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Kaidan 360 One VR Model 3



Review posted 08/03/05


It's been over three years since we reviewed Kaidan's original 360 One VR, an optical system that captures a complete 360 panoramic image in a single camera shot. Since then there have been a number of improvements made to the hardware and the 360 One VR Model 3 is the current version. The price has been reduced from $999.95 to $749.95 and the software has also been improved, making it even easier to generate web-ready panoramas. There are no per-image or "click fees" imposed on the user like those found with the iPix and other VR systems. You only pay for it once - not every time you create a new panorama.

If you make panoramas for real estate listings then this is what you've been looking for. No need to take 12 or more exposures and then stitch them together, all it takes is ONE SHOT. It's difficult to shoot a dozen or more pictures and get them all level, with the same exposure and color balance, and this is crucial for a good pano. If you live in a place like Florida you'll appreciate being able to hop out of your air conditioned car, grab one shot and then drive away. To create a pano the "other" way requires 15-30 minutes of standing around in the hot sun, wiping the sweat away and capturing lots and lots of images. Now, whether it's indoors or outdoors, your panos will come out looking great. The PhotoWarp software can also adjust the brightness levels and sharpen the final image for you.

The Kaidan 360 One VR consists of a lightweight and rugged proprietary optical system and the innovative EyeSee360 PhotoWarp software. The 360 One VR optic provides a complete 360 horizontal panorama with a 100 vertical field-of-view (50 above and 50 below the horizon).


360 One 360 One Model 3
The original 360 One VR (left) and the current Model 3 (right)


The original 360 One VR came with a protective cover that looked like an upside down Mason jar.   It had to be screwed down over the lens and while it did what it was supposed to do, it was always a hassle. When using the lens, the cover had to be removed and then put down somewhere clean and then back on the lens when you were done.  If you used it a lot, it soon became tedious to the point of frustrating...


360 One Model 3

Here's the new model 3 optic in both its open and closed configurations. The large blue barrel covers and protects it when it's in the closed position. All you need do is just pull it down to the open position for use, no cover to remove or lose - it's all one piece.


360 One VR

Another new feature is this handy bubble level mounted directly on top of the unit. This lets you easily adjust a tripod with pan and tilt so that the 360 One VR is nice and level which is critical when making a panorama shot.


360 One VR

When coupled with a high-res camera (4-megapixel Nikon Coolpix 4500 shown above), the 360 One VR offers a level of quality that rivals current solutions requiring 12 or more stitched images. Since it only requires a single shot, action scenes that include moving objects are now easy to capture.

The 360 One VR requires no special technical expertise and can be hand-held or mounted on a tripod (recommended) using the camera's self timer or a remote shutter release. The 360 One VR optic comes with a 67mm thread mount and can be adapted to a number of popular digital and film cameras. It mounts directly on the Nikon Coolpix 990, 995 and 4500 with a $80 mounting kit and fits on others using step down rings.


360 One VR

For digital cameras with extending lenses or SLR type cameras you need to use the $300 SLR Bracket. The SLR Bracket holds the 360 One VR lens directly over the lens, both the lens and the camera are easily positioned for proper alignment.

We used the 360 One VR with the Coolpix 4500 and using the SLR Bracket we teamed it up with the Coolpix 5700, Olympus 8080 and the Nikon D70 - all with excellent results. We found it the easiest to use with those digital cameras that have a flexible LCD monitor. True SLR cameras require either a 90° angle finder or you have to squat down under the tripod to use the eye level viewfinder.




PhotoWarp Software


EyeSee360's PhotoWarp software quickly and easily processes a 360 One VR photograph into a viewable panoramic image. The straightforward, simple-to-use interface enhances workflow by automatically generating web pages and thumbnail images along with QuickTime VR panoramic images. PhotoWarp was designed for the Apple Mac OS X platform and supports Mac OS 9, Microsoft Windows 98, Windows 98 SE, Windows ME, Windows 2000 and Windows XP operating systems.

Follow the link above to read more about PhotoWarp, the following text and screen captures is only to give you a brief idea of its user interface and capabilities.


