Looking to take your action videos to the next level? With the unstoppable rise of VR and 360 video (you’ve seen them all over Facebook, right?) now is the time to start shooting with a 360 camera. In the past few years the number of cameras that can shoot in 360 has exploded and better yet, there are now more than a few that are designed specifically to be 360 action cameras.
What does a 360 action camera look like?
Everyone knows what a GoPro and its many clones looks like; small, light, robust, but what about a 360 action camera? You’ll be pleased to know that all of the 360 action cameras out right now took a leaf from GoPro’s book and are equally small and light, with tripod mounts and various accessories. One huge different is that you’ll find 2 large lenses on a 360 action cam instead of just one. Protection from the elements and impacts vary depending on the model you choose and what you intend to do with it, but there is something for everyone and for all budgets.
The best 360 action cameras of 2017
Without further delay, let me take you through your options when hunting for a 360 action cam. I’ve tried to cover all of the bases and be as varied as possible; there are cheaper options and more expensive ones ones too, but obviously the pricier devices will offer the best quality video and more impressive action cam credentials. My minimum criteria for including a camera on this list is as follows: must shoot 360 video, must have some type of water and shock resistance and must have a standard tripod mount.
The VIRB 360 is without doubt the best 360 action camera out right now, but it’s also the most expensive. Created by action camera makers Garmin, the VIRB 360 is one of the most recently released 360 cameras and comes packed with the latest features. The VIRB is waterproof to 10m, shock and dust proof and comes with two mounts, one of with is compatible with GoPro accessories.
|Features||Garmin VIRB 360|
|Video Resolution||5.7K @ 30fps|
|Photo Resolution||15 Megapixels|
|Number of Lenses||2|
|360 Live Stream||1920 x 1080 @ 30 fps (Apple Only)|
|Waterproof||Yes, up to 10m|
|Memory||MicroSD up to 128GB (officially, also accepts 258GB)|
|Battery||1 Hour continuous video on full charge|
|Compatibility||Android and Apple smartphones|
|Other Features||Stabilization software, data overlay and augmented reality, Gyroscope, Accelrometer, 360 Audio|
|Where to Buy||Amazon|
The VIRB 360 can shoot at an incredibly impressive 5.7K, which is among the highest resolution of any 360 camera under $2000. The video is sharp, clear and looks great on a headset of on social media. You can also shoot at 4K which is a bit easier to deal with, and even at this lower resolution video looks great.
What makes this the best 360 action camera is the huge number of sensors packed into its small chassis, and how the camera uses them to create augmented overlays on your video. The VIRB comes fitted with a Gyroscope, Accelrometer, Barometer, GPS, WiFI, Bluetooth and a Compass. The VIRB can combine data from all of these senors to create what it calls G-Metrix overlays. Take a look at the video below for what these overlays looks like.
This is just one of many options available for displaying data on your videos and its all done using a really easy to use app or desktop software.
As well as augmented reality, the VIRB has excellent stabilization software which should keep your video looking relatively smooth.
The VIRB has some issues with software, the app sometimes struggled to connect to the camera and live stream quality is poor, but these should not stop you getting the VIRB if you plan to use it as an action cam. Overall no over 360 camera has the specs to beat the VIRB, but you do pay a hefty $800 price for this privilege
2. Nikon Keymission 360
The Nikon Keymission 360 is the first and only 360 camera to be developed by one of the worlds largest camera companies. The Keymission can shoot 4K 360 video and is designed to be tough and durable. Shockproof up to 2m and waterproof with a protective case, the Keymission is designed with action in mind. While the hardware shines, the software is a more frustrating experience, but if you can get past this then the Keymission is a decent 360 action camera.
|Number of Lenses||2 X f2.0 8.2mm (35mm equivalent) lenses|
|Video Resolution||4K MPEG4-AVC/H.264 3840 x 2160p / 24 fps High Definition MPEG4-AVC/H.264 1920 x 1080p / 24 fps 1440 x 960p / 25 fps 1440 x 960p / 30 fps|
|Image Resolution||29 Megapixels 7744 x 3872 (2:1)|
|Weight||44lb / 200g|
|Size||2.4 x 2.4 x 2.6" / 6.1 x 6.1 x 6.6 cm|
|Battery Power||1050 mAh|
|Memory||MicroSD up to 128 GB|
|Other Features||Waterproof to 30m Shock proof Dust Proof Image Stabalization Tripod Mount|
The Keymission 360 can shoot video at 4K resolution, which is considered the standard for decent 360 video. Image quality varies depending on the setting, but the Keymission doesn’t handle low light particularly well. If you are in a well lit environment (daytime essentially) then the Keymission is able to shoot excellent quality video. See the YouTube video below for an example of what the Keymission can do (remember to change quality settings to 4K).
