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Why does XPhase use the proprietary ORI format…?!?

Why does XPhase Pro use ORI format
Why does XPhase Pro use ORI format

One of the most common questions I get about XPhase Pro (reviewed here) is, “Why the [__fill in the expletive__] does XPhase use a proprietary ORI format???  Why not ZIP or RAR etc.???”  In this post, I discuss my analysis of why they use ORI, and I think it makes sense.

The XPhase Pro is generating a lot of buzz.  If you haven’t heard, it’s now the highest resolution 360 camera with 200mp capture resolution and 134mp stitched resolution.  It can even have more detail than a DSLR panorama (8-shot diagonal fisheye). But it has some quirks, one of which is its file format.

XPhase saves its photos in the ORI format, which is a proprietary format.  The ORI file is actually a folder that contains 75 photos (25 sensors with 3 exposures each) plus a thumbnail.  You can use the UnpackORI app to expand the ORI file into its unstitched photos.

Many photographers are asking, why do they use a proprietary format instead of using ZIP or RAR or one of the other common compression formats?  They’re suspicious and skeptical of this format.  Here’s my hypothesis.

Besides its high resolution, XPhase is unique for its stitching.  It can stitch the 25 photos very smoothly, at distances that are much closer than its competitors.  I even have a sample of a photo stitched at a distance of 1 foot  — truly remarkable for a camera that uses several wide angle lenses (which have less overlap than fisheye lenses).

Moreover, XPhase can also do HDR without ghosting — a capability I’ve never seen before.  (The closest I’ve seen is Kandao Raw+ stacking with no ghosting.)

OK but what does this have to do with the ORI format?  I speculate that they are using the ORI format to protect their stitching software from being used for any other camera.  If they use ZIP instead of ORI, it’s possible that someone could simply use a smartphone to take several photos and then put them into a ZIP folder for stitching on the XPhase software.  To prevent this, XPhase instead used a proprietary ORI format so that only XPhase camera photos can be stitched on the XPhase software.

What do you think?  Does the explanation make sense?  Does it bother you that they use a proprietary format?  Let me know in the comments!

About the author

Mic Ty


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  • Hi Mic,

    Maybe you’re right, but in another hand, using their stitching software with other cameras could improve a lot their brand recognition on 360 market.

    I use GoPro Player with every 360 pic or video after all…

    I know that GoPro Player is free but I’m still convinced that this strategy could be good. 😉

    • Hi Michel. Hmm their stitching software is one of their unique strengths. To allow other companies to use it seems unlikely to me. If I were them, I wouldn’t do it either.

      Kandao let other cameras use their Raw+ software, and I’m not sure their market position improved because of that.

      • Hi Mic.

        Agree, it helps to spread the name of a new brand, not always to gain new buyers. But it’s a free form to do it, others opt to spend fortunes on Facebook ads…

        I can’t really judge by myself for now, but their software seems to deliver good results. I don’t know what kind of control you have on stitching.

        With a good hardware, an agressive price and frequent firmware updates, I’m pretty sure they can go far!

        I’ll do my best to help them. 😉

        • Thanks Michel! Re controls on stitching, so far there is zero control on stitching. The only parameters you can specify are what format (JPG or PNG), but no parameters for the stitching distance, etc.

  • Does it mean that you can not export or edit? I mean can i edit the 360 picture in photoshop or I have to use the ori app and stich it again in another software? after that I can edit it in photoshop. Or maybe you can edit directly in the xphase software? But not as much as photoshop i supposed.

    I would like to know if this camera is google street view “friendly”

    thanks alot Mic and have a good day.

  • Hi Mic

    what is the file size of the ORI vs uncompressed the reason I ask is that zip and rar do not compress image files well normally on kb small zip or rar

  • As I’ve said before – this argument doesn’t hold water.

    There is plenty of precedent for ZIP files that are digitally signed such that their origin can be identified, WITHOUT preventing them from being extracted using standard software. Look at Android APKs and Android OTA updates.

    As to “no ghosting” – there are plenty of documented methods for doing this. Kandao RAW+ isn’t special, it’s just a desktop variation on Google’s HDR+, which is not by any means secret since they published the algorithm for SIGGRAPH Asia in 2016 – – in fact there are fully open source variations on the algorithm –

    As to ghosting when bracketing – 95% of the issue can be solved without any change to postprocessing workflow, only by NOT cheaping out on the camera hardware. Nearly every 360 camera on the market except for Kandao’s Qoocam fits into this category – in bracketing mode, nearly ALL of them don’t have enough buffer to store more than one image set, so they need to write the data to storage before taking the next shot. Put in enough RAM to store more than one image and BOOM – you now drastically reduced the interval between shots.

    Using ORI only achieves the goal of making people not want to buy their camera. And “You can use the UnpackORI app to expand the ORI file into its unstitched photos.” is only true for Wintel users.

    Also, a Chinese company not providing their mobile application on Google’s Play Store is a gigantic red flag that there is probably malware being driven by the 2017 National Intelligence Law. Play Store isn’t a magic bullet that solves all malware, but if you can’t even get published there something is very, VERY wrong.