Is it possible to use a plano convex cylindrical lens (like this) instead of a fisheye lens to make a panorama photo? The idea is that the lens would give you 180° vertical and by turning the camera on a tripod, you'd get all images needed for a full 360°x180° panorama.

If this is possible I'd like to use this on a mobile phone, as a cheap fisheye lense (like this) combined with the not-so-great phone camera can only offer bad quality and this might be a compromise. I'm aware that I'd need to make more images - but still not as many as needed with e.g. Google's photo sphere application.

  • Interesting... The problem I see is that it adds an unusual deformation that I am not sure all the stiching programs can resolve or understand... Interesting. – Rafael Oct 10 '15 at 19:27
  • Second link is dead for me. It's likely both will die with time. I would recommend a bit more descriptive info so if the links die the question still has value. Or maybe just add some images here. – dpollitt Jan 9 '16 at 20:53

Whether the camera can focus to take an image through the lens is one issue. It doesn't look like this type of lens is used for image-taking. Googling around, I can't seem to find a single image taken with one. This type of lens looks like it's used for laser focusing or magnification. Not for photography.

But if you can use it for photography, then the problem comes when you want to stitch the images together. You'd have to know how to map out the lens properties and distortion characteristic for the stitching software you're using. And get your software to use your lens profile, because they're mostly only preset to use rectilinear or fisheye lenses for this task. Again, this isn't insurmountable, but would probably mean you can't use PhotoSphere, ICE, Photoshop's Merge or AutoStitch to do this. You'd probably have to use a PanoramaTools front-end, like Hugin, and you'd have to have the appropriate test chart and lens profiling skillz to create a profile specifically for your lens/camera combination.

Also, just my guess, but I really don't think you'd be gaining a lot of image quality over a fisheye adapter (I've seen surprisingly good results from those cheap adapters), and chances are that the more extreme distortion at the top and bottom of the frame would probably still require at least zenith and nadir shots if you're REALLY worried about image quality.

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The principle of a cylindrical lens is seen as Cinemascope etc. where a cylindrical lens element compresses the image in one plane—the horizontal. This has a special name—the anamorphic lens one on the camera to compress and one on the projector to stretch it back.

Your problem then moves to stretching out the resulting digital image to restore normality.

Photoshop etc. will do that.

One drawback—the horizontal definition will suffer in proportion with the amount of "stretch/compress" you apply.

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  • 3
    This doesn't appear to answer the question - the questioner wants to know if they can be used to shoot panoramas with their phone. – NickM Oct 10 '15 at 16:03
  • I've noticed that your responses are typically more discussion as opposed to answer. This site is a question/answer site, not a discussion forum, so we're generally looking for responses that directly answer the question posed by the user. – John Cavan Oct 10 '15 at 16:59

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