mobile photography technology, culture and community
www.dpreview.com

Hands-on with the Panono panoramic ball camera

112
CTO Qian Qin throws the Panono prototype camera while company president and founder Jonas Pfeil holds the laptop that, with the prototype, is still necessary  for stitching the final results.

With processoring power in smartphones nearing laptop levels 360-degree panoramas have become a more and more popular application. This year on Dpreview Connect we've had a closer look at Google's Photosphere and Microsoft's Photosynth apps, both handheld solutions, and the Motrr Galileo robotic iPhone cradle. In combination with the Sphere iOS app the latter automates the panorama capturing process and makes it quicker. However, despite the Motrr's advantage over manual alignment all existing solutions have one common flaw: shooting a 360-degree panorama photo takes  significantly longer than taking a normal picture.

Jonas Pfeil, the inventor of the Panono panoramic ball camera, learned this the hard way on a trip to to Tonga where he used a DSLR to capture 360-degree panoramas of the South Sea island's natural beauty. Not only did the island hikes take longer than expected, with all the panorama shooting Jonas also noticed his hiking buddies growing increasingly impatient with the interruptions. After the trip he started thinking about faster ways of shooting 360-degree panoramas and came up with the concept for a ball-shaped and throwable panorama camera.  

The Panono is a ball-shaped panoramic camera with 36 individual camera modules and a built-in accelerometer. Here Jonas Pfeil demonstrates the size and design differences between the working prototype (right) and the design model of the final production unit (left).

He made the ball camera the subject of his master thesis at the Technical University of Berlin and in 2011 built a working prototype with 36 individual image sensors and lenses. Initial feedback at tech conferences and in the media was encouraging and Jonas decided to build a team, found a company and have a go at marketing the Panono camera to consumers.

Panono is currently running a crowdfunding-campaign on Indiegogo to secure the funds for the ambitious project. You can back the project in a variety of ways, one of them is preordering a Panono camera for US$499. Assuming the campaign which ends on the 4th of January is successful, it will be delivered to you in September 2014.

We have a had a chance to meet Jonas and the team at Panono's digs in a Bauhaus-designed former industrial building in Berlin where we got our hands on the working prototype, looked at the design models and had a peek into the Panono testing studio. 

How does it work?

The Panono camera is a ball-shaped throwable camera that contains 36 camera modules, a processor, memory and an accelerometer. There are three ways of using it: you can either throw it in the air in which case the accelerometer triggers the camera at the highest point, trigger it via a built-in shutter button when holding it in your hand or mount it on a tripod or pole and trigger remotely. 

Once the images have been captured they are transferred via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth to the connected smartphone where a first low-resolution preview image is stitched. The original image data is sent on via the smartphone's 3G/4G or WiFi connection to Panono's cloud servers where the stitching of the final output panorama happens. 

After the stitching process is finished a copy of the panorama is sent back to the phone for local viewing in the Panono app. Output files will be compatible to the Google Photosphere format and can therefore be uploaded to and viewed on Google Plus. Users will also have access to the original images that were captured by the Panono's individual 36 camera modules. 

By default the entire process, from initial capture to the final shareable result, is fully automated. However, initial feedback from Indiegogo backers suggests that there are users who want some manual control over camera settings. Therefore the production version of the Panono camera will offer manual control over key parameters such as shutter speed, ISO and white balance. There will also be options for bracketing and time-lapse shooting and the team is currently testing an HDR mode. 

Design & Technology

The current prototype is roughly the size of an indoor soccer ball but with a diameter of 11cm (4.33 inches) the final product will be considerably smaller. The weight will be approximately 300 grams (0.66 pounds). The green stripes on the ball help locate the only two controls of the camera. On top you find a shutter button for manual triggering when holding the device in your hand. At the bottom there will be a USB connector and a tripod mount.

On the production design the outer shell is made from a durable polycarbonate. The green lines help in locating the controls.
On this installation in the Panono studio the team is testing the durability of the design prototypes. The production unit will withstand falls from at least 5m (16 ft) height.

A type of styrofoam padding was used to protect the prototype ball camera from impact with the ground or other objects in its way but the production unit's outer shell will be made from a durable polycarbonate. With the Panono being a "throwable" camera ruggedness is the number one priority in the development of the shell and the objective is for the camera to withstand a fall from at least 5 meters (16 feet).

The rugged shell of the prototype contains 36 individual 2MP fixed-focus camera modules. In the production unit those will be replaced by 3MP modules which will then capture a 108MP panorama image. There are no detailed specs available at this point but the camera modules are the same type you would find in the front-facing cameras on high-end smartphones and are used for video-calls.

Besides the camera modules there is a central processor in the ball that controls the camera modules, the data pipeline and wireless communication but since the stitching of the final output panorama happens in the cloud on Panono's servers this CPU does not have to be particularly powerful.

A look into the opened prototype shows the central control board with CPU and memory on the left and the camera modules on the right. The prototype is covered with a type of foam but the final design will feature a durable polycarbonate shell.

