Steve's Digicams

Internet Pictures Corporation


iPIX Wizard

(1/22/01 update: Apparently iPIX has dropped the MyPhotoBubble software as it is no longer available for sale from them. Current owners can still buy software "keys" but that's all.)

The folks at Internet Pictures Corporation (aka iPIX) have come up with a personal edition of their 360-degree immersive technology called MyPhotoBubble.   With iPIX MyPhotoBubble software and a digital camera equipped with a fisheye lens you can create sharable, self-executing 360-degree views of anything you desire.

The majority of iPIX's products are for general use (i.e. display on the Web) but the MyPhotoBubble products are for personal use only, see the legal details. MyPhotoBubble software is currently available only for the PC/Windows environment, iPIX has other immersive solutions for the Mac OS.

You can easily send these small ~400Kb PhotoBubble files to anybody running PC/Windows. They receive it as an email attachment, save it to disk and then execute it locally on their computer. The PhotoBubble file contains its own builtin viewer so it displays immediately on their screen and can be replayed as many times as desired.

Nikon 950 and iPIX Rotator

One of the most popular digital camera and fisheye combinations in use today is the Nikon Coolpix 950 and the Nikkor FC-E8 fisheye converter lens. These are being used by all sorts of professional people as well as individual end users to create 360-degree immersive views for use on web pages.

You can see all kinds of examples at the iPIX web site but one of the most popular uses is for the real estate sellers. What better way to show a house than to take a virtual walk through it by simply moving your mouse around on a picture. It's as close to being there as it gets. Many other web sites are using iPIX immersive photos for entertainment and edcational purposes of all sorts.

Olympus D-450 Zoom

There are less expensive camera and lens combos available. For instance there is the Olympus D-450 Zoom kit for $850 that includes the camera, the fisheye lens, the iPIX rotator, a tripod, the MyPhotoBubble software and 12 iPIX MyPhotoBubble® Keys.

Each time you create a PhotoBubble you must use one of your keys which can be purchased from the iPIX Store for as little as $1 each. The finished PhotoBubble is an executable (EXE) file that runs under Microsoft Windows and can be emailed or shared with as many people as you like.

If you already own a Nikon or other iPIX-compatible camera and fisheye lens, it's even cheaper to get started making PhotoBubbles. iPIX Rotator kits starts as low as $150.

How do you make a PhotoBubble?

Unlike the typical 360-degree panorama shot that requires 14 or more individual photos to be "stitched" together, a PhotoBubble only requires two images. Your camera must be mounted on a tripod and used with the iPIX Rotator, a device that assists you in making the two 180 degree images.

With the tripod level, you place the rotator on the tripod head and then attach the camera with the fisheye lens. You take the first picture and then swivel the rotator until it snaps into the next position and shoot the second picture. I'd suggest that you take several sets of pictures just to make sure that the focus and exposure is proper on at least one of them.

Now transfer the images into your computer, fire up the MyPhotoBubble software and import two of your picture sequences. Click on the "Build" button and the software will do all the rest of the work. It blends the two hemispherical pictures into one and does automatic color correction to produce the best possible finished PhotoBubble image.

When the software is done performing its magic the PhotoBubble comes up in the Viewer program where you preview it and optionally set the initial view point and then save it. This is an important step because once you save a PhotoBubble you consume one of your available keys.

Unless your images were improperly exposed the software usually has little problem creating a blended and seemless finished PhotoBubble. It is now ready to be attached to an email or copied to a disk and shared with whomever you want to amaze with your high-tech skills.

Here's a PhotoBubble shot in the parking lot of my condominium using a Coolpix 950 with the Nikkor FC-E8 fisheye lens and the iPIX Rotator.

source photo 1 source photo 2

These two fisheye pictures are combined to create the PhotoBubble

Click to download a 400 Kb PhotoBubble!

Download this EXE file to your hard drive and then execute it. The PhotoBubble requires no other viewer. Have no fear, this file contains no viruses, I guarantee it!

Here's another PhotoBubble of my somewhat messy office.

Click to download a 400 Kb PhotoBubble!

MyPhotoBubble Legal Fine Print

MyPhotoBubble™ Software is intended for personal use applications only, whereas most other Camera and Software solutions offered by IPIX are for general use. The specific portion of the licensing agreement that outlines the difference between personal and general use is provided below:

"With the PROGRAM, you may create IPIX™ images with a fixed tripod cap showing the images as branded by Interactive Pictures Corporation Personal Edition, that are saved in the IPIX™ Email distribution format, that have an unlimited viewing life- time, that contain only IPIX™ image information (i.e. no hotspots, embedded content, or background audio tracks), and that are fixed to a horizontal IPIX™ image orientation.

You further understand and agree that the license for you to use the Program to create IPIX™ Images is limited solely to Personal Use Applications. “Personal Use Applications” are applications that are not available for sale or sold by you, your family or friends for monetary or other consideration. Such applications are limited to images created for recreational, non-commercial purposes only. Personal Use Applications do not include use of images for sale to third parties or for any business venture whatsoever. IPIX™ Email format images may be distributed to family, friends or acquaintances; they are not intended for unsolicited distribution to any person or persons unknown to you."

There are FREE panorama programs available,
you'll find them listed on our Digicam Software page

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