There are so many 360 cameras in the market every year: GoPro fusion, Samsung gear 360, Yi 360 VR, Garmin Virb 360, QooCam, insta360 one X, Rylo… If you want to buy a 360 camera for daily use, rather than look at the specification, how to choose? It is hard to answer the question which one is the best 360 camera, but there are some common considerations to keep in mind for any type of 360° camera.
Here are the top 8 tips to save you time and money when buying a 360 camera:
Tip 1: Good Image Quality
360-degree camera featuring easy shooting allows the users to shoot 360 videos or photos at any angle they like. After that, you can edit the footage in app or software. A good 360 camera should be able to shoot 4k video resolution or higher and have good light performance.
If you are a 360 beginner, you may get confused about 360 video resolution and fixed frame resolution. Actually, they are quite different. When we say a 360 camera shooting 4k video, those 4000 pixels are spread in a complete sphere around the viewer to create an immersive experience. You can look left, right, up and down in a complete circle from their original position. Every time when viewing in a VR viewer, you look at only a very small part of the 4K sphere. For example, 1080 x 920 pixels instead of 4000 horizontal pixels in a rectangular frame.
It is not a problem when looking at a small screen (phone). Also, due to the small size of video files, it is fast to transfer via the internet and share with friends in social media. If you want to watch it in VR headset or at a large screen monitor or for business projects, you may consider higher resolution for better video quality. For example, 5.7k video or even 8k video shot by a high end 360-degree camera with much higher price. If you mainly shoot photos for real estate, here is another cost-effective way: shoot in RAW format for more post-production freedom. The DNG8 feature of QooCam is also a good example to recover more details and reduce noise.
Tip 2：Stable Connection & Accurate Preview
The LCD screen or flip screen is helpful to check the preview of digital camera or mirrorless cameras like canon powershot g7, Nikon Coolpix. In contrast, no 360 camera offers an electronic viewfinder. You need to connect the camera with the phone via WiFi/Bluetooth and get the preview in the app.
With stable WiFi/Bluetooth, you can trigger the camera and change settings far away. However, if WiFi or Bluetooth always fails to connect, all you could do is to physically press the button of the camera and take the selfie photo or videos. You have no time to hide yourself. Thus, easy and stable connection to the camera is an important part of the camera purchase.
Accurate preview is another consideration to save time and efforts, which makes it easier to take great pictures or footage. You have no idea what the camera is capturing unless you view it from the app preview. If necessary, you can also manually change the shooting parameters like ISO/shutter speed/ev and so on. If the preview can give you the most accurate result, you don’t have to shoot many times to get the best one, just check the preview, point and shoot, and that’s it.
Tips 3: Image Stabilization
Nowadays, 360 cameras with amazing image stabilization can save you the money of expensive gimbal and works as an action camera. Different from optical image stabilizer, 3-axis built-in stabilization of 360 camera is a cost-effective solution and help you create shake-free footage. No matter you want to capture the adventures or use the first-person point of view to fully immerse the viewers, it is the best fit for vlogging.
Stabilized footage will never make your audience feel dizzy or vomiting. When they watch your video, it’s like you having a professional gimbal when shooting while actually what you have is only a 360 camera. Just hold the camera and walk around, or use it as action cams to keep up with fast action, and get super-smooth video in real time.
Tip 4: Good Stitching of Photo/Video
As a point-and-shoot camera, 360-degree camera is ideal for travel light or works as vlog camera. It is compact and can easily fit into the pocket or bag. The back-to-back two fisheye lenses design lets you capture the world in a whole new way, just need to stitch the two images first before editing or sharing.
360 Cameras mostly come with their own stitching software. However, not everyone has good stitching. In particular, when you get close to the camera, you need to watch out the stitching line when walking around. There is some overlap between two lenses to help blend the two halves of video together. However, it is still hard for 360 cameras to handle stitching of images and videos for close objects. The split between the two images is often visible for close-up shots, for example, people in the stitching line may lose their heads or bodies.
Here is a comparison from Creator Up. When walking around the stitching line area, the video quality of some cameras is quite good, but the stitching is not so impressive. Seamless footage will create the most immersive experience.
