I’ve posted a few times about the Panono, my favorite 360 camera for photography because of its hyper-detailed 108mp photos. But the Panono costs $2,000. Fortunately, you can capture high-resolution 360 photos with Panohero, a panoramic head for GoPro and Yi action cameras. Not only will the photo have resolutions of 72 megapixels or higher, but there will also be no parallax stitching error.
UPDATE: Panohero provided sample files shot on GoPro that you can use to try stitching yourself here.
Before all-in-one 360 cameras were invented, photographers shot panoramas with traditional (non-360) cameras. Today, panoramic photography is still the best way to capture 360 photos with detail that cannot be matched by existing 360 cameras.
One problem with panoramic photography is that it’s quite technical. First, you need a suitable lens such as a fisheye lens, which are not always cheap. Second, you’ll need to shoot the panorama properly. If you just take photos with a conventional tripod, the photos will probably not stitch very well. Instead, to make sure that the photos will stitch together smoothly, you need to shoot from the nodal point of a camera at the entrance pupil of the lens. Even after locating the nodal point, you’ll need a panoramic head that will enable you to shoot around that point. Panoramic heads are usually not cheap and can cost hundreds of dollars.
Panohero is a panoramic head that is very easy to use and is reasonably priced. It is designed specifically for GoPro cameras or Yi action cameras, making it unnecessary for users to find a suitable lens, identify the nodal point, or adjust the camera on the panoramic head. The whole kit, with a Yi Action Camera, can cost as little as $250 (which already includes the cost of the stitching software).
Here is a sample 360 photo shot with the Panohero and a Yi action camera (the stitched resolution is 88 megapixels):
Please note also that I used the first Yi Action Camera which has very basic controls (only auto exposure mode). The Yi 4K and the new Yi 4K+ both have “multiple high-level settings,” with shutter speed as slow as 30 seconds. Because I couldn’t control exposure and I took my shot at dusk, there is a lot of noise in the sample photo.
SHOOTING WITH PANOHERO
To shoot with the Panohero, you simply insert the camera into the head, and take 6 shots, moving the camera along preset positions each time. You then use stitching software such as PanoramaStudio 3 Pro to stitch the photos together. Here is a video showing how to shoot with Panohero and how to stitch them with PanoramaStudio 3 Pro:
Please note that you have to be very careful not to move the tripod. For that reason, it’s better to trigger the camera with the app rather than by pressing the shutter.
Overall, I would say Panohero is a viable method for capturing 360 photos and I will definitely use it for high-resolution photos in the future, especially for real estate, and tight spaces such as car interiors where I cannot use the Panono.
WHERE TO BUY
1. Panohero is available from Amazon here. There are versions for GoPros and for Yi action cameras. There are also three variants: the standard, the classic, and the pro. (I used the standard.) What makes the Pro different from the other two is that the head locks into the base so that it won’t get pulled off by accident. I’m not sure what is the difference between the standard and the classic other than the classic is a little taller and looks fancier.
Note also that there’s also another panorama head for GoPro cameras called Pano 5+1 (I haven’t tried it), although it is not fully spherical.
2. PanoramaStudio Pro 3 is available here. You can get a 20% discount by using this code: QFX4-SZ4H. If you want to donate the discount to 360 Rumors instead, you can buy PanoramaStudio Pro here at its regular price (yesterday a [now former] reader complained about me offering a 20% discount code …).
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