No Photosphere ?
Seems an easy target to me...
The Ricoh Theta is yet another excursion of photographic fun intended to deliver an immersive environment, on-line, on the move or on the desktop. It’s been tried before – remember iPIX anyone? That idea – which in the mid-1990s became a hit among high class estate agents – is still going, and still pricey, stitching two fisheye …
Indeed, this would seem a great accessory for Photosphere.
I love photospheres, but it is a bitch to do right. I tend to have to make at least three attempts to get something correct. And if there are people walking around, then you have body parts flying around.
My wife tends to get annoyed at having to wait for me while I turn slowly around…
This would be a handy device if it supported exposure bracketing. If it had this feature, and images could be saved and exported in a lossless format, it would be ideal for creating quick and dirty 'environment maps' for illuminating providing reflections for rendered 3D objects. Currently, one can achieve the same with either an expensive specialised lens, or with a largish mirrored hemisphere and some post processing to remove the camera from the image.
Several images at different exposures can be combined to create a .hdr image, which contains more detail in the shadows and the highlights than can be expressed on a monitor or in a printed page. This allows the brightest areas to be interpreted by the rendering software as lightsources, and so shadows on a virtual object are rendered to match the real-life environment.
The open-source program HDRshop is useful (and its UI... interesting) for translating between different layout formats of .HDR or .EXR (i.e, the ones that resemble a sphere [spherical], the ones in landscape format that look twisted [lat.-long.], and the ones that look like a cross of six squares - [cube map]). For a bit of fun, I tried it with a .jpg of the calssic M.C Escher self-portrait - the etching of the artist holding an 8" mirrored sphere - translating it into a lat.-long format.
The GIMP can't handle .exr or .hdr images, though a GIMP fork called CinePaint (only on Linux at the moment) apparently can. More recent versions of Photoshop handle .hdr well, but can't do some of the transformations that HDRShop can.
I've got two android apps, the most expensive of which was AU$4 (about £2), which create panoramic photos*. If wouldn't be terribly hard to extend that kind of app to do 360 degree photos. While it would require a bit more effort from the user than this ricoh camera, it would also cost some £325 less.
* Both work on the same principle - move phone slowly from left to right. The phone takes a series of photos along the way before stitching them together to produce a really wide photo.
I have a Samsung Galaxy S4 - the built in camera app allows me to turn on the spot to create a 360 degree panorama. Works very well in both portrait and landscape . The panorama feature of my parent's Sony Xperia Z1's I find much harder to use and I've not been able to get a 360 shot from that.
iOS only, air, Facebook, low resolution, limited controls but it might be a hit with the target market. Might, given it's relatively expensive and really needs a tripod. Plus automatic connectivity will be fine for some but if you can't share your work with just anyone it won't take off. My prediction: Apple will do this right in two year's time while claiming they invented it.
Now, what I had hoped this was is a small camera with a built-in motorised pan and tilt head. Do that for the same price (alright probably a little bit less) and I'm in.
This would be incredibly useful for my job if it had a multiple exposure with bracketing option (so I can make HDRIs) and much higher resolution. Currently I use a Nikon D800 and a 14mm lens, and the entire process takes me about half an hour from taking the photos to stitching them all together using specialist software to create a single image. I am aware there are better solutions on the market, but they cost thousands.
Definitely heading in the right direction, though.
The PlayStation Vita can do it too with the latest firmware, although it requires taking 38 photos in total and the resolution is pretty awful due to the poor camera in the Vita (640 x 480 if I remember correctly). It is extremely easy though and it lets you look around the resulting image using the Vita's motion sensing gyro. :)
Strange they missed out the killer feature??
At present your two options are:
- strapping 2 gopros back to back (170 degrees each, so a 20 degree deadband)
-using a 360 degree lens like http://www.0-360.com/
I have both - the gopro suffers from sync issues and the deadband, the 360 lens is large and awkward, difficult to mount and get good results with a compact camera, very poor resolution once you process.
The immersion you get from 360 video is pretty amazing - it's best watched as regular video, but with you in total control of where you look (works great on a phone with gyros) - basically it is like a portal into the scene with you able to look at anything you want.
example from my kitchen (other better ones on site):
with multiple gopros, you can do something really good, but then it's costing a lot more: