RedShark Review: The Italian-made AutoPan is a universal panning head that allows you to create panoramas, as well as focused slides of a subject. The device works with sliders and dollies and has multiple usage settings, including one where you use the head as a base for a rotating display.
The battery-powered AutoPan keeps your camera focused while moving the camera past the subject. It can also create panoramas and rotate freely with a 360 degrees range. It has been designed to work in a horizontal plane, but if you were to tilt your slider to a 15 degree angle, it would still work. It carries up to 10kg of weight and can be remote-controlled with an upcoming smartphone app.
The AutoPan comes in a tightly fitting HPRC carry case. I tested it with my Rhino EVO 61cm and 106cm sliders.
Build and layout
Three ports sit at the side of the unit: a DC power port to charge the battery, an external sensor port and a shutter release port. Operating buttons are at the opposite end of the spring-loaded cable that makes the head move in sync with the motion of the camera. The 3m thin cable is made of a very smooth synthetic material. You're supposed to attach the cable to either end of the slider (or if you're using a dolly, either end of the motion path).
If you haven't lined up the cable out port with your attachment location, the cable touches the sides of the port. I suspect this might cause damage from chafing in the long run, but the cable runs free up to an angle of 45 degrees. Using a recessed release button, I managed to point the cable out port at the point of attachment at a 20 degree angle. The panning motion was buttery smooth.
The AutoPan has a built-in motor that makes the head rotate. With two buttons on the unit, you can rotate the head clockwise or counterclockwise to put it in a starting / in-between / end position. There are that you can 10 keyframes This enables you to use head moves other panning heads don't support.
The cable winds itself up and down automatically and ensures the motion from one keyframe to another happens at the very locations you held when setting the keyframes. It can't be made any easier than this. I reckoned synchronisation would drift as the unit makes multiple slides back and forth. That didn't happen, however, and the AutoPan kept in sync with the keyframes I set.
ShooTools is about to release a smartphone app that will allow you to control the unit via WiFi. You will be able to move the head as you wish, control a DSLR for time lapse photography, etc. You will also be able to control the AutoPan in tandem with external sensors and control your camera's shutter with an optional shutter release cable.
The AutoPan is a user-friendly device with plenty of uses beyond simple panning and time lapse photography. It turned out to be silent, too.
The unit costs around £590.