The current prototype still has to be connected to a laptop with a cable to transfer image data and stitch the final image, but the production version of the Panono camera will connect to your smartphone via wi-fi and most likely Bluetooth as well. The battery has to be quite large in order to trigger 36 camera modules at the same time and Panono expects the battery in the production version to last long enough to completely fill the internal memory which offers space for approximately 400 panoramic images.

Image Results

There's no doubt throwing a Panono camera in the air is quicker than taking 36 individual frames for stitching on your smartphone but the concept also offers a couple of advantages in terms of image quality. The stitching in the samples below is not quite perfect but visibly better than the results we've seen from smartphone-based solutions. 

The fact that all individual frames of the sphere are captured at the same time also means that there are no problems with moving subjects. In the Panono images you won't find any ghosting, disappearing limbs, multiple versions of the same person in the image or other artifacts that we are used to seeing in most stitched panorama images.

With the Panono's 36 camera modules covering even the area right above and below the ball you also don't get any black or blurred "discs" at the poles of your sphere, like we've seen with Photosphere, Photosynth and similar apps.

All the samples you can see below are from the prototype that was built in 2011. What we are seeing is already quite impressive but with improved processing algorithms and updated camera modules we can expect image quality on the final unit to be even better. You can find many more samples that were shot in some amazing places around the world on the Panono website.

We shot this sample during my visit just outside the Panono offices. It's not the most attractive scenery in the world but the good stitching is immediately obvious and zooming in reveals some additional detail. There are still some chromatic aberrations and lens flare but we would expect those issues to be better under control in the production unit.

The shot below was captured at Hong Kong's Victoria Peak and gives you a better idea of the prototype's performance in bright conditions.

This low-light sample was captured during an interview with the great Dirk Nowitzki after a Dallas Mavericks game in the locker rooms of American Airlines Arena.  In dim conditions the Panono works best while mounted on a pole or tripod as slow shutter speeds and flying cameras are not an ideal combination. 

Final thoughts

After having had the chance to play with it I can say the Panono is one of the most exciting camera innovations I have seen in a while. People will continue taking pictures with conventional cameras for a long time to come but the Panono makes an excellent complementary tool for those who want to capture a scene in its entirety rather than just a narrow crop. It also allows for much quicker panorama shooting and better end results than the smartphone-based solutions we've seen so far. 

In use the attraction of the device to consumers is immediately obvious. It's simply a lot of fun to try the Panono in different locations and with varying throwing heights and then browse the results. However, there's no shortage of applications in professional photography either. The obvious ones are in wedding and event photography where photographers active in those fields could add another element of differentiation to their offerings but there's no doubt once the Panono is on the market users will come up with ways of using it that we can't even imagine right now. If you can't wait to hold a Panono in your hands you can head over to the Indiegogo page and back the project.


Comments

Total comments: 112
fransjan
By fransjan (1 month ago)

@ xiaojun li from China:
https://shop.panono.com/en/preorder/panono/

0 upvotes
tarylee
By tarylee (6 months ago)

hello,my name is xiaojun li .l'm from china.l want to buy panono because it's a great invention.l know you Raise funds in Indiegogo.l miss the chance.l want to know how to save that.l think you sure understand my mood now.Please contact me.My email address is lixiaojun5294663@163.com. My English is poor.Please understanding.

0 upvotes
Lars Rehm
By Lars Rehm (3 months ago)

you can still preorder on http://www.panono.com/ballcamera/

0 upvotes
Sirandar
By Sirandar (7 months ago)

A brilliant idea .... I am curious how the dev dealt with the laws of physics. The camera is only motionless to the pinnacle of the throw at only one point which means that compared to exposure times the camera never stops moving.

How did the devs compensate for this as in only in the brightest light would the exposure times be short enough to get a blur free shot. Could you make it light enough by filling it with helium to float?

1 upvote
KodaChrome25
By KodaChrome25 (7 months ago)

Jonas, I hope you don't pronounce your last name "fail" ;)

Comment edited 50 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
springsnow
By springsnow (7 months ago)

Always love these kind of toys. How's the durability of the camera units themselves though, like the lens and whatnot? Kinda sucks if they are easily scratchable.

0 upvotes
MarshallG
By MarshallG (8 months ago)

I am very impressed with the ingenuity of this invention and I hope that it is a great success for Jonas. I'd like to see higher resolution, higher quality sensors used, but I assume that is a cost/performance tradeoff that seems most sensible. If you can bring your price down to the magic price of $99 USD, I think this product could achieve very high volume. It may take a few more revisions, but that is the goal I'd set.

Good Luck and Best Wishes, Jonas!

1 upvote
vv50
By vv50 (7 months ago)

$99 is not sensible. at $600 for 36 digital cameras - $17 per unit, it already sounds quite a bargain.

0 upvotes
mrdancer
By mrdancer (8 months ago)

Great idea! I had a similar idea many years ago, but the opposite - that is, place a bunch of sensors on a satellite dish type of apparatus to capture instant gigapixel panoramas, even of things in motion, although it wouldn't be 360.

A few suggestions for future options, which I'm sure you've already though of...

1) GPS - to record locations of shots
2) Compass - for option of adding "North" to the photo for orientation
3) Larger sensors - would like option to do some gigapixel 360s, plus you'll get a lot more interest from special ops agencies :)
4) more durability - I would like to slingshot this up to 15m or so...

