Who doesn’t love sharing vacation photos? Once upon a time you had to wait a week after you came home to get them developed, then invite your friends and family over for a slideshow. More recently we’ve been able to share our holiday experiences instantly on social media. Fun, but how many sausage leg photo’s do we really need to see? Now there is a new, exciting and innovative way of sharing your vacation – in 360 degrees!
Taking a 360 camera while you travel is the closest you can come to sharing the experience with all your friends and family at the same time. By taking 360 photos or videos of your travelling experiences you will be able to share what it is actually like to be there.
Imagine being at the Grand Canyon; a normal photo will only show people what you saw in that moment, but a 360 photo will allow people to twist and turn as they see canyon stretch for miles from side to side and experience the clear blue sky in every direction. This is something a normal camera just cannot do. It’s also a great way to preserve your memory of a place; being able to see where you went on vacation in 2017 ten years from now in 360 degrees will make for a powerful nostalgia trip!
360 media can be shared and viewed on Facebook, YouTube, Vimeo or if you want a more immersive experience you can use a VR headset. 360 cameras are also used to create the awesome looking “tiny planets” which are very popular on instagram!
Which 360 camera is the best for travel?
OK, let’s get down to it. You want a 360 camera to take on vacation so you can share where you are with friends or family and document your travels. I’m assuming you don’t want to spend thousands of dollars, so we are going to limit ourselves to sub $400 consumer 360 cameras.
What features are we looking for?
Each 360 camera has a different set of features; for travellers the most important ones to consider are:
Size and Weight – No one wants to carry a big heavy camera around with them while hey travel. We’ll only be looking at the smallest and most compact 360 cameras.
Battery and Memory – There is nothing worse than being on vacation and coming across an amazing building, scene or moment that you just have to capture, then you find your camera has run out of memory, or worse, battery power! We will be prioritising 360 cameras that have a good batter life and are compatible with SD cards.
Image Quality – Obviously there is no point in capturing your travels 360 degrees if the resulting image looks awful. Some 360 cameras create quite poor quality imagery due to the huge size of 360 degree files. Thankfully there are many 360 cameras that can create beautiful and colorful shots, and they aren’t even neccesarily the most expensive.
Compatible with selfie sticks/tripods – All the cameras listed on this post can be used with tripods and selfie sticks!
Top 4 360 cameras for traveling
Having considered the most important features for traveling with a 360 camera, here are the top 3 360 cameras you should consider (and why).
Insta360 Nano/Insta360 Air
These are two separate cameras created by the same company. The Insta360 Nano (review here) is for iPhone and the Insta360 Air is for Android. They are sold separately but I’m grouping them as one as they are designed for the same purpose, as a 360 camera attachment for your phone.
The Insta360 Nano/Air is a perfect companion for your phone. The tiny cameras plug into the charging port of your phone and instantly turns it into a 360 camera. Each camera has its own app which allows you to control it and change settings. Let’s take a look at the specifications of each camera individually.
|Lenses||2 x f/2.4 Lenses|
|Video Resolution||2560 x 1280 @30fps
Higher Resolution Possible with Samsung Galaxy S7
|Photo Resolution||3008 x 1504 (3K)|
|Memory||Uses Phone Memory|
|Battery||Uses Phone Battery|
|Other Features||Can be connected to a laptop or PC and used as a 360 webcam
|Number of Lenses||2|
|Video Resolution||3040 x 1520 at 30 fps/16 Mbps|
|Photo Resolution||4096 x 2048 (8 Megapixels)|
|Memory||MicroSD up to 64GB|
|Battery||800 mAh - 70 minutes continuous recording|
|Other Points||Livestream capable|
Why are these cameras great for travel? The number 1 reason is because they are so small and compact that they easily fit in your jacket pocket. You’ll probably be taking your phone anyway, right? So taking a small accessory won’t take up too much more precious baggage space.
Both cameras have 2 fish eye lenses that capture full 360 degree photo and video. One of the best features of these cameras is that they can both livestream 360 video to Facebook or YouTube, so you can share your experiences live. These 360 cameras don’t shoot the absolute best quality video, but for their cheap price (Nano is $199 and the Air is $129), they are seriously worth considering if you want the best bang for your buck.
Samsung Gear 360
This orb shaped 360 camera (review here) from Samsung is considered one of the best consumer 360 cameras ever. It shoots high quality 4K video and 30 megapixel photos in full 360 degrees. You can control the camera wirelessly though the official Gear 360 app and it even comes with its own mini tripod.
The best reason to take this camera on vacation is because it shoots very high quality video and photo in full 360 degrees. In fact I’d say the Gear 360 can shoot the best quality 360 video out of any of the current cop of 360 cameras, so if 360 video is important for you then the Gear 360 should be your top choice. Another plus point is that the camera has a huge memory capacity and is compatible with 128gb MicroSD cards.
Here is an example of a 360 photo taken with a Samsung Gear 360, notice how clear and colorful it is!
And here are the specs for the Gear 360:
|Number of Lenses||x2 f2.0 lenses|
|Video Resolution||4K Dual Cam: 3840 x 1920 at 30 fps Single Cam: 2560 x 1440 at 30 fps|
|Photo Resolution||Dual Cam: 7776 x 3888 (30 MP) Single Cam: 3072 x 1728 (5 MP)|
|Memory||128GB external MicroSD|
|Battery Power||1350 mAh|
|Weight||5.4 oz (153 g)|
|Durability||Splash proof, Dust proof|
|Other Features||360 Timelapse Tripod Mount|
|Price||$349 $229 for Amazon Prime Members|
|Where to Buy||Amazon|
The one downside on the Samsung Gear 360 is that the app that controls it is only compatible with Samsung Smartphones. This means you won’t be able to preview shots or change settings on your phone if you don’t have a Samsung device. You can still use the camera, but you’ll have to hook it up to a PC or laptop to see your shots. If you have a non-Samsung smartphone I recommend a different 360 camera, bur for Samsung users there is no better option.
Ricoh Theta S
One of the most popular 360 cameras ever – and for a good reason. The Ricoh Theta S is a candy bar shaped 360 camera that can shoot full 360 photos and videos (review here). The camera has a great app that is compatible with both iOS and Android phones. The Ricoh Theta S is particularly good at shooting 360 photos, especially in low light. Perfect for those beautiful sunset shots.
The camera is less good at shooting 360 video, as it only has a maximum resolution of 1980 x 1080. Never the less, it’s a small, compact and easy to use 360 camera which can shoot amazing 360 photos – perfect for traveling!
|Ricoh Theta S||Specs|
|Number of Lenses||2|
|Video Resolution||1920 x 1080 at 30 fps/16 Mbps|
|Photo Resolution||5376 x 2688 (24 Megapixels)|
|Stitching||Completed with App|
|Memory||Internal 8GB (Not expandable)|
|Battery||260 photos in 1 charge|
|Other Points||Video recording limit : 25 mins per recording Livestream capable|
These are the best 360 cameras for travelling; any of them will allow you to create amazing memories using 360 imagery, I’ll leave it to you to choose the most appropriate one for you. What I will say is that any 360 camera will allow you to relive your adventures in the future in the most immersive way possible.
See Also: 360 Camera Buying Guide