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Shooting 360s With A Earthquake Strap

Published: 20/08/2008
By: larry

I'm working hard on the second edition of my Photography For Real Estate e-book. I'm adding several new chapters and updating several of the existing ones. One new chapter will be on the process of shooting 360 images for real estate. (Everyone that has purchased the first edition will get a free copy of the second edition).

Ever since I started using my 1Ds for 360s I've been shooting them with the camera body horizontal. This is possible since the image circle of my Sigma 8mm fisheye fits entirely on the full frame sensor so it doesn't make any difference if the 360 frames are shot in landscape or portrait mode. They are effectively the same.

Shooting with the body horizontal makes is possible to rotate the camera an lens around the no-parallax point of the lens very simply. It's so simple I just use a short section of earthquake strapping (for those that don't live in earthquake country any metal bar will work). You just cut and drill the metal bar so that the camera and lens rotate around the no-parallax point of the lens. You attach a Bowens Quick-release plate assembly to each end of the strap to make attachment of the camera and tripod easy.

If you'd rather not build your own 360 shooting rotator you can purchase a precision version of this strap and rotator at The cost for the ball head, the quick release mount, and the pano elements package is $790 for my camera. The package is a precision, adjustable bar that allows you to easily adjust the camera forward or backward to get the position perfect.

While writing this chapter I realized that those 360 shooters that use the Sigma 4.5mm fisheye designed for APS-C sized sensors can use this money saving technique too.

I need to point out that by using the Sigma 8mm on a full-frame body or using the Sigma 4.5mm on a APS-C body you are not using as much of the sensor as you do by using the Sigma 8mm on a APS-C body. I've been happy with the results that I get with the Sigma 8mm on my full-frame body.

6 comments on “Shooting 360s With A Earthquake Strap”

  1. Larry,

    This is great information for those that want to save money by creating a Pano Head. We currently use Nodal Ninja and it has worked out very well for us. I know there are a ton of other pano heads that are also available for VR photography. We use several techniques that we would be happy to share with you to include in your new book.

    Maz Hobbi
    Virtual Tour Group Inc.

  2. The link to the results cannot be displayeed in Internet Explorer. Can you check to see if it is correct? I'm looking forward to the neew book!

  3. If I were shooting that 360 I would have backlit the black chairs in the dining room. Right now they are a jumble of black.

    One quick & dirty way it this:
    Home Depot clamp light
    short light stand
    150 watt light bulb
    $10 dimmer from Target
    extension cord

    * Clamp the light fixture on the light stand.

    * Aim the light right at the camera but block the bulb with one of the black chairs.

    * Dim the output until it looks good.

    Because these kinds of chairs have varnish or some sort of coating they will be very reflective when you backlight.

    I carry a couple of the Home Depot clamp lights in the car along with several sizes of light stands and two or three dimmers plus a couple light bulbs.

    Use the rig set up as a bare bulb and put it behind beds or kitchen islands to put a small pool of light between the item in the foreground and whatever is the background.

    DON"T be afraid to mix hot lights and strobes. "Real life" is not perfect color temperature. Heck, I even throw a 1000 watt Lowel DP light across the room and hit a boring unlit fireplace. A glow without flame!

    Some examples of my work are on my website.

    Terry Thomas...
    the photographer
    Atlanta, Georgia USA

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