It's like a handheld Google Street View Camera. Panono's orb-like device has 36 3-megapixel cameras, which combine to produce a 108MP, 360-degree panoramic photo. Available in limited quantities for $1,499, I took the Panono out for a few minutes to see how well it fared around New York's Madison Square Park, and came away impressed.
While its applications are limited to those who need to take panoramas, the Panono seems to be a fairly versatile and portable option. The camera itself is 4.33-inch diameter ball that weighs a little more than 1 pound. Built into the Panono is Wi-Fi, which allows the camera to connect to, and be controlled by an iOS or Android device.
One of the benefits of taking all these images simultaneously, as opposed to panning a single lens, is that you can capture every subject around you at the same time. That way, you avoid ghost-like images of people who were walking or running through your frame. The Panono has 16GB of storage, good for about 600 panoramic shots. On the bottom is a small screw mount for the included selfie stick, as well as a tripod mount. The camera can also be hung from ropes using three mounting holes on its top.
Rather than stitching the images together in-camera or on your phone, the Panono uses its Wi-Fi connection to send all the images to the cloud, where they're combined on Panono's servers. As such, the process takes anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes, but it saves space and battery life on both your phone and the camera.
On a bright, sunny day by Madison Square Park, the Panono did a good job of lighting everything evenly, and eliminating dark shadows and blown-out areas. The only place it seemed to struggle was with clouds near the sun, but that would be difficult for any camera. I would have liked a little more contrast in the photos, though.
As you scroll around, only the center of the image appears crisp, giving the panorama a tilt-shift lens effect. While using the camera with the selfie stick was practical, I had the most fun throwing the Panono in the air, where it took a true 360-degree image. Of course, anyone throwing the camera looks like they're offering thanks to the almighty or like they've just released a dove into the air.
While the total resolution of the photo is 108MP, you still don't get details as crisp as you would from most smartphones. That's because each sensor is only 3MP in size. Still, for a first-generation device, the Panono is a pretty impressive achievement.
Currently, Panono is selling the camera for $1,499 in a limited Explorer Edition; only 1,000 cameras in this early production run will be for sale. The company hopes to eventually sell the camera for $599 in wider distribution sometime next year. Especially at that lower price, it should prove attractive to those looking to those who want to capture everything around them.