I can see some cool applications, such as mounting on top of car like Google does, mount on top of boat, suspending from full-size helicopter (if you get FAA approval), suspending from gondola of hot air balloon, suspend from high suspension bridge, etc.

0 upvotes
chrisnfolsom
By chrisnfolsom (8 months ago)

Jonas - perhaps a parachute, or active suspension launched after the picture is taken - I am sure you have thought of many things.... great idea - just annoyed I was not able to create it myself ;) This will be cool when dangled under a quad copter - and if stabilized - wow!

0 upvotes
Jonas Pfeil
By Jonas Pfeil (8 months ago)

You mean like this? :)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KWQD7OudhEA

2 upvotes
yudhir
By yudhir (8 months ago)

Lovely!
but many people can't catch or throw straight up :) .

0 upvotes
Sirflor
By Sirflor (8 months ago)

I hope do have it with me in Sept 14 on my trip to Australia.
For sure it would be a good way to define a setup in PtGui to stich the shots.

0 upvotes
ImageWell
By ImageWell (8 months ago)

Great and insightful article. Could you guys at dpreview also do one on the BublCam and compare the two?

I like how Panonos supports a reasonable high resolution, but the BublCam also takes videos (albeit at a lower resolution).

I would like to eventually purchase one or the other and would love to see a in depth dpreview review of both devices.

0 upvotes
Lars Rehm
By Lars Rehm (8 months ago)

I'll have a look at the BublCam, no idea at this point what it does. You have to keep in mind though that the Panono is still in prototype stage, there won't be a final product to test before autumn 2014.

0 upvotes
maxnimo
By maxnimo (8 months ago)

"The original image data is sent on via the smartphone's 3G/4G "

And after one shot there goes your $40 monthly data allowance. And do you really expect to find wi-fi on some hike in the mountains?

0 upvotes
Chuq
By Chuq (8 months ago)

I expect that there would be some sort of offline mode - eg. the camera itself stores the images, or connects via bluetooth/wifi to your phone/tablet which stores the images, until a connection back to Panono's servers can be made at a later time.

0 upvotes
Jonas Pfeil
By Jonas Pfeil (8 months ago)

The camera works on it's own like a normal camera. It stores the panoramas in flash memory and sends them to your smartphone via WiFi or Bluetooth as soon as the smartphone is near the camera. The smartphone (or tablet) then transmits the panoramas into the cloud, as soon as there is an internet connection. You can set the smartphone app to not upload via 3G if you wish. You can also use a USB cable to get the images off the camera.

1 upvote
maxnimo
By maxnimo (8 months ago)

Well, if the images can be offloaded to a tablet then this camera has potential to be a very nice gadget, especially if the resolution can be improved.
But using slow and expensive 3G/4G for this would be impractical, at least in USA where the phone monopolies charge you ridiculous prices if you touch their networks.

0 upvotes
chrisnfolsom
By chrisnfolsom (8 months ago)

It says you get 400 shots - should be enough for your trip... and you still can preview it on your smart phone - not too bad - you can bring along a satellite phone if you really need the connectivity...

1 upvote
counterclockwork
By counterclockwork (8 months ago)

Is that Tempelhof Airport in the first panorama? I'm pretty sure I see the Berlin Airlift Memorial in it. If so, "Bauhaus-designed former industrial building" isn't correct - it isn't Bauhaus at all (though I understand that calling it what it is might be less than pleasant and detracts from it as architecture) and calling it a former industrial building feels like a downgrade from one of the longest functioning airports in the world.

I used to live less than a mile from Tempelhof as a child in the early 80s, before the wall came down. It's something that sticks very well in memory.

0 upvotes
Jonas Pfeil
By Jonas Pfeil (8 months ago)

The buildings in the panorama belong the the former Tempelhof Airport but we do not work in that building :) Our office is indeed located in a former Bauhaus industrial building. We simply walked a bit before taking the picture ;)

1 upvote
harlemhh
By harlemhh (8 months ago)

Reminds me to my Nabaztag, a gadget which only worked with a corresponding cloud service. The company went out of business some years ago and my Nabaztag went out of order, too.
Now it reminds me with his blinking belly: "Never ever buy cloud based gadgets any more."

1 upvote
Jonas Pfeil
By Jonas Pfeil (8 months ago)

The cloud service is not a lock-in, but a free additional service. You can get the images directly from the camera if you wish, stitch in a third party software and publish through Google Photosphere or your own server for example. You can also download the raw/single images as well as the stitched panoramas from your cloud account at any time.

3 upvotes
Roland Karlsson
By Roland Karlsson (8 months ago)

Thanks Jonas. Glad to hear that the cloud stuff is optional. It is far too often today a nice technical gadget's most prominent feature is uploading to the net and facebook access.

Personally I would prefer an USB3 cable outlet somewhere on the ball so I can download the images fast to my laptop or tablet, but until then wireless will be enough.

Comment edited 28 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
Sam Rohn
By Sam Rohn (8 months ago)

ricoh already has a one shot camera that produces 360°x180° full spherical panoramas available for sale since october 2013, the ricoh theta

https://theta360.com

overall, ricoh theta has better image quality than panono samples, panono seems to have very bad color rendition and an odd "honeycomb" vignetting pattern caused by the array of cheap lenses, theta is also smaller, lighter, and about half the panono's estimated price

0 upvotes
Sam Rohn
By Sam Rohn (8 months ago)

also, spherical panoramas are properly described as 360°x180°, not 360°x360° as in panono description

360° around the equator and 180° pole to pole, this also describes the equirectangular projection which is commonly used for such images - http://wiki.panotools.org/Equirectangular_Projection

other projections might have different dimensions, theoretically you could make a stereographic little planet at 360x360 if you so desired - http://wiki.panotools.org/Projections

0 upvotes
Jonas Pfeil
By Jonas Pfeil (8 months ago)

You are right, the color of the prototype is not calibrated and there is a kind of vignetting effect with the old camera modules. Color will be properly calibrated with the production model of course and the vignetting is gone in the new modules. This is not magic, I just didn't focus on these things for my master thesis :) (the sample images we have online where all shot with the old prototype from my thesis)

On the resolution:
Theta: 10 Megapixels
Panono: 108 Megapixels

Sample Images: (try zooming in ;)
Theta: https://theta360.com/spheres/samples/16a6e7ea-3abf-11e3-89c4-08002741016d-1
Panono: http://www.panono.com/v/524/

Price:
Theta: 399 USD
Panono: 599 USD retail, 499 USD now on Indiegogo!

Cheers,
Jonas

4 upvotes
Sam Rohn
By Sam Rohn (8 months ago)

thanks jonas

definitely better colors on the panono eiffel tower pano than some others i had seen although i have seen sharper theta panos than that example too, looking forward to seeing some newer panono images from a production unit :)

theta can also show similar artifacts w dark vignetting seam areas and odd flare/glare from sun etc, in my experience this is caused by position of sun or other bright light relative the the lens, normally one would flag out the sun etc but this would not be practical for one shot cameras i suppose

sam

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 9 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
vv50
By vv50 (8 months ago)

"spherical panoramas are properly described as 360°x180°, not 360°x360° as in panono description" - huh? not sure how 360x180 can be properly described as a spherical panorama if you're chopping off the top and bottom of the image.

0 upvotes
vv50
By vv50 (8 months ago)

i noticed a bug in the prototype - there's always jonas pfeil at the bottom of each sample :)

1 upvote
SnappyUK
By SnappyUK (8 months ago)

I have a Theta on review and so far I've found the image to be quite noisy, and I dislike the absence of a self-timer or dedicated remote. The Panono has potential due to the higher pixel count, but I'll reserve judgment on the image quality until I see the production model.
Either way, the Panono and Theta are expensive 1-trick toys; I don't see them as something I'd use every day.

0 upvotes
Jonas Pfeil
By Jonas Pfeil (8 months ago)

He is referring to the mathematical description of so called spherical coordinates. To cite myself from a post further down:

"You are of course right, mathematically 360x360 is non-sense ;) We did test everything from "full spherical" to "4 Pi sr solid angle" (the later is the scientifically correct term). Unfortunately the only thing that almost all people understand is 360x360 :)"

1 upvote
Jonas Pfeil
By Jonas Pfeil (8 months ago)

Also: I think there is still a bug with these pictures, were I am _not_ at the bottom. Going to fix this ASAP!

http://www.panono.com/v/524/
http://www.panono.com/v/707/
http://www.panono.com/v/1016/
http://www.panono.com/v/1156/
http://www.panono.com/v/1769/

2 upvotes
Virvatulet
By Virvatulet (8 months ago)

@vv50
Take a full circle and cut it perfectly into two halves with a vertical line that goes thru the centre point. The circumference of each halves represents 180° angle measured from the centre point.

Now imagine taking one of the halves and attach it to a pencil from the both ends of the half circumference (arhc), the result would look something like a letter P.

Imagine taking the pencil into your hands and rotating it with your fingers trying to keep the pencil stationary. When you rotate the pencil half a turn the attached arch will go thru every point on a surface of a half sphere, when you make a full turn that is 360° it will form a perfect sphere.

Thus 360° × 180° is the correct expression for a perfect sphere.

0 upvotes
vv50
By vv50 (8 months ago)

@virva then what's the correct expression for non-spherical panos?

@jonas lol

0 upvotes
Sam Rohn
By Sam Rohn (8 months ago)

spherical and non-spherical panoramas are described by FOV width° x height°, just like any other image

so if your non-spherical panorama shows an area 180° wide by 60° tall it would be described as such, for example a 180°x60° cylindrical projection etc, this would also equal a 3x1 aspect ratio, but aspect ratio is not the sam as FOV

in any event, 360°x180° is the proper and accepted term for spherical panoramas among those in the pano industry, 360°x360° is just confusing to those familiar with this sort of thing, better to use accepted standards ;)

see these links for more info on FOV and image projections, note the equirectangular projection which is considered the standard projection for spherical panos which are displayed interactively on sites like panono, 360cites, google street view, etc

http://www.cambridgeincolour.com/tutorials/image-projections.htm
http://www.tawbaware.com/projections.htm
http://www.ptgui.com/man/projections.html
http://wiki.panotools.org/Projections

0 upvotes
LaFonte
By LaFonte (8 months ago)

Idea may be good, except the panorama wow factor was like a decade ago. I know, I was making them. Since then I realized that nobody else from my circle really wanted to see them....

