We’re Hooked on 360-Degree Photography, and You Should be Too
Perhaps the biggest trend at CES this year was 360-degree photography, and it’s hard to think of a more exciting development for tech-savvy travelers. Samsung and Nikon are both planning to get in on the fun with 360-degree action cams later this year, but for early adopters, there’s a model on the market today that’s fun and easy to use: Panono. We took it for a spin on the CES show floor and instantly got hooked. Where it goes next? The Maldives, the Champs-Élysées, the Top of the Shard… there’s practically no stopping us.
How It Works
Roughly the size of a tennis ball, Panono has 36 cameras built into its diminutive body. Throw it into the air, and they’ll all go off simultaneously as soon as the ball hits its apex. You can also mount it onto a stick, click a button, and get a 360 x 360 shot at a resolution of 108mp. It takes a little practice (and good lighting) to get perfectly crisp shots, but even those with blurry moments look cool.
Perfecting Your Composition
Taking a still photograph, under normal circumstances, requires you to think about composition and color balance. Those concerns are thrown out the window when you’re capturing all 360 degrees. What you will need to master: how to pose for a camera that’s high above your head. Editing has to be done on the front end rather than after you’ve snapped; there are settings in the app where you can customize exposure and ISO. In our experience, it was easiest to take a bunch of shots until we found one we were satisfied with; the battery lasts between 60 and 80 frames but charges back up quickly.
Sharing 360-Degree Footage
When you have 36 photos getting stitched into one shot, it takes up a ton of memory. In other words: you’ll want to text links to the images, rather than the images themselves. To make that easy, Panono’s app sends images straight to the cloud over a built-in Wi-Fi hotspot, where you can review the shots you like and turn them into links or embed them into social media feeds and websites. On touchscreens, you can pinch, zoom, and flick your way around the shot to see every angle; on desktops, your friends can click around them. (Try it here!)
Just like Google did with Google Glass, Panono is releasing an “Explorers Edition” for early adopters. And like Glass, it comes with a hefty price tag: $1,499 buys you the camera and all its accessories, including the stick mount, case, tripod adapter, and more. Later this year, a mass consumer version will be available for $600. Don’t think of this as just another toy, though. Even the former COO of Leica Cameras has called this workhorse “revolutionary,” and we’re inclined to agree.