5-Jan-2007
photos by jwz

I got a panoramic lens that lets you take single shots that can be converted into 360° QTVR scenes. These are my first experiments...


Yerba Buena Park


It's really hard to focus when using this lens; it's hard to tell what you're focusing on, because you have to eyeball it through the viewfinder (autofocus gets very confused.) I guess the reality is that you should always focus at infinity, but that implies a high F stop, usually meaning a low shutter speed.

Previewing the image on the camera's display is pretty useless too, since what the camera sees is this bizarre donut.

Yerba Buena Park Waterfall


There's also no hope for getting both sides of the scene exposed properly unless the sun is directly overhead; some part of the mirror will always be facing directly into the sun...
Howard Street Pedestrian Bridge


Check out the weird curvy lens flare around the sun!

The horizon is tilted in this image because I wasn't pointing the camera straight up (as you can maybe see by my shadow).

DNA Lounge Main Room


I think it's safe to say that I'll never get a decent nightclub shot with this lens; this is with all the lights on (handheld, multi-second exposure, since I have the world's most useless tripod).
DNA Lounge Lounge


This was a 30 second exposure. The room was dark, but still a lot brighter than it would have been if the club were open. Check out that groovy tentacle-flare again!
DNA Lounge Roof


This one's not bad, though again, the exposure is weird; the buildings across the street look good, but the graffiti on the back wall is all washed out.

I'm also a little surprised at how low resolution these images are. The source images are 12 megapixel (4368×2912) so I'd expect to get quite a bit more than a 450×300 view out of them... I haven't done the math, though.

Rincon Center


Here it's obvious that depth-of-field remains a problem even in very bright places. This was a 1/13 second exposure at F9. I used such a large aperture in an attempt to get a huge depth of field, but that didn't really work out. It looks like the focus point is around 20' away.

Though it's a little hard to tell the difference between blurriness caused by the image being out of focus, and blurriness caused by the fact that the top and bottom of the image are just less resolution due to fewer pixels being captured for them.

Here, I've extracted the rectangle containing Eric from the raw donut image, without unwrapping it. Click for the un-scaled image: that is the 100%-zoom view of that part of the image, and it's only ~900 pixels tall, from floor to ceiling. So after the parabolic mirror (optically) packs the image up into that donut, it seems that there just isn't that much useful pixel data left out of the original 4368×2912 image.

This is what the photo the camera actually takes looks like. (Click for a larger, but still scaled down, version.)