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First Look: Air 3 70mm-lens spherical panoramas

The Air 3 can elevate the gimbal higher than the Mavic 3 Pro so DJI foolishly decided to add a useless additional top row of unnecessary images, which do nothing other than ruin the stitching, if they are included, as there is no detail in the sky from which to align the top row images.
The sensor / lens is exactly the same but the Air 3 gimbal pitches higher than the Mavic 3 Pro so gets most of the sky. It's not a foolish thing at all, with the correct software (such as PTGui Pro) you can stitch them in using a grid rather than control points, same as the Mini 3 Pro. I normally shoot a separate sky from the ground and merge them after, but the 70mm spheres linked above were more a proof of concept so I didn't shoot a sky.
 
Those panoramas definitely deserved the WOW! for the day. The level of detail is stunning.

How long does it typically take PTGui to stitch one? Did you do any post processing (on the constituent images or the stitched) or are those jpgs straight from the Mavic 3 Pro?
Thank you! The Mavic 3 Pro (or the Air 3) doesn't create a finished panorama from the 70mm camera so the images need to be stitched in external software. The stitching doesn't take long at all but the overall workflow takes about 20 to 30 minutes per sphere for the 70mm images.

My workflow is import the raw files in to Adobe Lightroom for initial processing (highlights / shadows, noise reduction, sharpening, white balance, etc.), then export as 16bit TIFF files. I then open the TIFFs into PTGui Pro which reads the yaw / pitch / roll EXIF data and roughly positions each image. Initial alignment takes less than a minute (I'm using a Mac Studio M1 Ultra) then I preview the sphere to check alignment, occasionally I need to use viewpoint correction, and if the horizon is off (sometimes it is slightly bowed) I'll add some horizontal control points. The 2x1 sphere is then stitched and saved as a 16bit TIFF (PTGui automatically creates BigTIFF files if the sphere is larger than 4GB, the limit for standard TIFF files).

I then open the sphere in Photoshop. Unfortunately the Camera Raw plugin does not work on such large images so all adjustments are made using adjustment layers or direct image adjustments. This is when the exposure is corrected, I shoot the panoramas in manual with the ground at -2EV or -3EV to avoid blowing out the sky. The sphere is now complete (with the exception of the sky which would be blended in Photoshop).

To create the viewer and tour I use Panotour Pro (unfortunately no longer available or supported) with KRPano 1.20.10 which creates the web package which I upload to my server ( https://www.360shetland.co.uk ). This is a dedicated server that I use for my main 360 Shetland tour, along with additional tours such as this one plus hosting tours for commercial clients.

I own and run a commercial drone services company mainly working with the construction and renewables sectors. 360 panoramas have become very popular for site monitoring as it allows them to zoom in anywhere on the site. Using the 70mm provides far more detail than the 24mm, this tour was basically a proof of concept to allow clients to see the extra detail it provides.
 
Thank you! The Mavic 3 Pro (or the Air 3) doesn't create a finished panorama from the 70mm camera so the images need to be stitched in external software. The stitching doesn't take long at all but the overall workflow takes about 20 to 30 minutes per sphere for the 70mm images.

My workflow is import the raw files in to Adobe Lightroom for initial processing (highlights / shadows, noise reduction, sharpening, white balance, etc.), then export as 16bit TIFF files. I then open the TIFFs into PTGui Pro which reads the yaw / pitch / roll EXIF data and roughly positions each image. Initial alignment takes less than a minute (I'm using a Mac Studio M1 Ultra) then I preview the sphere to check alignment, occasionally I need to use viewpoint correction, and if the horizon is off (sometimes it is slightly bowed) I'll add some horizontal control points. The 2x1 sphere is then stitched and saved as a 16bit TIFF (PTGui automatically creates BigTIFF files if the sphere is larger than 4GB, the limit for standard TIFF files).

I then open the sphere in Photoshop. Unfortunately the Camera Raw plugin does not work on such large images so all adjustments are made using adjustment layers or direct image adjustments. This is when the exposure is corrected, I shoot the panoramas in manual with the ground at -2EV or -3EV to avoid blowing out the sky. The sphere is now complete (with the exception of the sky which would be blended in Photoshop).

To create the viewer and tour I use Panotour Pro (unfortunately no longer available or supported) with KRPano 1.20.10 which creates the web package which I upload to my server ( https://www.360shetland.co.uk ). This is a dedicated server that I use for my main 360 Shetland tour, along with additional tours such as this one plus hosting tours for commercial clients.

I own and run a commercial drone services company mainly working with the construction and renewables sectors. 360 panoramas have become very popular for site monitoring as it allows them to zoom in anywhere on the site. Using the 70mm provides far more detail than the 24mm, this tour was basically a proof of concept to allow clients to see the extra detail it provides.
Thanks or all the good information. I've been curious about Shetland for a few years now, after watching the BBC series set there. I can see that I'll be spending quite a bit of time wandering around all those beautiful 360 panos. You're done an astonishing job. The Shetland tourism board ought to be promoting your site, if not sponsoring it.
 
The sensor / lens is exactly the same but the Air 3 gimbal pitches higher than the Mavic 3 Pro so gets most of the sky. It's not a foolish thing at all, with the correct software (such as PTGui Pro) you can stitch them in using a grid rather than control points, same as the Mini 3 Pro. I normally shoot a separate sky from the ground and merge them after, but the 70mm spheres linked above were more a proof of concept so I didn't shoot a sky.
When there is no detail in the sky, what is the point of including it in the stitch? Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. It unnecessarily increases the shooting/hovering time by 25%, and unless you are below building tops you want to include, it is overkill. It still is not a full 180x360, so it still needs a cloned in ceiling. DJI could at least give us the option to not waste valuable flight time shooting unnecessary images of blank sky that befuddle most stitching programs.
 
