If you have thought about creating 360º Panoramic photos, what Google Maps calls Photospheres, you’re in luck. For a quick 2 Grand ($2000) you can purchase the IRIS360 camera from NCTech out of the UK. This camera features 4 panoramic lenses that are perfectly aligned to eliminate any parallax effects that occur when you try to take a Photosphere from a smartphone. The problem with jagged edges and an image not coming out right is simple. The camera lens must pivot around 1 axis, and when we’re snapping shots in upward, downward and all directions, this causes serious parallax effects. I took a Photosphere of a business that I created on my iPhone 5S. Even though I am a Street View Trusted Photographer and understand parallaxing problems, I still could NOT get the images to look perfect no matter how many times I tried to do this by manually holding the camera. Here is an example of the Allstate Shopping Center Photosphere, in Tulsa Oklahoma with the Parallax effect can be seen easily.
The Iris360 and the new and soon to be released Ricoh Theta S, is the 3rd version of the photosphere still camera. What makes it unique is that it can take 360º video for upto 25 minutes. The last version was only able to record for around 4 minutes max per session. The Ricoh Theta S when available can be purchased for around $400 on Amazon. The 2 prior versions of this camera are not high enough quality for Street View, but are perfect for someone trying to get into 360 photography with good results, just not HDR high resolution imagery like can be achieved with a DSLR solution. The Street View Trusted Photographers mostly use the DSLR imagery as it is much higher quality than either the IRIS360 or the Ricoh Theta S.
The imagery on a DSLR takes images at a resolution that exceeds even the IRIS360, minimizes edge color bleed resulting in superior quality imagery. If you are considering purchasing either the IRIS360 or Theta S to do walk-through virtual tour of your business, there is a process by which all of the imagery must be manually aligned so that the “arrows” or “chevrons” must be aligned both towards the next photo and when you get to the next pano image… there is 2nd chevron that must point back to the prior chevron. So if you have lets say 20 photospheres you want to take for your business, you’d upload all of this imagery into the Maps engine, then you’d have to tell the engine that all these 20 images are “related” and then you have to align them out in “space” on the exact spot where the photos were taken, and then align them all perfectly, and once that is done, it will go through a quality approval process where if any of the chevrons dont line up properly or are pointing the wrong direction, you wont be able to publish these — walk through tours yourself. If that’s the case and you just want to hire a trusted Street View Photographer, give us a call and we will surely help you, and in a way that is higher quality and wont break the bank. Remember this is a one time investment in your business if you are going to use it to help get visibility and more walk in traffic, and you want it done right the first time. If you still want to buy IRIS or Ricoh, I’ve included an Amazon link that we get compensated for. If you chose to buy it use our link and get the same pricing as you would on Amazon, and at the same time helping support us as well.