Andy Westlake tests a motorised device for perfect panoramas

Cullmann Smartpano 360CP at a glance:

  • Motorised head for panorama shooting
  • GoPro and smartphone adapters included
  • Maximum load 500g
  • Price: £59.99
  • Website: www.cullmann.de

Shooting panoramics used to be a chore, requiring time-consuming stitching of image files. But now, many smartphones and cameras can create impressive panoramas simply by panning them across a scene. The biggest challenge is keeping the device level, as tilting it can give undulating horizons.

Cullmann’s solution is the Smartpano – a motorised head that rotates your phone or camera smoothly for perfect panoramas. This egg-shaped device can be used either freestanding with its foldout legs, or on a tripod. It will support an enthusiast compact camera or perhaps a CSC with a small lens.

The only control is a silver power button – the device is operated using an IR remote. It can be set to pan left or right at a number of different speeds, or alternatively it can pan 45°, stop and wait 10 seconds, then repeat. This is useful for shooting a series of frames that will be stitched in software later. It’s even possible to set up a Bluetooth connection with your phone, allowing you to trigger shooting using the IR remote.

Cullmann Smartpano 360CP – key features

Cullmann Smartpano 360CP smartphone adaptor

Smartphone adaptor

This cleverly designed clamp holds a phone securely in both portrait and landscape orientations.

Infrared receiver

The remote receiver is recessed into the device, and you need to aim the controller directly towards it for consistent results.

USB charge

The internal battery is charged using a standard micro USB connector.

Graduated platform

The rotating head is marked 5° increments, with a tiny index mark beside the power button

Cullmann Smartpano 360CP – Our verdict

The Smartpano certainly has its foibles: the IR remote needs to be pointed directly at the receiver to work, and I couldn’t get the Bluetooth to reconnect to my phone consistently. It could also do with a bubble level to ensure the device is level. Despite this, if you like shooting panoramics using a phone or compact camera, then this is a neat device that can give very good results.

SCORE: 4 out of 5

Colour and kit options

Cullmann Smartpan 360 green

The Smartpano device comes in two colours – conventional black, or lime green – each with two kit options. The basic one includes the head, IR remote, GoPro mount and smartphone clamp, while the ‘CP’ kit adds the Magnesit Copter tabletop tripod. This is sturdy and adds little to the cost, making the CP kit much better value for money.