Can you use a 360 camera for on-set HDRs?

Hey Friends,

Are there any 360 cameras that are good enough for on-set HDRs?

Asking for a friend (literally) :grinning:

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Controversial. Some say the Theta V and Z are sufficient. Some say they are poo.

I know people who’ve used the Ricoh Theta. It didn’t used to have the resolution to capture reflections, but could do lighting just fine. It might be better now, though?

e: if I’m showing up on set, I will bring my 5D/Fisheye/Nodal Ninja rig. It’s pretty quick to use once you get dialed in, and it looks a good bit more professional IMO.

At a major studio we used Thetas for crowd work. For sharp reflections on cars or phones or shiny objects it will likely fall a bit flat.

But for a lot of the things we do it’s pretty good.


wait, people use HDRs? I thought that was just a thing we do on set to look busy?

I produce so many random HDRs on slow shoot days. Pretty sure I’ve captured every lighting condition the high desert outside of LA has to offer.

I vote Theta. Fast and simple. They’re also tiny AF so you can put them in tiny spaces without having to disassemble a product set.


Nah I heard we use the hdrs it’s the shiny balls that make us look ridiculous that they don’t use.


I could have sworn that was the green gimp suits… We have a weird job.

+1 on theta V , get the authydra plugin then you just have to turn on the camera, set it somewhere click the button on camera (no stupid phone paring nightmare) you have 5 seconds to go away then it starts bracketing on full auto mode it will even merge it into a EXR right inside the camera!

I mean yes - would I use it for a highend car commercial diriving through daylight scenes - no

it has its limits but its cheap- quick and … a workhorse

and yes I use HDRs, dont forget to put a mcBeth somewhere in the hdri , best with a note saying which shot it is. oh and dont forget to bring a powerbank the thetha doesnt last long


I just did this, with a Z1 purchased specifically for the shoot I was on (and on the recommendation of the CG team I was supporting), and I’m 90% sure it worked great! No one has complained about the HDRs yet, let’s put it that way.

The Authydra plugin is indeed nearly magical. I have a quibble with the wifi interface design (on a laptop, you should not have to scroll past a giant logo to locate the “take picture” button), but otherwise it’s super cool, and FAST.


Z1 is great, fast and simple once it’s all setup and 3D seem happy. Takes around 90 ish seconds for 9 exposures. Battery life is shocking so will need a power bank on hand. Should last the day in most situations though. Can strap a little Macbeth chart to the tripod to get everything in one hit.

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Like any answer in VFX , its complicated and depends on the job, but yes I use the Theta all the time for jobs but I also know when to not use them that is the real answer, typically car jobs or any close up that needs to be super sharp with high reflections but those jobs are a much smaller percentage for me so I don’t typically do them all that often.


amen I am setting up a proper hdri camera setup for my next shoot as I know the tetha wont be cutting it.

+1 on using the Theta for my on-set go to. It’s small, fast, and if you want to get slick, you can put a 1/4 20 extension rod on the base to use with any c-stand / gary coleman. Particularly useful for reflections / lighting in tight spaces (once used it to catch light for a cg hockey puck travelling into into a practical goal), and general light surveys. Ditto with what @space_monkey said re: when to and when not to use, but I’d say it’s great for most situations.

I used the Theta Z1 on set last Friday. It was awfully convenient for a table top shoot. I have some gripes, but after I RTFM, I found you can save your bracket settings and a timer to the camera, so you can push the button, get out of there, and it will fire the exposures. No pairing issues when you’re on the spot.

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I like the idea of this. The pairing is indeed painful at times and having things set in advance and stored on the device sounds better.

This is a custom firmware or plugin?

Nothing custom. Just used the Theta app on my phone to set the brackets and a timer, and then saved to “my settings” which saves to the camera. There is a function button on the side of the camera that switches between camera, video, and MY for my settings. When you’re in that mode, pushing the button on the camera will fire whatever settings you saved.

One thing I couldn’t figure out that would be a huge time saver. I wanted to adjust the shutter speed on all my brackets and it was a very manual process that took a few minutes. On a promote for example, you would just adjust the middle exposure setting, and the range of shutter speeds updates automatically based on how many brackets you chose. It’s fast enough to shoot a quick test image once you get out there and make a change in a couple seconds. On the Theta, you would be toast trying to make this kind of change under the lights and staring eyes, unless the plugin Finn mentioned sorts this.

plenty of 3rd party apps that will take care of all of that with the press of a button, I have to look back and check but vfx_hdr or theta HDR or some of those will do exactly what your after.


authydra :slight_smile: will even make you a exr file. crazy convenient

I’m about to take an Insta360 Pro 2 to a shoot to do HDRs; anyone encountered any problems with one before?