If you’ve looked into shooting video for VR you’ve probably come across the term VR 180, which is a higher resolution alternative to 360 video but with less immersion. Most VR cameras can shoot either full 360 video or 180 video, but with the Vuze XR you can do both. This 5.7K dual 360 and 180 camera aims to provide the best of both worlds and give up and coming VR creators the option to shoot in 360 or 180. I’ve been using the Vuze XR for a few weeks and testing whether the dual modes are really worth it or if it’s just a gimmick.
The Vuze XR can shoot stunning quality video in both 180 and 360 modes, just try not to move too much with it.
- Excellent Quality Video
- Dual 180 and 360 Modes
- Excellent Software
- Good Build Quality
- Reasonable Price
- Average Stabilization
- Little Manual Control
July 2019 Update: Latest version of the Vuze XR firmware adds support for DNG raw photos – massively increasing the potential quality of the images – as well as full manual control over the camera in the app.
Full 360 vs VR 180
Before we start this review lets quickly go over the difference between 360 and 180, and why you might choose one over the other. Full 360 video is what it implies; it covers the full 360 degrees and allows you viewer to see everything as you would in reality. Full 360 arguable provides a more immersive experience and is great for occasions where there are multiple interesting points of view both in front and behind the viewer.
VR 180 is limited to capturing the 180 degrees in front of the camera, which is about 60 degrees more than the normal human field of view. You can still view this video in a VR headset, but you’ll be limited to looking in front and to the side of your head. While not as immersive the advantage of capturing in 180 is that the video looks much sharper as the pixels don’t need to fill as much space. You can also capture 180 video in 3D far more easily than in 360. The 3D aspect ads an extra level of immersion when viewing back on a VR headset. 180 video is suited for situations where most or all of the action you are trying to capture occurs in front of the camera.back to menu ↑
Vuze XR Review
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In order for Vuze to create a camera than can shoot both 360 and 180 VR video they needed to come up with an innovative way to position the lenses. 360 requires two or more lenses pointing in opposite directions, but VR 180 reviews two lenses side by side. The Vuze XR can switch between these two lens positions with the click of a button, at which point the two lenses pop out from their 360 position and end up side by side ready for shooting in 180.
This mechanism works really well and is actually quite satisfying. When you want to change back to 360 mode you just need to push the two lenses back into their housing.
Overall the design and build of the Vuze XR is quite good, however one key feature missing is a screen. Manual controls are limited to a shutter, power button, which doubles as a button to switch between photo and video mode, and WiFi.
The Vuze XR is sturdy, weighty and clearly not built with cheap materials. It should last the distance if you don’t drop it!back to menu ↑
360 Video Quality
The Vuze XR can shoot 360 video at a resolution of 5760 X 2280 which is 5.7K. The maximum bit rate is 120mbps however I’ve found that a lot of videos end up at around 90mbps. On paper these specs are impressive and put the Vuze XR among the top tier of 360 cameras, but how is it in reality?
The Vuze XR performs extremely well in good lighting conditions, shooting relitively sharp and clear 360 video with a lot of detail. The Vuze XR uses Sony f2.4 sensors which seem able to capture light and color with great accuracy. During my tests the Vuze XR performed best on a slightly overcast but sunny day, potentially shooting the best quality 360 video I’ve seen from a camera at this price.
Shooting indoors is a bit more of a struggle for the Vuze XR, but my tests still show it can do a great job. The main issue is that the video captured ended up a bit darker than in reality. The detail and color was still excellent and a bit of extra light can always be added in post production.
When shooting in low light the Vuze XR struggled, as do most 360 cameras. While the detail is still there, shooting in low light produced a lot of noise and fuzziness which is hard to ignore. Another issue I found with the Vuze XR is the stitching line, which is sometimes a bit too obvious. Its saving grace is that the stitching can be adjusted using the free program Vuze provide, but it would be nice if it got it right every time.
