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Building 360 degree Panoramas - Using the Canon 10D and Sigma 8mm, A Tutorial and Work-Flow study.

Updated Oct 2005 - I have now got the Canon 5D camera and have a new tutorial covering its use with the Canon 15 mm Fisheye lens.

Updated Nov 2004 - I have now got the Canon 20D camera and have a new tutorial covering its use with the Canon 10-22 mm lens.

Updated Jan 2004 - I have added an extra page with more instructions and sample photographs for you to download and try.

This tutorial is a guide to making high quality panoramas using a Canon 10D camera. This methodology should work with any digital camera with a 1.6 crop factor and a Sigma 8mm lens (i.e. Canon D30 and D60). The Nikon D100, D1, D1X, D1H and Fuiji S1 and S2 have crop factors of 1.5 where as the Sigma SD9 has a crop factor of 1.7. These crop factors shouldn't cause too much of a problem, only slight changes would be necessary to the Defish settings

Camera Setup

A good tripod and panorama head is essential, a remote makes the work easier too. This is my set up (right).

The Panorama head is actually a combination of an old Kaidan QuickPan II (used for cylindrical panoramas) and the Kaidan Spherical QuickPan III arm (so that I can do vertical shots). The panorama head is used for keeping the camera at the nodal point of the lens (c.f. http://www.kaidan.com/nodalpoint.html).

I take six photos in a cylinder and one up, the cropping of the image means that the FOV diagonal is less than the 180 degrees expected for a 8mm lens, as seen in the images straight out of the camera.

Each image is 3072x2048 pixels. You can see the cross diagonal FOV is between 170 and 180 degrees, whereas the portrait horizontal FOV is about 140 degrees and the portrait vertical FOV is about 160 degrees (note. I rotated the photo samples above so you can see them more easily).

Each of the photographs were taken with with full manual camera settings, in this case all were with ISO 100, F6.7, at 1/180 sec and locked Sunny WB.


Looking at the above photographs each are highly distorted fisheye images. Due to legal restrictions Realviz can not provide Stitcher with the ability to handle photographs from fisheye lens. This goes for almost all panorama software, sadly.

However, if your photographs are preprocessed into rectilinear images, then stitcher happily deals with them.

I use Defish to do this process.

Each photograph is converted from a fisheye photograph to a rectilinear photograph. Defish allows Batch processing of images so this is easy once the settings have been setup.

Here are my settings.

The process involves correcting the fisheye circle for your lens (once set this doesn't change for your lens/camera setup), here I put the Field of View initially to be 170 degrees. Then the desired rectilinear projection setting are set (perspective view). In the case shown above I set it to be 90 degrees HFOV and 120 degrees VFOV. With six photos, 90 degrees will give good overlap (16% -15 degrees- for each side). The output size is similar to the original photograph so the resolution should remain more or less unchanged.

The resulting photographs are here.


I won't provide an indepth tutorial to using Realviz Stitcher here, but it is simple - the now seven rectilinear photographs are taken into Realviz Stitcher, the remaining distortion corrected (using the high distortion tool), the photographs overlapped and stitched, and output as a spherical tiff file 5996x2998 pixels (an equirectangular type image). c.f.

I then take this into Adobe Photoshop to add the bottom logo and correct errors if necessary. Then saved as tiff and use MakeCubic to generate the qtvr final movie (Realviz Stitcher could do this as well). I have kept this example qtvr large (2.4Mb) by only using 50% PhotoJPG compression to show the resolution possible with this camera set up.


Camera Reviews and Forums www.dpreview.com

Panorama Heads www.kaidan.com

Software Defish (Mac OS Only)

Software Realviz Stitcher (MS Windows and Mac OS)

Software MakeCubic (Mac OS Only)