After a number of years taking 360 tours manchester and other locations, in a variety of situations, the usefulness of a one shot panorama lens seemed very appealing.
The ability to get a 360 shot in one go is a great idea, giving the ability to capture action, take alot more shots and make the workflow simpler and quicker.
So, i took the plunge and bought a one shot panorama lens.
The lens (well its not really a lens) is made up of a barrel which fits onto a lens with a convexed mirror on its top, which reflects a 180 degree view onto the lens and into the camera.

On looks alone, the one shot panorama lens looks impressive and when out and about, is a great conversation starter. (not many people see a camera pointing upwards with a big barrel and mirror stuck on top of the lens.)
(Sorry, but i can’t give technical specs. here on the one shot panorama lens. This is a brief practical review.)
Depending on the lens you use (a prime is the best for image quality and a prime when pointed upwards will not have the lens barrel/zoom move towards the floor with the wieght of the one shot panorama lens.) you will need a conversion ring most likely to step up or down from your camera lens.)
Once setup, the lens is as easy to use as a the most basic lens. Focus on the mirror and your off. Special software that comes with the lens converts the ‘donut’ shaped image into a panorama (caveat – you don’t get the zenith or nadir with the lens – the very top and bottom of the image.)

Quality of the one shot panorama lens.
This is the crux for me. Is the quality any good? Well on the surface, you are basically taking a picture of a reflection in a mirror. This will never be as good as taking a series of images with a high quality lens, but the resulting images, after some post processing are acceptable for certain jobs.
Remember, with this in mind, its down to the applications where quick images are needed where a 200Mb image is not viable or not needed – estate agent images, fast action all around you, limited or no budget to spend on a proper, high quality tour.
Now there are similar version available for smart phones – great for things like a 360 tour at a festival, but as with all photography, it can be down to the gear you use for quality and the person taking the photos.

Thus, the one shot panorama lens is great for quick 360 tours and get some good shots, but if you want full 360×180 shots with the highest quality, then the traditional way by most 360 tour providers is still the best.
However, there has been a few instances where there has been lots of varying light levels all around, loads of action, etc. where a one shot lens would have been loads easier. However, i still opted for the traditional route of multiple images as i knew the results would be better quality and more scope for post editing the different areas of the image.

I hope i am proved wrong and incredible one shot panorama lens images come out, as its obviously preferable to take one image, rather than loads to make up a 360 tour, but if the ultimate quality isn’t there, then i will have to wait for a better solution.
For example 360 tours, please see