5 upvotes
Lars Rehm
By Lars Rehm (8 months ago)

Not sure if your circle is representative. Everybody I show even my miserably stitched Photospheres goes "wow, this is really cool". These are "normal people" of course, not high-end photo nerds. I don't think the Panono is targeted at the latter though.

0 upvotes
Jonas Pfeil
By Jonas Pfeil (8 months ago)

You are right, panoramas are old. Super-old in fact! I think why they are getting more and more popular now is that we have a way of looking at them in a non-distorting fashion. Rolling out a 360° panorama on a flat surface is awkward. If you view it like in Google Streetview - one direction at a time - you are not viewing the panorama itself, but you are checking out all the different viewing directions at that time and place.

Check out the sample images in our app, ideally on an iPad. The app is also called "Panono" and you can simply point your tablet or smartphone in the direction you want to see. I recommend an iPad for the best experience at the moment. Some people go _really_ crazy if you show them the app for the first time :) I also was blown away by a 3 year old who was twirling around the iPad around him like mad ;)

0 upvotes
d2f
By d2f (8 months ago)

It should be possible to place cameras on a small quad or hex copter and flying it around capturing not only still 360 images but also HD video, without capturing the copter itself. The images could be projected on a semi transparent spherical surface allowing the end user with limited visual range a complete 360 view. Using overlapping image analysis software a near real time 3D images of an area of interest should be possible and viewed using 3D glasses. You could then fly the copter remotely into locations deemed hazardous such as burning buildings, caves, radio active environments or using several copters perform wide area search and rescue operations. Why limit it to the air, how about underwater environments?

1 upvote
Chuq
By Chuq (8 months ago)

I saw Panono put out this video in the last week!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KWQD7OudhEA

The Panono doesn't do video, and the copter is still visible (I guess that makes it a 360x90 usuable pano?) but I don't think the tech is there yet... but the potential is amazing!

0 upvotes
Peksu
By Peksu (8 months ago)

Brilliant idea! I don't have quite enough potential use for it to get it for that price, and I just got a fisheye lens for christmas too, but I can imagine it would be loads of fun. The high-up perspective is something new.

Edit: The flaring is probably due to the plastic impact resistant casing, and unavoidable if the sun is visible, I wonder if they can minimize it or not.

Comment edited 5 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Lars Rehm
By Lars Rehm (8 months ago)

all the sample images are from the prototype which doesn't have the plastic casing, so it's more than likely down to the lenses in the prototype

1 upvote
Mr Seeker
By Mr Seeker (8 months ago)

I see some myths here that should be debunked, since the devs have been asked about it over and over again on the indiegogo page:
- It wont upload to a "cloud". You get 32 RAW images that you can send to their cloud service.
- Images are stored on an internal sd card of the panono, and can be retrieved by bluetooth or wifi (and can be read by a computer).
- Your phone is used to control settings and download raw images from the device. It wont send images over your data plan if you dont want to.
- Fishing string does work the same way as the pole. Just need a small screw and a pin.
- There is a picture taken with a mini-chopper, so its possible.

Please, do read their indiegogo page carefully before commenting that it is "useless".

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
1 upvote
massimogori
By massimogori (8 months ago)

I went to Indiegogo. Can I say it is useless, now?

4 upvotes
Lars Rehm
By Lars Rehm (8 months ago)

Yes, you can control the upload of course but stitching happens in the cloud, so if you want that at some point you have to upload them. Alternatively you can download the individual images from the device and stitch yourself.

0 upvotes
PhotoKhan
By PhotoKhan (8 months ago)

#massimogori,

You can.
It doesn't reflect badly on Panono.
It does not bode well for you, though.

4 upvotes
Jonas Pfeil
By Jonas Pfeil (8 months ago)

Thanks Seeker!

Octocopter mounted panorama: http://www.panono.com/v/1769/
Making-of video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KWQD7OudhEA

1 upvote
Ikay
By Ikay (8 months ago)

Großartige Entwicklung Jonas. Chapeau !

0 upvotes
Jonas Pfeil
By Jonas Pfeil (8 months ago)

Danke! :)

0 upvotes
Lee Jay
By Lee Jay (8 months ago)

With the right gear you can take a handheld 360x180 panorama in 3 shots in under 10 seconds, and do so in low light and with far better image capture devices. And if you're really in a hurry, you can do it in just one shot.

1 upvote
Lars Rehm
By Lars Rehm (8 months ago)

yes, from the hip, with one eyes closed.

1 upvote
Lee Jay
By Lee Jay (8 months ago)

With one eye closed is the common way to shoot pictures with an eye-level viewfinder.

One shot, one 360° panorama:
http://www.0-360.com/
http://www.gopano.com/products/gopano-plus#page=technology
http://www.3dvista.com/oneshot.htm

I have a new panorama I shot, right from the rail of a lake. Would you throw a ball in the air in such a location, risking it landing in the lake?

