Nodal Camera Moves

If you do a panning shot of a miniature set, you have to mount the camera so the lens pans or tilts about its front nodal point. If the camera does not pan or tilt about the nodal point of the lens there will be a shift in the set pieces that will give away the fact that it is a miniature set. To see what I am talking about, sit in a swivel chair. Place you eyes exactly over the center of where the chair pans. Pan the chair slowly and notice that things close and far stay in line. Now lean way forward in the chair and do the same thing. Notice that foreground objects move out of alignment with the background as you pan your chair.

You can make a plate out of 3/4-inch plywood to mount the camera on and move the center of the pan of the tripod head to directly below the lens. Use "tee nuts" to put threads for the tripod head mounting screw. Use a flat head 1-inch long 3/8-16 screw to attach the camera. You can do nodal pans on any tripod head, but nodal tilts become more complex.

For a nodal tilt you can use a Worrall type cradle head with a spacer for the camera so that the lens tilts at the center of radius of the cradle head. For a combined tilt and pan the camera would have to be mounted as described above for pans. When you make the plywood plate, leave room in front of the camera to attach a counterweight because the camera will be moved back to place the lens where it has to be. You might make the camera riser and nodal pan corrector all one piece and save it for when you need it next.

© Copyright 2004 Ron Dexter. All Rights Reserved.