I just got a Kolor Panogear panoramic head to be tested for Panoramic Infrared Reflectography. I definitely welcome companies to send me their products for evaluation for the specific tasks of art examination.
Panoramic photography can be performed using an automatic panoramic head, which can be programmed to rotate the camera around the entrance pupil of the lens. Doing panoramic photography with automatic heads has indisputable advantages: no risk to miss a shot, precise movements, speed, total automatization of the shooting process. I have tried some budget panoramic heads, which despite being affordable, provide precise movement and can be programmed to acquire images with sufficient accuracy and overlapping for the stitching process.
I’m a Gigapan EPIC Pro user. This is the sturdiest model from Gigapan.com and comes with the most accessories. This head is recommended if the intent is to also use it for applications other than infrared reflectography, specifically, in the case where the lenses and cameras required are heavy and bulky. Indeed, it boasts the sturdiest configuration with two arms holding the platform for the camera and plenty of room to accommodate larger camera and lens systems. I also own a Gigapan EPIC 100, which I use for works that require much more mobility. This model has fewer features than the EPIC Pro and accommodates a lighter equipment payload. Though, it can still be used successfully for Panoramic Infrared Reflectography with lightweight InGaAs cameras such as the Xenics Bobcat 640.
When I got the Kolor Panogear I was curious to try its totally wireless controls. It was interesting to be able to move the head and set all the panorama’s parameters on the ipad – it also works on a smartphone. The learning curve is a bit longer than with other pano heads. I like its compact form factor. This head differentiates itself from its corresponding model, the Gigapan EPIC Pro, due to its lateral arm mount. This setup has the advantage of being more lightweight, but it has decreased control over the position of the entrance pupil if a bulky camera and lens is used. For panoramas of distant objects, over 10 meters, the entrance pupil precision is not relevant, as it is for close objects, to avoid the occurrence of parallax errors. For painting documentation, it is not an issue since the surface of the object being imaged is mostly flat. Modern InGaAs cameras with an extremely small form factor, such as the Xenics Bobcat line of cameras, can be correctly accommodated. When imaging with a DSLR camera, a vertical set up of the camera itself can help achieve a more correct positioning of the lens pupil. While the Panogear and the Epic Pro would be equivalent in term of panoramic infrared reflectography, the Panogear head features wireless communication with computers, smartphones and tablets, either over a wifi network or over the internet. This option would be particularly useful for applications where remote monitoring and control of the head is advisable.