360 Camera Buying Guide 2020

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- Updated for 2020

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.


Best Overall: Insta360 One R

360 camera buying guide

The Insta360 One R is a dual action & 360 camera that can pretty much do it all. The cameras comes with two interchangeable lenses which allow you to shoot 5.7K 360 video or 4K linear video. It’s like having two cameras in one!

The One R is supported by a truly awesome video editing app that allows you to create full length vlogs and awesome effects with just a few taps. An AI editing feature chooses the best parts of your video automatically, making the One R a film makers dream.

Like its predecessor, the One R features flow-state stabilization which keeps your videos super smooth in virtually all situations. The video quality is great in bright conditions but struggles in low light. The One R is fully waterproof and comes with GoPro compatible mount making it compatible with dozens of accessories.

The module design of the One R allows you to buy extra lenses. At the moment one other lens is available, the Lecia 1 Inch lens, which allows for excellent low light shooting.

It’s not hard to see why the Insta360 One R is one of the most popular 360 cameras of 2020 and with new features being released every few months it looks set to be the camera to beat.

8.5Expert Score
Insta360 One R

The best 360 camera of 2020 and the best device for shooting action videos.

Video
9
Photo
7
Design
7
Stabilization
9
Software
9
Overall Value
8
PROS
  • Amazing Quality Video
  • Amazing Editing App
  • Excellent Stabilization
  • Waterproof
  • Unique Effects
  • Modular Two-In-One Design
CONS
  • Small Screen
  • Lower Quality in Low Light

Buy on Insta360 Website

back to menu ↑

Best for Video: GoPro Max

360 camera buying guide

GoPro’s second generation 360 camera is the GoPro Max. Featuring 5.7K video resolution, amazing stabilization, high quality audio and multiple video modes, this is one of the best 360 cameras ever. The GoPro Max shoots the best quality 360 video of any camera in 2020 thanks to GoPro’s excellent sensor and color technology. The Max is one of only a few 360 cameras that works well in low light environments.

You are able to switch between shooting 5.7K 360 video using both lenses or shooting with just one lens in “Hero Mode” which is like shooting with a normal GoPro. This makes the Max a two in one camera and allows for greater variety in your videos. Unfortunately the photography capabilities of the Max are somewhat limited in comparison.

The Max is an awesome action camera, fully waterproof and features near perfect stabilization software for keeping all your videos super smooth. The Max is my camera of choice when shooting vlogs thanks to the high quality microphones and large screen.

GoPro’s app allows you to automatically create videos with music, transitions and text in just a few minutes. The app isn’t quite as advanced as the Insta360 app but it’s not far off in terms of features. Those who are loyal to GoPro will enjoy the same high quality experience and premium hardware that the company is known for.

8Expert Score
GoPro Max

GoPro's best camera to date. The highest quality 360 video of 2020 and a huge number of features makes the Max a compelling option.

Video
9
Photo
7
Design
7
Stabilization
8
Software
6
Overall Value
8
PROS
  • Amazing Quality Video
  • Looks Good When Watched in VR
  • Excellent Stabilization Software
  • Waterproof
  • Rugged Design
CONS
  • Poorer Quality Photos
  • No Windows Desktop Software
  • Rendering/Stitching Can Take a Long Time

Buy on Amazon

back to menu ↑

Best for Photography/VR Tours: Ricoh Theta Z1

Most 360 cameras specialise in shooting video, with photography often treated as a secondary feature. The Ricoh Theta Z1 does the opposite and is the go to camera for shooting 360 photos. The Z1 features dual 1 inch lenses that allow it to capture more light, color and detail than other 360 cameras.

Photo’s show with the Theta Z1 are noticeably higher quality than any other all n one 360 camera and has become popular with virtual tour creators. The Z1 can shoot auto HDR photos and in the DNG RAW format, allowing you to edit your 360 photos for the absolute best quality possible.

Without doubt the Z1 is the best 360 camera for photography but when it comes to video it struggles against the competition. The resolution is limited to 4K and there’s no advanced video editing features in the app.

8Expert Score
Ricoh Theta Z1

The DSLR of 360 cameras. Shooting the highest quality 360 photos, perfect for virtual tours.

Video
6
Photo
9
Design
8
Stabilization
5
Software
7
Overall Value
8
PROS
  • Best Quality Photos
  • DNG RAW
  • Auto HDR Mode
  • Adobe Lightroom Plugin
CONS
  • Limited Memory
  • Unreliable WiFi Connection

Buy on Amazon

 


The remaining cameras on this list are older and less advanced than the top three listed above. You can still buy some of them but they won’t offer the best quality compared to the nerwe cameras. I’ve included them as they can act as a more affordable option.

back to menu ↑

GoPro Fusion

The GoPro Fusion was the first 360 camera developed by GoPro. 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 no longer manufactures but remaining stocks are being sold at a very low price, making the Fusion a bagain for those who can deal with some of its flaws.

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.

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.

Check Latest Price on Amazon
back to menu ↑

Insta360 One X

insta360 one x review

The Insta360 One X is the second generation 360 camera from Insta360; it can shoot high quality 5.7K 360 video as well as 4K video at 50fps. This range of video options allows you to shoot slow motion in 360 which looks pretty awesome. The One X has stabilization that beats even the best action cameras and you can easily edit your video using the overcapture app.

The One X is probably the best value 360 camera out right now. For just $399, you get a huge amount of features and excellent quality video for a relatively low price. It’s a huge upgrade from the older version of the camera and it’s an excellent option for people looking for a 360 action camera

Available from Insta360 Website back to menu ↑

Insta360 One

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.

8Expert 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

 

back to menu ↑

Rylo

7.5Expert 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.


back to menu ↑

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.

7.2Expert 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

back to menu ↑

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.

6.8Expert 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

back to menu ↑

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.

7.1Expert 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

back to menu ↑

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.

7.1Expert 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

 

See Also: 360 Camera Comparison Table

See Also: 360 Camera Reviews

 


Watch my latest video

Owner of threesixtycameras.com. Writer, photographer and videographer. You can see my YouTube channel for guides of how to shoot 360 video. I've written for The Times, Digital Photography School and Sunday Express.  

6 Comments
  1. 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. 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

  3. Hi Daniel, thanks for this review. I’m currently using a Samsung gear 360 (2016 model) and was thinking abour upgrading. I mostly shoot non-moving videos with a tripod and then view them on a VR headset. From your analysis, I guess the Yi 360 looks like the best deal for my kind of usage.
    I was wondering: when do you think 8k devices will become available for non professionals (price range < 1000$)? Do you have any information on this or what is your guess? If it's a matter of a few months or one year, I was thinking abour postponing my purchase and buying directly an 8k device since resolution is so important. If it's 3 years or more, I'll probably go ahead with the Yi 360 which already looks like a significant improvement with respect to the Gear 360.
    Thanks!

  4. So which camera is best for skiing the Rylo or Insta360 X one?

Leave a reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.