The ultimate way to do Mapillary

I have done a lot of experimentation on capturing photos on foot and bicycle, and I blive I have found the ultimate way:
A spherical camera on a pole attached to a backpack.

Pros:

  • Shows all angles - you never know what people are looking for.
  • Your body provides just about the best provides shock absorber when biking. No more blur from vibrations.
  • Decent cameras are priced lower than a single GoPro.
  • No need to aim at any specific point.
  • No need to keep the pole completely straight - most cameras measure the tilt in all directions and embed EXIF tags that allows Mapillary to compensate (Mapillary will fix this: https://github.com/mapillary/mapillary_issues/issues/2009)
  • The camera will see a lot more than a camera mounted straight on a bike.
  • Will work with any spherical camera.

Cons:

  • Camera resolution is not as good as even a decent cell phone. Remember you will only be looking at a fraction of the image, but expects full resolution.
  • The image is heavily processed just for viewing, which requires additional high pixel count to give a good image.
  • You will always be in the picture, but you can limit it a lot.
  • The camera can only make one exposure but have to cover many directions. Lit clouds in the sky may affect the exposure when it would not otherwise.
  • Some cameras have visible artifacts where images are stitched (such as LG and Samsung).
  • The cameras does not last as long on a single charge - a power bank is needed for significant sequences.
  • Will kill your Mapillary stats, as you only need 1 camera.
  • Requires quite a significant mount for use on cars.

My Ricoh Theta S mounted on a cheap lighting stand, from which I have removed the legs. It extends from 67 cm to 120 cm and is very light weight. The camera is mounted on a cheap ball head from dx.com (probably http://www.dx.com/p/aluminum-alloy-hot-shoe-to-1-4-male-screw-w-ball-head-black-146322) - I removed a mounting plate so there is just enough space for a micro USB connector, so the camera can be charged during operation.

How the camera is mounted in my backpack. Nothing special, just put into a pocket and attached to the handle. It is never straight when I use it, but the camera records the tilt and saves it to EXIF. Mapillary have promised to use that for corrections. There is software that will recompress the images with correction for that tilt, but I try to avoid an extra compression of already compressed images.
Note: It often helps to have something in the backpack, to keep the pole more straight.

Example on bicycle: https://www.mapillary.com/app/user/tryl?lat=56.13014722222222&lng=10.02766388888889&z=17&pKey=nS2Sl-mnrdghX9UgllK9Ug&focus=photo
Example on foot: https://www.mapillary.com/app/user/tryl?lat=55.38536944444444&lng=10.451280555555554&z=17&pKey=7zvI4jmLNldE4LVwvfbX4A&focus=photo
Example on foot but hand held: https://www.mapillary.com/app/user/tryl?lat=55.36056111111111&lng=10.360430555555554&z=17&pKey=TC4aKzhIMtOxGbMXrbAySg&focus=photo
Note: Mapillary have not yet implemented tilt correction!

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Thanks a lot for that writeup! When the consumer-grade 360 cameras get just a little better than the current state, this will be really awesome.

I had similar experiences from the Faroe Islands, will write the technical details in a blog shortly.

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