Photograph 360 Degree Around With A Parabolic Mirror
The easiest method, fast and straightforward to shoot 360 degree panoramas.
We will use the words Parabolic Mirror to refer to any accessory or accessories's system designed to obtain 360 degree panoramas in a single shot, using a photograph of a mirror reflecting the rays of light coming from all sides which are deviated in the direction of the camera.
These ingenious accessories keep similarity with the structure built in our last experiment with domestic mirrors, structure which held above the camera lens a chrome water tap, that served as a curved mirror.
These parabolic mirrors, once attached to a camera, allow to take photographs each one of which can be transformed into a 360 degree virtual tour without need for editing. The circular mirror images can be transformed all together with a single click in rectangles and/or other formats, or can become interactive views. In just a couple of hours it is possible to photograph, create and publish to the Internet hundreds of virtual tours with just a few clicks.
Description of the system
Most of the parabolic mirrors in the market include a hollow tube terminating on a thread which fits itself or through an adapter, to the thread that many cameras bear around the lens for accessories or filters fixation. Pano-Pro also offers two models of adapters which serve to attach the parabolic mirror to any camera, even cameras with no thread.
These tubes are placed in front of the camera lenses, enclosing them. The tube end opposite to the camera is closed by a glass, in the center of which engages a vertically elongated piece which is responsible for holding the proper mirror high in the air.
This way, the 360 degree around the curved mirror are freed, allowing for the image reflected by the mirror to be uninterrupted. The mirror is supported from below, and thus the lower end of the picture is not shown in the photo. Instead, the image of mirror sustain, hides from view what otherwise would be the reflection of the camera and tripod.
Whether in an open place, the photographer can also hide his/her presence in the picture, ducking underneath. The two most important details to be considered when shooting panoramas with a parabolic mirror are the image stability and the level of the horizon line. Thus that while it is possible to capture panoramas with a monopod or freehand, it is always recommended to use these systems using a tripod and a bubble level.
Let's see an example
To take this picture we used a tripod. Normally the camera is located 1.70 meters height, ie the height of the average person's eyes, to obtain a similar picture to that a person would have in the same place. This allows enough space below the tripod so that the photographer can hide down there. Tripod legs in the photo example, are open somewhat less than its maximum opening, so that they do not appear in the photographed landscape.
The parabolic mirror, firmly bolted to the camera, has been straightened using a spirit level. This ensures that the panorama remains level and the horizon line, once the circle image is remapped to a reactangle, becomes an horizontal straight line. If the mirror was not properly level, the horizon line and with it the whole picture, would be wavy.
The source photo is rectangular, as all photos taken by the camera, because that is the sensor shape. The black part at the outside of the picture corresponds to the inside of the tube which is placed in front of the lens. At the end of the tube stands the glass, invisible to the camera, and in the center of it an also black circle, which is the base of the piece that holds, a little further, the curved mirror.
The donut-shaped sector between two black areas, is the parabolic mirror itself, and from its image derives all useful information for the panorama. As the camera and mirror point in vertical direction, the mirror reflects in the direction of the camera an entire picture of everything around it.
Also in the image it is obvious that the sector of the environment that the picture doen't show for beign under the center and holding up the mirror, contains precisely the camera and tripod, which is an advantage because you'll normally don't want to show such objects in your panoramas.
As shown, substracted the black areas that do not contain useful information, the entire 360 degree panorama emerges from a sector that fills approximately 40% of the sensor area. As a result, the image quality is less than which suggests the number of megapixels in the camera. The picture illustrating this page was photographed with a 4-megapixel camera.
The picture displayed can be remapped and trimmed to look like this :
The straight line of the horizon shows that the camera was properly leveled. An incorrect leveling for the taking of the photograph would have resulted in a wavy horizon line, defect which have been corrected with a very fine edition, although the picture resulting'd lost some vertical viewing degree. Like everything that 360 degree photography is about, it always pays up to spare no time when photographing, for a thorough job at this stage will result in a final highest quality virtual tour, plus a much lighter work in the editing stage.
Notice that the two circles that define the original photo, the small one at the center and larger one in the outer zone, in the remapped image have been converted into strsight paralell lines, dragging the rest of the image with them. However, as both circles were of different sizes and have been both transformed into similarly sized lines, we can deduce that one of them has stretched to reach the other. Consequently, different horizontal rows of pixels from the same picture differ in definition.
Indeed, the upper area of the picture has a higher definition than the lower part. Had you noticed that?
In recent times, with the advent of cameras of ever increasing definition, systems based on parabolic mirrors have regained attention respect more complex systems such as those based on fisheye lenses, as the qualities of their images are continuously increasing while the simplicity of system is almost insurmountable.
Another great advantage of the parabolic mirrors is that they are adaptable, right away, to uses that go beyond the mere photography : 360 degree videos, interactive 360 degree video, interactive real time 360 degree cameras, are some of new options open to anyone with a parabolic mirror and a camera capable of recording and/or transmit image sequences.
For parabolic mirrors brands currently available visit the pages of the leading manufacturers: and .
To learn about all available options check out our article on parabolic mirrors at the Accessories section.
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With any camera
360 Degree Interactive Panoramas
In Three Easy Steps
After reading this tutorial you'll be able to create your first 360 degree interactive photography with the camera you already have :
1 - Photograph
Take one or more pictures of the place you want to show.
2 - Edit
Convert your pictures into 360 degree panoramas.
3 - Publish
Make your panoramas interactive and available to the world on the internet.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, a 360 degree interactive panorama is worth a thousand pictures...
Online Virtual Tour Creator
Using the online virtual tour creator you can :
Convert your 360 degree pictures to virtual tours with a single click.
Insert your virtual tours into web sites, emails, blogs or wherever you like by just copying and pasting a text.
Know in a practical way all kinds of 360 degree pictures.
Discover that you can create hundreds of interactive virtual tours just as easily as you take pictures with your camera.
Check that with just one click from your camera and another click from your mouse it is possible to create a 360 degree interactive virtual tour out of nothing. And completely free of charge!!!
You can get started right now, even if you don't have a camera
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