There comes a point where you have to be honest with yourself - there are some pieces of equipment that you pick up just so that you can fiddle with the controls. This can be the bane of a sales situation or the flight deck of an airliner. It's also why I have been banned from the wireless aisle in JB Hifi. It was one of the reasons I picked the Leofoto LEP-02 Panorama head off the storeroom shelf.
If you have studied the panorama and stitched photo business - the virtual world that seeks to show more than the average lens can see - you'll have seen some of the complex support systems that are needed. There have been at least 6 major makers that I've seen come through the shop in the last 8 years - and some are still making what they produced all that long ago. But there are new makers coming from mainland Asia all the time, and the standard of production is steadily rising.
I'll not start a fight over copying designs or adding new ideas - I'm not an intellectual rights expert. But I do recognise good workmanship when I see it, and the Leofoto goods seem to have that in abundance.
This kit is big - it comes as several parts in a zipped case - and it will need to be carefully fitted and tuned for each user. it's not a tripod - it's a head, so you need a good set of legs under it - I would suggest as big and as heavy as you can afford and/or carry. Remember that they keep most scenery outside and the good stuff is a long way away from the carpark - you have to carry your equipment to it. Walk light or bulk up.
But back to the head - the base screws onto those tripod legs and ideally onto a levelling base like our Manfrotto 438
. Once the assembly is horizontal, you can start to spin round on the turntable. To facilitate easy indexing of panorama shots, the turntable has a series of selectable holes that deliver different degrees of rotation with a click-stop in between. You find out how wide your lens sees, then select a set of stops that will give you suitable overlap in your images. I take it the safety wires are to prevent you dropping the screws into the mud out in the field...but any respectable landscape photographer can lose them in spite of this.
Above the turntable is a world of adjustment - all designed to let you get the nodal point of your lens exactly upon the pivot point around which you spin. This can be done horizontally and vertically. It then locks in precisely and again you have scales marked to let you move the camera for the separate shots. The workmanship of the arms and mounts is superb.
This really does deserve the label of precision instrument.