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11 Jun 2013

The continuous panorama function on digital cameras and smartphones can create stunning photographs in the right hands. But, to get that shot just right, those hands need to be steady. The Spinpod is a portable motion control unit which is designed to make creating panoramas easier, while removing the need for you to spin on the spot.

The Spinpod, which can also be used when shooting motion time-lapse videos, is currently vying for funding on Kickstarter. It's a small dock-like device which rotates to combine with the continuous panoramic function of your smartphone, to create a seamless panorama. Because it rotates smoothly and at a controlled pace, it means no more overlaps, lost pixels and disruptive seams which can plague handheld panoramas.

Its 2.5 x 0.5 inch (64 x 13 mm) slot fits the Apple iPhone 4s/5 along with most Android phones, while a thumb-wheel is used to lock the phone in position. There are also adapters for holding smartphones horizontally, or using other small cameras. Once a device is in position, users control the Spinpod via its capacitive touch buttons and LED indicators with a series of presses and swipes.

Panoramic mode includes the option to delay the rotation by 5, 10, or 15 seconds. This could be particularly useful if you want to shoot panoramic selfies, or put the Spinpod in the middle of a table to capture an otherwise uncapturable group shot. In time-lapse mode users can set the device to turn (in tiny rotational steps of 0.05 degrees) at 0.5, 1, 2, 5, or 10 second intervals. The battery is said to be good for 10 hours of panoramic use, or 100 hours time-lapse shooting. It can be recharged via micro USB.

A threaded insert on the Spinpod base means it can be attached to a standard tripod, but it can just as easily be used on any number of surfaces, or even in the palm of a hand. An included mounting adapter lets you use cameras with a tripod hole, and a landscape mount can be used to attach your phone horizontally, which could be handy for time-lapse videos. While makers say the Spinpod is capable of handling a lighter weight DSLR, users are advised to stick to smartphones, or compact cameras.

Another clever feature, is the ability to use multiple Spinpods (which can be attached with an L-bracket) to shoot pan and tilt time-lapse videos. The device can also be used as a passive sound amplifier for your iPhone and act as a dock for listening to music or making video calls.

If Kickstarter funding is successful, the Spinpod should start shipping in October. A pledge of US$59 will put you in line for one with a mounting adapter and micro USB cable, while upping the pledge to $74 adds a landscape mount. This being Kickstarter, various other options are also available.

Here's the Kickstarter video showing off the Spinpod.



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