I can't use Sphere Mapping world texture, help

I want to use a paranoma image as the world background, by the look of the image, I think it’s supposed to be used in Sphere Mapping.
The 2nd attached is the image that I want to use in World Texture(this one is the low-res version), the 1st attached is what I want to achieve, I could do this by mapping the image onto a huge sphere, but I like to do it another way, I want to use the Sphere Mapping in World Texture and it seems the function doesn’t work as it should, the background in Sphere mode is completely distorted.
I also include the hi-res image here for you to try, please help.


I have never found the sphere mode to be useful. To me it should be called hemi-sphere because it does not render the bottom portion of the world.

Angular does seem to work, but produces some low-mid quality results.
You may want to consider converting the sphere map to an angular map in an external program like HDRShop. Then try using your converted map as an angular map in your scene.

I never found any use for the Sphere Mapping, all it seems to do is create a horrible UV that does not fit any spherical texture.

Try this trick that i found in the tutorial section instead.

In Object mode press numpad 7 or View -> Top
Add a plane mesh
Go to Edit Mode and subdivide a bit the plane

Load your texture and for the subdivided plane press U then " Project From View (Bound) " or " Smart UV Project" in this case the result should be the same

Now press numpad 3 or View -> Side
Click on the 1 big grid range below it, like this exactly :
Because the cursor may not be exactly on the grid point you tried to click, click on
Mesh -> Snap -> Cursor to Grid
And it will put the cursor exactly on the grid where we want it.

Now press SHIFT+W (or Mesh -> Transform -> Warp) and type 180 then press Enter

Press Numpad 1 (or View -> Front) , press SHIFT+W again and type 360 then press Enter

press W then Remove Doubles and CTRL+N or SHIFT+CTRL+N to recalculate the normals outside or inside (probably the 2nd choice for what you need).

Thank you, I have tried HDRShop, converting to Angular map take a while but the result’s good.
It’s sad that Blender cannot display long/lat map properly, there are lots of these around the Internet.