Photosphere’ing Made Easy and Cheap


Android phones have a cool function called Photo Sphere — unfortunately, unless you’re very steady and can manipulate the phone around its camera’s axis… the results aren’t that amazing. Unless you make a cheap 360 degree panorama head for your tripod that is!

[Oliver Krohn] designed this super simple adapter which you can mount on any tripod. It’s a U-shaped bent piece of aluminum, a bottle cap with a 1/4-20 nut, a thick piece of wire, and a cellphone case. The wire is bent with a notch to sit just below the camera’s lens on the cellphone — it is also placed directly above the tripods panning axis. This puts the nodal point in the perfect place, which allows for a great photo sphere every time.

To see how it works (and the amazing results!) stick around for the following video.

Looking to record video in 360 degrees? You’re going to need a second camera…


  1. J.C. Wren says:

    Clearly this calls for some servos and a processor!

  2. The iPhone has an app called 360Panorama which I use to do this. This hack is simple enough that I think I’ll try it out.

  3. Paul says:

    I like the idea. The tripod in the image is a fun issue to get around.
    When I do it I give myself points of reference (e.g. “shoulder height, lined up with this tree, about a foot away”) to keep the phones position relatively steady, then make sure I’m out of frame for each shot.

  4. Shakipu says:

    Last days I saw a french business man in a TV show (something like American Inventors) that found a way to make a 360° picture with the Iphone just by placing it on the edge and by using the buzzer. It’s called “Cycloramic”. You can find it on Youtube.

    • kaidenshi says:

      That was Shark Tank, if I’m not mistaken. It was fascinating, all the investors thought it was on a “trick” rotating table but it was strictly using the iPhone’s vibrator and some math to make it spin on its vertical center.

  5. garym53 says:

    Ok Ok I don’t get it – what’s it doing? Just moving around in some semi-random manner – what am I missing?

  6. robomonkey says:

    PhotoSphere is supposed to work with other cameras, haven’t looked at the process, but here’s the site…

    • Oliver says:

      Yes, of course, but you will need an already stitched panorama, because the linked site only adds metadata. You can use any camera, if you have a nodal point adapter suitable for that camera. After making the pictures in certain degrees and with a minimum overlap, you can stitch them in Hugin (free software). And after that you can upload them to the google photo sphere site to add the correct metadata. And finally then you can upload them to google maps.

  7. thatadamguy says:

    Okay, this rocks! I’m on the team at Google that works on Photo Sphere, and I’m definitely sharing this with my colleagues :-). James, would love to know your Views URL to see your panos, and I hope you’ve already joined our official Google+ community at

    • Oliver says:

      I did not expect an Google Views employee to like my simple panorama helper, but it makes me feel a little bit proud. :)

      Here are some of my panoramas at Google View:

      Hope I can do some more in spring or summer at more beautiful places. :)

      • thatadamguy says:

        Heh! Well, you should feel proud; you’re one of the early adopters of Photo Sphere and you’ve taken some cool panos. I especially liked the botanical gardens one (and I’ve enjoyed visiting Duesseldorf myself in the past!). Looking forward to seeing more of your panos or even constellations :-)

        • Oliver says:

          Early adaptor? :D No, not really. I already did it a year ago, but I know someone who is doing panoramas for more than a decade. Well, not photospheres, but that’s just another form of presentation. ;)
          The special thing about the botanical garden panorama is that the pictures were made from a (very expensive) drone. A friend made them and I stitched the panorama in Hugin later.

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