Spherical panoramas with PhotoVista Panorama

There are basically two ways of creating spherical panoramas with ISeeMedia PhotoVista Panorama:

  • Use an 8mm lens that allows you to capture at least 180 degrees vertically and use the old version 1.0 of PhotoVista. Alternatively use version 1.0.1 and re-enable this lens by creating a custom lens. Note that some additional changes to PhotoVista were made in version 1.32 so that re-enabling the 8mm lens no longer works properly: a preview stitch will produce a good picture, but a full stitch is unlikely to work as the alignment algorithms no longer work for super-wide angle lenses. Note also you will need take 3 pictures not 2.
  • Use a 14 or 15mm wide angle lens in such a way that you can add "up" and "down" shots

180 degree fisheye lenses

Please note that because there are a number of patents protecting techniques for stitching fisheye images, you could be the subject of legal action. panoguide accepts no responsibility for your actions or their consequences if you use a technique that infringes one or more patents and/or leads to legal actions against you.

In PhotoVista Panorama 1.32 and later (including the current version), you can still use fisheye lenses providing you do the necessary warping from fisheye to spherical projection using a different program, such as version 2.1 of Helmut Dersch's PanoTools, or an earlier version. If you install the PanoTools plugin, you can then do the warping in your chosen image editor (such as Adobe PhotoShop):

You may need to experiment a little to find the exact field of view of your lens. PanoTools is capable of optimising the lens parameters if you use PanoTools itself to perform the image stitching - but in this example we are going to use PhotoVista Panorama.

Once you have warped the images you can stitch them in PhotoVista just like any other images, but make sure that when you click the stitch button you select the 'Disable warping' option - because you have already done this bit using PanoTools.

Additional "up" and "down" shots

The second of these is a neat trick that requires you use a lens with sufficient vertical field of view that a single "up" and "down" will cover the 'holes' at the poles of the sphere. For more on this see the general discussion about creating spherical panoramas

Here I will guide you through my first attempt at this technique. I shot 8 pictures with a Nikon CoolPix 990 and the Nikon CoolPix fisheye adapter with the camera set to fisheye2 mode (full-frame - approx 15mm). I then shot the "up" shot (I was not using a spherical pano head). Next, dismantle the tripod and guess at roughly where to shoot the down shot, holding the camera at arm's reach and pointing it down.

Source images

First step: stitch the horizontal row

Next convert this image to cubic format (shown below). ISeeMedia PhotoVista can do this for you (you can even use the free trial version to do this)

Menu option in PhotoVista to convert to cubic

Convert the additional "up" and "down" shots to rectilinear if they are fisheye. I suggest you use Helmut Dersch's Panorama Tools for this... consult the documentation he provides.

Using the PanoTools Remap filter to convert images

The cubic image before and after manually editing in the ground and sky

Load the cubic image and the additional "up" and "down" shots into an image editor such as Adobe PhotoShop. The instructions that follow assume you have some understanding of how to use PhotoShop, if not consult the manuals:

  • Cut out the grey 'holes' in the cubic image using a mask.
  • Copy the "top" image and paste it into the cubic image as a new layer.
  • Adjust the opacity of the new layer so that you can see the cubic image below
  • Move the image over the hole
  • Use free transform to rotate the image into alignment
  • Move the layer to be behind the cubic image
  • restore its opacity to 100%
  • select the top 'hole' in the cubic layer and expand by, say, 20 pixels
  • feather by 10 pixels and delete - smoothing the seam between the cubic layer and the "top" image
  • If necessary adjust the colours in the top image by using the colour picker and comparing like areas
  • repeat above steps for "bottom" image

The finished cubic image is shown above. Save this flattened and return to PhotoVista to convert it back to a sphere. The image will be re-converted back into equirectangular format. Save again and hey presto you should have a spherical panorama.

Final spherical image in equirectangular format