360 Camera Techniques

Before you buy DJI Mini 4 Pro: try GENERATIVE FILL for 360 Photo

Photoshop generative fill for 360 photos

DJI Mini 4 Pro is being released on September 25.  But if you’re buying it just for its ability to take fully spherical aerial 360 photos, you might want to try out Photoshop’s generative fill first.  But does it work on 360 photos?  Yes, with limitations, which we’ll discuss so you can decide if you really need the Mini 4 Pro or not.

The Problem with Shooting 360 Photos on DJI Drones

DJI drones can take 360 photos but they have a large hole in the zenith (top) of the 360 photo
DJI drones can take 360 photos but they have a large hole in the zenith (top) of the 360 photo

Most DJI drones can shoot aerial 360 photos but they leave a huge hole in the zenith (top) of the 360 photo.  Thus far, only the Mini 3 Pro, Mini 3 and soon the Mini 4 Pro, can capture an almost fully spherical aerial 360 with virtually no hole.  Because of this, I recommended the Mini 3 Pro or Mini 3 for taking aerial 360 photos last year.

Can Photoshop generative fill work for 360 photos?

Now that we have Photoshop’s generative fill, can you use that instead to fill the hole in the nadir?  If so, then you could use almost any DJI drone to take 360 photos without worrying about having to fill the hole.

Content aware fill vs generative fill

Generative fill is substantially different from content aware fill.  Content aware fill samples parts of the photo itself and uses those to fill in the missing area, sort of like an automatic clone stamp.  The advantage is that the colors and tonality will be consistent.  The disadvantage is that if you are patching a large part of the photo, then the cloning will be obvious from duplicated images.

Generative fill uses generative AI to patch an area.  In early versions, Photoshop’s generative fill used similar samples from its database of photos.  However, generative fill has since improved to the point where it appears to be able to invent images based on its analysis of your photo.

Limits of generative fill

Generative fill does have limits.  One of them is that the areas it fills in are not very detailed (as of the time of this writing).  In the sample below, I removed myself from a 360 photo shot on the XPhase.  At first glance, generative fill looks incredible.  For example, when it removed the camera on the table, it added the window’s reflection on the table.   However, when you look closely, you can see the obvious difference between the original area and the filled in area, especially in the sofa pattern.  Besides the difference in the pattern, the filled in area is very soft and blurry. In my opinion, it’s not usable for paid jobs.

Generative fill looks good until you examine it closely
Generative fill looks good until you examine it closely


However, if we use generative fill for holes in aerial 360 photos, then the softness of the filled area would be less of a limitation because many clouds don’t have as much detail and texture.  I tested this with an experiment.

DJI Mini 3 vs Generative Fill

I wanted to test if generative fill is an adequate substitute for a real fully spherical 360 photo.   For this experiment, I took an aerial 360 photo with the DJI Mini 3.  Then I created two versions: a regular fully spherical 360 photo and a second version with photos intentionally removed to create a gap in the sky.  I then filled that gap with generative fill. Here’s the comparison in 360 view.  It’s a split view — besides rotating the image, you can move the divider in the middle.

The generative fill created fairly convincing clouds that matched the existing cirrocumulus clouds.  It even matched the sunlight’s direction.  However, if you look at the clouds closely, the generative fill isn’t as detailed.  Nonetheless, it is more than usable in my opinion.


Photoshop’s generative fill can be used on 360 photos and works for patching holes in the zenith of aerial 360 photos, even as large a swath as an approximately 90 degree section of the photosphere.  Although generative fill is not very detailed, that limitation is not as obvious when used to fill a sky.  You’ll have to decide if generative fill is enough or if you need the additional detail in the sky from a ‘real’ spherical 360 photo from the Mini 4 Pro, Mini 3 Pro, or Mini 3.  Meanwhile, here’s another sample in split 360 view.  This one was shot on the Mavic 3.  For this one, I used generative fill for the sky and I also added a fountain in the nadir.


About the author

Mic Ty


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