It's not a brand new product, but this week's IFA Global Press Conference in Hong Kong has presented our first opportunity to get up close with it. Borne from crowdfunding, as so many start-up projects now are, the Panono 360 degree camera is a high-end, stills only shooter that boasts of taking pictures with five times the resolution of any alternative currently on the market.
It's also pricey. $1499 pricey. But, it's not trying to compete with what Samsung or LG has to offer. In fact, Panono says that the recent product launches from these two Korean giants is actually helping its own business. The market is more aware of 360 degree cameras as a result, and they're discovering Panono in turn.
What it is, is a ball that contains 36 individual, fixed-focus cameras that total 108MP. It only takes still photos, and for good reason. Panono wanted to make the best quality 360 degree photos on the market, while still keeping the product portable, and somewhat affordable. They say adding video to the current setup would increase its size and dramatically increase the cost.
It's smartphone connectable, with apps for iOS currently available, with an Android version currently in beta, but it's not your phone that processes the images. The app allows you to control basic camera functions such as acting as a remote shutter, setting exposure, shutter speed and ISO, and it does allow you to preview a much scaled down version of the photo. The stitching of the images is done by Panono in the cloud, a process facilitated by the phone but one that allows their technology to work out of sight and letting you carry on taking pictures.
The app also helps you share your creations with the world, with Facebook specifically mentioned. The camera has 16GB of onboard storage which should be good for 600 360 degree images, or 200 if you turn on HDR. It's charged over USB and you can attach it to a tripod and if you're feeling particularly brave you can even throw it up in the air. Panono will automatically shoot as it reaches the top of the throw, but you have to make sure you catch it. Because it's not going to survive hitting the ground in its current state.
The market for this kind of product is still taking off. While the Panono has a very specific target audience, it's also important that it exists. Cheaper, more consumer friendly products are most welcome, but the high-end crowd also needs looking after. And it's there than Panono is finding a home.
If you want to check out some sample images taken with Panono, and you have a Google Cardboard, check out the app linked below. For more on the camera, check out Panono's own store.
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