Panoramic photography is the favourite of photographers all over the world, particularly when it comes to shooting the natural environment. Yet in this day and age, panoramic photos are possible with even the simplest of digital cameras, thanks to built-in digital camera features and the capabilities of imaging software. But given that technology is moving fast, where is the future of panoramic photography headed? Here are designs paving the way for the new age of panorama:
1.The Camera Ball
This throwable soccer-ball camera is the invention of German Jonas Pfeil and has attracted lots of hype since it was first publicised. It takes 360° images as the ball is thrown into the air, shooting images when the ball is at its highest, unmoving point (the apogee) and capturing the entire panoramic shot in an instant. Using 36 fixed-focus mobile phone cameras, the device is protected in foam and is able to be used just like a real ball.
Once you’ve caught the ball, simply plug it into your computer and watch the panorama come to life on your screen. While it only takes 2 megapixels pics at the moment, one can only imagine what this might mean for the future – photographing kids as they play, capturing sky-high scenes and even mounting these balls on telegraph poles for all round, 360° security surveillance. Yikes!
2.The Drink Bottle
It was a while ago, back in 2006, but Singaporean student and industrial designer Frederic Tay developed this thermos-shaped camera that would undoubtedly change the future of panoramic photography. Cylindrical by nature, the ic360 features a flip-out viewfinder (much like a video camera) and a rotating head that captures a series of images that can be later stitched together. While the focus here is not so much on instantaneous panoramic shots, like the Camera Ball, the invention is still highly regarded since it doesn’t require the user to aim or balance the device. Perhaps one day, when technology reaches new levels, the camera might even be reduced to the size of a lipstick, allowing you to carry about the ability of panorama in your pocket.
Also in the world of spinning cameras is the Lomography Spinner 360. Shaped like a ‘camera on a broom handle’ and amazingly equipped for 35mm film, the 0-360 simply works by pulling a cord (who would’ve ever thought!) and letting the rotating camera work it’s magic, exposing the film as it whips around in a matter of an instant. This device creates images about 4 times as long as a usual landscape photo and users can also control the speed and manipulate the way the images will be produced. And yep, you guessed it – it’s actually available on the market now for around $100.
Of course, it wouldn’t be futuristic if we didn’t mention 3D! If you have a 3D camera with panoramic functionality or if you can stitch together some 3D photos, it is possible in today’s time to take 3D panoramic images and display them on your TV. The Sony Nex-5/Nex-3 is one such contraption and with its interchangeable lens and new firmware, the 3D Sweep Panorama function transforms simple images on your camera into real life 3D vistas. Who knows where the future of 3D panorama is going – perhaps one day we’ll have houses with 3D panoramic images on the walls or 3D billboards as we walk down the street!