The present invention provides a very flexible, digital system for capturing and storing panoramic images using progressive scan (that is, non interlaced) technology. The system includes a digital image input device and an associated control computer. Since the image capture device is digital it can be easily and flexibly controlled by software in the control computer. The image input device has six lenses positioned on the six faces of a cube. While the image input system can have other lens configurations, the use of six lenses in a cubic configuration is optimal for a system that is used to capture a spherical panorama. The six lenses simultaneously focuses different images on six CCDs (Charge Coupled Devices). The image input device also includes an embedded controller, and data compression circuitry. The embedded controller controls the exposure time of the CCDs (i.e. the effective aperture and effective shutter speed) and reads image data from the CCDs. The image data read from the CCDs is compressed, multiplexed, and sent to the control computer. The control computer stores the images in frames, each of which have one image from each of the six lenses. Each frame includes six images that were simultaneously recorded and any associated information, such as audio tracks, textual information, or environmental information such as GPS (Global Position System) data or artificial horizon data. The control computer includes a user interface which allows a user to specify control information such as frame rate, compression ratio, gain, etc. The control computer sends control information to the embedded controller which in turn controls the CCDs and the compression circuitry. The images can be sent from the control computer to a real time viewer so that a user can determine if the correct images are being captured. The images stored at the control computer are later seamed into panoramas and made into panoramic movies.