6 months with the Nodal Ninja Travel Poles

It’s a cool setup.

For a shoot last year that was cancelled, we got the Nodal Ninja (NN) Travel Poles to prep for it.

Small and Light

Match with a small tripod like and a Upper Pole cap to convert it to a monopod, you only need to bring the upper pole, your ball head and your choice of pano head. I match it with my R1, ballhead camera and lens.

The upper and lower pole is 50cm each.

The lower pole will require the top cap that is an accessory you have to add on to the travel pole purchase.

And yes, you are actually mounting the upper pole section upside down, the original female mounting hole with the 9mm screw that was for the ball head is removed and inserted into the short tripod legs.

If you have the optional bubble mounted for use with both poles, it will now be upside down/ useless. You will also have to remove the 9mm (3/8 inch) male screw to mount this end to the mini tripod. The male screw need to be removed with a allen key. It is provided by Nodal Ninja. Those with muscle memory of using the both poles most of the time will have to be careful that now the knobs turn the other way to extend and retract. Don’t drop your gears.

Upper pole with monopod cap is about 625grams. Our mini tripod is 650grams. The lower pole on it’s own is 443grams.

In this config, the screw on the cap that’s on the lower pole reached 1.7 meters. No, I will not convert it to inches or feet here. Get on the metric system already!

Could be smaller

You can see the poles are taller than the Think Tank Photo Helipak. It has to be stored diagonally in the bag to fit. They could perhaps be broken down further into 3 parts to further reduce the storing length. This however, may reduce the overall strength on the maximum loads.

Dual Pole Configuration

It is much more stable when both poles are used together. It’s more rigid thus less vibration. There is still vibration, keeping some fingers on the pole when in use with the Mecha seemed ok even with 3 shots bracketed.

The best part – Panorama at Height

This is one of the reasons that I got the pole. To do panorama at height. It will be good to have the 10 meters (Nodal Ninja have a 10 meters version) pole but the project fell through so 3 meters travel pole for now. It’s for places where a drone is too high to get the shots we need, indoors at height, no fly zones etc.

When at height, you will need to be able to find a way to trigger your camera.

No Mecha, No Problem

You do not need to have a NN Mecha to use the travel pole. It’s convenient for sure but if you already have NN Rotators, you can easily install the rotator, upside down on the lower pole, add the foot pad and you’re golden for manual panorama.

However, if you planning to do a high number of panorama for a location, the NN Mecha is actually a time saver that allowed me to do more with lesser effort. It may feel like it’s taking longer since it it is automated but I have done over 150 panoramas of a property manually and had abrasion “burns” on my palms after the shoot as I was not allowed to move around the property with the tripod extended. Moving the NN3 manually also took effort. It may not seem much doing 1-3 shots per room but when there is so many rooms, it adds up quickly. There was a lot of packing and unpacking from rooms to rooms to take the shots.


GPS info is useful, for street view, for photos to have GPS info, I simply use a clamp that fits nicely at the bottom of the mini tripod. I used to hold the phone in my bag or on myself, at times i need to move away and it’s just simply a little out. This allow the photos to record as close to the camera as possible.

And so…

The Primary reason to be using the travel pole should be for a smaller nadir and be able to get to height. The system is well though out but we hope

  • Shorter when kept, maybe a 3 section version so a normal sized, any camera bag will be able to hold it.
  • Tool-less conversion when going from single pole to dual pole setup.
  • Tool-less conversion when changing configuration to use manually when using foot pedal in the event for whatever reason, the Mecha fails.


All panorama in this Tour is done with only the Travel Pole.

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Playground | Cross Road

Equipment List


What’s in our bag 4.0


Read it here.


Nodal Ninja announces the 8-15mm lens ring

Image: Nodal Ninja

For the R1 and R10. Shipping next week.

More info.


Nodal Ninja 4

The Nodal Ninja 5 meant for full size DSLR like the D3x or the 1Ds series was discountinued last year. Leaving the Nodal Ninja 3 MK2 (later version of the popular NN3) and newer Ultimate R1 or R10 for people wanting something for their full size camera bodies.

The Wait is Over.

The Nodal Ninja 4 is here.

I know it’s confusing but here’s a short round up.

NN3 MK2 (Basic Model USD$150)

– “Smaller” camera including DSLR like Canon 600D or Nikon D90 sized or point and shoot
– Cheap and effective
– Fits most lens combination with “smaller” sized cameras. Lens combination such as the popular 8mm (Peleng, Samyang, Sigma),EF-S 10-22mm or EF 15mm. Nikon, go figure….
– Good way to get started

NN4 (Basic Model USD$240)

– Fits bigger bodies like the Canon 1D series, Nikon D3 series and even some Medium Format cameras
– Fits the 24-105 even the 70-200mm (example with NN5, similiar)

Ultimate series, R1 (Basic Model USD$380) and R10 (Basic Model USD$310)

– R1 has adjustable tilt, R10 has a static tilt (for shooting the zenith)
– Light weight!
– Need to get a ring adaptor at around USD$100 for all lenses you have (Peleng 8mm, you need one, Samyang 8mm, you need one more, Sigma 8mm, you need one more too…)


Nodal Ninja MK3 vs the OG Nodal Ninja

10 years.

It has been over 10 years since the Nodal Ninja (NN) 3 came into the scene and it has been as long since we upgraded. These things are built like tanks and do not need replacement easily. Over the years we have added a RD6 (v1) and replaced only one of the rails from storing it badly during a trip and it got bended.

We’ve been using it for 6 months now and it’s a good time to put down what we like and don’t.

Since then, Nodal Ninja has ceased USA operation and everything is ran from Hong Kong by Nick himself. He has been helpful in getting our MK3 in during these crazy times.

Physical Changes


It is slightly heavier but with the weight savings from moving away from the Canon 5D systems, it’s generally still much weight saved.

Camera Plate

We like this new feature that sped up setting the camera up on the upper rails. Simply align the camera to the plate’s 2 vertical mini stand off and you know your camera is perfectly perpendicular.


Bigger Knobs

Bigger in this case, is better. Better grips.

Allen Key

This is on the NN3MK3 all the time allowing for adjustment in the field when needed.


New stoppers design that’s more permanent.

NN3 v1


Small Touches

Logos and names…A little too much to our liking. A plain full black will be great…

…or a simple N logo like it was on the RD6.

Overall, we have been very happy with the Nodal Ninja. It has been proven and we are very sure this will last the next 10 years or more. There has been a big surge of cheaply made ones from China and it has really flooded the market with really badly designed ones. No click stops, not even markings of the distances on the rails made with cheap metals.

April 2020.




Check out the Nodal Ninja range of rotators, the R-D4, R-D8 and R-D12.

The naming convention somehow reminds me of StarWars. While there, check out the EZ-Leveler-II too.