360 Camera Buying Guide 2018 – Find The Best 360 Camera For You

The explosion in VR technology over the past few years has lead to the creation of a new type of camera, 360 cameras! Over 20 360 cameras have been released for consumers and more seem to be announced every month; if you are reading this then you are probably considering getting one for yourself. You may be asking yourself questions like what features are most important in a 360 camera? How much do they cost? Which cameras are the best and which ones are good enough for professional use?

To make your life easier I’ve created this definitive 360° camera buying guide to give you all the information you’ll ever need to decide which 360 camera is the best for you. I’m not affiliated to any brand or product and there is no bias here, just the facts resulting from hours of research. In fact I’ve owned and used nearly every 360 camera so all the info from this post comes from first hand experience. First, let’s take a look at what makes a good 360 camera

What Features Make a Good 360 Camera?

The primary reason for buying a 360 camera is to take the best possible quality 360 images or video.  The main features to focus on when choosing which 360 camera to buy are the ones that ensure the camera takes clear, high quality 360° image and video that looks great on a VR headset, Facebook or YouTube. With that in mind, here are the features you should focus on:

Image and Video Resolution – 360 media requires very high resolution to match the HD quality of normal videos. 1080p is the standard video resolution required for HD video in normal cameras, in 360 cameras at least 4K video resolution is required to appear HD in quality. A good 360 camera should be able to produce 4K video resolution or higher, and images that are at least 15 megapixels.

Stitching – 360 degree photos and videos are created by stitching two or more images together using multiple lenses. A good 360 camera should either be able stitch images automatically within the camera software or on a accompanying phone app. You should also look out for the quality of the stitching. You want to minimise any obvious lines where the two images meet; you can check this by watching 360 videos taken by each camera and seeing if the line where the two images meet is obvious.

Stabilization – If you intend to use your 360 camera while moving, then software stabilization is a must. Some 360 cameras have awesome stabilization software that can smooth out most bumps and vibrations.

User friendly – Is the camera easy to pick up and use, does it have a stable app and how to you control the camera? Good hardware needs to be backed up by equally good software.  You may also want to use your camera in more challenging environments, so check to see if its waterproof or if it has any accessories such as a protective case.


360 Camera Buying Guide

Now that you know what to look for, let’s take a close look at every major 360° camera currently available so you can analyse their specifications as well as view an example video. This list will be updated as new cameras are released.


GoPro Fusion

The GoPro Fusion (Check on Amazon) is one of the most expensive 360 cameras available right now, but it’s also one of the best. It can shoot 5.2K 360 video with a pair of high quality lenses that results in sharp, colorful and clear 360 video. The Fusion is probably the best 360 camera for video under $1000 right now.

GoPro Fusion Sample Video:

The Fusion is designed to be an action camera, just like all GoPro cameras. It achieves this thanks to epic software stabilization which means you can use the camera while moving and still have very smooth video at the end. GoPro has also been pushing its Overcapture feature, which allows you to edit your 360 video into a 1080p “normal” video, but with super smooth panning and the ability to choose exactly where the camera is pointing even after you’ve shot your video.

While I love the Fusion, it isn’t perfect. The App that controls the camera is very buggy and struggles to connect, and you’ll need to use a laptop/desktop to render and stitch your final 5K videos, which can take a long time. Never the less if you are willing to put up with its flaws, the Fusion is my number 1 choice for shooting 360 video.

8Total Score
GoPro Fusion

The best 360 camera for video in 2018. The Fusion shoots 5.2K 360 video with excellent dynamic range. This rugged action camera is also waterproof and features some of the best software stabilization ever.

Video
9
Photo
6
Design
7
Stabilization
8
Software
6
Overall Value
7
PROS
  • Amazing Quality Video
  • Looks Good When Watched in VR
  • Excellent Stabilization Software
  • Waterproof
  • Free Premiere Pro Plugins
  • Rugged Design
CONS
  • Poorer Quality Photos
  • Required 2 SD Cards
  • App is Buggy
  • Rendering/Stitching Can Take a Long Time

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Insta360 One

One of the best value 360 cameras of 2018 ($290 on Amazon), the Insta360 One packs a lot of features in its tiny body. While it shoots 4K video the quality isn’t great when watched on larger screens, but on phone screens it looks great. The One can shoot 23 megapixel photos in RAW which results in very clear and sharp images.