There are 360 cameras that can produce better looking video than the Keymission, but they don’t come with the waterproof casing or shock/dust resistance. The Keymission also doesn’t collect as much data as the VIRB 360 so you won’t get the fancy data overlays, however this camera is significantly cheaper. You’ll be able to attach the camera to any accessories that use a standard tripod mount, of which there are hundreds. Nikon has its own range of accessories for the camera including helmet mounts and mini tripods.
The Keymission is an all round decent action camera that is capable of shooting good 360 video on the fly, but it had a rough start with some poor software so keep that in mind if you’re thinking of buying.
|Features||New Gear 360 (2017)|
|Number of Lenses||2|
|Video Resolution||4096 x 2160 at 24 fps|
|Photo Resolution||15 Megapixels|
|Battery||1160 mAh (130 minutes continuous video)|
|Livestream||Yes 2K resolution|
|Where to Buy||Amazon|
OK, so technically this isn’t an action camera, but it doesn’t have some features that warrant being on this list, plus it’s a bargain! The latest Samsung Gear 360 was released early this year and is a second generation 360 camera. Samsung are taking VR and 360 media very seriously, so they put a lot of work into this camera to make is accessible and decent quality. 4K 360 video and live stream are headline features, it also comes with one of the best apps for controlling 360 cameras I’ve ever used.
The Gear 360 won’t survive a trip underwater, nor will it be unscathed if dropped from a great height, however it is splash-proof, dust-proof and shock proof to about 1 metre. It has a tripod mount which works with most action cam accessories and it comes fitted with a gyroscope and accelerometer. So if you are less into extreme sports and just want a 360 camera that can withstand some basic elemental challenges, the very cheap ($190) Gear 360 is probably the best value option.
Excellent value 4K 360 camera with live streaming capability. Can withstand some knocks and bumps, but not a fully fledged action camera
4. 360 Fly 4K
|Features||360 Fly 4k|
|Number of Lenses||1 f/2.5 x Fish Eye Lens|
|Field of View||Vertical 240° X Horizontal 360°|
|Video Resolution||2880 x 2880 @ 30fps|
|Photo Resolution||No Photo mode. Photos can be taken from video.|
|Waterproof||Yes, up to 30ft|
|Shockproof||Yes, up to 1.5m|
|Memory||64GB, internal only.|
|Other Features||Gyroscope, Accelerometer|
|Where to buy||Amazon Reviews|
The 360 Fly 4K was one of the first 360 action cams ever and is still once of the best. The Fly was designed with action in mind, its hard shell protects it from knocks and falls from 1.5m and it’s water-poof up to an impressive 30m. The 360 Fly can shoot 4K 360 video, however as it only uses a single lens this means the camera can only shoot a 360 x 280 field of view; this means that in the final video you won’t be able to see underneath the camera.
The Fly has has a price cut recently and it’s now one of the best value 360 action cameras considering the number of features it possesses. There are more than a dozen accessories specifically designed for the Fly, but other standard accessories will also work with it too.
Single lens 4K 360 camera. Shock proof and waterproof to 30 metres. Design is perfect for a helmet cam.
360 action cameras coming soon
360 is the perfect format for action cameras, it allows the audience to see the enter environment and become immersed in your experiences. The number of 360 cameras is only going to go up, which is great for us. Here are a few of the most exciting products coming later this year.
Potentially a game changer in the 360 camera product category, the GoPro Fusion is an action cam designed by the king of action cam makers. The Fusion will be GoPro’s first consumer 360 camera and it looks set to be a great device. The duel lens camera will shoot 5.2K 360 video and will be housed in a shockproof and waterproof casing which will protect them from the elements.
Early video examples suggest the Fusions 360 video will be a step above many others in its category, however we should always take example videos from the manufacturer with a pinch of salt and there is still no word on the price.
Yes you read that right, car maker Nissan are developing their own 360 action camera. The JukeCam is actually going to be the first 360 dash-cam, specifically designed to record your car journeys, but the camera will have a duel function as an action camera.
Developed with the creators of the 360 Fly camera, Nissan wants to make it easy for you to record in 360 from inside your car as well as your adventures outside it too. The camera will be able to shoot 4K 360 video and feature much of the same protection found on the 360 Fly (water proof, hardened case, dust proof). Specialised docks will allow you to attach your camera to the dashboard of your car or to a helmet.
No work on release date or price yet, but I’ll be sure to inform you as soon as that info is released.