Waited a long
time for this but the best just got better. The new NN5
combined with the new R-D12 rotator is one tough act to follow.
Nick Fan, the inventor of the Nodal Ninja products, has been quite
busy in the last little while. Many new products have been
developed to meet the increasing demand of panographers.
the R-D12, various rotators have also been developed such as the
R-D8, R-D3L, R-D4 and a new NN3 MKII rotators to upgrade older NN3s.
An NN5 with
R-D8 combination is also available. Same as the R-D12 except
it has eight detent selections. (4,
6, 8, 10, 12, 15, 18, 20)
This is one manufacturer that
cares about their customers.
The new NN5 with
R-D12 rotator is simply awesome. It's engineering at its
finest. Seeing is believing. The images above cannot
lie. Mr. Fan has worked hard to improve the tolerance
and quality on the new rotators and panoheads.
Previous experience with the NN5 already proved the panohead is
great to work with. It's solid construction with a
professional feel and look makes this panohead blend with the rest
of your professional gear. The new NN5 can solidly support up
to 22lbs of camera and lens combination making this panohead an easy
choice for professionals.
When folded the NN5 is compact making this panohead a favorite
amongst hikers and travelers. The hard shelled case easily
packs into your luggage or backpack.
First thing I had to test out is the new
R-D12 rotator. As mentioned in previous reviews I believe the
rotator makes half of the panohead. A panohead with a
sub-standard rotator just won't cut it in today's high standard for
compared it to the Manfrotto 300N. The click stops on the
R-D12 is much more solid and defined compared to the 300N. The
300N can easily over-shoot a stop and have to spin back and forth to
make sure the detent is seated. The R-D12 just stops cold for
every click. No time wasted.
The R-D12's selection of detent stops make changing shooting
requirements a breeze. You can switch from a full spherical
panorama with a fisheye lens and easily change to a high resolution
panorama with a zoom lens by simply moving the detent plunger into
the detent stop required.
Another key and new feature I like about the NN5 is the upper arm's
positive lock stop, every 15°, with a built in locking lever. I use to manually look through the
viewfinder, when tilting the head down, to achieve the optimal nadir
coverage. Now even in dimly lit locations no more guessing.
Just lift the arm and lock and you can be sure you've minimized the
There are various subtle upgrades to the NN5 such as the cork bottom
of the vertical rail. This avoids scratching the surface of
the lower rail.
Improved washers have also been implemented. Metal and heavier
plastic. Previous washers on older NNs would wear out in time.
Again this is a manufacturer's attention to improving their
The camera plate
replaced the previous "rubber" plate. The problem with the
rubber plate was the hole would wear out and the rubber plate would
Last but not least, my favourite test, my long exposure nadir
technique. As proven on the NN3 and early NN5/Ls it's my key
test. If I couldn't shoot long exposure nadirs then I would
have probably failed this panohead from the very start.
The only issue I
have with the NN5 is the camera plate. It takes a bit of time
to set up. During set up the panohead is first leveled by the
leveler on the tripod. Then the upper arm is leveled 90° from
the vertical arm. When mounting the camera a hot shoe bubble
is used to make sure the camera is squared with the upper arm.
When installing the camera plate, and if the camera plate is not
squared with the camera, then you would have to remove, adjust,
re-tighten and test again. Of course this only happens on
initial setup and is not a big deal.
There are plans to replace the current plate with a quick release
system. I will update this review when it does materialized.
Overall there is no
other "cons" that I have.
I gave the NN5 panohead a score of
10 out of 10.
From a price point,
to build quality, overall company and customer care, they can't be
denied of this mark. Knowing you have a manufacturer that is
willing to listen to suggestions and feedbacks and actually
implement the suggestion is very comforting to know.
continues to improved their product line. From the first NNs
and now NN5. Nick Fan hasn't stopped pursuing excellence.
Bill Bailey, the
director of global sales and marketing for Nodal Ninja, has built up
a reputation for their customer service; going above and beyond what
most people will expect from a manufacturer. From their
online-forum, participating in various panoramic forums, answering
questions in a timely manner, online FAQs, camera settings,
online-tutorials, etc.; the list goes on and on.
Simply makes learning panoramas a pleasure.