10 Questions related to Agisoft 1.7 updates [Using Spherical Panoramas /equirectangular images as an input for 3D reconstruction]

1. Does Agisoft support panorama images as an input to produce 3D point clouds?

Yes, of course! Agisoft Metashape/PhotoScan is the only professional 3D processing software that supports panorama as an input source. Surprising or not, Agisoft’s software application was initially developed and modified based on the 360 images produced by the Civetta camera. As our founder and CEO Dr. Weiss at Weiss AG initially pushed forward the idea to the Agsioft team years ago. In short, you can use spherical panoramas in equirectangular representation in Agisoft Metashape/PhotoScan. 

Similar to any other photogrammetry method, 3D reconstruction is based on pattern recognition, so everything has to be visible for at least two different views; this does not change for the case of panorama images.

photogrammetry pointcloud of village

All you need is to load images, then go to the Tools Menu -> Camera Calibration window and switch the Camera Type from Frame (default) to Spherical for the calibration group that corresponds to the panoramic images.

2. New release in Agisoft Metashape 1.7

and what does it mean to me?

Many users reported that Agisoft Metashape 1.7 has better depth map generation, out-of-core processing on GPUs, shorter process time, sufficient detail, and less noise in the resulting 3D model. Therefor, greater demand for the image quality but lower hardware requirements. 

photogrammetry pointcloud of village
photogrammetry pointcloud of village

Our technical teams tested and compared between two 3D point clouds from the same dataset but a different version of Agisoft Metashape. The result is that 1.7.0 shows a greater level of details in photogrammetry than any previous version. Yet as more objects are being recognized, we can also see a greater level of distraction on the point clouds, and it brings greater pressure if one wants to modify a dense point cloud. To deal with that, choosing an excellent automatic panorama HDR camera ensures a great quality of images and reduces the workload on dense point cloud modification.

3d scanned point cloud of shoes
point cloud of village

3. I have been using Agisoft Metashape/PhotoScan for years

why have I never heard that panorama images produce a better result than flat images in the 3D reconstruction?

point cloud of village

Panorama images have been recognized and used as a source of input in 3D reconstruction in Agisoft’s software. Yet, all the development take times, especially with the improvement of the panorama camera. With the continuing development of Civetta for the past 12 years, the Civetta from Weiss AG remained as the highest precision HDR panorama camera on the market — but not all users can afford it. It also means that most panorama cameras available on the market cannot capture photos that are precise enough for processing and reconstruction of 3D point clouds in Agisoft Metashape/PhotoScan. With the accurate HDR panorama, it also means a pressure of processing hardware and longer office time. Still, with the new release of Agisoft Metashape 1.7, you can benefit from much quicker process time, while the quality significantly improves.

4. Does the Civetta only provides panorama images as an input option for 3D reconstruction in Agisoft Metashape/PhotoScan? 

No, you can decide whether you would like to use HDR panorama images or flat images as an input. If you chose to use panorama as an input, you could also decide whether to use a JPG or EXR file. These can be set with Civetta Utility. 

civetta utility tool

The advantages of working with pre-processed full spherical images are faster processing and better registration between the individual scan positions. It works well in a small project. Working with unprocessed photos directly from the Civetta provides a higher reconstruction density as it’s directly retrieved from raw images. 

point cloud of village

The 32 bits EXR full spherical images should only be used when a 32-bit point cloud or 3D model is required. This is mainly for applications in the CGI/Film industry.

5. How can Civetta reduce errors in Agisoft Metashape/PhotoScan processing?

point cloud of village
point cloud of village

Here are a few things that stitched panorama images cannot but the Civetta: 

  1. Reduce human error – Civetta has only one button, which means it can automatically generate an HDR panorama with only one click. It means the Civetta requires less training time and therefore, less human error —- such as not enough overlapping space between images. 
  2. Less processing time – A measurement pair is two panorama images captured from a different height but on the same spot. For a measurement pair, Agisoft Metashape/PhotoScan only need to calculate the vector value of one image; then it automatically knows the other one. 
  3. Greater coverage with same lighting – Civetta has a vertical field of view as of 180° and horizontal field of view as 360°. As photos for the panorama images are automatically taken within 40 seconds, it minimizes the errors caused by lighting, moving objects and more. 
  4. A better result – If you still believe panorama images as an input is not your thing, you can always put all the HDR photos you have taken from the Civetta to the Agisoft Metashape PhotoScan. Civetta and Civetta Utility can automatically adjust the lighting to make sure each photo pixel has an “average” lighting value. It enables better recognition’s and matching in-between images. Our 3D point cloud results are stunning.
  5. Measurable point clouds with great accuracy – Technically, the accuracy of a point cloud depends on many factors. On average, Civetta produces +-3mm accuracy with 3D reconstruction.  