0 upvotes
Lars Rehm
By Lars Rehm (8 months ago)

The OneShot looks interesting but doesn't appear to capture a full sphere, so it's not quite the same thing as the Panono. Plus if you only take one shot, the resolution of the final image will be lower unless you stick this thing on some medium format camera.

0 upvotes
Jonas Pfeil
By Jonas Pfeil (8 months ago)

I was indeed very afraid of throwing the camera before I finished building it. At that point I forgot it's a camera and just used it like a ball. Almost never worrying. Most of us are well trained of throwing balls :) I admit I was a little bit scared on this rock spire here, but then again we only had the one prototype ;) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MTU4GSdDYOA

Where shooting in high resolution in every direction at once really shines is of course if you have a lot of moving stuff like people!

1 upvote
Lee Jay
By Lee Jay (8 months ago)

Wow. Why is that image covered in vertical red and green stripes? I thought it was heavy flare at first, but it's even in the side pointing away from the sun.

I'm pretty adept at throwing and catching balls, since I 'm a 5 ball juggler. However, I still don't think I'd have taken the risk here. This one is also looking into the sun, as that's it in the top-center peaking out from behind that cloud.

http://tinyurl.com/nxpvylf

Comment edited 11 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Random Asian Guy
By Random Asian Guy (8 months ago)

Interesting, but I don't know if it would do better than a Ricoh Theta. Sure it has that throwable ability, but the idea of carrying a ball around could be quite annoying.

0 upvotes
Jonas Pfeil
By Jonas Pfeil (8 months ago)

The resolution of 108 megapixels is really necessary to get useful images ;) Remember you spread that out on the whole sphere! You can check out our sample images online or download the free "Panono" app (try it with an iPad!). One example: http://www.panono.com/v/1197/

0 upvotes
Smeggypants
By Smeggypants (8 months ago)

great idea. having to upload pics to the "Cloud" for stitching is not a good idea. I stitch my panos in PT Gui and prcess with LIghtroom beforehand. No cloud for me, if it doesn't work cloudless, not interested

2 upvotes
Lars Rehm
By Lars Rehm (8 months ago)

you can just download the individual images from the device and stitch yourself if you prefer that. But then, what's so scary about the cloud? :)

2 upvotes
lylejk
By lylejk (8 months ago)

Why not just keep the images in the ball cameral an take the card out later. You have little control of the result anyway once the ball's thrown. I refuse to own a smart phone for instance, so this product won't work for me. Regardless, I rather have a check mini-copter and take arial photos for landscape work, but even that cost is in excess of what I'm willing to pay for. :)

0 upvotes
Lars Rehm
By Lars Rehm (8 months ago)

you can download the images directly from the ball...but if you refuse the own a smartphone you're arguably not the target group for this :)

2 upvotes
PhotoKhan
By PhotoKhan (8 months ago)

Now, THIS is brilliant...finally.

1 upvote
photogerald
By photogerald (8 months ago)

I wonder how many of these will end of getting "lost" due to mis-throw/catch (I can just picture it rolling down Victoria Peak). Perhaps v2 will include a fishing line tether.

This could also have some interesting applications in sports - soccer, basketball, American football, etc.

Furthermore, bullet-time effects could be achieved by timing the shutter releases and adding some spin to the ball.

1 upvote
babalu
By babalu (8 months ago)

He-he ... well said !
although .. going up to vic peak and once on the top, tossing this up in the air for an additional height, is like taking a photo of the moon standing on a chair to get nearer.. :))

1 upvote
clicstudio
By clicstudio (8 months ago)

Pretty impressive… Specially for hard to reach places or when u have a crowd in front of u...

0 upvotes
wherearemyshorts
By wherearemyshorts (8 months ago)

I do not believe in the cloud. That is the turnoff for me.

2 upvotes
leno
By leno (8 months ago)

Trust me it does exist.

5 upvotes
babalu
By babalu (8 months ago)

The one specific innovation I see in this is its ability to elevate the point of picture taking above the normally used height of a person's stature or slightly higher in case of cameras held above the heads -for example in concerts- to a point about double as high, thus obtaining a view less obstracted . The modus operandi however, of throwing it up in the air, does bear some funny ridicule in it.

Comment edited 38 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
Lars Rehm
By Lars Rehm (8 months ago)

Well, you have to get it up there somehow :) I know they guys from Panono have experimented with a drone, there should be a sample shot from one somewhere on their site.

0 upvotes
babalu
By babalu (8 months ago)

Of course, and a pole to hold it up (in the Nowitzky show) is also mentioned, you're right . Still, it would be a funny thing to see dozends of these balls jumping up and down in a concert, for example ... maybe a good subject for a challenge ? (using one of the balls would top it ).

0 upvotes
Jonas Pfeil
By Jonas Pfeil (8 months ago)

You can either throw it, hold it on stick, just trigger in your hand, or you can mount it to a quadrocopter etc., whichever you like more :) Octocopter making of here: http://youtu.be/KWQD7OudhEA

0 upvotes
luxor2
By luxor2 (8 months ago)

Homeland security will want to fund this, a good match with drones, the Blade Runner world is here soon.

