Canon 5D and Canon EF 15 mm f/2.8 USM Fisheye Lens

360 degree Panorama Photography Workflow
Test Report by Dr Karl Harrison

This web page is the third in a series of web pages detailing my workflow to create 360 degree interactive panoramas.

1) Using the Canon 10D and Sigma 8mm lens combination

2) Using the Canon 20D and Canon EFS 10-22 mm f/3.5-4.5 USM lens combination

3) And this page concerning the Canon 5D and Canon EF 15 mm f/2.8 USM Lens


I was never that happy using the Canon 20D/10-22mm (effective crop to 16mm rectilinear) combination because though it gave high resolution files you have to take too many photographs to cover the 360 degree sphere and this just doesn't work either when people are in shot since when they move it forces you to spend considerable amount of time removing movement errors and therefore makes the whole process rather tedious.

I had mainly therefore been using the Sigma 8mm with my Canon 20D, this gave an efficient workflow but I always felt that the Sigma lens was far from ideal in terms of quality.

So the announcement of the full-frame Canon 5D was exciting, since other wide angle lens could be an option and in particular the highly regarded Canon 15mm Fisheye.

The Canon 15mm Fisheye lens on a full frame camera can capture the full 360 degree sphere with 6 photographs around plus 1 up and 1 down.


This is my standard setup.


  • The Manfrotto 055 Pro tripod
  • The 360precision panorama head (note, the configuration for the Canon 5D plus 15mm FE lens is not available yet, so here I'm using the Canon 20D/Sigma 8mm configuration which is sort of close to the correct entrance {"nodal"} point).
  • Canon 5D - using manual white balance, manual exposure, and manual focus.
  • Canon 15mm f/2.8 Fisheye lens
  • Leveling bubble.
  • Canon remote release.
  • For each node, I first custom white balance the scene (I don't often use RAW, since that really slows down my workflow - I don't get paid for to take panoramas, so cannot cope with a slow process, I often take 50 panoramas per visit, need a very fast process, okay I lose quality but it is a balance in my case).
  • Then shoot 6 around, 1 up and if the ground is interesting 2 down.
Canon 5D setup

Stitching the Panorama

I use two methods:

  1. Realviz Stitcher (MS Windows OS and Mac OS X)
  2. PTMac (Mac OS X only)

1. Realviz Stitcher Workflow

One of the reasons I bought the Canon 5D was to improve my workflow with Realviz Stitcher. For legal (invalid patent) reasons Realviz Stitcher does not support circular fisheye photographs so you have to preprocess the fisheye photos into rectilinear photos (a defishing processing), this slows down the process and increases storage requirements.

The exciting thing about the 10-22mm lens was that it works directly with Realviz Stitcher - but I didn't like the need to take more photographs so there was no real gain. So I was really looking forward to the Canon 5D - a full frame camera - allowing me to use a full frame fisheye lens i.e. the Canon 15mm FE. You can imagine my shock when Realviz Stitcher doesn't also support this lens either !!!! Okay I know I should have known this by a simple search in the Realviz support forums, but for some reason I thought they just didn't support support the Sigma and Nikon 8mm and the Nikon 10.5 crop factor fisheye lens.

So this leaves me with having to still defish the photos! Anyway here is how the 9 photos look from the camera:

Fisheye photos

These photographs have to be converted into rectilinear photos using a defishing process. I use DeFish (a Mac OS only application), I like this because it is a small foot print software package and does drag and drop batch conversion. There are several other methods of doing this but below is the result, 9 rectilinear photos:

Rectinear photos

My Defish settings for the Canon 5D/15mm are shown here below, a number of settings are possible but after a couple of goes these were ones which worked for me.

DeFish Settings

These now rectilinear photographs are suitable for Realviz Stitcher. They can be quickly aligned and stitched together.

Using Stitcher

I usually export the resulting panorama as equirectangular (Spherical) image, this allows final correction in Adobe Photoshop CS2. The Canon 5D/15mm with this above files enables the export of a ~12,000 by 6,000 pixel (150Mb) .tif file, this takes a while to create, so for web panoramas I often export as 6,000 by 3,000 image. Shown below at a reduced size:

Stitcher Output

After any necessary changes in Adobe Photoshop (none in this case), I convert the resulting image with CubicConverter to create interactive 360 degree QuickTime VR panorama. Saved here as a rather large file to show resolution (remember this is actually half the native resolution too):

A full screen QTVR file (2.1Mb).

Comment: I assume any stitching errors present would be fixed by using the correct panorama head.

2. PTMac Workflow

Coming soon, and yes I have used it and it works fine, of course, I just need to compile the screen shots.


Here are the original 9 .jpg photographs from the above shoot. You are welcome to experiment with them for your own use only, they must not used to show clients and the copyright of the photographs are still reatined by me no matter what manipulation you do. The .zip file of these files is 38Mb in size. Please note in the 2 down shots for the originals seem to be 2/3 stop brighter than the rest - I don't understand why since the photos were shot at 100 ISO, 1/6 sec and f/6.3 and locked at that ? If anyone has good explaination please email me. Also in the spirit of "open source" please tell me (so I can report here) any settings you create in PTMac, PTGUI and the like.

Dr Karl Harrison Oct 2005 (