A Guide to the Best 360 Cameras Your Money Can Buy
Looking to get into 360 degree video production? There’s no better place to start than right here
There’s always been two barriers to 360 degree video content: price and quality. Thanks to the rapid adoption of the Samsung Gear VR and now with nearly a year under the belts of the consumer editions of the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, those two issues are becoming less of a worry. A selection of consumer-grade 360 degree cameras are now available, and VRFocus has endeavoured to find the best option for you, whether it’s stills, video or – oddly – home security you’re looking to deliver.
The Ricoh Theta range has often been considered cream-of-the-crop, but the argument remains that it stands tall simple because it was early and cheap, not because it actually did a good job. Significant improvements have seen the hardware become more popular with each iteration, but in VRFocus’ collective mind the range is still lacking in many respects. Instead, below follow today’s best picks for affordable, high quality 360 degree cameras.
Samsung Gear 360
The most obvious of the selection, the Samsung Gear 360 is a popular choice, and with reason. Launched at £349 GBP, a recent price drop saw the diminutive device reduced to just £249, making it a bargain by anyone’s measure. A mid-range capture quality is bolstered by the ease of the stitching process; automated for those unaware of what editing actually looks like. Furthermore, the ease of sharing content makes the Samsung Gear 360 ideal for anyone looking to use the camera for their holiday snaps or life events, even if it’s not quite equipped to make you into a warzone journalist.
An interesting device, the ALLie camera (which took it upon itself to adapt the term ‘selfie’ for its 360 degree needs) is intended as a stationary device. Unlike the Samsung Gear 360, the ALLie intended for monitoring or webcasting. It can capture footage, though the software provided is unwieldy at best and requires a wi-fi connection, so catching real-life on the street is not always an option. For a more mundane task however, such as home security, the ALLie can be set in place once and forgotten about, given the end user a 360 degree live stream of whatever they determine valuable enough to monitor.
VUZE VR Camera
The most expensive camera on the list – and with reason – Humaneyes’ VUZE VR Camera is billed as a ‘prosumer’ device. A step-up from the likes of a 3D printed Go Pro rig or even the Samsung Gear 360 then, but still way behind the likes of Nokia’s OZO, the VUZE VR Camera is an elegantly designed camera. Capable of recording in resolutions of up to 4K, stereoscopic 3D and with a field-of-view of 120×180, the VUZE is certainly no slouch on the technical specifications, hence warranting that $799 USD asking price. However, VRFocus has yet had little time to experiment with the proprietary software Humaneyes has packaged with the device, so be sure to look out for more details on the VUZE VR camera coming soon.
This is different. This is not a VR quality camera. This is not an immersive video capture device. This is the Insta360: designed for sharing your wares on social media platforms. It’s quick, efficient, reasonable quality and – above all, for some – directly compatible with YouTube, Instagram and Facebook. Stitching is handled automatically by the software that the camera itself is the smallest of any on this list; easily fitting in a pocket or small bag. It’s compatible with Android smartphones as standard (and PC hardware via a transfer cable) and is built for those moments of immediacy that would otherwise be lost forever – the exact opposite of the ALLie, essentially. The Insta360 Air is never going to compete with the VUZE VR Camera in terms of quality, but then it’s not supposed to. It has its own niche carved out for it, and does a pretty good job right there.