0 upvotes
nahshal
By nahshal (8 months ago)

nice review

1 upvote
Jonas Pfeil
By Jonas Pfeil (8 months ago)

Yes, very cool. Definitely the most detailed yet!

0 upvotes
alatchin
By alatchin (8 months ago)

BOUGHT!!!!!
What a superb idea, I can already see myself using this for client based work.
BRILLIANT!!!!!!!

2 upvotes
Horshack
By Horshack (8 months ago)

Skim over the headline quickly and see if you don't chuckle.

0 upvotes
Jonas Pfeil
By Jonas Pfeil (8 months ago)

Hehe, we got so many jokes about the ball thing! I got a mail going something like "Jonas, can I get one of your balls *lol*". Someone should collect all the puns journalists made in their headlines too ;) Like here "Photographers Have a Ball" http://blogs.wsj.com/photojournal/2011/10/24/photographers-have-a-ball/

0 upvotes
Kurt H
By Kurt H (8 months ago)

I see a few problems. First I either have to have a WiFi connection or eat the data plan on my phone. In the US companies want to limit what you send, not give you more. Second what happens if Panono does not make it or decides to stop supporting older models? You have a paperweight, and a bad one at that.

0 upvotes
Lars Rehm
By Lars Rehm (8 months ago)

Well, if they don't make it nothing happens and everybody gets their money back, that's how crowdfunding platforms like Indiegogo and Kickstarter work. Your other concerns are pretty much valid for any electronic device you buy these days.

0 upvotes
cordellwillis
By cordellwillis (8 months ago)

I have to agree with Kurt. Case in point, I tried to get Sony to repair my Betamax recorder a few weeks ago. I was very upset that they actually stopped supporting it. :D

2 upvotes
3dreal
By 3dreal (8 months ago)

There are certainly repairstations for betamax. Its still in use so no need to worry about sony. e.g. telebasel.ch is or was using it. ask them. its a local tv-station.

0 upvotes
Jonas Pfeil
By Jonas Pfeil (8 months ago)

You can set the Panono app to not upload to the cloud on 3G but only when logged into WiFi. If you don't want to upload anything into the cloud at all you can still get the single images directly from the camera via USB and stitch with a third party software.

1 upvote
Virvatulet
By Virvatulet (8 months ago)

Could be an interesting niche product for special use. But only if it had some active means, like mass gyros, to stabilize its movement (especially rotational) during flight. And accelerometer optimizing algorithms to choose the right moment for shutter release for the required exposure time.

Without those I doubt this will have any impact whatsoever; could keep one parents' garage busy though...

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Lars Rehm
By Lars Rehm (8 months ago)

It has an accelerometer which is used in exactly the way that you suggest.

6 upvotes
Virvatulet
By Virvatulet (8 months ago)

Ok. That would mean that the shutter control algorithm determines autoexposure suitably before the ball flight trajectory reaches its end-height, and in order to minimise movement during exposure the shutter release moment is timed so that half of the exposure happens just before the stall moment (end-height) and the other half after it.

If they really have been this thorough and mathematically modelled the cam-ball flight feeding real-time accelerometer flight data to the mathematical model, and not simply determining when the stall moment has been reached for releasing the shutter, then I'm quite impressed indeed.

0 upvotes
leno
By leno (8 months ago)

You could alternativlt read the artical

2 upvotes
Virvatulet
By Virvatulet (8 months ago)

@leno
Well, it says in the article “throw it in the air in which case the accelerometer triggers the camera at the highest point”, so interpreting it to the letter that would mean the shutter release moment is NOT optimised for minimal movement during exposure.

There might be inaccuracies in the description as is common with short popularised technical articles, but since that would be the least ambitious way of doing it and the product is foremost about marketing with buzzwords like Cloud…

The question is not indifferent by no means, for the virtually same amount of motion blur twice the exposure time (or half less motion blur with the same exposure time) is achievable by using advanced control scheme as I suggested. That 1 EV difference makes or breaks image quality for low light e.g. indoor photography.

0 upvotes
Barry Stewart
By Barry Stewart (8 months ago)

The high point is where any item (including a basketball player) is at its most stationary point.

Put your camera in "motor drive" and shutter at 1/60th and fire off shots as you jump in the air. The least blurred will be at the apex of your jump.

0 upvotes
Virvatulet
By Virvatulet (8 months ago)

The key is to recognise that the trajectory apex (stall instant) lasts only for an infinitesimal moment and that required exposure will take a lot longer than it even in bright conditions. Consequently some camera movement is unavoidable, vertical and rotational movements being the major factors in this particular case.

To all intents and purposes the flight path after reaching its top height will symmetrically reverse towards ground, therefore slightest absolute vertical camera movement occurs when exposure time is distributed evenly between leading and trailing sections i.e. before the apex is reached and after it has been reached. Thus optimal shutter release moment comes always before the apex (highest point, top height etc. – you name it) is reached.

0 upvotes
Petka
By Petka (8 months ago)

I do not see the vertical speed to be a problem at least in daylight, this gadget is going to stay stationary enough for a 1/500 sec exposure for sure. But how about spin? It is next to impossible to throw a ball up in the air without a spin. Would it need a tail like a kite to stop it?

