Today, Stefan Kohler shared a look at his mammoth pan / tilt head for large lenses on DIY Photography. The rig pictured below shows Stefan's D800 and the Nikkor 400mm f/2.8 lens — at a combined weight of 11.7 pounds. Here's a look at how he built it.
This particular rig was used in his "Where is Waldo" project last year, a shoot requiring a great deal of precision and accuracy from the mechanized head. According the Stefan, this particular setup is useable for up to 6 kg (13.2 pounds), has a repeating accuracy of < 0.25º, and provides full manual control over each axis of rotation.
Stefan's first step was to mock-up the head in Google Sketchup, (which can be downloaded here).
The pan-axis was designed with the upmost sturdiness in mind (laser-cut from 5mm steel).
The tilt-axis is was made of 20-80 aluminum bars, set on roller bearings, all counter-weighted to reduce strain and minimize required power output on the motors.
Stefan reported that calibration took several hours, multiple bubble-levels, lasers, and quite a bit of patience. The results were definitely worth it.
[Via DIY Photography]