The Insta360 also comes with it’s “Flowstate” software, which is similar to GoPro’s overcapture. It allows you to choose where your camera is pointing even after you’ve shot your video. This is achieved quite easily using the Insta360 One App and can result in some awesome video. The One is also capable of Livestreaming in 360 at 4K resolution, great for sharing your best moments in full VR.

If you are looking for a good”all-round” 360 camera, then the One is certainly up there with the best, but it has its limitations and is best suited for shooting social media content.

8Total Score
Insta360 One

One of the best value 360 cameras, particularly if you are a casual shooter. Easy to use with loads of features, perfect for social media posting. 4K video looks decent, but not the best. It can shoot 23 megapixel RAW photos which look great. Amazing stabilization means you can run with the camera and still produce smooth video.

Video
7
Photos
8
Design
7
Stabilization
8
Software
6
PROS
  • Very Easy to Use
  • Excellent Photo Quality
  • Amazing Software Stabilization
  • 4K Video Looks Good in Daylight
  • Very Good Value For Money
CONS
  • Poor Quality Low Light Video
  • Software Can be Buggy
  • No Live Preview
  • Requires Adaptor for Android

 

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Rylo

7.5Total Score
Rylo

Innovative 4K 360 camera with the best stabilization of any camera I've ever owned. The Rylo can create smooth 360 video in almost any situation and is very popular with cyclists and in motorsports. Easy to use app makes this one of the most user friendly 360 cameras ever.

Video
7
Photo
4
Design
7
Stabilizaion
9
Software
8
Overall Value
7
PROS
  • Amazing Stabilization Software
  • 4K 360 Video
  • Very Intuitive App
CONS
  • Not Good for Photos
  • Lenses Very Vulnerable to Scratches

If you want a 360 camera to attach to your bike, car, motorbike or any other moving object, then you should seriously consider the Rylo. This little camera has the best stabilization of any camera I’ve ever used, it’s almost the same as having a physical gimbal keep your camera level. The Rylo can shoot 4K 360 video which looks great on smaller screens, but probably not good enough for larger screens or a VR headset.

The Rylo also has an awesome, easy to use app (rare for 360 cameras!) which allows you to completely change your video as well as use Overcapture. I really wouldn’t recommend the Rylo for photography as it has very limited options for 360 images, but for any moving video it’s probably the best if you are OK with shooting for mostly social media.


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Ricoh Theta V

The Ricoh Theta V is my favourite 4K 360 camera. Thanks to its high quality lenses it’s able to shoot great looking video both indoors, outdoors and even in low light. I love the design of the Theta V and it’s one of the easiest 360 cameras to pick up and shoot with.

The Theta V is also pretty good at shooting 360 photos, mostly thanks to it’s automatic HDR feature which combines 3 photos to produce a final image. The photos are limited to 15 megapixels, so will looks better when viewed on a phone screen. The Ricoh also lacks advanced software stabilization and won’t perform as well while moving, nor can you expend the 19GB internal memory. If you are thinking of getting a 360 camera to shoot virtual tours or create Google Street View images, then the Theta V is one of the most recommended cameras for both.

7.2Total Score
Ricoh Theta V

One of the best 360 cameras for 4K 360 video. Works great in low light and captures high dynamic range video. Auto HDR photos looks great but limited to 15mp resolution. Plugins allow you to expand the features of the Theta V

Video
8
Photo
7
Design
8
Stabilization
6
Software
7
Overall Value
7
PROS
  • Excellent Quality 4K Video
  • Advanced Lens Technology
  • HDR Photos
  • Plugins Expand Features
  • Excellent Design
CONS
  • Simplistic Stabilizaion
  • Limited to 19GB Internal Battery
  • App Not Reliable

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Xiaomi Mi Sphere

If you are looking for a 360 camera for shooting photos, then the Mi Sphere could be for you. Developed by the rapidly rising tech company Xiaomi, this cheap 360 camera has become the must have for 360 photographers. It can shoot 23 megapixel photos in RAW format, allowing you to create amazingly sharp 360 photos with vibrant colors. The App allows you to control pretty much every aspect of your camera including ISO and exposure; you can also bracket your photos and combine them later for even higher quality.