0 upvotes
LensBeginner
By LensBeginner (8 months ago)

Well said, I suppose this would involve some calculations...
However, while the force of the throw is unknown, both the mass of the object and g (to some degree) are known.
A more accurate value of g could be inferred with a GPS module, perhaps...
Variables like wind, temperature and atmospheric pressure add some complexity to the mix....

0 upvotes
Jonas Pfeil
By Jonas Pfeil (8 months ago)

What we do is we integrate the launch acceleration right up to the point where the ball leaves the throwers hands. From there on acceleration data is zero (free flight). The integrated launch acceleration is the launch velocity from which we can determine the correct time of exposure for minimal blurring :) So in simple terms: Throw it harder and it will fly higher and take longer for that! We simply detect how hard you throw it.

0 upvotes
tim73
By tim73 (8 months ago)

After leaving the hands of the thrower, the accelerometer is useless: acceleration in ballistic flight is 1g downwards, and you don't need fancy electronics to tell you that.
The accelerometer is there to work out how hard the ball is launched, by integrating the forces applied during the throw. Once it has done that, it predicts the time of the apex of the trajectory. I don't *know* if it accounts for exposure time, but it would be by far the easiest part of the calculation.
(edit: Jonas beat me to it!)

Comment edited 3 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Virvatulet
By Virvatulet (8 months ago)

Even though the object shape is a ball, I guess that we could agree that the effect of drag is quite insignificant at these velocities. However, factually the free flight deceleration will be more than |1| g and acceleration less than |1| g. For a near perfect timing those need to be accounted for, as would deviation of the gravity of Earth (possibly that can be deducted or reduced from the equations, don't know for sure as I have not fooled around with it).

Comment edited 45 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
AbrasiveReducer
By AbrasiveReducer (8 months ago)

You give it to a robot. The robot enters the building and throws it in the air. The police get to see where the bad guys are and the bad guys get to shoot at it.

2 upvotes
Barry Stewart
By Barry Stewart (8 months ago)

Until the bad guys realize what it is, they might think it's a bomb — and not shoot.

Either way, it's likely not making it out in one piece… nor the robot!

Comment edited 10 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Ryan Gardner
By Ryan Gardner (8 months ago)

They insist on calling the images 360x360 - but this is not correct - a full sphere is 360 x 180.

7 upvotes
quiquae
By quiquae (8 months ago)

It'd be 360x360 if they're sampling the image twice on the phi axis....

1 upvote
Jonas Pfeil
By Jonas Pfeil (8 months ago)

You are of course right, mathematically 360x360 is non-sense ;) We did test everything from "full spherical" to "4 Pi sr solid angle" (the later is the scientifically correct term). Unfortunately the only thing that almost all people understand is 360x360 :)

2 upvotes
Chuq
By Chuq (8 months ago)

.. and 1024 bytes is a kilobyte but that's not what the hard drive manufacturers market it as...

0 upvotes
DotCom Editor
By DotCom Editor (8 months ago)

So, you can't just throw your smartphone in the air, let it crash to the pavement below, and obtain similar panoramic results?

1 upvote
Lars Rehm
By Lars Rehm (8 months ago)

Definitely worth a try ;)

4 upvotes
Bronze Age Man
By Bronze Age Man (8 months ago)

Might work underwater, no pole required.
Novelty item but really just need the 360 degrees in one plane, tripod or pole required seems a shame.
Will not buy shares in this one!

0 upvotes
Chuq
By Chuq (8 months ago)

I'm not sure what you mean here - a tripod or pole are not required, they are options for specific conditions.

0 upvotes
lylejk
By lylejk (8 months ago)

Other then the weird looking dudes with their arms raised (lol), this is a fantastic way to capture panos. Guess the dudes can later be cloned out of existance. ;)

:)

0 upvotes
Jonas Pfeil
By Jonas Pfeil (8 months ago)

If you are a pro, like my co-founder Björn you can do this! http://www.panono.com/v/524/ I'm not a pro, seemingly ;)

0 upvotes
olddog99
By olddog99 (8 months ago)

What the hell, I figure if Jonas Pfeil can answer questions here, I'm inclined to look at the links etc. and see what's there. It's pretty interesting. Don't know what I'd do with it, but I'll think about it. Fwiw I don't dive etc, but Jonas this sounds like a natural for underwater, e.g. Coral reefs. Given any thought to water tight enclosure with place perhaps to hook monofilament?

0 upvotes
Jonas Pfeil
By Jonas Pfeil (8 months ago)

We are indeed looking into options for a watertight enclosure. Would be awesome for sure!

0 upvotes
Chuq
By Chuq (8 months ago)

You only get a free Jonas Pfeil with your order if you preorder the $9999 option :)

0 upvotes
Akpinxit
By Akpinxit (8 months ago)

Special OPs would've like it : through it up a get an instant spherical view of all around . Though I feel that they been using such device already . On the other hand , common user , well it might be fun for a couple of times but sort of Lytro camera - interesting (even very good) tool but for wrong target audience .

2 upvotes
Total comments: 112
About us
Sitemap
Connect