Hi, I’m Ethan
It’s very nice to see you here at my private blog to share my knowledge and passion about virtual reality to choose the best 360 degree camera in this 2016. It was 2 years that I passionate in this future revolution from the first time I saw a virtual reality project was introduced in CES 2014. This 360 degree camera reviews is my real experience in 2 years, if you don’t agree or just want to make sense about anything here please comment, I will reply soon, I love to talk with people who are interested in Virtual reality technology. Cheer!
360 Degree Camera is booming!
Yes, with the insane growth of 360 degree camera and virtual reality, now in early 2016 we can do many things which are just only mentioned in dream or science fiction movies before. According to Youtube, in the first 2 month of 2016, there are 2 bilions views on video which are recorded by 360 degree camera and this figure is growing faster and faster from now. Facebook decided to buy Oculus Rift, a new start up with 360 degree camera to applying the technology for the this biggest social network . Besides, there are a lot of business activities that happend in this 2016 to show you that the domination of virtual reality will be real in this 2016, we will see the exist of it everywhere in our life to help us come closer to the future.
And we can’t just stand and see the world is moving, all of us want to try a 360 degree camera right now to discover how interesting it is, and in this 360 degree camera buying guide I will give you all of information, data, chart … to compare, consider to choose the best 360 degree camera for yourself!
Ultimate Buying Guide
for Choosing the Best 360-Degree Camera
1.How does a 360-degree camera works?
Before 2015, to record a 360-degree video, we need to have a special camera kit, powerful computer and software to create a simple 360-degree video. In total, we need to spend about $2000 to create a complete 360-degree video before 2015, this is the truth number from one of my project in 2015. You can see how a special camera kit can be set up to know that creating this kind of video is so expensive.
But now, with the quick development of technology, we can experience 360-degree video in these 3 steps:
To create a 360 – degree video, you need to have a camera kit that I mention above or just a 360 degree camera which is specialized in making 360 video. Now there are many different kinds of 360 camera but they are based on that : having many lens that point to different directions to record many separated video in a same number of frame per second.
( The camera with higher frame/second, the bigger video is) and with the special software that is already installed in the 360 degree camera, it will stitch these separted videos together to make a 360 video. You can imagine in simple that each small video will be a part of the picture, and with many lens we can capture all of parts to stitch the together for producing the final 360 degree version! That is the reason why the size of 360 degree video is extremely bigger than a simple one!
Then Play and enjoy!
Now, we can have 3 ways to play 360 video, the most simple way also cheapest way is watching on simple player like Youtube, Facebook, Kolor eyes and you can change your current view by using mouse drag to the direction you want. In this case, you still can see all of video content without missing any action but the disadvantage is it can’t give you the real feeling of virtual reality technology. It’s just simple like a demo. If you really want to experience the feeling of break into a new world with interesting discovery you can choose to use built-in sensors in smartphones or challenge yourself with VR headset.
Here are some plans for you to play 360 degree video:
Low budget solution:
With 360 degree video player: I dont want to say more about this because all of of may already know about this. You may familiar with the 360 video player of Youtube and Facebook. Besides, there is another computer software is Kolor eyes, it is free and you can use it to play 360 video on your PC or laptop.
Medium budget solution
Built in sensors with your smartphone: This is most common way that people use to experience 360 video. There are 3 things that you have to prepare: Google cardboard, smartphone and 360 degree video. You can follow this tutorial to see how to set up a sensor with Google cardboard and smartphone to watch 360 video, after finishing everything, you can move your head around to see the full 360 degree space. The advantage of this solution is that the budget that you have to prepare for expriencing virtual reality techology is not high and there will be no technical problem because of the simle architecture of Google cardboard. Besides Google Cardboard, you can have other choice is Samsung Gear. You can see the full tutorial of using Samsung gear here:
High budget solution:
VR headset: I have to say that this is the premium choice of people who really want to experience full effects of 360 video with 4k video quality, high frames per second, VR head set help you go to virtual world in the most impressive way. With VR headset, virtual reality is an immersive experience in which your head movements are tracked in a three-dimensional world, making it ideally suited to games and even movies. Talking about VR headset, we need to name Oculus Rift, the first company that develop this technology and made this hysteria. Beside, Sony, HTC Microsoft Hololens … are big competitors in this field!
2.What to look for a 360 Degree Camera
Video resolution: This is an important figure to determine how real the virtual world will be when you play the 360 video. The unit to measures this metric is pixel, the higher pixel video that 360 camera can create, the more impressive experience will be. Now in the market the popular quality is 5 Mega pixel, 14 Mega pixel and 4K 360 video.
Lens: Len is the basic part of a 360 degree camera, make the different between 360 or common video quality. Without special lens for 360 technology, camera can’t record and stich to import for us interesting 360 video. The len decide video resolution as well as there is blind point or not. With better lens, we can create a higher quality video and with more lens we can expand the video to 360 degree without blind point. For example, a 360 degree camera have 2 lens in the opposite side. Each lens will point to one side, and record its own video. So here we have 2 videos and the software which is already install inside the camera will stitch these 2 videos together to make a complete 360 videos.
