goal of the highest standards and has added it's name to the other manufacturers of gear that are standardized to the Arca Swiss style dovetailing clamp and plate system that is so popular with enthusiasts and professionals alike. I had never come across their products until I found myself losing so much time making wonderful Panoramas, one of the worse addictions to have in Photography! Until recently I thought I had no real need for precision even in ambitious panoramas I was proud to make. Really what was happening was that I was working far to hard because I had scrimped on equipment and short-changed myself in upfront technique and discipline. I had such good results that I thought I was dong well! The Black Hole of Panorama Stitching and Corrections!
With software like AutoPano Pro, AutoPano Giga, Photoshop, PTGUI and many more being able to stitch even quick handheld panos, there's a huge temptation to just do everything freehand. It seems so easy!
If one software package has problems, try another. Yes there might be errors, but is adept at photoshop, anything can be repaired. Add up the time, it might be 20 hours of labor for 1 ambitious panorama. At first, there's a great satisfaction that one can do miracles like this. However, it's a huge mistake. One's time gets sucked into a black hole of pano repairing! A New Era in Photography: Rapid Pano Sketching
Sometimes, a large pano is not as appealing when completed as one might have imagined. We cannot normally see the wide vistas that our panoramas build from overlapping shots. So there's an advantage for rapidly "sketching" potentially fabulous panos. For this I looked to see what others here had successfully accomplished.
I followed the practices of Bart Van Der Wolfe, Nicolas Claris and others here and decided to build a careful considered and systematic approach to panorama building. Taking a clue from Nicolas' work, I purchased an 8mm Sigma circular fisheye lens with an Eos mount. With the Really right Stuff Gimbal, I made 6 flat ectilinear panos in a about 1 hour. Each required just 3 overlapping shots, which consumed less than a minute to snap!
To my astonishment, stitching such weird circular frames, is a 30 second to 1 minute job for Autopano Giga
! rendering was only about 3 minutes more. Yes I spent a minute or too checking out choices other than a circular projection and yes, sometimes a mercator projection looked better. Remarkably, the stitches are perfect! No more errors to correct, no cloning, nothing to do but alter the contrast or saturation perhaps and sharpen! The most time consuming is being awestruck!
So now my method is to sketch my panos with the 8mm Sigma Fisheye. If I like the result, I then will make an high resolution set of images with a 24, 50 or even 200 mm lens. Now with many more images from left to right, there's need for indexing and having several rows.
For my work with many architectural panoramas both exterior and interior, fixing errors in stitching was becoming time consuming. What took up the time handling large numbers of files, stitching and rendering the panoramas, often over hours and then far too long correcting and retouching mistakes in the stitched pano. So to go the extra step of stitching accurately and the least number of frames, I am looking at choices of equipment.
Sunwayfoto is a design and engineering company that works with aircraft grade aluminum and CNC machines to build a large line of tripod head attachments and camera brackets and plates and the like for photography. I decided to look for gear that would work with my 5DII and the Really right Stuff Gimbal for 360 degree Panoramas and also be suitable for working with 8x10 large format. Why not aim to go first class?
I have just received for review from the following:
A giant leveling base, The sunway DYH-120-TRO that could hold any camera from a 1Ds Mark III to an 8x10 LF camera or even 20"x24", I'd guess!
- This is a 120mm wide platform and has 17 degrees of angular adjustment in any direction with an oiled head.
- A supersized Arca type clamp for the DIY 120 TRO with a safety button to press before release is possible. It can be fine-tuned for non-standard Arca type plates.
- An Indexing Rotator,
The Sunwayfoto DDP 64 for taking panoramas a regular selectable over a wide range of choices.
- A nicely made-to-match circular clamp, the Sunway DDY-64 that can either be securely fixed with two bolts to the indexing rotator or with one central bolt, can be fitted to any other type 1/4/20 head fitting.
So off goes the Acratech leveling base and then I'll try the Sunway system with clickstops.
I have 6 shoots to work up to deliver, but will go back and redo some panoramas I took with the Acratech as the leveling base and the Sigma 8mm circular Fisheye lens and will use a 24 MM Tilt-shift lens, the TSE by Canon to make a more detailed version of the panorama for a Spring Celebration theme I'm working on. In this review, I'll share my experience using this equipment.
Asher Disclosure: Items reviews in OPF may be provided at a reduced cost, be loaned or just provided for free. Mostly I pay full price. In this case, coming from China, this hasn't been worked out. My job is to find the best gear for our use and if there are shortcomings, these will be described fairly. I am not influenced by loan or any reduced price of gear not do we accept payment for reviewing equipment.
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Last edited by Asher Kelman; Today at 01:10 AM.
Yesterday, 11:16 PM
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Join Date: Apr 2006
The Leveling Sunway Base: This is a 120mm, (4.7") wide circular platform. Regular size versions (66 mm, the DYH-66, and 100 mm, the DYH-100), of this platform, are also available from Sunway.
The DYH-120 like all Sunway products I've seen so far, is a smoothly finished black-satin machined fitting. It is supplied in a felt purse string bag with instructions and was already fitted with the oversized Arca Swiss type clamp. They have the look and feel of technically well designed and manufactured gear of a similar quality to the brands I already buy. I'm a great fan of Really right Stuff, as many know, but they do not happen to make such a large flat base that can go on a regular
tripod with a center column.
They do have a giant ball type leveling head which is beautiful, but that occupies the central space and removes the possibility of a center column in its current form. So that's why I looked at Acratech and now Sunfoto for other possibilities.
These pictures come from the Sunwayfoto website and help explain how the gear has been designed to fit together very well and at each stage, there's care to not only rigidly secure one component to the next in the series, but also to prevent any rotation. The only place that is possible is the center 3/8" tripod screw from the bare tripod head or center column to the underside of the leveling base.
My preliminary impression is that the gear is going to work very well. I note that the hemi-ballhead in the leveling base is lubricated with oil. However, it's not particularly messy and doesn't worry me. I do not know why they chose oil instead of a teflon-type casing. Still the base moves well and the friction can be easily adjusted, in fact, much more accurately than the Acratech. It seems that this is going to be smoother to operate and level. With 17 degrees, this is more generous than the 10 degrees of Acratech, which by the way is in itself adequate. Since I did have one occasion to quickly re-adjust a tripod legs to get the Acratech leveling base within operating range, having the extra 7 degrees is going to be a considerable advantage, I expect. Do we need 17 degrees of adjustment?
I was using the tripod loaded up, (with the Acratech leveling base and the RRS panning gimbal head and my 5DII with a 70-200 lens), for photographing a musical performance. Everything was perfect. Then two folk in wheelchairs needed to be fitted in next to me at the back of the concert hall. One leg must have been on a raised piece rug of on the edge of a step! In any case, I could have benefitted from extra 7 degree range of adjustment! It's obviously less disruption in tight quarters to recenter a hemi-ballhead than to keep changing the legs to achieve the same purpose.
Posted by oeccamera
at 10:48 AM CST
Updated: Tuesday, 14 December 2010 10:59 AM CST