The Lomography Spinner 360 is a 35mm film panoramic camera with plenty of character.
It looks more like a gadget for geography teachers than a camera but the Spinner 360 is very well designed for it’s purpose with a simple and solid construction. It can take a serious beating so don’t be afraid of getting adventurous with where you take it and what you do with it.
When the rip cord is pulled and released a rubber belt mechanism spins the camera on top of the chunky black handle. It feels a bit like a cross between letting off a grenade and pulling the cord on the back of a Toy Story doll - a satisfying action indeed. There is absolutely no electronic gadgetry in this camera so no batteries are required; it is a purely mechanical beast.
Quite a bulky piece of kit and considering it only performs this one specific function (unable to take conventional stills) it may be considered a limited and gimmicky camera but it is capable of producing some amazing images.
ISO 400 film is recommended but 200 is fine on a bright day, if you want to shoot in dark conditions you will need a much faster film, 1600 is good. Exposing the film more slowly is possible by manually rotating it, however you must be careful to do this in a smooth continuous motion otherwise overexposed patches may appear.
It uses standard 35mm film and this can be processed at any photo lab but not all places will be able to scan to disc including the exposed sprocket holes. This will frustrate many people but Lomography do provide a list on their website with labs that have this capability. When processing the film make sure you request the lab DOES NOT CUT UP THE NEGATIVES (this would be highly annoying!), write a note stating they should develop only.
If you are used to digital photography you will have to adjust your expectations for not only the speed at which you will see the results but also how many pictures you can actually take - 8 panoramas per film. This may be a very small number of exposures but this a very unconventional camera that produces intriguing and unique images.
You really have to get into the ‘spinny panoramic photography’ mindset when using the Spinner 360, making sure you’re mindful of where you will appear in the image. If you start the exposure facing the lens you will be in it twice, start it facing away from you and you will be in it once in the very middle. This is something you should consider, as you will appear in every shot.
The spirit level on the top of the camera helps in achieving a consistent image and level horizon but some of my favourite shots are the vertical and skewed angle panoramas. I have seen some great shots where the camera is held out of windows in tall buildings; with shots like those you get some truly mind-bending results, showing off the extent to which lines of perspective are warped out of proportion… trippy stuff!
The format lends itself perfectly to shooting in big groups of people, it really is a joy to use when messing about with family and friends. I took the Spinner 360 to Glastonbury festival, Bestival and Latitude this year making elaborate circles of people to capture – great fun. Everyone was intrigued in the camera and had plenty of questions, it certainly was a novel way of getting everyone involved in my photography, even some absolute strangers.
Here are some example prints: