I have been a lecturer in Geology at The University of Newcastle for the past 30 years. My main reason for learning how to take full spherical panoramas was to aid with the development of virtual field trips. More recently, the scope of these panoramas has expanded into the fields of architecture, botany, history and natural heritage.
In terms of equipment, I am a bit of a 'purist'. All panoramas have been captured with Pentax DSLRs - early on with a K-70, then moving on to a K-3 Mark iii, and more recently a K-1 Mark ii. Lens used is typically the SMC Pentax-DA 10-17mm F3.5-4.5 Fish-Eye ED [IF], with the exception of the infrared panoramas which were captured with the SMC Pentax-DA 12-24mm F4 ED AL [IF] and a Hoya R72 filter. As of August 2023, I have been using the film era prime SMC Pentax-A 16mm F2.8 Fish-Eye with the K1 mark ii. Cameras are mounted on a Cavix PH-720A panoramic head, which is in turn mounted on a Vanguard Alta Pro 2+ 263AP to facilitate nadir shots. I shoot RAW imagery that is then processed in ACR and stitched in PTGui Pro.