What is the PanoClip?
The PanoClip is a 360 camera attachment for the iPhone, which employs a dual lens system to capture and automatically stitch 360 photos without the need for software.
The PanoClip slips over the top of your iPhone 7 / 7 Plus, iPhone 8 / 8 Plus or iPhone X and then aligns its wide-angle lenses with your phone’s front and rear cameras.
Images are then captured via a PanoClip companion app and can be shared to Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp and just about every social network you can think of.
The app also affords the option of applying effects, such as the Tiny Planet view and Spin View, which converts your 360 images into short video clips, which you can then bend into different shapes.
A SkyWarp effect lets you swap out the sky from your Spin View clips and exchange them for skies from a number of preset images that will move in time with a music clip.
There are also a number of art and beauty filters and stickers you can attach to your 360 photos.
Exposure controls are fairly limited. You can boost your dynamic range by enabling HDR. You can change the point of view by switching between your front and rear cameras. And you can set the self-timer for 3 or 10 seconds, which allows you to take shots without the PanoClip and phone in your hand.
PanoClip Price & Availability
The PanoClip price tag is just $49.99, and in the box you get the device and a protective carrying pouch. While the PanoClip is currently only available for recent iPhone models, the company says an Android version is on the way.
PanoClip is a new brand from Arashi Vision, which is the parent company of Insta360.
The PanoClip is really a simple device, and that minimalism is a big part of its charm. It’s made of plastic, but it’s thick and has a nice weight to it.
When you hold it on its side, it’s very easy to see how the PanoClip matches the camera configuration of your phone. You then simply slide the top of your phone into the device and you’re ready to go. No power buttons, no charging required. Just load the app and shoot.
I used the PanoClip on an iPhone 7, and the device fits snugly on board. I’ve used some attachment cameras in the past that have jiggled and lost their connection, but the PanoClip stays secure.
Even dropping your arm and pointing the top of the phone at the ground, the PanoClip doesn’t slide off. So that was a big plus right away.
One thing I did find is that because the PanoClip extends over part of your iPhone screen – at least on the 7 I used – sometimes I wasn’t able to click back or close a screen within the app.
This happened only a couple times and was mainly within the app’s help section. I had to then take the device off the phone, then close the dialogue box and reattach the PanoClip.
Because there’s no electronic connection between the PanoClip and your phone, this thankfully doesn’t kill the app and you can pick up right where you left off.
Overall, the PanoClip is a very simple, yet cleverly designed device with an app that is very simple to use.
The PanoClip couldn’t be simpler to use. Match its slot to the configuration of your phone and slide it in. Open the PanoClip app, press the camera icon and get shooting.
It’s a case study in minimalism, and in an era of 30-page shooting menus I found the PanoClip’s simplicity rather refreshing.
Now, because the PanoClip is a snap-on lens, the image quality in your 360 photos is really down to the resolution of your iPhone’s front and back cameras. This means you can focus solely on compositions and finding interesting 360 scenes.
I took the PanoClip into some old derelict warehouses and found it great fun mounting the phone on my 3 Legged Thing Iggy, using it as a selfie stick and mini tripod for different types of compositions.
The PanoClip app’s self-timer mode was a real asset for those times when I wanted to conceal myself, or include myself in the background of a composition.
That said, images from the PanoClip did seem a slightly darker than they should, but this is probably due to the fact you’re placing another lens over your iPhone’s lens. I found that by enabling the HDR effect on my images really helped bring out some of the shadow detail.
I also found that the stitch on the PanoClip’s images when the subject is near is a little uneven. But it’s superb when the subject is farther away. This is really true of most 360 imaging devices.
As far as 360 cameras go, the PanoClip isn’t packed with features, but it’s one of the cheapest 360 options on the market, and the features it offers, it does very well.
When you consider that the $700 GoPro Fusion doesn’t automatically stitch 360 images but the $50 PanoClip can, that’s really quite remarkable. Sure, the Fusion offers superior image quality and 5.2K video capture, but do most people need this resolution? In 99% of your images, your iPhone’s resolution will be just fine.
Another thing I appreciated about using the PanoClip is how easy it is to share your images. When I’ve used other 360 cameras and devices the apps will support sharing to some social networks, but not all.
And others I’ve found have convoluted processes for accessing and sharing your media depending on whether you shoot via the companion app or via direct controls on the device itself.
The PanoClip shares to every social network you use and does so with one touch. What’s more – which is handy for people like me and other bloggers out there – you can share to PanoClip’s hosting platform, where you can get an iframe to embed on your website.
The other great thing about the PanoClip is that the app offers live preview of your scene, which some 360 photo apps don’t. It also allows you to swap between your phone’s front and rear cameras to change the point of view.
The PanoClip is a budget 360 option and one of the cheapest you can buy. It’s not a camera, but rather a lens attachment, so your resolution is tied to your phone’s capabilities. But you can add some cool effects and fun filters. And it’s really easy to use.
I’ve said before that the key to a 360 camera is a well-designed app, and like the 360Fly 4K and a few others, the PanoClip has a robust, bug-free, user-friendly app that makes 360 photography – and sharing – a breeze.
Should I buy the PanoClip?
At $50, the PanoClip is a real bargain. If you’re happy with your iPhone’s image quality and would like to create some fun immersive images to share with friends and family or embed on your blog, the PanoClip is a cheap, portable option that won’t let you down.