I did a lot of research on 360 Cameras. In fact, at a point, I wanted to buy a 360-Degree Camera (that shoots in all angles) instead of a regular camera. However, fortunately, I decided against that strategy as over-capture (selecting which angle footage you want to use) features are not yet mature enough and the final obtainable resolution (after you cut to just an angle) is low – in most consumer/prosumer 360 cameras. Besides, low-light performance is not comparable to regular cameras.
However, the price point at which these cameras come make them an enticing accessory, along with entry-level drones. If you are into any form of serious videography, you should invest in one of these cameras – at least to learn, if not use it for production purposes. Maybe occasionally you can use short bits. But that’s just it for now.
So, here are my top 360-degree camera choices for 2018 –
#1. Ricoh Theta V
I know this is not the first option for many. But for me, the impressive low light performance alone is sufficient to keep it at the top of my list. The issue is, practically, I don’t know what the lighting conditions will be. I cannot use LED lights to fill up the gap always. That’s why I want a camera that can take decent footage in low light conditions and the Ricoh Theta V is as good as a 360 camera can get in low light and night shoots.
Two more crucial advantages of Ricoh Theta V are its spatial audio capture capabilities (audio is important in my videography work) with even an optional external mic for capturing better audio & good 360 photo taking abilities – yes, not all moments are video moments! Live streaming capability is another plus.
The limited storage and lower resolution (4K in 360, hence overcapture can give around 1080p, which is quite less) are issues that I hope the manufacturers will work on in the next release. Yes, I am not planning to buy a 360 Camera until I see what the successor to Ricoh Theta V will be like.
#2. GoPro Fusion
The GoPro Fusion is probably the best 360 budget Camera out there on the market. Technically. GoPro already makes the best action cameras, so their 360 camera should be compelling enough to buy if you are in the market looking to buy one – right? Well, yes and no. For me, it’s more of a no – I’ll wait until the next version of GoPro Fusion is released at the least.
For starters, the 5.2K 360 recording ability is impressive – but the fact that we get only 1080p video after overcapture is a bit limiting. Besides, the GoPro Fusion is notorious for requiring high-end PCs and high-end software (Adobe After Effects, Premiere Pro) if you want to do proper editing. Even if you have all that, be ready to face the slow rendering speeds. For some (me included) that is a major turn off. Besides, users have complained about the huge file sizes (in multiple GBs) so you better have large memory cards and hard-drives.
Besides, I don’t like GoPro accessories because they are expensive. But the fact that they have many accessories, available across the world is a definite plus. If you feel adventurous you can try the cheaper alternatives, but I wish GoPro could bundle accessories at an affordable price.
If you have a solid system and if you are familiar with Adobe Editing tools (for which GoPro has released official plugins) and you are patient enough to handle the long/huge renders, go with the GoPro Fusion. It’s very much worth the higher price tag. If you are a casual user who wants to get things done quickly, look at the other options.
#3. Insta360 ONE X
The Insta360 ONE X is an interesting consumer 360 Camera that is the best option for personal users who want to shoot, select, and upload on social media. The kind of features this camera offers (that too in-app), no other camera comes even close. But, all that said, the quality of output and low light performance is still consumer-grade. Not even close to the professional uses that I might require a 360 camera for.
Imagine having 5.7K resolution (per camera), Slow motion (4x), Timelapse, decent stabilisation, 360 & Overcapture Editing, etc. all available to you via the mobile app. Now that’s what I call a social media enthusiast’s dream-come-true. This camera is even integrated with Adobe Premiere Pro. However, at least I feel, the quality of optics and output needs to improve a little bit before using it for professional purposes.
This camera, however, gives the best value for money for personal users who wants to finish it all on the go. Am waiting for the next edition to see what better this startup can make.
I will definitely buy a 360-Camera sometime in the future. I just wish these become as good as my primary bridge camera. Then, I can truly say, that the process of shooting and editing video has undergone a fundamental shift. 360 Cameras are capable of creating such a revolution in video capture and editing – and they are getting there fast. Exciting times ahead 🙂