GoPro is not just for action photos and videos. It is also used for 360 camera rigs and can be used for 65mp 360 photos. Here are three ways to use a GoPro for high-resolution 360 photos.
To use GoPro for 360 photos you need a panoramic head designed for GoPro. Compared to photos from 360 cameras, the resulting photos will be far more detailed. Moreover, Hero5 and Hero6 can take photos in raw format and in WDR (wide dynamic range) mode.
1. Panohero H5B
Panohero H5B ($89 outside EU; available here) is a panoramic head for GoPro Hero5 and Hero6. It takes 8 shots and the resulting photo is 65 megapixels. Here is a video tutorial on the Panohero Classic. Panohero H5B is very similar, except it uses 8 shots instead of 6. (Note: although Panohero Classic results in 72mp photos, it has much less overlap, so there is a greater chance of stitching errors).
Here is a sample from Panohero H5B and Hero5 (please zoom in to see the level of detail):
Panohero H5B is available here.
2. Pano5+1 Mark II
Pano5+1 Mark II ($55; available here) also takes 8 shots and also results in 65mp photos. Unlike Panohero H5B, it requires using two different heads. Here is a tutorial for Pano5+1:
Here is a sample photo with Pano5+1 Mark II and Hero4 Silver:
Because Pano5+1 requires two heads, it takes a bit more time, and there’s a chance you might nudge the tripod out of place when you switch heads. However, one advantage of the Pano5+1 over the Panohero H5B imho is that the orientation of the camera is completely vertical, which means that it is easier to use it to take photos of people (with the Panohero, the cameras are tilted therefore people have to be perfectly still while you take two photos, or they’ll have to be sitting down for the photo).
The other advantage on Pano5+1 Mk II is that it is compatible with GoPro Hero3, Hero4, Hero5 or Hero6. Panohero H5B is only for Hero5 or Hero6.
3. iGO 720VR Pano
iGo ($39.90; available here) is the newest panoramic head for GoPro, released late last year by Stabilizer Pro, distributors for Wenpod Tarzan and other gimbals and accessories. They were very kind to send a review copy to me but TBH, I haven’t tested it yet, because of the huge backlog I have.
iGo is the most economical in this group. It requires 12 shots, but the resulting photo is 72mp. Another advantage is that it is compatible with Hero3, Hero4, Hero5 or Hero6, just like Pano5+1. Here is a tutorial for using iGo 720VR:
In addition to using a panoramic head, you’ll need stitching software. Note that these stitching software can be used not only for stitching GoPro pano head photos but also photos from a DSLR or mirrorless camera with panoramic head (I’ll cover those next time). Here are some options (all of them have trial versions so you can see which one you like best):
This is a web-based platform that can stitch Panohero H5B automatically, for free.
2. Kolor Autopano
You may know Autopano Video for stitching 360 videos, but this is Autopano for stitching photos. Fortunately, it is much more affordable. In my testing, the stitching from Autopano has looked the smoothest, and it can also stitch HDR (bracketed shots).
3. PanoramaStudio 3 Pro
This is the stitching software that is most user-friendly, in my opinion, and the results are pretty good. It’s the one I used in the tutorials for the Panohero and Pano5+1. PSP is available here. Or if you are getting Panohero H5B, you can get it as a bundle with Panohero to save around $40.
Many people like to use PTGui for stitching. In my tests, it was not as user friendly as Autopano or PanoramaStudio 3 Pro, and the result was not as smooth but I’m not experienced with PTGui so that could have been a factor.
Are you hardcore or cheap? Hugin is for you. It’s free and potentially powerful but it is not user-friendly. Be prepared to spend a lot of time making the stitch work!
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