Can I shoot a 360-Panoramic with my iPhone?

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I’ve only recently been asked this question.  The client is amazed by the quality of their iphone’s (or any other cell phone) camera.  They’ll save some money, and do it themselves.

Yes, you can!

You can also hammer nails with the heel of your shoe.  Professional results demand professional methods.  Take a close look at the lens of a standard cell phone camera, and then compare it with the lens of a professional camera.  And that’s just the part that’s visible!  The camera’s digital sensor is the chipset inside the camera that makes sense of the image pouring through the lens for processing into a digital image.  The more information (pixels) that are available for processing, the sharper, clearer the image.

Move this process over to a full, spherical 360 image, and you’ve just moved to different level.  A typical Panoramic image is made up of between 12-20 24 megapixel images, shot in all four compass directions, and also at three different exposure values (called HDR).  These images are first blended together from the three different exposures, into a single compass direction, and then the four compass directions are “stitched” into a panoramic.  Each step is painstakingly monitored and calibrated along the way to ensure a top quality final result.  There should be no ugly lines (stitching errors) where the four directional images are merged.  There should be no wild variances in light or tonal balance as the viewer scrolls around the image.  It’s an art that takes a great deal of practice to learn, and the learning never stops.  Once all the images are finally compiled, the separate, full panoramics must be arranged into a “virtual tour” that allows the viewer to “walk” between the images, just as if they were visiting that particular location.

Step up again a couple more levels, and we’ll find ourselves firmly in the realm of customized Virtual Tours, where almost anything you can think of can be included in the Virtual Tours. Immersive 360 video, custom sound bites or music, hyperlink jumps to display pertinent information about the scene being viewed.  You’re limited only by your imagination, and what the final message or story you wish to convey to your viewer.  Up another level, and we arrive at full immersive Virtual Reality.  VR is a technology that is coming faster than we ever thought, and these 360 images are at the heart of that technology.

If you’d like to learn more, please contact us for a consultation. We’ll be happy to show example, and work with you to show of your business in it’s best possible light.