A hyperspherical image made with the Spherecam. The horizontal
field of view is 540 degrees and the vertical field of view is
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
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
of the sailboat image. Click here
for a RealVR view of the sailboat image.
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.
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
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).
Just for fun, this NASA photo from the past was processed using
Panorama Tools. See what the interior of the Gemini spacecraft looks
Spherecam technical description
This is a technical overview of the Spherecam camera system.
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.
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
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
Answers to frequently asked Spherecam questions.
Copyright 1996 by Dan Slater,
All rights reserved