Panoramic photography has always had its difficulties. There's always the strong likelihood that you may go too fast or too slow in one of the shot frames, leaving for an unwanted deformation of the picture. Then there's the sight of a person spinning in one spot, looking like a fool and visually demonstrating just what you look like doing the same.
Well that's not a problem now, thanks to the Bubblescope.
This nifty little invention has been around for quite a while, attracting audiences and tech blogs alike in July of last year, then going on to receive a full sum of required money (and more) from Crowdfunder. It's a device that connects to your smartphone camera (via a proprietary case) and takes photographs with 360 degrees of horizontal view, by 120 degrees vertical. The pop-up curved mirror expands the view of the smartphone's lense to capture the image.
Images and video are saved locally by default, with the user choosing whether to share the content or not (a welcome implementation). This is all done via the Bubblepix application, which will have its own community based around the app (a la Instagram) and the results (or 'Bubbles' as they are called) are easily shared to other networks either via a jpeg or an embedded flash player, so it's interactive within a Facebook or Twitter window.
The image quality is of a nice high resolution; but as the scope essentially stretches the resolution of the camera lense beyond its normal viewfinder parameters to a full 360 degree view, finite quality is going to be sacrificed. Although, for the purpose of just taking quick snaps, no-one's really going to care in the face of the friendly UI of the app and the sense of a quirky charm from using the bubblescope.
However, take the content you've captured out the context of the application and things start to get interesting. You have an option to save any uploaded bubbles straight to your phone's gallery; with video this becomes the meeting point of fisheye filming and panoramic photography. It creates a weird result: a strange perspective that, while inhibited by the stalk that the mirror is connected to, gives a slight artistic flair to what we feel is an understated feature of the experience.
The Bubblescope and subsequent Bubblepix app make for a great panoramic shooting solution, relying on the analogue means of mirrors over digital stitching and post processing of images. It's a novel idea that, with the right community engagement that a photography app needs has the potential to be extremely successful. Best of luck to them!
The app is available for free to download, and with hardware production starting in the next couple of weeks, you can expect the bubblescope to go on sale soon at roundabout the £60 mark.