Frame: So what is frame? You can imagine that a video is a multi layer picture which create from many separate picture. With a high frame video, you can see the movement smooth like in the real-world and there is no lag or pause. However, with low frame video, you will see the movement of characters like robot. The standard frame for good quality is 24 frame/second ( Wikipedia) and now most of camera create 30 frame/second video.
Internal memory: Yep, the 360 degree camera is similar to a cell phone, it has internal memory. This internal memory will store the video during the record process, if your habit is creating a lot of video during a camp tour I suggest you to choose a camera with big internal memory or bring your laptop to move the video file to laptop memory to have more space on your camera. Another solution for this is some 360 camera support external SD memory card up to 64GB, you can use this method to expand your storage.
Record time: What will happen when you are recording a 360 degree video and you camera notice you that: “Low battery”? Yes, it is so unconvenient right? What I want to say here is about the life of battery, you need choose the suitable battery to make sure that the cam can record entire of video. It’s not fun to charge your cam 3 times to finish a short video.
Handy or not? There are 2 kinds of people who will want to buy 360 degree camera: Artists who use camera for work and normal customers use camera for entertaining. An artist who always want to have the best quality may not care about the size and weight but with common people, they love something they can bring easily to go out and take some interesting video. Beside, you can choose the cam base on the waterpfroof feature which can be used under watter and we call it 360 degree underwater camera. There are also 360 degree security cam or 360 degree cam for car too, you can choose base on your purpose to use it.
Manufacturers: Manufacturer is a vital thing that we need to consider, in my experience, now there are 2 kind of 360 cam producer: New and focus only on 360 technology – Famous about camera in general and already product 360 products. With the first one, we have to talk about some big start up companies which are mentioned in Cnet a lot like Ricoh Theta, 360 Fly, Kodak, Giroptic, Bublcam ….
And for the later one, we have to think about Sony, Canon, Nikon ….. If we buy products from them, we can have long term support about software and hardware part for fixing or tuning. Therefore, for long term use purpose, choose trust manufacturers.
Mountaining: With somepeople who always want to climb, mountaining feature is a advantage of camera, you can set it on your bike to record best moment during the trip.
Wifi connection: With wifi connection, you can control, upload video without cable.
3. Top 5 best 360 Degree Camera in 2016
You are read about the basic knowledge of 360 technology to understand clearly about it, here are top 360 degree camera in 2016 that are voted in Reddit, Cnet :
#1. Ricoh theta S
The Theta was introduced the first time in IFA 2013, it is a small 360-degree camera vlogging camera that we can put it into pocket. The new feature of the Theta at that time is capturing 360 degree image with it’s 2 lens. However, people can just make image with the Theta, and in IFA 2015, Ricoh introduce with the world a new the Theta : the Theta M15 which can record full – HD video at 15 frames/second and the maximum record time is 3 minutes. But it’s just the beginning, in IFA 2015, we are surprised with Ricoh Theta S : a big revolution in compare with the previous version M15.
What I want to say about Ricoh theta S is that : you don’t need to spend any second on the Theta userguide. It’s very easy to record, control, edit and share your image, video. With Theta mobile app, you can easily control your camera through wifi connection. About sharing Youtube and Facebook, The Theta App allow you to edit, and upload to these social network in easy with visual dashboard. With many intelligent features like Self-Timer help you to go out of it’s record range before it start recording. About the design, with an impressive shape as well as the placement of recording button, lens … Ricoh become an unique and fashional 360 cam on your hand at any sport event, party …. This camera is fully friendly with its owners, every function are well optimized for the best user experience, nothing is difficult here with this cam.
What you have to accept when choose Ricoh theta S is about the image quality. Although own a 14 Mega pixel twin lens , the recorded video from Ricoh Theta S is not very good like other with 4K resolution. But if you play these videos on 5-inch mobile phone, it will perform well. You have to protect Ricoh Theta S carefully because of its twin lens design. I’m sure that you don’t want it’s serphia lens get some scrashes. You have 8Gb internal storage and no external memory, so you need to transfer old video if your memory get full. So, how many photos and videos you can store in this 360 cam? My answer is about 1600 photos and 1 hours video with highest resolution. If your trip is less than 1600 photo and 1 hour video, this cam is excellent for you. You don’t need to pay for what you don’t need.
#2.LG 360 Camera
In very short words, I have to say: LG 360 cam is an dublicatte version of Ricoh Theta S with some extra features at lower price.
Why? Similar to Ricoh Theta S, LG 360 cam is very easy to use: just hold the record button and here you go. Also designed with a 2 lens camera which is protected by a plastic sheath, this 360 cam can record a 2K video ( Ricoh theta S can only record Hd Video). The storage is unlimited with external memory: A micro SD card up to 2 TB allows you to store a lot of photos and videos. However, you have to buy your own Micro SD card, the manufacturer doesn’t include it for you.