180 Video Quality
When you shoot in 180 with the Vuze XR the same 5.7K’s worth of pixels is crammed into half the space, so the resulting video is sharper and clearer than when you shoot in 360. I’m actually very impressed with the quality you can get out of this camera when shooting in 180, with those Sony sensors capturing excellent dynamic range and vibrant colors.
When you shoot in 180 you’ll also be shooting in 3D, so the resulting video with be a side by side double. In order to view it normally you can upload to Facebook or YouTube which should automatically recognise it at a 180 video. You can also side-load the video to your Oculus Go and watch it there (if you have one). The VR 180 aspect of this camera is no gimmick and could actually be one of its best features. If you are specifically interested in VR 180 then I’d say this is one of the best cameras for that at this price range.
The Vuze XR also allows you to shoot 4K video at 60fps which opens the door to smoother video and slow motion. Unfortunately the software ecosystem doesn’t make much use of this yet so you would have to add a slow motion effect manually. Hopefully future software updated will add a native slow motion feature.back to menu ↑
Many 360 cameras are being used as alternatives to traditional action cameras thanks to their ability to stabilize video without a gimbal. So how does the Vuze XR perform when moving? Not as well as I would like unfortunately. The Vuze XR software gives you the choice to correct the horizon or remove shakiness, but not both. In any case, I’ve found both options don’t work exceptionally well when compared to other 360 cameras.
I only tested the Vuze XR while walking and running and even then it struggled, so I didn’t bother testing on a bike or more extreme movement. The Vuze XR should be fine for vlogging and light movement, but it’s not quite ready for full action. This may change as software updates have massively improved stabilization for other 360 cameras in the past.back to menu ↑
The Vuze XR is definitely not designed to be a photography camera, but it still does a decent job. The maximum resolution for photos is 18 megapixels which is fine for shooting tiny planets or 360 images for Facebook.
You can also shoot 180 3D photos, but I’ve yet to find a use for these. There are very limited options for setting up or shooting photos in the app so don’t expect to create any masterpieces.back to menu ↑
Usually a weak point for 360 cameras but thankfully not for the Vuze. The App is simple, but stable and easy to use. Many 360 cameras come with apps that hardly work for the first few months. While the Vuze XR app lacks a lot of manual control I’d like to see added in the future it is able to reliably connect to and control the camera.
Vuze also provides a free desktop app, the Vuze VR Studio, which is one of the best desktop apps from any 360 camera producer. Unlike the App, the Vuze VR Studio has multiple options for editing and adjusting your videos.
You can color correct and adjust lighting and color before you stitch your final video, this means you can skip a step in the normal workflow and only have to render your video once. The Vuze Studio is a high quality piece of software that could outmatch some paid for programs.
I should note that you need to use this desktop software to stitch your 5.7K 360 and 180 videos, you you’ll need to download it anyway. Remember, it’s free!back to menu ↑
I cannot fault the video quality that the Vuze XR is capable of shooting. OK, it doesn’t look that great in low light, but the same can be said for pretty much every consumer 360 camera. The ability to shoot in both 360 and 180 should not be underestimated; VR 180 definitely has its place and can look amazing.
The camera is well built with decent software and the workflow it simple. I’d say the biggest weak point is the not-quite-so-amazing stabilization, but I have faith that it can be improved with software updates. Overall I’m very impressed with the Vuze XR and it has a unique selling point over its rivals, it’s ability to shoot both 360 and 180 at 5.7K.back to menu ↑
There is one other camera that can shoot dual 360 and 180 video and that is the Kandao QooCam, however this camera is limited to shooting 4K video so the quality won’t be as high. Currently the most popular 360 camera is the Insta360 One X, which can shoot 360 video at 5.7K with excellent overcapture features and near perfect stabilization. If you are not interested in shooting 180 and are looking for more of an action camera then check out the Insta360.back to menu ↑
Price and Where to Buy
The Vuze XR is available for $439/£399, which puts it roughly in the middle of other 360 camera out right now. I think this price point is very reasonable for what you get. You can buy the Vuze XR from Amazon or the Vuze XR website (which just redirects to Amazon anyway).