I am looking for some advice if possible please? Note: I am not sure if I am posting this on the best forum, but I thought it would be worth a try as there is plenty of knowledge here, so any help would be gratefully received.
Around 4-5 years ago I purchased an array of equipment to produce my own 360 virtual tour. The equipment I purchased is as follows:
- Canon EOS 750D
- Sigma 8mm f3.5 EX DG Fisheye Lens
- Manfrotto MK055XPRO3 Tripod with 498RC2 Ball Head
- Nodal Ninja NN4 with 16 Rotator Base
- Nodal Ninja EZ Leveller
I successfully managed to put together a virtual tour consisting of around 400 fully spherical images using Kolor AutoPano Pro and Kolor PanoTour Pro.
I would now like to build another tour, however, I feel it is time for an upgrade! I am certainly not an expert, and have not kept up with new equipment, methods or software over the past few years. I also understand that Kolor no longer exist, so new versions of these applications will not be developed, but I do have the latest copy of both of these applications.
I am looking for some advice on what equipment would be good to buy, and which software would be best to use (both to produce the panoramic images, and to build the tour in). My ideals are as follows (in no particular order):
- Purchase new equipment (preferably all new equipment) - budget £5-10k.
- Produce HDR images.
- Provide a higher MP image (my existing images are approx 95MP across the sphere) as I would like the ability to zoom into the image more than currently able too - Gigapixel may be going a bit far though!
- Probably my highest priority would be the ability to automate the image capture as much as possible - I would like to be able to provide anyone who would like to have extra images added into the tour at some point with all of the equipment to take their own photos and come back to me with the images for me to put into the tour with minimal training on how to use the equipment - so something like a motorised panoramic head comes to mind (but I have no idea what is good? A few years back when I was looking it seemed that GigaPan were the obvious choice, but this could have easily changed).
- 90% of the images will be taken on top of steel floor grating which proved to be a challenge when previously taking images due to the tripod feet not being big enough to sit comfortably on the grating, and instead moving around a bit when the weight shifted as the camera was being rotated. This caused an issue with stitching some of the images together as the nodal point kept shifting slightly. Does anyone have any recommendations on a more suitable tripod or any ideas on how to counter this issue?
- Which software would be recommended nowadays? Considering I already have access to AutoPano Pro and PanoTour Pro, and knowing that these have not be updated for years. Could this cause a problem importing images into AutoPano Pro with a camera model or lens model that didn't exist back then? Is there better software out there now? I need something that is easy to use but creates a decent end product. I am unable to use cloud software due to the sensitive nature of the images that will be captured. We are currently hosting the existing tour on an internal IIS server without internet access, and would look to do the same with new tours.
- In terms of creating the tour, I require the use of floor plans in the tour (plus the ability to create multiple floor levels). I am not using Google Maps (due to not having an internet connection), and GPS is not available in the location where I take the images, so all images will need to be manually plotted on the floor plans. I previously managed to do this in PanoTour Pro.
- I am considering taking this a step further and try to create a stereoscopic image for more of a 3D kind of feeling when viewing in VR. No idea what equipment or software I would need for this. By far, bottom of my wish list!
Apologies for the long post. Any advice on equipment to buy, and which software to use would be gratefully received.