Types of Panoramas

by Shubby on August 28, 2011

There are lots of neat things one can do with 3D projection of 360° panoramas, but the three most common –and practical – projection formats are cylindrical, where the viewer can move through the image only to the left and to the right, spherical and cubical.  In both the latter formats the projection result is the same, allowing the viewer to be able to look up and down as well as left and right and thus see 360°x180°.  There are important differences between spherical and cubical for the photographer; a great explanation of the formats can be seen here.

Cylindrical panorama with a narrow vertical field of view.

Equirectangular image used for spherical panoramas.

The purpose of this article to explain our use of cylindrical and 360°x180° images (for practical purposes we’ll refer to these as spherical, even though we also use the cubical format in developing the panoramas).  It is actually quite simple.  If the floor or ground or sky or ceiling is interesting, we’ll make a spherical panorama.  If not, cylindrical projection will suffice.  Many offices we have photographed have the same old drop ceiling or uniform blue carpet.  We do not consider these highlights of the room, and thus the cylindrical format makes more sense.

Yet spherical panoramas seem more immersive and can be more interesting for the viewer, so we try to make a 360°x180° panorama whenever possible.  We also print panoramas from time to time.  The curvatures found in the flat images and especially the warped effects of the equirectangular images used to create spherical panoramas are often quite interesting.

This panorama can be seen in the Tourism Gallery, or you can see the full screen version by clicking on the image.

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