PanoClip takes a novel approach to 360-degree smartphone photography. Instead of selling you a device with two built-in cameras, their accessory simply uses the cameras you already have on your phone. This strategy has some advantages, for example PanoClip costs $ 49, which is much less than other 360-degree cameras, but it also has some disadvantages, which I discovered during my tests.
The PanoClip itself is a white rectangular case that is slightly wider than the iPhone X and is about an inch and a half thick. On each of the long sides there is a lens and at the bottom there is a slot into which you insert the iPhone. Once the phone is fully inserted, the two PanoClip lenses correspond to the front and rear cameras of the iPhone. It’s a smart idea.
The free PanoClip app (which you need to use this accessory) takes a photo of both iPhone cameras in quick succession and then joins them together.
From there, you can add stickers and filters, and then share the photo in a variety of formats, such as a standard 360-degree photo or an animation that moves the camera slowly. The PanoClip application also allows you to view 360 degree photos and videos taken by those who own PanoClip and Insta360 cameras.
MORE: Best 360-Degree Cameras
PanoClip is available for iPhone X, iPhone 6/7/8, and iPhone Plus models. An Android version is on the way, but the timing has not been announced.
The photos I took with the PanoClip were generally quite good; the app was properly adjusted for different lighting conditions and did a good job of stitching the two images together. However, there is one thing that PanoClip failed to explain: the superiority of the iPhone X’s 12-megapixel rear camera over that of its 7MP TrueDepth front camera.
Half of the photo that was taken with the rear camera was much sharper than the one that was taken with the front camera. Details, such as building windows and tree leaves, were much sharper in one half of the photo than in the other half.
Just to be safe, I took a photo and then flipped 180 degrees and took a second photo. The half that was sharper in the first photo was much less so in the second.
The smaller of the two halves was not horrible, I could still make out my face clearly and the skin tones were precise, but the difference was very noticeable.
At $ 49, the PanoClip is the least expensive 360-degree camera accessory out there. It’s half the price of devices like the Samsung Gear 360 and Insta360 Nano, making this type of photography even more affordable for the masses.
MORE: Best iPhone Lens Kits for Photographers
However, there are some limitations to the PanoClip approach. Because the cameras it is based on are not the same, you end up with an image where one half is clearly better than the other half. If you can live with that, then you will find a lot to like about this affordable 360 degree camera accessory.