The Air 3 can elevate the gimbal higher than the Mavic 3 Pro so DJI foolishly decided to add a useless additional top row of unnecessary images, which do nothing other than ruin the stitching, if they are included, as there is no detail in the sky from which to align the top row images.
That makes perfect sense. I mean, the explanation, not the choice. Even on the Mavic 3 Pro the top 1/4 of the sphere is almost always impossible to stitch, so this just seems like a lot more images to discard.
 
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The Air 3 can elevate the gimbal higher than the Mavic 3 Pro so DJI foolishly decided to add a useless additional top row of unnecessary images, which do nothing other than ruin the stitching, if they are included, as there is no detail in the sky from which to align the top row images.
Unless there are clouds
 
Unless there are clouds
Or the drone is below solid objects that appear in that part of the screen. I flew a couple of hundred feet down into an open pit gold mine in Colorado last year. There was solid ground in what that top row of photos would have seen. I've shot 360 degree panoramas of friends' gardens at 10' altitude with 100'+ trees nearby that fill that area.
 
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Or the drone is below solid objects that appear in that part of the screen. I flew a couple of hundred feet down into an open pit gold mine in Colorado last year. There was solid ground in what that top row of photos would have seen. I've shot 360 degree panoramas of friends' gardens at 10' altitude with 100'+ trees nearby that fill that area.
Indeed. When shooting a 360° panorama from below the tallest structures around, you want an upper row so the autostitching routine doesn't turn them into mush, and they are a desired part of the image. However, the vast majority of 360's are shot from an elevation above the tallest structures, where a top row is just sky, usually without any detail for stitching, where a cloned in ceiling is a better choice, which is still necessary even on the 70mm 360, as even the 70mm cannot shoot the zenith.

Ideally, the user would be able to select whether or not to include a top row in the grid of images. But for the fact that the top row takes an additional minute to shoot on the 70mm camera, discarding them isn't that big of a deal. However, hovering in place for 4.5 minutes just attracts too much attention when anyone is within earshot. Everyone assumes the drone is spying on them. The faster the shooting, the better. The 24mm camera itself already takes 75 seconds, but that includes the stitch.
 
Indeed. When shooting a 360° panorama from below the tallest structures around, you want an upper row so the autostitching routine doesn't turn them into mush, and they are a desired part of the image. However, the vast majority of 360's are shot from an elevation above the tallest structures, where a top row is just sky, usually without any detail for stitching, where a cloned in ceiling is a better choice, which is still necessary even on the 70mm 360, as even the 70mm cannot shoot the zenith.

Ideally, the user would be able to select whether or not to include a top row in the grid of images. But for the fact that the top row takes an additional minute to shoot on the 70mm camera, discarding them isn't that big of a deal. However, hovering in place for 4.5 minutes just attracts too much attention when anyone is within earshot. Everyone assumes the drone is spying on them. The faster the shooting, the better. The 24mm camera itself already takes 75 seconds, but that includes the stitch.
I agree with you that a user-selected option for that top row of photos would be good to have.

I've had no complaints from people while shooting panos. Anyone who sees the drone changing orientation can see that it's not remaining pointed at them or any one location. Last week while I was shooting an evening pano with the Mavic 3 pro at about 100' above the harbor pier, a group of three ladies passed by. Their only comment - "Getting some good shots tonight?"
 
I agree with you that a user-selected option for that top row of photos would be good to have.

I've had no complaints from people while shooting panos. Anyone who sees the drone changing orientation can see that it's not remaining pointed at them or any one location. Last week while I was shooting an evening pano with the Mavic 3 pro at about 100' above the harbor pier, a group of three ladies passed by. Their only comment - "Getting some good shots tonight?"
It's different when shooting panos in residential areas. Many people assume every hovering drone must be spying upon them. Hovering for extended periods is what makes them nervous. Flyovers don't seem to bother them as much. At least that has been my experience.
 
@Thmoore
One question to you concerning the overlap of the single shots the new automated pano-mode. I have a slightly decentered 70mm lens (unfortunatelly the DJI Support said it is normal and din´t replaced it) and do all my panoramas manually with a 30-35% overlap to avoid soft/usharp transitions in my final stitched pano.
How big is the overlap of the automated generated shots?

Thanks a lot
Martin
 
@Thmoore
One question to you concerning the overlap of the single shots the new automated pano-mode. I have a slightly decentered 70mm lens (unfortunatelly the DJI Support said it is normal and din´t replaced it) and do all my panoramas manually with a 30-35% overlap to avoid soft/usharp transitions in my final stitched pano.
How big is the overlap of the automated generated shots?

Thanks a lot
Martin
I haven't done the math; apologies. But if you'd like to figure it out for yourself, follow the Dropbox link in the original post, and the raw files are in there.
 
I haven't done the math; apologies. But if you'd like to figure it out for yourself, follow the Dropbox link in the original post, and the raw files are in there.
Indeed! Just calculate/determine the FOV in degrees for the 70mm and count the number of photos shot for each horizontal row of images in the 360 pano, and the answer will readily be apparent.
 
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