With 36 “eyes” looking out through a hard outer shell, you might be fooled into thinking you’re being told about some kind of space alien, but the Panono 360° Camera is definitely from this planet. Conceptualised and built in Germany, this little marvel of technical engineering is definitely a great addition to one’s photographic offering.
I was fortunate enough to spend some time a little while back with one of these cameras to help capture and enhance the Travel Massive Roadtrip experience.
Touted as being the highest megapixel 360° camera on the market, the Panono manages to squeeze 108 megapixels from 36 cameras into a sphere with a diameter of only 11cm and weighing in at a measly 480g! That’s a lot of resolution for such a tiny thing and that means you get quite a bit of detail when you zoom in on the images.
The Panono comes with a few additional extras: the Panono stick, a tripod adapter, a protective neoprene case and a messenger bag with a dedicated pouch. I mostly used the tripod adapter and triggered the camera remotely with the accompanying Panono app (in beta on Android), but the Panono stick was great for times when I couldn’t throw the camera in the air or place it on a tripod, like when I was riding a quadbike through the Misty Mountains:
Quadbiking Through the Misty Mountains
If you don’t have the tripod adapter/stick or you just can’t use either of those accessories where you are, you can throw the sphere into the air and it will automatically take a 360° shot. Way too cool! You simply toss the camera in the air (at least a meter above you) and at the peak of it’s travel (when the camera is moving the slowest) it will automatically trigger. There are a few conditions necessary to get a perfectly crisp image, like not spinning the sphere too much when you toss the camera up or the ambient light needs to be bright enough to freeze motion, but for the most part it’s really easy to use and a super neat trick to show off in public! On a side note, because of it’s bright green accents and cameras all around the sphere, the Panono draws quite a lot of attention.
Checking out the Yacht Club in Durban
The HDR mode (currently in beta) means that those outdoor images shot in bright daylight will show all the right colours and details in the shadows just as you saw it with your own eyes. It made all the difference to a few scenes captured on the trip as can be seen here:
Fishing Net Finds in the Kosi Lakes Ecosystem
Looking out over the Valley of the Mountain Leopard
You’ll notice that in the panoramas I’m usually holding my phone and that’s because I was triggering the camera remotely via wifi and the Panono app. This lets you place the camera in a remote spot and snap a 360 without even being in the shot or for the obvious application, just being too far away from the camera to push a button to trigger the shutters
Once the scene is captured, it appears in the app and you are able to preview the unstitched scene. once the 360 has been uploaded to the Panono servers, you’re given an eta on the finished product. That’s right, Panono’s servers do all the stitching for you, which is great for when you don’t have your own stitching software, or you’re just not tech savvy enough to get it done any other way. It’s especially useful via your phone, but 108 megapixels is rather large file size wise and it’s not recommended to upload via mobile data, but rather wait until you get onto wifi to upload.
Using the app is quite straightforward and even though I was using a beta version of the app on Android I didn’t have too many hassles.
My overall experience with the camera was a great one. it certainly helped to capture the essence of some of the places we went to on the Travel Massive Roadtrip in a way that no standard still camera could ever manage to do. It also garnered a lot of attention and helped to not only let people know about the camera, but also to sneak in a little PR about the trip too,
I’d like to give a huge shout out to David from Panono who graciously arranged to loan us a camera all the way from Germany for our trip! I’m truly sad it had to go back, but I definitely enjoyed my time spent with it
You can check out more info about the Panono 360° Camera on their website www.panono.com