This weekend finally kinda gave up on Manfrotto head/attachments. This is going to cost me but... I plan to switch over to the RSS gear I'll need for simple pano experimentation. I am only interested in single row pano right now, but the panos I tried included a couple that needed a nodal rail. I am losing confidence in Manfrotto, so I figured it was time to switch.
(Searched whole CR forum for posts on geared heads and read everything returned.)
I had trouble getting my whole support combination to stay level through the "swing". Surprisingly my wonderful very heavy old-style Gitzo Tele-Studex 309 seems to have a spirit level that's inaccurate! (I will have to confirm that with some other levels and a known level surface right away.) I had found Manfrotto's L-bracket but trying to use it this weekend found it's a kludge compared to the RSS. I believe it introduced some flex and alignment change. I have a pano rotator from Manfrotto (300N) but think I can stick with that.
The RC4 quick-release is still a little looser than I'd like. Yes, it's better than my RC2 plates but still not great. I was using my Manfrotto 410 geared head with the RC4 plate as the camera attachment -- not rotation. Is there any Arca Swiss standard equivalent? Some searches today turn up nothing. I have seen one shooter say he just bought the clamp "adapter". I do architecture and real estate so want to continue to use a geared head for that. Is there a geared head for about $300 that uses to Arca Swiss quick release? Yeah, I saw the $1,600 block of goodness that Arca Swiss makes... clients here aren't paying the margins for that.
From my experimentation I take it that the tripod has to offer the rotator a perfectly level plane of swing. Can I just give up a head altogether and have the rotator on the tripod as the "head", then place a nodal rail on the rotator, then, of course, the camera on the rail? That takes a source of error (the head) out of the "stack".
I know I'll need one RSS for each body, so I think I'll stick to one L-clamp for my 1DsMk3.