Full 360-degree panoramas once involved big DSLRs, tripods with panorama heads and a lot of shooting and editing time. But today the processing power of smartphones means that much of this work can be done by a device you carry in your pocket.
Google's Photosphere camera mode which was launched with Android 4.2 and the Nexus 4 smartphone allows you to capture a full 360-degree panorama that can then be browsed either on the device or in the Google Plus photo viewer. (It's also available on the new Nexus 5, which we just reviewed.) You can shoot handheld, with the app guiding the framing of the individual images and doing the final stitching fully automatically. Microsoft's equivalent is called Photosynth and can be installed as a so-called "lens," an add-on the camera app, on most Windows phones. The third-party app Sphere comes pre-installed on the Sony Xperia Z1 that we reviewed recently but is available free of charge in the app stores for both iPhone and Android devices.
These apps produce interesting results that allow for the presentation of a space in a three-dimensional manner and are fun to browse in a dedicated viewer, but at this point in their development they still come with a few weaknesses. The capturing of a sphere can be somewhat longwinded, with a lot of frames to shoot and align, and the final stitching is usually far from perfect.
Enter the Motrr Galileo. The Galileo was born as a Kickstarter project and is a robotic platform that connects to your iPhone or iPod via the 32-pin connector of the older devices or bluetooth on the iPhone 5, 5s and 5c. In combination with the Sphere iOS app it lets you automate the panorama capturing process with much more precision than handheld shooting would allow. This speeds the entire process up considerably and should, at least in theory, lead to better image results.
But that's not all the Galileo can do. Sphere is the most interesting app to use with the Galileo, but there are a bunch of other apps that support the device. (This page gives you an overview of all the apps that currently work with Galileo.) But let's have a closer look at the Galileo's performance as a 360-degree panorama capturing device.
Capturing a sphere
Capturing a 360-degree panorama with the Motrr Galileo and the Sphere app is pretty straightforward. For our test we used an iPhone 5 which connects to the Galileo via Bluetooth. For older iPhone models there is a different Galileo version that physically connects via the 32-pin connector.
To get started you have to select the Galileo option in the Sphere app menu. When working with the Bluetooth version the interface then asks you to twist the base of the Galileo. This activates the Galileo's Bluetooth and a message pops up on the phone screen, asking you to confirm the connection.
Once iPhone and Galileo are paired via Bluetooth you can also connect them physically and stick the phone into the rubber holder in the Galileo's top plate. With our iPhone 5 there is a tiny bit of play, but overall the fit seems quite secure, certainly enough to keep the iPhone in its place while capturing a sphere.
At this point all you have to do is make sure the the Galileo is locked in landscape orientation and you can hit the start button on the screen. From there on the process is fully automatic, the Galileo pans and tilts the phone camera to capture all the frames required for the panorama. All you have to do is wait for the final result which on the iPhone 5 took approximately 30 seconds to compute.
Once processing is finished the panorama is ready to view in the Sphere app. You can opt to upload it to the Sphere website and share via social media or email. The output JPEG is also saved in the iPhone's camera roll but you have to view it in the Sphere app or website for the full spatial experience.
As you can see in the sphere below the Galileo does a very good job in aligning the frames which results in noticeably better stitching than what we've seen from handheld panorama spheres. However, the results are not perfect and you'll still find a few stitching errors in most spheres. Other image quality characteristics such as noise, sharpness, white balance or exposure are of course determined by the camera of the phone you are using.
Like virtually all panorama apps that we have tried Sphere is struggling with moving objects in the capture area. If you take a Sphere in a busy place you will almost certainly end up with a few ghosting artifacts, people with disappearing body parts or vehicles that appear to be entering a parallel dimension.
In this respect the Motrr Galileo does not improve your results over handheld shooting. In the sphere below a person got close to the device during capture which lead to the ghosting and tonal differences at the center of the image.
The next panorama was captured indoors on a desk tripod. Again, there are few stitching errors, as usual they are worse on objects closer to the lens. The "blurry disc" at the bottom of the sphere, the area below the camera which is not covered by the lens, also appears more intrusive in enclosed spaces. However, although it is not perfect, this result is significantly better than what you could get when shooting handheld in a room.
The Motrr Galileo is well-made, portable and, in combination with the Sphere iOS app, very easy to use. The panorama results are not perfect but visibly better than what you get when shooting handheld. Frequent panorama shooters will also appreciate the speed of the system. With the Galileo aligning your framing for you, the automated process is considerably quicker than the manual one.
For users who only occasionally shoot panoramas the price point of $149 might be a little steep, so you probably want to check if you can make use of any of the other available Motrr apps before you hit the buy button. But for iPhone users who shoot 360-degree images on a regular basis the Motrr Galileo is an easy sell. Android users will have to wait until 2014 for a compatible version and we're looking forward to testing the concept with the best of 2014's Android smartphones.
|Antz by Deadfisheye|
from Animated Film Title
|The Ladder - Fort Worth Museum of Modern Art by RJD13|
from Lookin' Up!
Tiffen has joined the monopod market with the new Steadicam Air. The Steadicam Air is a three-section carbon fibre model that uses a gas spring and foot pedal close to the base to quickly and easily adjust the monopod's height.
