The XPhase Pro S is the highest resolution 360 camera as of July 2019. It’s a 360 camera with 25 sensors, each with 8 megapixels, for a total resolution of 200 megapixels. That is almost double the resolution of the previous record holder, which was the Panono (reviewed here), which has 36 sensors, each with 3 megapixels, for a total resolution of 108 megapixels. Moreover, the XPhase Pro S is more affordable at $879 (see below for a special offer). This all looks great on paper, but how is it in real life? Is it the best virtual tour camera? Here is a hands-on XPhase Pro review with samples, detailed analysis and upcoming comparison with Panono (reviewed here), Ricoh Theta Z1 (reviewed here), Aleta S2C (reviewed here), and other 360 cameras, and a tutorial. August 7, 2019 update: Part 2 of my XPhase review posted; August 9, 2019: Street view usage added.
Executive Summary (updated August 7, 2019)
— Comparison: XPhase vs Theta Z1, DSLR, Aleta S2C, Panono (added August 11, 2019)
Specifications and features (updated July 23, 2019)
XPhase Sample photos (updated July 17, 2019)
Workflow and tutorial (updated July 17, 2019)
— Download the manuals in English
— How to straighten photos (added July 20, 2019)
— How to fix stitching errors (added July 20, 2019)
— PTGui stitching template (added August 9, 2019)
— Street View usage (added August 9, 2019)
Conclusion; Strengths and Weaknesses
Price and availability; Discount (updated July 17, 2019)
Accessories (updated July 21, 2019)
FAQ (added July 18, 2019)
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY (updated Aug. 7, 2019)
Here is a video review of the XPhase Pro that includes its specifications, key features, workflow and 5 uses for its high resolution.
Part 2 is here:
Specifications and Features (updated July 23, 2019)
|Lenses||25 lenses, approx. 28mm in 35mm equivalent terms|
|Field of view||Fully Spherical|
|Sensors||25 lenses x 1/3.2 inch 8mp BSI CMOS|
|Photo resolution||16384 x 8192 (134mp) stitched |
200 megapixels unstitched
|Shutter speed||1/4000 to 1 sec.|
|Exposure modes||Auto (handheld) or auto (tripod)|
|Self-timer||5, 10, or 20 secs.|
|HDR mode||3 shots (-2, 0, +2)|
|Storage||Removable USB drive (32GB, optional 64GB or 128GB)|
|Battery||3400 mAh Li-Po|
|Compatibility||iOS, Android, Windows|
|Dimensions||Camera: 60mm diameter|
Handle: 22mm diameter
Please note: the XPhase can only take photos. It cannot take videos.
HDR: XPhase can take a 3-shot HDR photo for wide dynamic range, and uses a special HDR fusion algorithm to avoid ghosting even for moving subjects. 7/23/19 UPDATE: the new upgraded version of the XPhase available in August 2019 will have 6-shot HDR.
Genlocked sensors: all 25 sensors are genlocked and synchronized. You can capture moving subjects without ghosting.
Optical flow stitching: XPhase’s software can stitch photos automatically with optical flow stitching, resulting in smooth stitching for both near and far objects.
Rectilinear lenses: XPhase uses rectilinear lenses instead of fisheye lenses. Each photo that comprises the stitched photo uses all of the sensor (compared to circular fisheyes where a portion of the sensor is not used) and because lenses do not protrude from the camera, they are less likely to be damaged.
16-bit PNG lossless format: XPhase Pro can export panoramas in lossless 16-bit PNG format, which offers similar editing flexibility as a raw file.
Create virtual tours: Xphase Pro includes software for creating virtual tours.
Xphase Pro S:
An upgraded version is being released, to be called XPhase Pro S. Here are planned features that will be added via firmware or app update, according to the manufacturer:
Raw DNG Mode: an upgraded version of XPhase will have Raw DNG mode.
Manual exposure: true manual exposure (ISO and shutter speed), not just exposure compensation.
Stabilization: XPhase has a built-in gyroscope. It has not yet been activated as of July 2019. A firmware update will add stabilization.
Geotagging: When shooting with your phone, you’ll be able to add the location to your photo.
Time lapse: they will add time lapse capability in the future.
Beginning late August 2019, the XPhase Pro S will be shipping in a hardcase with customizable foam cutouts.
