Time to be with your loved ones

Time to be with loved ones

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I'm looking for a true 360 degree camera, so that's both vertical and horizontal 360 degrees. I've seen some clip-ons for the iPhone, but am really not wanting to by an iPhone 4S for this.

What I would like to see: - decent resolution: at least 1920x1080. - and 30fps

I can't settle for an alternative that's not vertically 360 degrees (or at least much more than 180 degrees).

I've seen the ball camera, which isn't out yet, but would be really well suited for my case, given it does video as well.

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3 Answers

up vote 9 down vote accepted

I can't settle for an alternative that's not vertically 360 degrees (or at least much more than 180 degrees).

A camera that shoots in every possible direction is said to have a field of view of 360 (horizontal) x 180 (vertical) degrees. Having more than that means you will be capturing some or all of the scene twice. Consider an imaginary arc that spans 180 degrees, from the top to the bottom. Now rotate this arc 360 degrees horizontally and you have covered the whole sphere.

What I would like to see: - decent resolution: at least 1920x1080. - and 30fps

For a 360 x 180 degree panorama the width will always be twice the height. Resolutions that make sense are 1920x960 or 2160x1080. You can't have exactly 1920x1080 unless you stretch, squeeze, crop or letterbox.

I've seen the ball camera, which isn't out yet, but would be really well suited for my case, given it does video as well.

If you refer to this product, then I don't see any mention that it records video. All it seems to do is take a single panorama when it reaches the highest altitude.

Another similar product is the Tamaggo 360-imager. It isn't out yet either, and while it captures 360 degrees horizontally the vertical range is less than 180 degrees. And it doesn't do video.

Yet another panoramic camera, the DIY Streetview Camera System, is a much better (and expensive) system than the other ones. Based on the example images on their site it shoots much better quality panoramas. It cannot do video, unfortunately. The fastest rate it can shoot at is one panorama every 3 seconds.

I think with time and patience one could build a DIY 360x180 video recording system. You would mount a bunch of small video cameras (maybe video enabled point & shoots or GoPros) to cover every possible direction with some amount of overlap. You want cameras that can be set to manual mode, since you want to get a consistent look from all of them. For syncing the cameras you could build some sort of controller that signals the cameras to start recording all at the same time, or else just start them manually and once all the cameras are running clap to get an audio cue that can help you sync the videos during post-processing.

To process the multiple video streams into a panoramic movie you first need to calibrate. For this you would take one set of images and build a panorama manually using, say, Hugin or Panorama Tools. Once you have a panorama project file that contains all the stitching parameters you can take the videos, break them into sequences of individual images using ffmpeg, run each set of images through the calibrated Panorama Tools project, and finally assemble a new movie with the stitched images using ffmpeg again.

Let me know if you make one of these ;-)

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Thanks for the sound advice. I've been reconsidering given the limited availability and thought a security cam might cut it for high resolution photos (stitching while panning). Do you happen to know if any work was done with this, so I don't do double work programming it myself? Is this a crazy idea? –  Photographer1 Aug 11 '12 at 20:59
    
Oh, sorry, I read over the part where you included the tools. Thanks. –  Photographer1 Aug 11 '12 at 22:20
    
@Photographer1: if you can live with less than 360x180 degrees, then two, three or four point & shoots on a bracket is a better solution than a security camera, in my opinion. With the help of Hugin and ffmpeg I think you can do it. –  Miguel Aug 12 '12 at 2:54
    
You don't need to capture some or all of the scene twice to exceed 360°x180°. The Nikon 8mm/2.8 circular fisheye, for instance, has a 210° field of view. If you point the camera directly upwards, it will capture a 360° panorama that not only covers the 180° from horizon to horizon, but extends 15° below the horizon line as well. Greater coverage (a larger angle of view) simply reduces the blind spot. There is an upper limit for a single exposure, of course (the camera cannot see though itself, no matter what the lens looks like), but 180° is not it. –  user2719 Aug 12 '12 at 15:26
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Just today on the hugin-ptx mailing list I saw someone promoting the http://www.geonaute360.com/, maybe that's what you intend. Not full 360x180, but very close to it.

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There are a number of fisheye lenses that capture 180 degrees. You would have to, of course, rotate the camera and shoot at least two and probably 4 shots and then stitch them together.

There are commercial panoramic heads that will rotate the head for you, or you could hack up something with an Arduino, a servo, etc.

I think, IMHO, that its pretty crazy and I don't think the image will be as cool as you hope. but hey, this is art. go for it.

Remember, with the really wide fisheyes, you end up with your feet or the tripod in the image.

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