Panono makes decision to hold its camera customers hostage behind a paywall

Aug 6, 2019

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

Panono makes decision to hold its camera customers hostage behind a paywall

Aug 6, 2019

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

Join the Discussion

Share on:

We all know the risks when we back a crowdfunding campaign. Although the risk is typically that the project will fail, the company goes bust, never delivers on the products and all the backers are out of pocket. What backers don’t expect is that a successful campaign backed based on set terms suddenly decides to start charging extra for part of that service way down the line.

Panono launched on Indiegogo (and possibly Kickstarter) way back in 2013. It’s a “Panoramic Ball Camera” offering 360° views with a whopping 108-megapixels. Even today, that’s mighty impressive. You need to utilise their cloud service for processing the images, which was included in the purchase price of the camera. Now, they’ve decided to start charging for it.

The campaign raised over $1.25 million with a goal of $900,000, and even had the support of former Leica CEO, Ralf Coenen. For a reminder, this is what the campaign video for the Panono looked like.

YouTube video

Bringing things to the current day, an email was sent out to Panono users stating that the previously free service was, from September 1st, 2019, going to cost €0.79 per image to process and stitch using their cloud platform. One Panono owner, photographer Nico Goodden, took to Twitter to voice his frustration.

Yes, with less than a month’s notice, the service on which this camera relies is going behind a paywall. This wouldn’t be so much of a problem, except for the fact that you can only stitch images from this camera on their cloud-based system. There is no offline software to do it yourself under your own processing power, and the files created by the Panono camera are not compatible with other stitching software on the market.

Many other users on Twitter say that they have attempted to reach out to Panono on the platform as well as via email. Panono has not posted to their own Twitter account since last November.

One might argue that these people have gotten a good few years of use out of their cameras and it’s time to upgrade, however, today, even the mighty Insta360 Titan sits at only 55-megapixels at maximum resolution, which is half that of the Panono. And the Titan costs $15K. While the Titan is an excellent camera, it’s a very different kind of camera. So, there isn’t really anything else on the market today to upgrade to.

Sure, there are cameras like the Insta360 ONE X, with a variety of accessories to send them sailing through the air, but 18-megapixels is a far cry from 108-megapixels. And people who already own a Panono seem to be very happy with them. They wish to continue using them. But in less than four weeks, if they want to do that, they’ll have to pay for the pleasure.

Now, I can understand that online cloud services cost money to run, but to suddenly say to your customers “Hey, keep feeding us money or your camera becomes an expensive paperweight” is pretty crappy. And that’s essentially what they’ve done.

It reminds me a little of when EyeFi bricked a bunch of their cards by not having offline software. EyeFi did eventually do an about-face and released offline software for those cards, but customers had already lost faith in the company and switched to other WiFi alternatives. I used to know at least a hundred people who used multiple EyeFi cards regularly in the course of their work, particularly event photographers. Now, I don’t know a single one who continues to use them.

If Panono is planning to release offline software to keep their existing customers happy, then they’re going to have to hurry up get it out there quickly, or reverse the decision to start charging for image processing, or they’re likely to suffer the same fate.

What do you think? Is the company right to suddenly start charging after 5 years?

Update: Kickstarter has been in touch with DIYP to clarify that Panono was never on the Kickstarter platform, regardless of what the Tweets may say.

Filed Under:

Tagged With:

Find this interesting? Share it with your friends!

John Aldred

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

Join the Discussion

DIYP Comment Policy
Be nice, be on-topic, no personal information or flames.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

9 responses to “Panono makes decision to hold its camera customers hostage behind a paywall”

  1. Hugh Clarke Avatar
    Hugh Clarke

    Start the failure countdown clock.

  2. Frédéric BP Avatar
    Frédéric BP

    You mean like adobe pushing to monthly fee and asking user to stop using old versions?

    1. Jolyon Ralph Avatar
      Jolyon Ralph

      Big difference. If you don’t use Adobe there are alternative software systems you can use. With this you are locked in to their cloud, there is no alternative.

  3. Stefan Kohler Avatar
    Stefan Kohler

    0.79 per image is quite a bit of money. Especially because it‘s kind of an experimental thing, you might want to make tons of images… holy cow, this is crap :-(

  4. Jolyon Ralph Avatar
    Jolyon Ralph

    Well, anyone who uses something that relies on a *free* cloud service is just asking for trouble. In fact, it’s kind of inevitable that they would charge for it.

    On the other hand, it’s somewhat better that they’re charging for it rather than just shutting the whole thing down.

  5. Greg Hitchcock Avatar
    Greg Hitchcock

    What am I missing here? Is it .79 Euro or 79 Euro? Because .79 Euro is around $1.25. Why is everyone upset? It was foolish for them to offer free cloud service in the first place, that sort of service does in deed cost money to run, and you only buy the camera once. Might be better to just make it so you can process at home.

  6. Jolyon Ralph Avatar
    Jolyon Ralph

    No real different to what happened when Lytro removed their ‘live photo’ cloud stuff.

  7. ShyMagpie Avatar
    ShyMagpie

    Unless the camera was sold with unlimited image processing for the life of the camera then they can change the terms. But I wonder how various countries will interpret this when it comes to consumer protection. If there’s no mention of possibly changing the free service to a paid per-image service then they might have to back down.

    Simply saying that the terms and conditions are subject to change isn’t valid when the product relies on a service that was sold bundled with the product.

  8. Stig Nygaard Avatar
    Stig Nygaard

    This article and discussion seems to forget that it is not the original funders of Panono running it anymore. The original Panono went bankrupcy, and another company bought the “remains” (sorry, I’m not sure about the exact English terms).

    Btw, not 100% sure it still works, but I think so: https://360rumors.com/exclusive-how-to-stitch-panono-images/