Our History


In the late 1990's panoramic photography was still in its infancy. It wasn't until the early 2000's that 360° panoramic photography started to explode. The first panoramic tripod heads were big, heavy, expensive, and very cumbersome. It became apparent the industry needed better. During these early days, Nick Fan was involved in photography forums and panorama groups. He was listening to the needs and wants of others who needed something better. So Nick Fan, the founder of Fanotec International, began inventing and developing a smaller, lighter, and more affordable panoramic tripod head (aka a spherical bracket) that allowed for full rotation 360 horizontally x180 degrees vertically. Their first pano head was born in 2004 and branded as Nodal Ninja.
The name Fanotec was coined from Nick being a "Fan of Technology" and his last name. Fanotec International is the company that produces Nodal Ninja branded products. Both Fanotec and Nodal Ninja are trademarked brands that are synonymous with each other. Fanotec continues to use the best technology in manufacturing and product design. They have demonstrated a strong commitment to quality and customer support for nearly 20 years. With literally thousands of customers worldwide, Fanotec has grown to become a global leader in the industry. They continue to expand their product line, ensuring the needs of panoramic photographers are continually met. And, besides making their own products, they also offer OEM and ODM services. If you're looking to improve your products or need a reliable manufacturing partner, please contact them. They guarantee the same quality as you'll find in their existing products.

Production History:

  • late 2004 - NN SPH-1 (spherical first generation). The very first pano head is produced. The SPH-1 suited almost all point and shoot cameras and as well as many DSLR cameras like the Nikon D70 or Canon Rebel. Many SPH-1 pano heads are still being used today. This model paved the way to redesign with many improvements before finalizing with the NN3 family.
  • mid 2005 - NN SPH-1i (spherical first-generation improved).
  • late 2005 - NN SPH-2 (spherical second generation).
  • early 2006 - NN SPH-2L (spherical second-generation longer vertical arm).
  • early 2006 - NN SPH-2s, (spherical second-generation shorter vertical arm).
  • early 2007 - NN SPH-2sd (spherical second-generation shorter vertical arm with detents).
  • mid 2007 - NN3 (third generation). After 3 years of intensive testing and customer feedback, the Nodal Ninja 3 (aka NN3) is introduced. Production was ramped up, and dealer distribution was now in full swing. The NN3 has won many awards and positive reviews.
  • early 2008 - NN3-MKII.(third-generation with improved lower rotator).
  • early 2008 - NN5 - a new series added to the lineup of pano heads, reaching to the pro-level cameras.
  • mid 2008 - NN180 - a small lightweight solution added to meet the needs of those doing single row pano with a super wide-angle lens.
  • late 2008 - Fanotec advances with state-of-the-art CAD and CNC machinery, resulting in a higher precision product line called the "Ultimate Line".
  • early 2009 - The D4, D8, D12, D16 - a new line of higher precision CNC advanced rotators come to market allowing more pano head configurations.
  • mid 2009 - R1, R10 CNC machined ring clamp style pano heads added to the lineup.
  • late 2009 - Turntables for those doing object VR movies.
  • all of 2010 - Accessories and add-ons to many products.
  • late 2010 - Nodal Ninja 5 series discontinued in order to make way for the "Ultimate M series" head.
  • early 2011 - Modular Pole series 1 and 2.
  • early 2011 - Ultimate M1 series modular pano heads. Much more robust, with greater precision and allowed for heavier gear.
  • mid 2011 - Nodal Ninja 4 series (a go-between NN3 and M series) now includes 15-degree upper rotator lock stops.
  • mid 2011 - Tripod Adapters, Pole Rotators, and Footplates hit the scene.
  • late 2011 - Fanotec develops dedicated custom Arca-Swiss camera plates to fit dozens of cameras and battery grips.
  • early 2012 - Camera-specific Arca-Swiss style designed to fit dozens of DSLR's with or without battery grips.
  • early 2012 - Rotator Mini was introduced, smaller and lighter with click stops.
  • mid 2012 - More configurations become available using the Rotator Mini including the Ultimate Mini Pkg.
  • late 2012 - Nodal Ninja model RS-1 is introduced. This new head similar to NN3 allows users with a fisheye lens using the "Lens Ring Clamp" to mount a camera/lens directly to the upper rotator Arca clamp (no upper rail).
  • early 2013 - Ultimate M2 is introduced - the best gets better. Using the newly designed RD-8-II (second generation) and new upper rotator, this head will support lenses up to 465 mm (Portrait mode) and 700 mm in Landscape mode. The M2 is used for those shooting super high-resolution gigapixel imagery.
  • early 2013 - Advanced RD8-II was introduced for use with M2 series, providing for click stops as small as 2 degrees.
  • early 2013 - The RS-2 is introduced - same as NN4 but with an upper Arca-Swiss style clamp instead of the upper rail.
  • early 2013 - Free compass now included with the Google Trusted Photographer (GTP) panoramic tripod heads. The GTP's had very specific workflows, one of which was to take the first image of a panorama with the camera facing north.
  • mid 2013 - The 18 m (30 ft) carbon fiber pole with guy wire support is unveiled at the Iceland Conference.
  • mid 2013 - The carbon fiber "Travel Pole" (TP) is introduced at the Iceland Conference. The lightweight compact TP is designed with traveling in mind. It can be easily stowed in luggage and even carry-on bags (check with your local carrier for specifics).  
  • late 2013 - Guy wire support systems are added to all Poles. These guy wires give the poles much greater stability, which is helpful in windy conditions and in shooting bracketed or long exposures.
  • early 2014 - More stop plates + universal stop plates added for lens rings.
  • early 2014 - New Universal Adapter Rods for Laser Scanner users.
  • early 2014 - Arca-Swiss Quick Release Plate for Advanced Rotators.
  • early 2014 - Version 2 of the popular lens ring was added, allowing for greater lens functionality.
  • mid 2014 - New conversion kits and replacement mounts introduced for Samyang 7.5mm lens on Sony, Fujifilm, & Canon.
  • late 2014 - More lens rings were added to support more lenses.
  • early 2014 - The Google Trusted Photographer (GTP) Pkg was further enhanced and improved.
  • early 2015 - Tripod adapters expanded options.
  • mid 2015 - New Nodal Ninja Lens announced.
  • mid 2015 - The Rotator Mini is enhanced to RM-V2 with a locking knob.
  • mid 2015 - R10 got smaller and the R20 was released.
  • mid 2015 - The big got bigger - Fanotec's Nodal Ninja M2 Giga with its patented design allows for super-high-resolution gigapixel photography.  The unique patented design allows precise positive stops of 7.5°/5°/4°/3.75°/3°/2.5°/2°/1.5° intervals on the upper rotator, which can be engaged and changed on the fly by simply switching 1 or 2 levers.
  • early 2016 - Newer neoprene cases for NN3/4 series.
  • early 2016 - Dual Lens Ring Mount Stereo Bracket - 3D Stereo Rig.
  • early 2016 - Introducing the completely redesigned rotator - the Advanced Rotator Panning Clamp D5 (F1195).
  • mid 2016 - The CNC machined Nodal Ninja 6 ushers in a new sleek design of future heads geared towards robotics.
  • late 2017 - Nodal Ninja "MK3" introduced - like the baby brother to the NN6 - all CNC and  Arca-Swiss compatible.
  • all of 2018 - After 3 years of R&D, Fanotec is finalizing the automated line of products called MECHA.
  • early 2019 - The first in the lineup of automation heads are shipped - The Mecha E1 and Controller 1 (C1).
  • late 2019 - The first dual-axis automation head is shipped - The Mecha C1 Dual Axis Combo.
  • early 2021 - The first dedicated dual-axis automation heads are shipped - The Mecha with Controller 2 is dedicated for dual-axis operation.
  • 2022 - Hardware advancements and firmware updates to Mecha continue to improve, enhance, and add many features, including the Raw Interface (API) that allows third party apps to control Mecha directly.

Fanotec's slogan, "We listen, we try harder," says it all. So if you have an idea or suggestion for newer products and accessories or enhancements to existing products, please let us know.





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