I love how technology evolves. It’s always fascinated me to see something simple grow and expand into something more complicated. One thing I’ve seen maintain its structure over the years is a photograph. Still photos are our way of capturing a single moment in time and they’ve been pretty much the same since the 1800s when they originated. That changed a few years ago when technology companies began developing different methods of capturing virtual reality and 360 photos and video. I had the chance to try out a 360 video camera from Kodak and while I enjoyed it, I really wanted something more portable. I was recently introduced to the PanoClip Snap-on 360 Lens for iPhone. It’s a remarkable accessory that lets you grab 360-degree images and process them on your phone — without the need for a desktop computer or its software.
The PanoClip launched back in June and is currently selling for around $50. It’s a dual-lens system that snaps photos instantly onto an iPhone and creates a seamless 360-degree photo by combining images from the front and rear cameras. PanoClip snaps effortlessly onto the top of the phone and aligns its super-wide-angle lenses with the phone’s cameras. From here, the user opens up the companion app to take the snapshots.
PanoClip’s companion app actually provides users with a way to apply several different filter effects to the 360 images. These options include Tiny Planets, Spin View, and SkyWarp. Tiny Planets shots roll an entire 360-degree view into a traditional rectangular or square frame. Spin View converts 360° snapshots into short, dynamic video clips that showcase the scene in every direction and bend it into eye-catching shapes. The new SkyWarp effect adds stunning twists to video clips. For shots taken outdoors, the PanoClip app will automatically detect the horizon, and then swap out the sky with a variety of preset skyscapes that shift and flow in time with a music clip. It’s trippy, fun and will make your friends think you’ve got crazy editing skills.
PanoClip’s app also offers a full range of colorful filters and stickers for a creative touch to any 360-degree scene. Photo and video resolutions are based on the resolution your phone’s cameras are shooting in. There are two body configurations — full and lite. PanoClip is compatible with the iPhone 6/Plus, 6s/Plus, 7/Plus, 8/Plus, and X. At this time, it is not available for Android, but a compatible version is being developed.
I’ve had the fortunate opportunity to work with clip-on/snap-on lenses for the iPhone in the past. Sometimes they can be unpredictable and wobbly on the phone. The PanoClip came in a well-packaged box and can be stored in a carrying pouch (provided), which doubles as a cleaning cloth. Installing it on the iPhone is pretty simple. With either the Lite or standard version, the PanoClip just slides over the top of the phone. When you order the lens, you do specify which iPhone you are using since the current iPhone models do vary slightly in body style and camera placement/size.
The PanoClip is very lightweight — especially for a device that covers the entire top of the phone. It’s really easy to carry in your pocket and because it snaps onto the phone and uses a companion app for processing, it doesn’t require an outside power source. This is a great benefit in my mind because it’s one less thing to charge. You never have to worry about it being ready to use. You can just grab it and go.
I am a fan of this product but haven’t found a ‘perfect’ use for it yet. I did capture some clips in various locations (aquarium, outside at a park, outside at a zoo, etc.) but didn’t feel that those occasions really called for a one-of-a-kind 360-degree photo. I believe that 360 photos look great but it’s sometimes hard to find when best to use them.
That said, PanoClip is a much easier option for 360 photos/animations then some of the 360-degree video cameras out there. It is self-contained and with the image processing happening directly on the phone, there is really no other option that is more convenient. The only two things that I really had an issue with is photo clarity — final products were a little less than perfect — and the fact that the iPhone heats up a bit when the app is being used.
I like accessories that enhance what I’m already doing with my iPhone — like taking photos and video. Adding a 360 lens to my accessories toolkit is a great boost to my iPhoneography and I really like having the ability to create 360-degree photos quickly and easily. PanoClip is a really affordable, easy-to-use accessory that I can recommend wholeheartedly. The only challenge is trying to find the ideal use for a 360 photo.