Kodak Alaris is resurrecting yet another film photography product. Kodak's T-Max P3200 high-speed B&W film—which the company says can be push processed to ISO 25,000—is officially coming back in March!
ProGrade Digital is new brand of memory cards aimed at professional photographers and demanding amateurs. Here's what sets ProGrade apart, and why the company believes it can compete with the big guys.
Sigma announced pricing and availability for its much-anticipated 14-24mm F2.8 Art lens today, revealing that the ultra-wide zoom will begin shipping mid-March for $1,300 USD.
A recent breakthrough means the future could include sensors that perfectly describe the light in the scene, offer new computational possibilities and give film-like latitude in the highlights. And yet we may never see them in cameras, says father of the CMOS sensor, Professor Eric Fossum.
The Tokina FíRIN 20mm F2 FE AF is a followup to the MF version released in 2016, which adds (you guessed it) autofocus capabilities. Optically, the two lenses are identical.
The VMC-MM2 release cable allows owners of Sony's ultra-compact RX0 to sync the sort-of action camera with a Sony alpha (or Cyber-shot) camera and capture photos and video simultaneously.
Sony just released a new wireless flagship flash for E-mount with guide number 60. The HVL-F60RM offers "high-power flash output, reliable continuous performance and advanced control features with integrated radio control options."
The Opera 50mm F1.4 FF is a full-frame lens for Nikon and Canon mounts, while the FíRIN 20mm F2 FE AF for Sony E-Mount replaces the FíRIN 20mm F2 FE MF announced in September of 2016.
Two veteran sports photographers share stories and tips from photographing the Olympics, as well as other high-profile sporting events throughout history.
We've added the Panasonic GX9 to this buying guide to to place its specifications and features in context, alongside its competition. When our full review is complete the camera will be considered for an award.
Tamron has announced a full-frame 70-210mm F4 tele-zoom, boasting moisture-resistance, a minimum focus distance of 0.95m/37.4in and up to 5 stops of stabilization – all for $800.
Details are thin at this point, but the 28-75mm F2.8 Di III RXD will offer "superb optical performance" and a moisture-resistant construction.
The Pentax K-1 Mark II promises less noise than its predecessor and offers a cool new Pixel Shift mode that lets you leave your tripod behind. Find out what's changed - and what hasn't.
Ricoh has announced an updated version of its K-1 full-frame DSLR. The Pentax K-1 Mark II gains an additional 'accelerator' processor that enables improved image processing as well as a handheld version of its Pixel Shift Resolution mode.
For a limited time this summer, current K-1 owners will be able to send their cameras in for a circuit board replacement, essentially upgrading to a Mark II. They'll even get a Mark II logo swapped in on the front of the camera.
Panasonic has continued to develop its organic/CMOS image sensor tech, and the latest breakthrough is big: an image sensor that can shoot 8K at 60p, boasts incredible dynamic range, and has global shutter capability.
Services like Copypants and Pixsy help anybody find copyright infringers, send take-down requests, and quickly demand licensing fees and damages. But do these automated systems also open the door to prolific copyright trolls?
The new 5x4-inch field camera was designed by UK photographer and custom camera maker Steve Lloyd, and it promises to be lightweight, easy-to-use, unique, affordable and upgradable... as well as a bit funky.
AP photographer A.M. Ahad captured this video that shows how tourist 'travel photographers' will stage scenes in an attempt to capture award-winning images.
Camera accessory manufacturer Really Right Stuff is relocating. The company is moving its headquarters from California to Utah, citing rising costs and promising 'expansion on every level' as a result of this move.
Fujifilm's new X-H1 sits above the X-T2 in the company's X-series APS-C lineup. At the X-H1's launch in LA last week, we sat down with the camera's product manager, Jun Watanabe, for a detailed look at the new camera.
The so-called 'Prosthetic Photographer' uses AI to continuously scan the environment for 'ideal' scenes. When it sees one, it uses electrodes to zap the photographer, forcing them to press the button and take the shot. It's an... interesting idea.
A helicopter pilot and his student claim a civilian drone was the cause of their crash landing last week. If their story is confirmed by an ongoing investigators, this incident would mark the first time that a drone has caused an aircraft crash in the US.
Lensrentals' Roger Cicala just tore down the Sony a7R III to see just how much Sony did (and didn't) improve the camera's weather sealing over its predecessor. The results are a "good news, bad news" deal.
Popular Science takes a look at the glass and tech that Canon packs into its 59-pound, $200,000+ broadcast lenses that are currently being used at the Olympics.
Samsung just set a new solid state storage milestone with its new 30TB SSD, the Serial Attached SCSI PM1643. This monster was built for enterprise use, but we can't wait to see this tech trickle down to consumers.
The third Excellence in Performance (XP) lens from Samyang, the XP 50mm F1.2 for Canon full-frame cameras is meant to resolve over 50MP for photography and easily capture 8K resolution for video.
On this week's episode of The New Screen Savers from the TWiT Network, DPReview Science Editor Rishi Sanyal talks with host Leo Laporte and co-host Megan Morrone about some of the newest tech trends in smartphone cameras.
A blockchain crypto-art rose based on a digital photograph by Kevin Abosch was just sold for the equivalent of $1,000,000 USD in cryptocurrency to 10 equal investors. If that last sentence made absolutely no sense to you, read on.