Spherecam frequently asked questions

Is the Spherecam available for sale or rent ? -- The Spherecam was built many years ago as a one of a kind experimental camera and is not commercially available.

Can you provide a source for 6 mm fisheye lenses -- I purchased several of these fisheye lenses many years ago before they became collector's items. I have only seen two for sale in the last 5 years, both at collector prices. Not many were built.

2008 update regarding 6mm Nikkor fisheye availability: I get frequent emails asking about the availability of the 6 mm Nikkor fisheye lenses and if I know of any sources: As of 2008 these lenses are apparently in high demand and not very common. Every once in a while one turns up on ebay. The last prices that I heard of were were around $6K for the 6mm f/5.6 Nikkor and $25K for the 6mm f/2.8 Nikkor. I don't currently know of any that are for sale.

As an alternate approach, one could probably now build a fairly nice Spherecam using a pair of back to back Nikon 990 coolpix digital cameras. This technology was not available when I originally built my Spherecam. Nikon builds a readily available 185 degree fisheye lens for the Coolpix that would provide 10 degrees of overlap, enough for some Spherecam applications, particularily if there was some optimization of the camera orientation during the shot. Overlap could probably be improved significantly by actually mounting the cameras side by side rather than back to back. I believe that this setup should provide a nice quality full sphere image. I believe that Olympus also manufactures a similar fisheye lens for their digital camera. One would have to add a mechanism to trip both camera shutters simultaneously.

Do you have more detailed technical information available ? -- The Spherecam is fairly completely described in this paper. You can email me with additional questions if needed.

Do you have more information about the history of fisheye lens based VR photography ? -- I have been working on a book with a chapter on this topic but it is not yet ready for release. No release date is currently scheduled.

What is the best image processing software for Spherecam geometry conversions ? -- My first choice is Panorama Tools, written by Helmut Dersch. It provides the best quality and most flexability but is a bit difficult to use. Click here for a good overview of the Panorama Tools stitching process. I also use Photovista for quick stitching and native Photoshop as described here. NOTE (6/6/2001) -- due to ongoing harrassment by IPIX, the Panorama Tools web site is currently unavailable.

What about IPIX ? -- I don't care for IPIX business practices and strongly recommend staying away from them. I guess the stock market does not care much for IPIX either. Once over $40 / share, the stock is now trading at much less than a dollar, as low as 13 cents. See the following links for more info (cptech, slashdot, iqtvra, easypano,)

What about other hyperwide / full sphere imaging designs? -- Maybe something interesting will appear here once I can figure out how to put something into the public domain without IPIX or someone else then patenting it as their own.

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