With 360 Lg app for android and IOS, you can preview and control your 360 camera in easy, however, you can’t edit or upload your video. You can just syns your data through wifi or bluetooth to your mobile phone or laptop to edit and share. It’s quite unconvenient, but with the lowest price, sharing feature is not important with me. Like Ricoh Theta, with Lg 360 app, you can choose Auto mode or manual mode to take better shots and videos.
Was produced after Ricoh Theta S, LG have some extra features at a very competive price, may be Ricoh need to cut down their price to compete with LG.
#3.Samsung Gear 360
This 360 cam belong to South Korean electronics giant with twin lens ball camera at 30 Mega pixel, help you to record 4K video resolution. This camera is trully different with Ricoh Theta S and LG 360, with the price is much higher and the quality is better. So why it takes so long for Samsung create this one? What are features of this Samsung Gear 360?
This 360 degree camera comes with dust and water resistant body that help you to capture photo and video at wet environment. I think that this you shouldn’t use this cam for underwater recording, I don’t know if it 100 waterproof or not. You can leave it on a table or any surface with a small tripod included. Unlike Ricoh and LG, 360 Gear has a removable battery and a micro SD card included. At the top, as you can see we have a small screen to tell us about what mode it is while 2 obove cam don’t have any screen on it. You only know all of system information on your phone.
About the easy of use, you can easily control, edit, upload and share your 360 video with Samsung 360 Gear app on android and IOS. The app work smooth and fast, quickly generate your 360 video immediately after you choose generate button.
Other advantage of this cam is the well integrate with Samsung VR headset. You can record 4K 360 video by Gear 360 and enjoy the video on Sam Sung VR headset – a nice couple for enjoying virtual reality technology.
#4. 360 fly – 360 Degree Waterproof Camera
360 Fly is trully the king in 360 waterproof camera. With a solid design this Action camera can be sticked on bicycle, snow board, selfie stick when go scubar diving . What is so unique and special for this camera is that the powerful water resistant feature with up to 5 atm, 165 feet. So if you want a 360 cam to take a scubar diving tour with shark, take this one.
With a very impressive design, looks like a oversized golfball this cam is shock, water and dust resistant.
Control camera through app on your phone, move your phone around to see the 360 effect
With 360 app, you can edit, use different effect to apply before sharing them on Facebook, Youtube. This is a intuitive app, which is easy to use with people who are new with 360 camera. This camera has no external memory support, but with 32GB internal memory, it can record 3 hours of video at highest resolution.
What i don’t like about this camera is: because of 360 fly belong to the first generation of virtual reality device, the resolution for output video is not the best as the followers like LG 360 and Samsung Gear 360. It’s okey to record everything around you, especially underwater. Another thing is that, because of having only one lens on the top, it can’t record the space beneath you.
However, if you want to have a perfect solution of a 360 action & waterproof camera you can choose the UPGRADE VERSION of 360 Fly with 4K Resolution, 64GB internal memory.
You can see the detail here: 360 Fly 4K VERSION.
#5. 360 Go Pro – Solution for professional business
Gopro 360 Rig is a solution that include 6 or 10 normal Go-Pro Hero 4 into 1 system that can record 360 degree video now. With this system, you have to spend more time and effort to customize, edit and set up but the image and video quality is extremelly awesome. This system can record 8k video at 60 fps.
With a system of 6 camera , you have to pay $5000 to have this monster. I don’t want to talk much about Go-Pro because the quality is very good and if you use this kind of camera for your work ( If you are professional photographers, directors …).
This product is more suitable with business than individual, wih $5000 you can have Omni 360 degree camera rig, 6 usb cable, 6 microd SD 32 GB, 6 batteries, card reader, case, Kolor software lisence.
6. Giroptic & Bulbcam & V.360
Why I have to group these camera into 1 group. Because they are nearly out of date in my opinion, these camera are good for 2015. But now is Jun 2016, and we already have LG 360 and Samsung Gear 360 with lower price than them but have more advantages in features and performance, easier to use so why we need to consider deeply about them again? If you want to study deeper about these camera, you can go to Cnet, there are a lot of reviews but trust me, you wil find that they are really “old”.
To sum up my reivew as well as have an overview about 360 degree camera market in this 2016. With many detail metrics, performance rate …
- If you are a beginners with 360 degree video, you want to have a friendly to use and cheap 360 cam, good video resolution (2K) : I suggest you to choose LG 360 which is just release last month.
- If you want to have an upgrade of LG 360: Choose Samsung Gear 360. With flexible function and long time support from Samsung with app, VR headset you can enjoy completely virtual reality technology.
- If you are a photographers or have business with 360 video: Choose Gopro to get highest video resolution 8K as well as fully editing technology.