Mi Sphere Photo Example

The Mi Sphere can shoot 4K 360 video which looks acceptable, but isn’t anywhere near the best. The camera also lacks proper software stabilization, so if you are mostly interested in video I’d check the other options.

6.8Total Score
Xiaomi Mijia Mi Sphere

Xiaomi's first 360 camera is probably the best for shooting 360 photos. The Mi Sphere can shoot 23 megapixel RAW photos and also has a bracketing mode. Many people are using this cheap camera to create professional VR tours. Video quality is limited and it's not great for moving video, but for photography it's hard to beat right now.

Video
6
Photo
9
Design
7
Stabilization
5
Overall Value
7
PROS
  • Shoots Great Quality Photos
  • Many Manual Control Options
  • Cheap
  • Easy to Use
CONS
  • Video Quality Not as Good as Competitors
  • Limited Stabilization

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Yi 360 VR

If you want a 360 camera for shooting still 360 video and you don’t want spend more than $400, then the Yi 360 offers the best bang for your buck. The Yi 360 VR can shoot 5.7K 360 video, which is only matched by one other consumer 360 camera. 360 video shot with the Yi is very sharp, in fact I often use it for shooting VR video Tours.

Despite having the ability to shoot awesome video, the Yi really fails when it comes to stabilization. Unfortunately the Yi is barely able to smooth out any movement, so it’s mostly useful for shooting still video. This is one of the best value 360 cameras overall, and probably the only one under $500 that can shoot 360 video good enough to view on a VR headset.

7.1Total Score
Yi 360 VR

An excellent 360 camera for shooting video, with ultra high resolution 5.7K video. The cheapest 360 camera that shoots video good enough to view on a VR headset. Very easy to pick up and use and an excellent App for controlling the camera. Photo quality isn't as good and stabilization is all but non-existent.

Video
8.5
Photo
7
Design
8
Stabilization
4
Software
7
Overall Value
8
PROS
  • Excellent Quality Video
  • Intuitive and Stable App
  • Logical Design
  • Manual Control Options
CONS
  • Photo Quality Limited
  • No Stabilization
  • Limited Support from Yi

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VIRB 360

The VIRB 360 is first and foremost an action camera, in fact it’s the best 360 action camera ever. Garmin is well known for producing excellent action cameras with unique features and the VIRB 360 is no exception. With a fully waterproof body, toughened glass lenses, half a dozen sensors and 6 axis stabization, the VIRB is ready for anything you throw at it. You’ll also find the video shot with the VIRB to be pretty sharp, as it should be with a resolution of 5.7K. The VIRB is one of few 360 cameras that can also shoot well in low light situations, however I wouldn’t say it’s the overall best for video.

The best feature of the VIRB is how it uses it’s many sensors (including gyroscope, GPS, barometer, air pressure sensors) to create “augmented overlays” which looks like the dashboard of a Formula 1 car. You can add these to your videos very easily with your phone app or VIRB desktop software. The VIRB is perfect for anyone who wants to film in 360 while cycling, driving, surfing or any other high intensity sport.

7.1Total Score
Garmin VIRB 360

An excellent action 360 camera. Featuring 5.7K video, a huge number of sensors and great stabilization. You can also purchase over a dozen accessories to expand the capabilities of your camera and attach it to almost any surface.

Video
7.5
Photo
6
Design
8
Stabilization
7
Software
7
Overall Value
7
PROS
  • Fully Waterproof
  • Made with Tough Materials
  • Lots of Sensors
  • Good Quality Video
  • 4 Stabilization Options
CONS
  • Low Quality Photos
  • Unstable App

 

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Samsung Gear 360

Samsung Gear 360

4K 360 camera with great video capabilities.

