Photosphere is one of the feature that google rolled out with +Android JB 4.2. Until now, I never really had the chance to try the feature out on my +Nexus 4, so yesterdays bush walk was the perfect occasion for it.
What is photosphere
Photosphere is basically a feature that allows you to take pictures at 360 degres on both x and y axis. So basically you could shoot as sphere of pictures around you. So, when you turn the mode on, it tells you to turn in certain directions, and takes images at specific spots which it determines using the gyroscope. The software then puts the images on top of each other, and creates a 3D image similar to those found in Street View on Google Maps. More info here.
How to use photosphere
From what I could experiment with, it seems that there are still limitations on how “good” the collage is made by the software. In the best settings, you should be stretching your arms in front of you, stand still on the ground and rotate to align the pictures. But if you shorten the distance or slightly change the angle, then some blurs quickly appear.
Example of the blurs (see left side of the picture)
But this is not really a problem, you can always crop the picture and leave out these areas that haven’t been put together properly. Still, I simply recommend to not shoot “too” wide.
Why should you use photosphere instead of the classic camera mode
Most of the mid-range smartphones these days have like my phone a quite “ok” camera (8 megapixels). It’s nothing near perfect and absolutely nothing great compared to high end 14 megapixels ones that you can find on the Xperia Z for example or a DSLR.
But usually, these camera have lenses that aren’t that good, and capturing landscapes just results in bad shots due to the limited capture angle. With that feature, you can kinda boost that angle and while keeping the same resolution, you are able to capture something that looks a more like what you see.
To show you what’s the difference between both standard and photosphere mode, I took two pictures.
First, with the default camera mode at full resolution (3264 x 2448) (all setting in automatic)
And now a shot combining approximately 8 pictures with photosphere:
Now, let’s remove the blurs and have a play arround with Pixlr Express, first correcting the color balance and saturation.
And now having fun with filters, vignette etc.
So here you go, how to transform your landscape shots made with your phone to some great wide angle landscapes using photosphere.
This shows how important it is to use the sphere mode with moderation and intelligence. Most of the sphere pictures we’ve seen are all ugly 360 degree crazy shots. Instead of going crazy, use this feature wisely and keep in mind that your shots will be seen by others.
Do you have experienced with photosphere on your own? Share your thoughts and pictures down below!
Footnote: Photosphere still has limitations, for example it doesn’t necessarily increase the resolution of your shot as the capture size when “sphering” is smaller than the camera’s full resolution. For instance, for this shot, I ended up having a shot with a resolution of only 2670 x 1493 after cropping, which is smaller than the original shot at 8 megapixels.. but definitely more wide!