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TAKE IT TO 11: stunningly detailed aerial 360 photos with Hasselblad rig

Aerial 360 photos with Hasselblad medium format cameras
Aerial 360 photos with Hasselblad medium format cameras

What would aerial 360 photos look like if you shot them with a Hasselblad medium format camera? Here are stunningly detailed aerial 360 photos shot with not one Hasselblad but a Hasseblad rig, plus: an interview with its creator and photographer Arild Solberg of 360 Aircam.

A growing number of photographers are capturing aerial 360 photos using drones or 360 cameras.  In most cases, the cameras used for these photos have compact 1/2.3 inch sensors.  What if you could capture aerial 360 photos not just with an APS-C or full frame DSLR, but Hasselblad medium format cameras?

Arild Solberg from 360 Aircam takes aerial 360 photos with a custom rig made of ELEVEN Hasselblad H5D-50c medium format cameras.  The cost of that rig is enough to buy a house in some places…!

Hasselblad medium format rig with eleven cameras
Hasselblad medium format rig with eleven cameras

The rig weighs about 120 kg (about 264 lbs.).  And if you’re wondering what drone would be powerful enough to carry that, here’s what he uses:

Arild Solberg uses a helicopter to carry the Hasselblad rig, which he can control remotely.
Arild Solberg uses a helicopter to carry the Hasselblad rig, which he can control remotely.

So what do the photos look like?  Here are some samples (please allow time for the photo to load — and please use your mouse scroll wheel or pinch to zoom in to see the detail).

The detail and quality are simply stunning.  These are just two out of dozens of aerial 360 photos shot by Arild on his site.  I reached out to Arild to ask more questions about his rig.

Mic: How did you get into this type of photography? How long have you been using the rig?
Arild: I have been interested in photography since 1970, and after trying out various fields of work, I decided that I wanted to do it fulltime in 1990. For the last ten years, I have been putting most of my time into 360 aerial panoramas from drones and helicopters.  I started in the air in 2008 and built the rig in 2014, inspired by Google Street View, but I wanted it up in the air.  John Kjekstad and Heliny [a helicopter services company] have also inspired me.
360 Aircam is the company that started it all. It is also a name brand registered in the United States and Norway that delivers high quality images that start in “one shot” on finished images that consist of 44000 pixels. This results in high resolution zooming with online usage, and can also be used for various forms of advertisement such as big posters, trailers, amazing snippets online, or other things such as wallpaper. This was created with the intention of thinking out side of the box, and has resulted in something “one of a kind”.
MT: Can you describe your camera rig setup?
AS: I started building the rig and the system for hanging it under the helicopter. There are 10 cameras around and one straight down for ortho photo.  The rig was built with high precision on CNC.  It was built for medium-format cameras, and I choose Hasselblad 50 Megapixel medium format cameras and 35mm lenses, which were tuned and locked on infinity. There I also built in GPS in the rig.  I built a control box for releasing the cameras in sync and to get a feedback signal back to the control box.
360aircam's custom-built Hasselblad medium format rig being carried by a helicopter
360aircam’s custom-built Hasselblad medium format rig being carried by a helicopter
[Note: Arild said he tried using one camera initially, but because of the wind from the helicopter, the camera was hard to control and made the photo difficult to stitch.]
MT: What is the approximate resolution of the panoramas?
AS: The rig is built for a finished picture size of 44000 pixel around and 8300 pixel high. But I can extend the rig to a full sphere (44000 x 22000). But for value for money, I like best circular panoramas [i.e., as opposed to spherical panoramas]. I can also use multi shot and capture 88000 x 12500 from the air, but that is much more work.
MT: Have you used your rig for other types of panoramas, such as events, for example?
AS: The picture also have a resolution which we print big boards, wallpaper and pictures. I use the rig for documentary for power industry, road building, hiking in the nature, pilgrim roads, traveling and inspired of Google Street View but up in the air.  One of my dreams is to shoot some of the National Parks in the US – from above.  I’m also open for other ways to use the rig.
MT: Thank you very much for sharing your inspiring work, Arild!

If you’d like to see more of Arild’s work, please check out his website where there are several other 360 panoramas shot with this rig.

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Mic Ty

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  • In 2014, this was nice, shure….

    But with the technology* available today, that’s pretty pointless to use such an – for this purpose – overpriced camera system. The only “sense” could only be to present and position itself with the name (H…) and the price tag.
    These panoramas are not bad, but in relation to this material battle hardly impressive.

    e.g. With the high quality 36MP full frame sensors (Nikon, Sony, Pentax) , one achieves a much better price-performance ratio with an at least equal image quality.