As an OpenStreetMap contributor I find 360 images invaluable. They make it much more likely that you can read shop names, street names, etc. They also make it easier to place things in relation to each other. For instance in a dense town it is easier to make the link with the aerial images on OpenStreetMap if you can see the roof-line of the buildings on either side of the street. This can help accurately position things like bus stops, post boxes, benches, etc.
So as a Mapillary contributor I have been thinking about getting a 360 camera but, besides lack of time, I wonder if they would be well suited for my modus operandi.
I normally take Mapillary photos opportunistically: when I have to go from A to B I’ll first set up my phone and then drive normally. I do respect the speed limits but I will not transform a 1 hour countryside drive into a 3 hours 30km/h road trip. This puts some serious constraints on the 360 camera.
It has to be reasonably easy to set up on the roof of the car, particularly
since it will almost certainly make it necessary to remove and reinstall
the system at every stop along my trip (e.g. while I leave the car in a
supermarket parking lot).
(Also I cannot sacrifice the passenger seat, there’s someone sitting on it.
Sorry LadyBug )
It has to be secure on the roof of the car and not fall off even if I take
a motorway (130km/h) or a bumpy countryside road.
Some mounting systems that combine 3 suction cups and look like they could
meet both of these constraints.
A lot of cameras do all the stitching internally which greatly limits the
capture frequency. To get one picture every 15 meters (3 times the default
Mapillary distance) the interval must be at most 2 seconds at the 50km/h
in-town speed limit. It’s clear that a camera that has a minimum interval
of 8 seconds (I’m looking at you Theta S) is out of the question, even if
I compromise a bit on the speed.
Note: Out of town features tend to be further apart so the situation may
not be much worse even though the speed is higher.
The sideways images should not be blurry due to the speed. This requires a
reasonably ‘fast’ camera (i.e. one that can take enough light to use a fast
Stitching requires all pictures to be taken from precisely the same spot.
Since I’ll be moving that requires taking them all at precisely the same
time, which is much less of an issue if the goal is taking family photos.
So I wonder how well cameras like the LG 360 handle this kind of thing.
Resolution should be as high as possible otherwise details, particularly
street names, will never be readable. To provide the same quality as a
regular 12Mpx camera a 360 camera would need at least 60Mpx (equivalent to
taking one photo forward, left, right, back and up). Unfortunately that’s
impossible to find at reasonable prices
A lot of 360 cameras strive to take a full 360x360 sphere which is what
requires having at least two cameras and doing stitching. But taking
pictures of the car’s roof is very uninteresting to me. So maybe a 360x130
with a single fish-eye lens pointing up would be just as good. It would
avoid all the stitching and maybe allow higher capture rates. However it
means the most important features will be taken from the edge of the lens
where image quality is typically the worst (at least for regular
Since I may not be making some of these trips twice, being able to connect
an external battery to take photos for an extended period would be a nice
plus too. For storage I’d also expect to be able to use a 64 or 128 GB
microSD card which should be enough (3.5 or 7 hours of autonomy assuming
10 MB pictures).
Also I have an Android phone so it does not matter whether Mapillary
supports the camera for now.
I feel these constraints are quite different from those of someone who would take 360 photos while hiking (there are mountain trails where I would totally want 360x360 pictures), biking (different speed), or even driving around for the express purpose of taking 360 pictures (again different speed). So this may require a different camera.
Unfortunately finding Mapillary-oriented information about 360 cameras is hard. Every site will gush on the 4K video support but none of them mention the time-lapse interval or the stitching quality while moving around
It would be nice if there was a Wiki where the information about how well each of these cameras works with Mapillary could be gathered (it would be useful for phones too). I realize the forums can somewhat serve this purpose but the information is pretty spread out and hard to collate: for instance a thread will start stating that there’s no time-lapse mode, then that support has been added but the interval is 5 seconds, then 2 seconds, but oh no it’s more like 4, etc. A Wiki page would only have the latest relevant information.