$230

Specifications
Video Resolution 3840 x 1920 (4K)
Image Size 30 Megapixels
Number of lenses 2
Memory Up to 128 GB (external micro SD)
Battery 1350 mAh
Weight 5.4 Oz
Other Features Splash proof, dust resistant, Time-lapse video

The Samsung Gear 360 represents one of the first 360 cameras to be produced by a major technology company and signals that the technology has the backing of the industry. The Gear 360 is a ball shaped device with two lenses. The camera is the cheapest available that can shoot 4K 360° video; it also comes shipped with a mini tripod and an access code for specialised software to edit your 360 videos.

The Gear 360 is best used with the accompanying Gear 360 App which allows you to control the device and change many settings, however at present the app is only compatible with Samsung smartphones. Both video and photo produced by the Gear 360 are exceptionally clear and as a result the Gear 360 is probably the most popular 360 camera available at the moment.

Read Samsung Gear 360 Review

 

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Insta360 Nano

Insta360 Nano

This ultra-portable device turns your iPhone into a 360 camera.

$193

Specifications
Video Resolution 3040 x 1520 @ 30 fps (3K)
Image Size
4096 x 2048
Number of lenses 2 x F/2.8
Memory Up to 128 GB (external micro SD)
Battery  850mAh
Weight 3.4 Oz
Other Features Live-stream 360 video, attach to iPhone

The Insta360 Nano is an innovative device that turns your iPhone into a 360 camera. The Insta360 plugs into the thunderbolt port of your iPhone and turns it into a 360 camera controlled with the official app. You can shoot 3K quality 360 video and high resolution full 360 photos.

The Insta360 nano is ultra portable and designed to allow anyone to quickly shoot and share 360 media. The app connects directly to Facebook and YouTube and can even live-stream 360 video. This sub $200 camera is one of the best at this price point and while not able to produce as high quality 360 video as others, it can outmatch other more expensive 360 cameras. If you own an iPhone and want a great 360 camera for social media then this is a great option.

 

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Ricoh Theta S

Ricoh Theta S

Small and inexpensive 360° camera. Takes great pictures with near perfect stitching. Video is less impressive.

$346.95

Specifications
Video Resolution 1920 x 1080
Image Size 24 Megapixels
Number of lenses 2
Memory 8 Gb internal (not exampandable)
Battery 30 minuites recording time
Weight 4.4 Oz
Other Features Live-streaming via USB

The Theta S is Ricoh’s third generation 360 camera. The company was among the first to release a 360 camera at a low enough price point to gain mass appeal. The Theta S has two lenses which combine to create 24 megapixel 360 images. 360 photos taken with the Theta S are clear, bright and stitching lines are barely noticeable. Video is less impressive and lacks a high enough resolution to be truly HD; never the less the low price point and ease of use has made it the most popular 360 camera on amazon with nearly 300 reviews.

Read Ricoh Theta S Review

 

 

 


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360 camera expert, 360 photographer and lover of banoffee pie. Follow me on Instagram and YouTube for awesome 360 content.

3 Comments
  1. Reply
    Mark Palmos 26th September 2016 at 11:20 am

    What about the best one, you are missing the Panono – 108mp photos, way, way way sharper than any of these crappy cameras. check panono.com or one of my selfie photos using the panono – https://www.panono.com/p/K9TWo5kQ9GvJ

  2. Reply
    Logan Lee Sharpe 21st November 2016 at 9:19 am

    Great reviews. I’m in the market for a 360 camera for the price the gear 360 looks cracking problem is im an iPhone user. Do you think this is a deal breaker? Other than that the fly4k or the lg360 is my other choices. Problem is I think the dead space below the fly will annoy me and the lg ain’t 4K. Could you give me some pointers? I just want to use it everyday use. On holidays etc. Like I’m in Dubai at the moment and would want the people watching to be able to see the building well. Cheers

    • Reply
      Daniel 21st November 2016 at 10:24 am

      Have you considered the insta360 4k?

      Should meet all of your requirements!

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