The DJI Mini 3 Pro can take almost fully spherical 360 photos. Here’s how. UPDATE: a firmware update has enabled the Mini 3 Pro to take fully spherical 360 photos automatically. See here.
Most DJI drones can take 360 photos (which DJI calls Sphere Panoramas) by taking photos at various angles and rotating. However, when you look up at zenith of the 360 photo, you’ll see a gap. That’s because the body of the drone blocks the camera’s view, which limits the camera’s maximum tilt.
Enter the DJI Mini 3 Pro (previewed here), the newest drone in DJI’s lineup. The Mini 3 Pro has several capabilities, one of which is a higher maximum tilting angle thanks to a manta-like profile with a cutout above the camera. The cutout enables the Mini 3 Pro to take portrait orientation photos and videos. In addition, it also helps the DJI Mini 3 Pro take 360 photos without a gap in the zenith, except for a very small hole that is easy to patch:
The DJI Mini 3 Pro does have a built-in Sphere Panorama mode but it will not tilt the camera upward to the maximum angle. Instead, to take an almost fully spherical 360 photo, you’ll need to tilt the camera and take shots manually for the upper part of the panorama. You can then continue shooting the rest of the 360 photo using either the automatic Sphere Panorama or shooting the other photos manually.
You can check out this stunning 360 photo shot with this technique on the Mini 3 Pro by Christiaan Roest of Air View 360. Although the process is not fully automatic, it can save postprocessing time and produce a more natural-looking sky. Mini 3 Pro is available starting at $669:
- $669 Mini 3 Pro without controller
- $759 Mini 3 Pro with standard controller
- $909 Mini 3 Pro with DJI RC controller
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How many photos manually for the upper part?
I would also like to know, but I believe 8, plus the 25 that most DJI drones capture, in sphere mode. (on the Mavic 2 PRO there are 26). That is 8 per line, in 3 lines (24) and one more from the azimuth.
Taking those 8 extra vertically rather than horizontally removes the small missing part. See here (french but google translation helps) for walkthrough.
Your post is very complete. I would ask you why you save the photos in .jpg and not in .dng, which allow much more possibilities for post production. And especially, why tilt the camera vertically? Making the photos max 60º upwards, in normal mode (landscape) isn’t there enough overlap to stitch them together later?
Just tested pano functionality on Mini 3 Pro….
It automatically generates an equirectangular pano which is 8192 pixels wide, which is a shame when you have a 48Mp sensor!
There is no trace of the individual pictures used for the stitch, so that a stitch with external tools could be done.
The Mini 2 was able to this and I could generate 12K pixel wide panos, with a lower resolution sensor and a less expensive drone!
Of course one could take the individual photos that make up the pano, but you’d have to manually calculate every overlap, with a very high risk for errors! And, after all, why should one do that manually when the drone (which has a “Pro” qualification after all) could perfectly do it!
If you read Christian Rooest’s article, more than 200 photos were manually taken for this pano: that’s simply absurd.
Another quirk: when you shoot AEB photos, the generated files are 4096 pixels wide, definitely not 48 MP stuff!!
DJI, what’s going on?
While using automatic stitching in-drone, there is an option to save Individual images as 12 MP raw files (DNG). Alternatively you can switch to portrait mode and shoot panoramas manually as 48 MP DNG files. I stitch in PTgui Pro that has many projection options and allows human operator identification of stitching points in low contrast areas that are too difficult for automatic stitching. Additionally I edit the 48 MP DNGs in Topaz Denoise as the high rez mode files have much more noise than the 12 MP files for perfectly natural reasons. The “effective” resolution is probably closer to 30 Mp than 48 Mp which is quite remarkable nevertheless for a less-than-thumb sized camera.