XPhase Sample Photos (updated July 17, 2019)
Here are sample unedited JPG photos from a preproduction version of XPhase Pro, straight out of the camera. The exposure compensation for these was -1.3EV for the outdoor jet photo and -2EV for the indoor photos.
Here are sample photos from the XPhase, with edits in Photoshop. Note: there are older sample photos that have unnatural colors. Please disregard them — they were shot before the July 2019 firmware and app update that significantly improved the colors.
XPhase claims a minimum stitching distance of 0.3m. I have been able to take some shots that were indeed stitched correctly with objects as close as 0.3m. However, I found that when there are objects within around 3 feet of the camera, there are usually more stitching errors around the panorama. I also found that sometimes, there are minor stitching errors even when there is nothing near the camera.
Workflow and Tutorial (updated July 17, 2019)
The XPhase can be used by itself. It has only one button, and there are two LED lights. The top LED is the battery life indicator, while the bottom LED is the storage indicator. Both LEDs change color depending on the amount of battery life or storage left, according to the colors of the rainbow:
– red (less than 20%),
– yellow (40% left),
– green (60%),
– blue (80%), or
– purple (more than 80%).
Tip: with the camera off, you can check the remaining battery by pressing the power button (but don’t press more than 2 seconds or else it will turn on and startup). Note: according to XPhase, the camera will use up the battery while it is on, whether or not you are shooting. Therefore you should turn off the camera in between shots. XPhase claims a battery life of 250 HDR shots, but in real world conditions, I found I only got slightly more than 50 shots before the battery died. I therefore recommend charging the camera in between shots. For convenience, instead of removing the camera from the monopod, I remove the camera from its cap and leave the cap attached to my monopod while charging the XPhase.
Shooting with XPhase
Pressing the shutter takes a photo. The camera takes about 10 seconds to process the photo. When it is ready for another shot, you’ll hear a double beep. You can also activate the self timer by double clicking (5 second self-timer), triple clicking (10 seconds), or quadruple clicking (20 seconds).
With each shot, the camera takes a 3-shot HDR, with exposures at approximately -2EV, 0EV, and +2EV. The 3 photos are taken in quick succession (75 photos in all) and the software uses a special algorithm to avoid ghosting.
The smartphone app can remotely trigger the camera, and can adjust exposure. It can also view and stitch photos but as of July 2019, the app cannot yet export the photos to the phone gallery. The app is available for both Android and iOS.
To connect with the smartphone app, turn on the camera, and search for the camera’s Wi-Fi signal with your phone’s Wi-Fi. Once connected, launch the XPhase app. On the app, click on the Connect button. The camera should beep 5 times. Within 3 seconds, double-click the shutter button on the camera. The camera and app are now paired and you will see thumbnails of photos from the camera. You can now control the camera.
There is no manual exposure mode yet. From the app you can only change the following settings:
Handheld vs. Tripod: In handheld mode, it will increase the shutter speed and raise the ISO as needed to reduce blur. In tripod mode, it will use the lowest ISO.
Exposure compensation: +/-2EV, in 1/3 stop increments
Self-timer: 5 seconds, 10 seconds, 20 seconds, or none.
There is no live preview either, so I just have to trust the exposure algorithm, which is quite aggressive and has a tendency to blow highlights. I usually apply a -1EV or sometimes even a -2EV adjustment.
When the smartphone app stitches the photo, a JPG version will be stored in your phone’s gallery. The JPG photo has 360 metadata and can be uploaded to social media such as Facebook, and be recognized as a 360 photo.
The stitching process can be a one-step process in the desktop app. The XPhase takes photos and saves them unstitched in a proprietary .ORI format. [The .ORI format is similar to a zip file and contains all 75 individual photos and a thumbnail. The ORI file can be unpacked using a software called UnpackORI (shared here with permission), although this is not distributed to users.]
The files are stored in a removable USB 3.0 drive in the base of the camera (if you want to upgrade it, see below). Insert the drive in your PC and transfer the ORI files.
