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Virtual Reality Imaging limitations and how to choose yours

Francis Ortiz Crea Solutions 03/03/2015

Any virtual reality project requirements are subject to change according to the needs of the customer, if you are interested in developing a successful 360 or virtual reality project, you must always keep in mind both cutting edge technology available and the customer’s expectations.

The trick is to use the right image, the right equipment and specifications according to customer budget, final user and overall experience based on specifications such as if the project will be used on or off line, the expected power of the average user device, various operating systems to be aimed to and screen resolutions to name a few.

What you see is not the whole picture:

Usually, when you hear about a 4K 360 image you normally think about a 4K high resolution image similar to that you see on your television or high end computer screen, but in reality, even though the size of the actual image taken for a 4K 360 image is indeed 4000 x 2000 pixels, the area you see is often less than 25% of that original image, so, an usual misconception when using 360 imaging is that of “it looks less quality” when in reality the quality of the images is just as good or greater than any other you usually see, but THE AREA OF VISION is a quarter or less than those.

Image types and characteristics:

Virtual Reality 360 monoscopic Photographic imagery:

There are many different terms that are used to refer to this type of photography. Most commonly it is referred to as 360 photography but it is also referred to as 360 VR photography, 360 panoramic photography, 360 spherical photography, and photosphere.

360 photography is the art of capturing the entire 360 degrees of a scene. This allows the viewer to explore the image by either scrolling/swiping across the screen or by using a VR headset.

These 360 images are captured using specialist equipment and then produced using specialist software. The result is a photograph that creates a sense of immersion and places the viewer at the heart of the experience.

360 VR photography has many uses and is perfect for showcasing properties, events, and hotels, allowing the user to explore every room in detail.

It is even possible to produce computer generated 360 images. These work in exactly the same way and being photo-realistic, they look completely real.

The difference between types of 360 content and its quality is defined by the equipment used to capture or generate the images and the final placement of the content, such as mobile, computer screen, VR goggles or tactile surfaces.

Automatic multi lens 360 camera:

Most work by using multiple camera modules – usually two wide-angle lenses back-to-back – to capture footage which can then be digit

ally combined into a fully spherical video or, more usefully, into a standard two-dimensional video weaved together from frames that you've chosen after the fact.

The best 360 automatic all in one cameras include features like automatic stitching (which saves you the hassle of manually aligning multiple captures), image stabilization, live-streaming and resolution, which in some cases goes up to 8K. It’s worth remembering, though, that even a relatively high resolution won’t necessarily result in detailed images: because pixels are stretched over a 360-degree frame, the small part you’re viewing might well be usually much less than Full HD.

Hand made multi lens 360 camera standard no fisheye autostitched

To create a 360 photo, the photographer takes multiple photos in a complete circle, with the camera on a tripod, from a stationary position. The multiple images are then stitched together using an extremely specialised photo stitching software and then images are converted into an interactive virtual tour which allows the viewer to look anywhere they want in the scene.

Hand stitched multiple shot with 360 panos using mirrorless o reflex fisheye camera

There is no quality equal to a 360 photo taken with a multi exposure reflex or mirrorless camera with a good or decent 8 mm fisheye lens, the results are just unbelievable, but also the work and time consuming effort has to be considered into the equation. Here are some examples of 360 pictures taken with different cameras for you to compare:

360 cameras:

Ricoh Theta V (5376 x 2688)

GoPro Fusion (5760 x 2880)

Insta360 One (6912 x 3456)

Xiaomi Mijia Mi Sphere (6912 x 3456)

Insta360 Pro (7680 x 3840 / 7680 x 7680)

Panono (16384 x 8192)

Other Interesting types and qualities of 360 content:

  • Automatic 360 HDR multi exposure shot
  • HDR 360 handmade 360 multi exposure shot with reflex camera
  • Ultra High resolution multi reflex camera 360 custom shot
  • Cinema Production 360 Automatic Camera Ultra High definition

VR 360 3D Photographic imagery:
  • Automatic multi lens 360 3D camera
  • Automatic 360 HDR 3D multi exposure shot
  • Cinema Production 360 3D Automatic Camera Ultra High definition
  • Cinema Production 360 Automatic Camera Ultra High definition
VR 360 Monoscopic CG generated
  • Maya - Autodesk - CAD 3D Rendering
  • VR 360 3D CG generated imagery
  • Maya - Autodesk - CAD 3D Rendering
VR 360 3D CG generated imagery
  • Maya - Autodesk - CAD 3D HDR Rendering
  • Unreal Engine - Blender high resolution CG 3D composite rendering HDR

Most common resolutions of 360 imagery


For scale, this graphic should give you a rough idea of how different in sizes are the various types of 360 content you can create:

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