How the Panascan works

THE $63,000 Panoscan MK-2 camera used by Victoria Police comes with a carbon fibre tripod and is packed in a high-density synthetic plastic suitcase. The camera itself, which resembles a bent submarine periscope, has a Mamiya lens, a Better Light computer processor with a 9Gb hard drive, 12-volt battery and various inter-connecting leads, plus operating software.

Officers at a crime scene mount the camera, which has a built-in stepper motor, to the tripod using the compact battery as the power supply. They also need to wire a laptop to the camera that has the Pansocan and Better Light software.

After a 90-second preview scan, a full-circle seamless image arrives on the laptop screen. Adjustments can then be made to the camera, including file size, shutter speed, focus and light sensitivity, on the screen in real time. Once the preview image on the laptop is to the standard required, the operator simply presses the capture icon on the laptop and the Pansocan begins recording.

Images are saved as JPEG or Tiff files which can come in a number of resolutions, depending on the application. If it's for internet use, the Panoscan would be set to medium resolution and the pictures would be recorded to a file size of about 100Mb. A typical crime scene would be recorded at higher resolution, with image file sizes reaching as much as 750Mb.

High-resolution files taken by professional digital still cameras are typically in the 20MB to 40Mb range.

       © Herald and Weekly Times