360 Camera Buying Guide – How to find the best 360 camera

There are over half a dozen 360° cameras available for the public to buy and more are on the way. As more and more 360 degree cameras are released the more difficult it becomes to find the perfect one to suite your needs. If you are reading this then you are probably considering getting your own 360 camera. You are probably asking yourself questions like what features are most important in a 360 camera? What’s the average price? Which cameras are the best value and which ones are good enough for professional use?

The answers to all of these questions are dotted around this website, but to make your life easier I’ve created this definitive 360° camera buying guide to give you all the information you’ll 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. 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 spherical images, which is basically a fancier way of saying 360 degree 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, fully 360° image and video that looks great on a VR headset, Facebook and 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 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.

Full 360° – Some cameras brand themselves as ‘360 cameras’ but in fact have a limited field of view. This means that the camera can take a full panorama but may not capture everything above or below it. Most of the cameras mentioned on this page shoot in full 360° x 360° and any that don’t will be highlighted.

Number of lenses – Generally speaking, the higher the number of lenses the better. More lenses mean each individual lens has to cover less space to make up the full 360 image, so the overall image quality should be higher. I should note that most 360 cameras have just 2 lenses and some can produce amazing results.

Outdoor friendly – You are likely to want to use your 360 camera outside so you should look at whether the camera is dust proof or splash proof. Does the camera have accessories such as casings to increase protection or even make it fully waterproof?


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.

 

Samsung Gear 360 –  8/10

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

 

Insta360 Nano – 8/10

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.

LG 360cam – 7/10

LG 360 Cam

Excellent value hand held 360 camera. First 360 camera under $200

$164.99 $200

Specifications
Video Resolution 2560 x 1280 (2K)
Image Size 16 Megapixels
Number of lenses 2
Memory Up to 128 GB (external micro SD)
Battery 1200 mAh
Weight 2.65 Oz
Other Features 5.1 channel sound recording, widespread compatibility

LG released their first 360 camera in direct competition with Samsung and chose to target a wider audience. The LG 360 cam is one of the cheapest full 360° cameras available but still out classes some of its competitors.

Costing under $200, this camera is still capable of producing high quality photos and reasonable quality video. The app which controls the camera is compatible with all modern android and ios phones.

Read LG 360 Cam Review

 

 

Bublcam – 5/10

Bublcam

Started on kickstarter and capable of live streaming 360 video. Far too expensive.

$799


Specifications
Video Resolution 2688 x 1344
Image Size 14 Megapixels
Number of lenses 3
Memory Up to 32 GB (external micro SD)
Battery 1560 mAh
Weight 9.1 Oz
Other Features Live-streaming, real time stitching

The bublcam was one of the first consumer 360 cameras to be announced and was initially funded by a kickstarter campaign. The 3 lens camera is able to instantly stitch full 360° images within the camera itself, whereas most other cameras require an app to do so.

The bublcam can take very good 360 photos however the video resolution is quite poor, although it is capable of live-streaming which is not a common feature in other 360 cameras. The main issue with the camera is its cost; $800 for a 360 camera that cannot shoot video in 4K is simply asking far too much. There also seems to be some supply issues, with cameras taking weeks to be delivered.

Read Bublcam Review

 

 

Ricoh Theta S – 7/10

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

 

 

360 fly 4K – 8/10

360 Fly 4K

A rugged 360° camera designed for outdoor use. Can take 4K 360° video but limited to a 360 x 270° field of view due to only having one lens.

$432

Specifications
Video Resolution 2880 x 2880
Image Size 16 Megapixels
Memory 64 GB internal memory
Battery 1.5 hours recording time
Weight 6 Oz
Number of lenses 1
Other Features Built-in accelerometer, e-compass, gyroscope and non-assisted GPS sensors. Dust proof and waterproof to 32 inches

If you are looking for a 360° camera that can handle tough outdoor activities, then the 360 Fly 4K might be what you are looking for. The 360 Fly is dust proof, shock proof and water proof, it also comes with many built in sensors to help it create stable and sharp 360 video. Photos are 16 megapixels in size and look great, video is shot in 4K and therefore looks close to HD quality.

One drawback is that the camera has one 1 fish eye lens and so the field of view is only 360° by 270°, this means the camera will not capture what is underneath it. If you can live with this then the result is crisp, bright video with absolutely no stitching lines.

 

 

V.360 Camera – 4/10

V.360 Camera Kit

A single lens 360 camera with a range of mounts for outdoor equipment.

$449

Specifications
Video Resolution 6480 x 1080
Image Size 8 Megapixels
Number of lenses 1
Memory Up to 128 GB (external micro SD)
Battery 2610 mAh
Weight 8.1 Oz
Other Features Long battery life, include mounts for bikes, snowboards, surf boards. Waterproof up to 3 feet.

This curious looking device is made from a single lens and a cononical mirror that allows it to capture 360° worth of space around it, although this design means it can only capture a 60° field of view. The V.360 is not truly a 360° camera due to this limitation but I include it in this list due to its capabilities as an outdoor action camera.

Video is shot in 4K and the result is clear HD quality. The kit comes with several mounts for outdoor equipment as well as a long battery life of up to 2 hours of continuous filming.

 

 

GoPro Omni – 9.5/10

GoPro Omni

Built with 6 individual GoPro cameras joined together in a specialised frame. A professional grade 360 camera.

$4999

Specifications
Video Resolution 7940×3970 (8K)
Image Size  60 Megapixels
Number of lenses 6
Number of lenses 2
Number of lenses 2
Number of lenses 2
Other Features External remote, comes with advanced editing suite,

The GoPro Omni combines the power of 6 individual GoPro Hero’s to create an extremely powerful single 360° camera. The Omni rig allows each GoPro to be synced together and to work simultaneously, the result is crystal clear 8K 360° video and absolutely huge still images.

The Omni can create professional film quality 360° video that outclasses every other camera on this list, and its price point reflects this. The kit comes with 6 micro SD cards, a USB Hub and the Autopano Video Pro software which is an advance 360° video editing suite.


This really is all the information you need to know to determine which 360 camera you should buy. I hope this buying guide is useful and if you have any further questions not answered in this article, please post in the comment section below and I will answer as soon as I see it! Good luck in finding your perfect 360° degree camera!



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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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