You can use the PanoManager app to stitch the ORI files into either: (i) PNO stitched files (another of their proprietary formats), (ii) PNO + JPG, or (iii) 16-bit lossless PNG. If you stitch to PNO + JPG, the JPG is ready for upload to 360 photo sharing sites, complete with 360 metadata. On the other hand, the PNG format is most similar to Raw and is the best choice if you want to edit your photos (it is available only for XPhase Pro). When stitching as PNG, you can adjust the RGB values, and the contrast. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to preview the effects of your choices, so you will need to set these parameters blindly.
There is also a unique option to render as an expanded panorama (“PNG Output Expansion”). By editing the expanded panorama and then cropping the image to a standard 2:1 equirectangular format after adjustments, you can reduce the seam between the left and right edges.
If you choose the PNO format, you can view them in the PanoViewer app, or convert them into JPG with the PNO2JPG app.
How to straighten photos
Until stabilization is implemented, you will probably need to straighten photos. I prefer to use the free panoramic software Hugin.
Step 1: Launch Hugin and switch to Simple mode (under the Interface menu).
Step 2: From the Assistant tab, click on the “Load images…” button, and select the 360 photo that you want to straighten.
Step 3: Make sure Lens type is Equirectangular.
Step 4: Click on the Move/Drag tab, and drag the image until all vertical lines are truly vertical.
Step 6: Click on the Stitcher tab. Under the Canvas Size, click on Calculate Optimal Size. Under Panorama outputs, select your preferred output format (TIFF, JPG or PNG). Click on the Stitch! button on the bottom right corner.
How to fix stitching errors
The XPhase can have stitching errors here and there, especially with objects close to the camera. I fix stitching errors on the XPhase the same way I do with Panono. You will need a 360-capable photo editor such as Affinity Photo or Photoshop CC. You will also need the unstitched photos from the XPhase ORI files using the UnpackORI app (shared with permission). Just drag the ORI file onto the UnpackORI app to create a folder with the unstitched photos.
Then follow this tutorial (you may also need to stitch the photos in a 3rd party app. See PTGui below.):
PTGui stitching template
You can use PTGui to stitch the Xphase files, although in my experience there are many stitching errors, ghosting, and unusual colors. The XPhase stitching software works much better. Nonetheless, if you want to use PTGui, here’s how.
Step 1. Unpack the ORI files by dragging the ORI file onto the UnpackORI app. This will unpack all ORI files in the same directory.
Step 2. In PTGui, load all the images from the directory, except the Thumbnail file.
Step 3. In PTGui, go to File… Apply Template… and select this PTGui stitching template for XPhase.
Step 4. Click on Align Images.
Step 5. Click on Create Panorama.
PTGui has many other features that you can use to fine-tune the stitching, such as changing the control points, masking, etc.
XPhase photos can indeed be used for Street View. Here is a sample I uploaded:
Please note however, that XPhase’s native resolution is too high for Street View, which is limited to 100mp. XPhase photos should therefore be resized to 14,000 x 7,000 (or 14142 x 7071), using any image editor including Windows’ Paint app.
Right now, XPhase does not have geotags yet, so instead, go to maps.google.com and look for the location of the photo (in this case, Polliwog Park). Click on Photos and click on “add a photo”. The photo you upload will then be automatically tagged for the correct location.
Conclusion: XPhase Strengths and Weaknesses
Here are my preliminary impressions of the XPhase’s strengths and weaknesses for the 3 P’s of the 360 Camera Buying Guide:
Performance / Image quality (July 2019):
+ Very high detail
+ Very good dynamic range
+ HDR without ghosting
+ Low chromatic aberration
+ Short minimum stitching distance for high resolution 360 camera (around 3 feet)
o Good stitching with minor stitching errors
– Susceptible to flare
– JPGs have vertical banding when rendered with desktop app (PNG files have no banding)
– Limited exposure control
– Aggressive exposure algorithm tends to overexpose
– Maximum shutter speed is only 1 sec.
– Minimum shutter speed for handheld use is too slow (1/13 sec.)
– On my review unit, one lens is slightly back focused (resulting in a slightly longer near limit for focus). According to XPhase, the final version will have better lenses.
