A panoramic head allows perfect rotation around the entrance-pupil of the lens. This keeps objects in the same position relative to each other, making stitching much easier. These heads are either made for a particular combination of camera and lens or have rails to be adjusted by the user. User-adjustments must be made to precise settings which depend on the lens.
Since panoramic heads are heavy, bulky and generally expensive, the second best choice is to use a ball-head with independent pan movement. Having a level above the rotation point ensures the camera can stay level while rotating. All ball-heads selected here have a level on the quick-release mechanism, allowing the head to be leveled before attaching the camera.
Multi-Row panoramic head for nearly all cameras and lens combinations. Nodal position must be set manually with etched markings as guide. Includes high-precision rotator base. Quite heavy and bulky.
Single-row panoramic head for landscape and portrait orientation shooting. Includes high-precision rotator. Still heavy and bulky.
Light-weight ball-head with friction control. Large RC4 Quick-Release has dual-levels, provides a large contact surface and very quick to disengage. Holds up to 8kg and weighs only 0.7kg.
Smaller and lighter than Midi Ballhead, this one holds 10kg and uses Q2 Quick-Release plate with dual-levels on the base. Q2 is less cumbersome to keep attached to the camera but less efficient than RC4.
Heavy duty ball-head holds up to 15kg while weighing at 1.4kg. Uses efficient RC4 Quick-Release with dual-levels and large contact area.
Hydrostatic ball-head minimizes drift while tightening. This one holds up to 15kg while weighing only 0.73kg. Expensive but very precise.
NodalNinja specializes in highly customizable panoramic heads. They have both generic models, plus models factory set to certain popular combinations of cameras and lenses. The rotating mechanism of NodalNinja heads uses detent-rings to rotate the camera in precise stops.
All you really need is a capable digital camera and stitching software. There is plenty of photography gear that can greatly help make a panorama, with a tripod being most beneficial.
Check items below for recommended gear to make capturing panoramic photos much more enjoyable:
High quality panoramas are assembled by specialized image stitching software like the ones reviewed here. Stitching a panorama photo is very complex so the panorama software can make a huge difference.