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Pan & tilt headSWPP and BPPA Photographic Glossary

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Pan & tilt head

This is the most common type of head found on tripods, and allows you to adjust the camera position in two or three ways. A two way pan & tilt head has a pan option to allow the camera to be rotated along a horizontal path and a tilt option to point the camera in up or down directions. A three way pan & tilt head also includes a swing control to change the camera from horizontal, landscape, format to vertical, portrait, format. The size and build of heads vary from model to model, so give them close inspection. The adjustment should be smooth to ensure accurate control - some models, often labeled video heads, use fluid to ensure a smoother operation. Check that there is no wobble once the handle and locking nut are secured. A few tripods come with a ball & socket head that is preferred by some photographers because it allows a quick adjustment of pan, tilt and swing movements in one go, but the camera platform is often smaller and overall they're more fiddly to control precisely.



 

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