PhotoWarp

The target 360 One VR image is loaded into PhotoWarp, you adjust the circular on-screen pointer to encompass the area inside of the black outline. Set your Source and Output options (see below) and then click the Unwarp button - your panorama is quickly processed and saved.


PhotoWarp PhotoWarp

Source options include the device used (360 One VR M2/M3, 360 One VR, 0-360, BeHere TotalView, Egg Solution, Remote Reality, Cylindrical Image, Spherical Image), the Initial View (pan, tilt, FOV), Auto Rotate (left, off, right), Constraints (pan, tilt, FOV), Shooting Direction (up, down), Target Selection and Mirror Distance.


PhotoWarp

You select the output format(s) you want to create from: QuickTime VR cylinder, QuickTime VR cubic, FlashVR, Zoom Viewer, PTViewer, Cylindrical image, Spherical image, Cube Face image, Thumbnails and Web Pages (HTML code.) With QuickTime, Flash and Java-based viewer versions you pretty well have all the bases covered. Your panoramas can be viewed by a browser using a free plug-in if necessary but most anyone who has surfed the web for more than a week will already have what they need to view Java-based panos.


PhotoWarp

Output options include the Resolution (25-150%), the Display Size (from 240x180 to 450x300, varies depending on format chosen), Quality (0-99.9%) or a Target File Size specified in KB, Sharpen the image (0-100%) and Auto Level the image.


PhotoWarp

After your options have been set just press the "Unwarp" button and PhotoWarp does all the rest of the work for you.





Steve's Conclusion

I'm happy to report that the new 360 One VR system works as well as the original version. Thanks to the improved design, it's now even easier to use as you no longer have the hassle of the "Mason jar" cover to deal with. The included PhotoWarp 2.5 software is more powerful and allows you to create web-ready panoramas in any of the most popular media formats. And the reduction in price from $999 to $749 makes it even more attractive for potential buyers.

The 360 One VR works with many popular digital cameras, both fixed lens and the SLR types. See Kaidan's web site for a list of compatible cameras. It is the easiest to use with the older Nikon Coolpix cameras, I recommend the Coolpix 995 or 4500 models. You can mount the 360 One VR directly to their lens threads with an $80 adapter and the swiveling LCD monitor makes setup a snap. These cameras are no longer "current" Nikon models but you can always find them for sale on eBay. The newer and higher resolution Coolpix 5700, 8700 and 8800 can also be used but will require the optional $300 SLR Bracket because of their extending lens design.

The only problem using it outdoors is that you need to keep the sun out of the lens' field of view, this is documented in the user manual. If you don't you will end up with an over-exposed area and some streaking in the captured image. The easiest way around this problem is to position the camera under the shade of a tree whenever possible. I found the Zoom Viewer format to be the easiest to work with as you can edit the JPG image file easily to improve the look of your panorama. I was able to go in and "doctor up" panoramas that had outdoor sun flare problems as well as color correct and brighten areas that needed a little help.

No matter what web format you chose to use the PhotoWarp software makes it quick and simple. For those that use their panoramas for real estate sales - I highly recommend that you look at the Tourweaver software from EasyPano. Tourweaver allows you to create professional looking virtual tours of houses and apartments complete with hot spots, maps/floor plans and more, it's very powerful but easy to learn.

The bottom line: The 360 One VR makes creating virtual tours for the web quick and simple. No more capturing dozens of images and then having to stitch them all together - one shot now does it all, really !





Sample Panoramas

Click on the thumbnail to see the panorama. Zoom Viewer uses a Java applet, QuickTime VR uses a free plugin and the Flash VR uses a Shockwave script. All of these panorama formats should be viewable using any modern web browser.


Click to see the 360 VR panorama!

Zoom Viewer look at my kitchen (313Kb).


Click to see the 360 VR panorama!

Zoom Viewer look at my living room (361Kb).


Click to see the 360 VR panorama!

QuickTime VR look at my living room (375Kb).


Click to see the 360 VR panorama!

Flash Viewer look at my living room (231Kb).


Click to see the 360 VR panorama!

Zoom Viewer look at my culdesac (566Kb).


Click to see the 360 VR panorama!

QuickTime VR look at my culdesac (489Kb).


Click to see the 360 VR panorama!

Flash Viewer look at my culdesac (420Kb).







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