Safe distance comparison:
- Kandao QooCam: about 1F
- GoPro Fusion: about 1F
- Rylo: about 2F
- Yi 360 VR: about 2F
- Insta360 One: >3F
- Mi Sphere: >3F
If you want to try tiny space shooting, you can consider QooCam with the biggest FOV (216°) and biggest overlap area. Its new feature called “Unstitched Pano” in the stitching software allows you to achieve the perfect stitching result.
Tip 5: Build Quality that Fits in Various Situations
When capturing in various situations, you can consider the camera with a nicely built strong body. It should be capable of dissipating the heat produced when filming and works flawlessly below 0°C, offering you the best versatility.
First, overheating is a major problem that you need to pay attention to. During recording and saving a video, heat produced by the electronic components like image processor might cause damage to your camera. Some cameras will quit after minutes of recording due to overheating. At that time, you may need a cooling fan to keep temperatures lower.
Also, the good hardware of the camera allows you to use it in more challenging environments. You can take the compact camera everywhere and take it off when you want to take photos or videos, it can endure minor crash or knocks with good build quality.
If you are a dive lover, then you need to consider the waterproof case for the cameras, or you can choose GoPro Fusion, a waterproof 360 camera.
Tip 6: Battery Life
Before the travelling, remember to check into the battery life specifications. Then you will know how much time you can shoot before the camera is run out of battery. Then you need to carry an extra power bank with you all the time in case you miss the beautiful scenery. It is rather annoying when you encounter a happy activity but find that the battery level is dead out.
Also, the camera with giant battery life can stay alive in cold places while the cellphone dies every 2 min from the cold. It gives you more opportunities to shoot your wonderful ski footage below 0 degrees without worry.
In this case, having a huge battery life like QooCam that lasts for 3 hour of continuous shooting can be far more convenient. If you want to pick up a good vlogging camera, battery life should be considered carefully.
Tip 7：Good Audio Quality
If you want to make an enchanting video, then sound is as important as the image quality, especially for vlogging. As most consumer-level 360 cameras don’t support an external audio device like Zoom, so if you want better audio capture, you need to check how the built-in microphone works.
If the camera is for daily use, then choose one that handles well the normal sound is important. Imagine, if there is no audio to your video, it’s just a series of moving images. And with poor audio, it will greatly impact your viewing experience. As a result, if the 360 degrees camera offers automatic gain control, it can effectively reduce the volume if the signal is strong and raise it when it is weaker. Such good audio quality not only adds to the pleasant feel of your footage but to your viewer’s enjoyment as well. They can enjoy the characters’ actions exactly as they were, the scenery’s movement like it was. They were transferred to the amazing scenery with birds singing when watching the nice footage.
Tip 8：User-friendly App with Various Features
The beauty of shooting with 360 camera is that with a single click you can take a complete panorama of the setting. You don’t have to worry about the content during filming, just shoot as you like. 360 cameras can capture everything from various angles.
After shooting, there are two ways to share the footage. You can directly upload the 360 photos and videos to social media supporting play 360 videos (such as YouTube and Facebook), so the audience can move their phone or drag the mouse to see different angles. You can also convert 360 footage to standard video with app and editing software, trim scenes, make interesting effects, add music, refining it to tell the story you want to show.
For example, you can quickly turn your 360 videos into a Tiny Planet. You can also explore the scene, make edits, and add cinematic pans to your video with the “key point” feature. If you want the audience to follow a skateboarding girl or a running dog, just tap “smart track” in the app. Then it will automatically track the chosen subject and record the exciting moment. Don’t forget to check other exciting editing features in the app including live streams, time lapse, speed control, and so on.
All editing can be done in the app in an intuitive way. In addition to those accompanying apps, there are also other free editing apps like theta app and Veer that works with any 360 cameras, offering you more post-production freedom.
If you are a 360 beginner, you may need some time to figure out the editing, or you may need the SmartClip from Kandao QooCam to automatically the footage for you.
With these tips, it should be a lot easier to find the best 360 camera that’ll work for you.