When we first saw the first prototype of the Panono 360-degree camera after its launch on Indiegogo in 2013, it looked like an impressive hardware and software product that had the potential to revolutionize some areas of photography.
However, it took almost three years for us to hold a production version in our hands, and although we found a lot to like in our test, by 2016 the number of competitors in the 360-degree camera market had grown exponentially, making it a lot more difficult for Panono to compete in the relatively new market for 360-degree cameras.
It’s probably fair to say that since then the path of Panono has been rocky. In May 2017 the original founders filed for bankruptcy. In July of the same year the company was sold to Swiss-based private equity investor Bryanston Group AG after only managing to deliver around 400 cameras to its backers.
Anyone who took up the offer back then could be forgiven for feeling tempted to smash their Panono camera against a wall, as the company has decided to start charging for its cloud-based stitching service.
In December 2017 the new owners contacted about 2,000 Indiegogo backers who received neither refund or camera during the original crowdfunding campaign, offering them to buy the camera at production cost. In addition they would get unrestricted access to Panono’s cloud features.
Anyone who took up the offer back then could be forgiven for feeling tempted to smash their Panono camera against a wall, as the company has decided to start charging for its cloud-based stitching service. In an email to users the company announced that from September 1st, 2019 the previously free service will cost Panono users €0.79 per image.
Share this so others don’t make my mistake! Camera company @panono now charging for a key service that was free & helped my decision to purchase the £1700 camera. I feel disgusted. Lesson learnt, NEVER invest on a @KickStarter. Full article coming soon! #panono #photography pic.twitter.com/W2pCJgJR29
— Nico Goodden (@NicholasGoodden) August 5, 2019
This is especially frustrating to users like photographer Nico Goodden, who voiced his discontent on Twitter, as there is no offline alternative to the Panono cloud stitching and the files recorded by the camera are not compatible with any third-party services, leaving users without any alternatives.
If it’s the Panono’s 108MP resolution you are after, there aren’t currently many affordable alternatives, but still it’s hard to recommend the camera to anyone at this point. It looks like charging for a service that is an essential element of the product and was always understood to be free to buyers of the camera, could be the final nail in the coffin of a once promising project.