I love what Google did with their Google Nigh Walk in Marseille, and would love to do something similar locally (if anyone else is up for it too).
I have been doing quite a bit of spheres lately myself. First using the iPhone, a Motrr Galileo (on a light tripod) and the iOS TheSphere app. Still love this series on Fort Denison. This combo was nice and gave quick results, but it was obvious that these were smartphone renders (same for the Google Photo app on Android, which supports spheres). I wanted better results, as some of the automatic stitching went haywire, and I spent more and more time trying to fix the lighting and stitching afterwards.
So I ended up getting a Sigma 8mm (full fisheye lens, 180 degrees view), and a 360precision Atome head (with level bubble) on a tripod for use with my Canon 6D.
A DSLR allows you more control over exposure, and provides sharper images (than a smart phone lens/sensor combination), but don’t expect miracles from merging fisheye images. Using in manual mode, for both exposure and focus, you can get consistent images, without one washing out and the other being too dark.
The Atome head allows for easy 360 panorama shooting with its 90 degree anchor points, and isn’t too heavy to carry around (but don’t be fooled, it feels solid). A Manfrotto bag to carry your tripod over your shoulder helps too.
Additionally the 6D also has integrated GPS, so photos are geotagged instantly (though require review, and repositioning as they sometimes tend to be off by 10-30 meters).
For stitching the circular images together I use PTGui on OSX, which looks dated but works really nicely with the fisheye images, without having to fix much or configure things. It seemed easier to work with than Kolor AutopanoPro.
Since I got this combination, I went out and started documenting walks around Sydney’s inner harbour (as well as a couple in the Blue Mountains):
- Sweep through the Coal Loader, on Balls Head
- Or explore the headlands of Balls Head Reserve
- The magnificent harbour views of Bradley’s Head
- The small pond at the Bebeah Garden in Mount Wilson on a beautiful Autumn day
- Or the Wynnes Rocks Lookout in Mount Wilson (and go full screen!), probably one of the most spectacular and underrated lookouts in the Blue Mountains (and quiet!).
The first walk I did (dragging along my gear), was the Two Creaks Track in Garigal NP, near Lindfield. There I used the inbuilt HDR functionality of the 6D. But I wasn’t impressed with the sharpness, and the rather dull looking colours. When using in camera HDR, it takes three consecutive images with different exposures. Of course, leafs don’t sit still and that kinda results in less sharp images. Since then I’ve been using RAW files, to get the most details out of highlights and shadows.