6. If I am looking for high-quality panorama, what is the difference between using a panorama captured by Civetta and using a panorama stitched by Agisoft?

point cloud of village

Panorama images are not well-known as an input source but as an export source in Agisoft Metashape/PhotoScan. Only high precision panorama cameras can produce good point clouds, and they don’t come cheap. Agisoft Metashape/PhotoScan can stitch several images and create a panorama image.

point cloud of village

So here is the question: If I can produce a panorama image through Agisoft, why do I still need a Civetta?  

Civetta is not just a panorama camera but can automatically capture HDR images with 230 megapixels. With such high precision and wide dynamic range, it enables its user to adjust these images, especially using these precise, rich images as the raw input for entertainment, such as rendering and CGI. 

man adjusting civetta camera

Many companies including Apple, Shell, BP, Marvel and others are currently using Civetta to produce high-quality panorama images for their purposes. It is also proven that the Civetta can provide a lot more information in one single image, compared with a panorama that is stitched by Agisoft Metashape/PhotoScan or Photoshop. 

When capturing 360°images on the location, Civetta produces data for 3D reconstruction and panorama images in 8 bit, 32 bit or as a measurement pair for photogrammetry applications.

Besides, its automatical image capture feature can reduce human error and processing time while improving results. 

7. Why do panorama images from Civetta require less calculation time?

Because many of them are taken in the same position(with a tripod), it ensures enough overlapping area between images. Working with well-calibrated 360° image matching is much easier due to the larger overlap area, producing less wrong matches.

Due to the high dynamic range (28 f-stops) and an optimized image processing workflow, best 3D reconstruction results are guaranteed.

point cloud map

8. Why is Civetta still the best panorama option when I can use a random camera to capture panoramas?

This question has been answered above, but in short:

  1. 230 megapixels resolution, the most precise panorama solution you can find on the market for photogrammetry. 
  2. Comprehensive coverage (360*180degrees)
  3. Quick and easy to use (1 button & automatic capturing within 40 seconds)
  4. Less calculation time
  5. Less human errors/will not miss out 
  6. Suitable for all conditions – can be carry for air travel, waterproof
man next to a civetta 360 camera

9. Do I need to purchase Agisoft Metashape/PhotoScan for panorama images if I purchased a Civetta already?

No, the Civetta Utility will come along with your purchase of Civetta. With the software, you can produce 230 megapixels HDR panorama images with several options available. It can be either JPG or EXR, 8 bits or 24 bits, depending on your needs. With precise and information-rich panorama images as input, your 3D reconstruction result on Agisoft will be high quality as well. 

civetta utility

10. What is the general workflow of using panoramas to produce 3D models in Agisoft?

  1. Import images. You can choose to import a full set of spherical images, or ideally, measurement paired captured by the Civetta. It can be equirectangular (1:2 dimensions) full spherical images in JPG or EXR format based on your needs, but EXR format usually has a very high hardware requirement.
  2. Camera calibration. Choose all the images and select “Spherical”. 
  3. Masking. You should mask out the bottom area to reduce calculation time or error in Agisoft Metashape/Photoscan. Do not store your masked file as PNG but JPG.
  4. Align photos. The aligning photo process enabled the machine to calculate the full spherical images’ positions and connected one with another in the space. 
  5. Result. If there are outlying points in the point cloud (obviously wrong matches), you can mark them with the masking tools and delete them. Alternatively, you can use a gradual selection tool. With the slider, you can set the threshold for outliers. There should not be too heavy outliers, but still enough projection points left. The error (pix) should be in the 0.1+ area with more than 1000 projections.  
civetta utility

If you would like to add measurable value to your 3D model, you can mark a pair of images in the camera list and create a scale bar, by typing 0.6m in the distance field. Then you can run the optimize camera button, and you will get the calculated errors in between. This only works if you did a measurement pair in Civetta.

Measurement pair means you took two panorama images with Civetta in the same location, without moving the tripod. 

Civetta can also be used in combination with a laser scanner, a regular camera, drone and more; you just need to identify them in Agisoft Metashape/Photoscan before you process them. 

Download: Agisoft Metashape/

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