Spherecam

A hyperspherical image made with the Spherecam. The horizontal field of view is 540 degrees and the vertical field of view is 720 degrees.

Around 1992, I built an experimental camera, called the Spherecam. It is a one of a kind ultra wide angle camera that records a scene in all possible viewing directions (4pi steradians). The camera uses a pair of hyperhemispherical fisheye lens to record the scene in all directions. After computer processing, the resultant full sphere image can be viewed in a number of ways including as a panoramic image, a 360 degree fisheye image and dynamically though a java or VRML viewer. This page includes several examples of photographs taken with the Spherecam and a technical description of how the Spherecam operates.  

Spherecam images

Sail boat

This unusual photograph includes all viewing directions (360 degrees horizontal, 180 degrees vertical field of view). was taken with the Spherecam. Even though it appears that the camera was removed from the image, it was never present in the scene. There is a small biconical region that encircles the camera in which objects, including the camera are not visible. As the photographers hand enters this region, his hand disappears. Click here for a dynamic view (using PTviewer java) of the sailboat image.  Click here for a RealVR view of the sailboat image.
 

Las Vegas

This is a panoramic photograph produced by unwrapping a single Nikon 6 mm fisheye photograph in Adobe Photoshop. The horizontal coverage is 720 degrees, the vertical coverage is 110 degrees. The same photo can be viewed as a java view or as a  RealVR view.
 

Hughes near-field satellite test facility

This photograph is a panoramic image (360 degrees horizontal, 180 degrees vertical coverage) taken with the Spherecam. This image includes all possible viewing directions. This near-field antenna measurement system, one of two in this facility, is used to test large spacecraft communications antennas. The image can be viewed dynamically using Java or RealVR. The Spherecam imagery can also be computer processed into an upward or horizontal 360 degree (full sphere) fisheye image. There is no fundamental rule that says that a photo has to be limited to a full sphere. Even wider angle views are possible such as this example with a 750 degree horizontal and a 450 degree vertical field of view.
 

Helicopter view of Los Angeles

This photograph was taken near dusk in down town Los Angeles from a small Robinson R22 helicopter. Image processing was with Panorama Tools and Photoshop. Click here for a dynamic view of the helicopter image (using PTviewer java).
 

Gemini spacecraft cabin

Just for fun, this NASA photo from the past was processed using Panorama Tools. See what the interior of the Gemini spacecraft looks like.
 

Spherecam technical description

Spherecam

Spherecam technical description

This is a technical overview of the Spherecam camera system.
 

Step by step procedure for making VR images

This is a simplified step by step procedure for making RealVR images through the use of fisheye lenses, Adobe Photoshop and the RealVR plugin. The fisheye image merging used by the Spherecam can be largely automated as a Adobe Photoshop 4.0 action file. Click here to download this action file sphere.atn. Note that it will be necessary to customize it slightly for the specific fisheye lenses and film scanning setup. This image processing can also be done with the free software program Panorama Tools, written by Helmut Dersch. Panorama Tools is optimized for this type of processing and is now the preferred approach.
 

An earlier Spherecam paper

This paper was published by the International Association of Panoramic Photographers (IAPP) Journal in 1996. Some of the images in this were poorly compressed so the image quality is not that good.
 

Using the 6 mm f5.6 Nikkor fisheye lens with the Nikon D1 digital camera

This page describes a simple optical relay system that allows the 6 mm f5.6 fisheye Nikkor lens to be used with the Nikon D1 digital camera.
 

Spherecam frequently asked questions (FAQ)

Answers to frequently asked Spherecam questions.

Display calibration

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Copyright 1996 by Dan Slater, All rights reserved