Getting Started with 360° Photography

April 4, 2013 | Mark Goldstein | Photography Techniques | 16 Comments |
Getting Started with 360° Photography Image

Everyday photography compared to panoramic photography

Everyday photography usually capture a single emotion or situation. Panoramic photography on the other hand can capture the same high quality images but you can include many angles in one single image.

An increasing number of smartphones and apps now allow you to create panoramic photos. While 360° photos from a smartphone often work well for private use they are seldom good enough for commercial usage. To get really high quality images it’s essential to use a digital camera with around 15 mega pixels or more.

How to succeed with 360° photography?

There are a few essential rules to follow in order to create successful panoramic photos and virtual tours. First of all you need the right digital camera, use appropriate panorama equipment, learn the technique and get the suitable panoramic software. Here are three simple steps to get you started becoming a 360° photographer:

Getting Started with 360° Photography

Step 1: Cameras to consider for 360° photography

One of the most popular cameras for panoramic photography are Canon 5D, Mark II. There are undoubtedly many around and you can get a second hand camera for around $1000-1200. Other popular second hand Canon models include EOS 7D, EOS 500D and EOS 550D. If you’re buying a new Canon DSLR I’d probably go for Canon EOS 5D, Mark III if you can spare around $3000. For Nikon users, both D7000 and D90 are widely used. If you’re buying a second hand model I’d consider D90 (around $600 on eBay). For those looking to purchase a new Nikon DSLR for 360° photography I’ll recommend D5200 or D7000 because of their price (around $750-900) and lightweight body. Make sure your feel comfortable with your camera and get one that’s suitable with your own style and preferences.

Step 2: What additional equipment is required?

Assuming you already have a decent DSLR camera, let’s get into the accessories:

A. Get a Fish Eye Lens

In order to create virtual tours you need a fisheye lens. Canon users can for instance go with Canon Fisheye 8-15 mm f/4 or Sigma 8 mm f/3.5 which also fits Nikon DSLRs. If you have a Nikon DX camera you can choose between models such as Nikon AF DX 10.5 mm, f2.8 or the 16 mm, f/2.8 version.

Getting Started with 360° Photography

B. Tripod & Panoramic head

Buy a stable tripod if you don’t already have one. Most 360 photographers I know use Manfrotto tripods such as 055XB (about $200) with a ball head. Alternatively, try Induro Carbon CT214 (around $400) or Giotto MTL-series.

In order to rotate the camera in 360 degrees and overlap the photos no-parallax point you also need a panorama head. Basically, all photos should be taken from the same spot and therefore it’s essential to use a tripod and panoramic head. Otherwise it’s impossible to stich the photos together.

360 Precision (360precision.com) have a wide range of panoramic heads for all types of photographers. I use the model called Atome and am very happy with it. Other brands include Nodal Ninja, Pinnacle VR, Novoflex, Kaidan and Manfrotto.

C. Finding a remote switch

The next required tool to shoot good virtual tours is a remote switch. Using a remove switch is required so the camera don’t move position while taking photos. There are wireless models for around $300 or cheaper models with a cable such as Canon RS 80N3 (about $35).

Entry Tags

photos, lens, photo, photography, panorama, HDR, remote, tripod, 360°, 360° Photography, fisheye, virtual tours

Your Comments

16 Comments | Newest Oldest First | Post a Comment

#1 Chris

360 degree photos makes me go around in circles.

11:17 am - Thursday, April 4, 2013

#2 Joe Smokie

I can’t wrap my head around this 360 deg thing…

1:15 pm - Thursday, April 4, 2013

#3 Steve Smith

Great post, thanks for sharing.

10:22 am - Friday, April 5, 2013

#4 Cramer Imaging

This is an interesting concept.  I’ve seen pictures stitched together taken of 360 degrees.  There is usually some distortion around the edges when images are stacked vertically.  The fisheye lens makes sense for the ultra wide angle, but is there a crop job to get rid of the distortion?  What software is used to stitch the images together?  Is that info in or will be in another article?

1:15 am - Thursday, May 9, 2013

#5 Pikodesign

Good quick overview into the world of 360 photography. However as with all things, it takes time and practice to perfect a craft and above all else, it all starts with good images. The rest is finding the tools that are right for you - notable favorites being PTGUI for stitching and KRPano to build the tours themselves. We found the Google Business Photos programme a frustrating experience and like many established virtual tour companies, left not long after joining. It might work for you though! Learn to create 360 images yourself first would be my advice, you will enjoy it so much more.

10:54 pm - Sunday, June 23, 2013

#6 Alvin Gachie

Wow! I do wedding photography, corporate events, individual shoots and family portraits. I just added a Fisheye to my collection. It is good to read these tips on 360 degree photography. I’m sure it will come in handy!

8:00 am - Wednesday, June 26, 2013

#7 Flip Flop

This is why I keep going to this place. I can not believe I missed so many posts since the last time!
Visit for more info and Downloading http://www.freedownload-ever.blogspot.com 
Great post. I realy need this info.

4:52 pm - Sunday, July 7, 2013

#8 Andre van der Laarse

Thanks for the nice article.

Some extra info about gear, I use a Sunex Fisheye on my D90, and now D7100. It is a circular fisheye for DX camera’s, available for Canon and Nikon.

In 3 takes, you can make a 180x360 picture. There is a special panohead available for it, which is in the perfect nodal point, and uses 3 click stops to help you take the three pictures.

I use it with Autodesk Stitcher Unlimit, it recognises the lens and the workflow to a 180x360 picture is fairly automatic.

Also do not forget the GigaPan robothead, it is specialy designed to make high resolution panorama’s and can be used to make a 360 panorama. There is special stitching software included with the product.

I use the Pano2VR software to publish VR pano’s in HTML5, so it can be viewed on a tablet computer. If you hold the tablet in front of you, and then turn, the 360 sphere seems to stand still and you get a view around you.

4:17 pm - Tuesday, August 27, 2013

#9 Dark Eclipse Studios

Pikodesign,

Can you share what things you didnt like about participating in Google Business Photos program?

2:18 pm - Wednesday, October 30, 2013

#10 Nelson

I say these images thought they were cool http://photographytipsandtricksebook.com/2-2/

10:36 am - Wednesday, November 13, 2013

#11 Carl Afable

Absolute informative article about Google business photo. A 360 degree visualization for your site can be the best marketing on online as well as real world. Its gonna have a perfect virtual look for your commercial sites.

6:25 pm - Thursday, November 28, 2013

#12 wowApic

thanks for the share. So the Camera has main role in 360° photography.

9:14 am - Tuesday, December 24, 2013

#13 Google Trusted Photographer

Google 360° photography is an awesome idea. I will like to follow this.

7:33 pm - Monday, January 13, 2014

#14 Kokd

Hi all, just wondering if you guys are interested to beta test a small idea.

1. Take a 360 video clockwise
2. Upload it here: glanzd.com
3. Share or embed it in your website

Thanks! contact me at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

7:15 am - Monday, January 20, 2014

#15 Zoe

Hi there,

I’m trying to find somewhere in Sydney to do a 360 photography course.
Anyone know where I can do one?

Cheers
Zoe

1:19 am - Tuesday, February 18, 2014

#16 Jerry

I have only sold shoots, and wanting to learn to take the business photos. Does a novice who has never done this have a chance?

2:24 am - Tuesday, February 25, 2014