Practicality / convenience:
+ Self-timer can be used without a phone
+ Option for one-step stitching process
+ Batch exporting
+ Phone app can stitch photos
+ High speed USB drive can transfer files quickly
+ Option to minimize seam line by rendering as expanded panorama
+ Access to the unstitched files for patching stitching errors
+ date and time recorded in the filename
– No live view
– Poor battery life (around 50 HDR shots in real world conditions)
– No stabilization yet (they will supposedly add this in the future)
– No geotagging yet (planned for future)
– 30 sec. startup time
– PNG files take up a lot of space (over 500MB per file). The final version will have Raw DNG mode.
– No video capability
– No time lapse capability yet (they will supposedly add this in the future)
Price / affordability:
+ Very affordable compared to other prosumer 360 cameras.
Again, these are just my preliminary observations, based on firmware . I will post a comparison against the Theta Z1, Aleta S2C, and a DSLR panorama.
Price and availability; Discount
XPhase Pro is $879, available from Stabilizer Pro. Stabilizer Pro has a special offer for 360 Rumors readers: you can get a free Sandisk 128GB USB drive (MSRP $39.99) with your XPhase Pro order using this affiliate link. I will keep this page updated with any improvements to the camera. If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments. The official webpage is here. Join the XPhase Group on Facebook here.
Accessories (updated July 21, 2019)
Camera Case: The XPhase does not include a case, and with its unusual shape, it’s not easy to find a camera case for it. Here are some cases that I found that can work with XPhase:
This semi-hardcase fits the camera perfectly and has space for the USB adapter and cable. However, it doesn’t have a shoulder strap. For carrying the camera around, you may instead prefer one of these bags:
JJC DLP-7 is a lens case that is tall enough to fit the camera. It is very well padded, includes a shoulder strap and a velcro strap for belts and backpacks. However, it has no separate pocket for the USB adapter, although it has a sleeve that can fit the special USB charging cable. It is the most protective of these cases, but is much bulkier.
Orca Carrier is a zippered nylon case with a shoulder strap and four attachment straps. There is a zippered pouch in the bottom (which I filled with padding) and another zippered pouch on the side where I put the USB adapter and cable. It is thinly padded.
Bottlebottle is a canvas bag with a shoulder strap. It has no padding per se.
1. XPhase claims to have 200mp resolution, but its photos are 16384 x 8192 which is only 134 mp. Why?
The XPhase has 25 sensors that each capture 8mp. This is how they claim 200mp resolution. However, the stitched resolution is only 134mp because the photos must overlap each other in order to have smooth stitching.
2. Can XPhase do video or live view?
No, it cannot do video nor will live view be possible because of the power that would be required from 25 cameras shooting simultaneously, and the processor that would be required.
3. Why did the price go up?
Originally, XPhase Pro was $699. However, the quality of the lenses was inconsistent, with some backfocused lenses. They decided to get better lenses and also added new features, such as Raw DNG mode support and an increase of the HDR from 3 shots to 6 shots. With the upgraded hardware, they had to increase the price to $879.
4. How is the battery life? Can you charge the camera while using it?
Battery life is not that great because it uses up the battery while it is on, whether or not you are shooting. It is possible to charge the camera while using it. However, you have to remove the base cover with the 1/4-20 tripod hole, so you’ll need another way to mount the camera to a stand, e.g. using a clamp.
5. Does the XPhase have stabilization?
As of July 2019, it does not yet have stabilization, but it does have a gyroscope, and stabilization will supposedly be added in the future.
6. Does the XPhase record the date and time? Where does the date and time come from?
It uses the date and time from the smartphone and names each ORI file with the date and time of the shot.
7. Does XPhase have GPS or geotagging?
It doesn’t have built-in GPS, but in the future, they will let you add a geotag when shooting with your smartphone, using your phone’s GPS.
8. Does XPhase have EXIF data?
Yes, if you export the photo in JPG, or if you unpack the ORI file and view the unstitched photos.
9. Can you use third party stitchers such as PTGui with XPhase?
Yes. The Xphase saves photos as an ORI file, which is actually a container (similar to a zip folder). If you want to use a 3rd party stitcher, use the UnpackORI file to extract the files. You’ll find 75 photos (25 cameras x 3 exposures each) plus 1 thumbnail. You can load the 75 photos into PTGui using the smartphone preset (PTGui stitches the photos at 17490 x 8745, higher than the native 16384 x 8192 resolution). Besides PTGui, Mistika is also working on a stitching template.