Panoscan full review

The second most expensive thing I've handled is the World Cup. I did what no England captain since Bobby Moore has managed - albeit in Asda's High Wycombe store - during a bizarre tour the famous trophy was taken on around the supermarket's UK outlets in 1998. The most expensive is the Panoscan, a £20,000 digital panoramic-capture camera. Digital Panoramic photography took off in the mid-1990s, with the advent of the perspective-correcting software QuickTime VR (QTVR). This allowed for "immersive imaging" - letting the computer-using viewer step inside a correct-perspective 360-degree image, with the ability to see and zoom in all directions. Stitched-up
Prior to the Panoscan, the methods of capturing such an image involved taking a succession of digital - or, God forbid, film-based - images covering the required 360 degrees, and then stitching them together electronically. The stitching process can take an age. This is where the Gitzo tripod-mounted Panoscan comes into its own: it involves no film, no scanning, no stitching and no post-production. The camera-back employs digital line-scan technology, which gives it an obscene top resolution of 7,072-x-22,000 pixels in its 360-degree revolution. Even in its lowest resolution setting, it produces fantastically crisp images. A single 15-minute high-res 360-degree scan packs a mighty 565MB. Lighting is also much less of an issue than with standard digital photography, because the Panoscan gives ISO sensitivity of up to 1,600, allowing for shooting in most lighting situations. The image used here was taken on a 28mm Nikon lens, at ISO 800 at 1/30 of a second on an overcast day in the Macworld office - never the best-lit of places. In photographic terms - it's a right result. Flexible lens
Panoscan can be used with a variety of lenses - from 16mm to 50mm - and images transformed into spherical, cylindrical, or conical forms. The system can also be synchronized with a turntable to record "object movies" - views showing all sides of the object on a turntable. It is also capable of taking professional-level studio still photographs. Panoscan's Phase One interface software has a number of useful features. Using Film Curve, over-exposed areas can dimmed and darkened areas lightened. High Shadow Detail letsa images lit by a strong single light-source to be evenly lit. Because the Panoscan is designed to capture still-images only, movement is registered as distortion. So that 15-minute scans aren't ruined by rogue passers-by - or Macworld's deputy editor (see blob, bottom centre), in our case - a click of the mouse halts the scan until the nuisance has passed. Because the flow of pixels has been merely halted, there's no vertical white stripe - like you'd have with film. The Panoscan is designed for mobile use. As well as a mains connection, it comes with a 12V gel-cell battery, from which both the Panoscan and a G3 Power Book can be run. The complete system - including tripod - weighs 40lb.
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