Saturday, October 9, 2010

The Lomographic Spinner 360 gets a quick test

This is a Lomographic Spinner 360. It's a strange-looking thing covered in grippy studded rubber, with a huge protruding handle, gaping metal hood, exposed rubber-band gearing and a peculiar dangling pullstring.

It looks like what would happen if a computer tried to understand bdsm, gave up, and designed a bird instead.

But I can assure you that the Spinner 360 a camera, and a pretty interesting one at that: it takes full 360-degree panoramas on standard 35mm film.

A view from Mount Tolmie

The Spinner is well built from plastic, rubber, and metal. Its unusually-textured exterior finish is very functional, providing an excellent grip on a camera that's a bit more squirrelly by nature than a standard camera. The drawstring which winds and fires the camera mechanism is made of plain old rope with a metal pull loop, and feels like it could stand up to extended (though not reckless) use.

You hold the Spinner by its handle, which contains the spring mechanism and drawstring; the camera body itself spins at the top, driven by that exposed rubber band mentioned earlier (the design is sturdy and recessed enough that it doesn't get in the way).
The Spinner 360 actually captures a bit more than 360 degrees.
"Aiming" is irrelevant, since the picture will span the horizon, but there are a few important things to note before pulling that drawstring. The first is that, unless you take explicit steps to prevent it, you're going to be in the picture- so you'd better be wearing your finest, or hold the camera above your head.
Sometimes you will look like an idiot because you are not expecting to be photographed
The second is that your panorama will look crazy if the horizon is crooked, so if you're looking to get a legit picture of what's around you, make sure that the camera is level. Fortunately, there's a bubble level built into the top of the camera body for just such an occasion.
The convenient dolphin-themed bubble level.
With that in mind, all that's left to do is to pull the drawstring and let the camera spin: it starts as soon as you let go of the string, and completes its rotation within 1/125s.

It would be useful, perhaps, to be able to wind and fire the camera with different controls, for easier one-handed use and for greater control over exact release timing. That said, I found that it was completely workable just to pull the string out, dangle the drawstring's pull ring around a finger, and let it slip when i was  ready to take a picture.
The Spinner is also tripod-mountable (a good thing)
Taking 360-degree pictures is challenging, but the results are pretty compelling. You can see some more of our test shots (including verticals!) on Flickr by clicking right here.

We have a limited quantity of Spinner 360 cameras in-store right now for $149.

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