360-degree cameras are currently struggling on the market, even though there is a genuine interest from consumers and a plethora of options from camera manufacturers.
The average consumer has a daunting choice. The is an ever-growing list of market choices, hefty price tags, and aspects of 360-degree videography which are unfamiliar to traditional point-and-shoot cameras.
But there is a hope for the future as some camera manufacturers have seemed to figure out a way to achieve relative success. The following cameras were selected based on consumer friendliness, practical and portable design, price point, quality of video and stitching, and off of consumer reviews.
Insta360 Nano S
The most consumer-friendly of the cameras on our list, the Insta360 Nano is not only a 4K resolution but is a portable 360-degree camera for under $200. The camera can directly plug into an iPhone for added filming features and easy on-the-go editing.
The battery lasts for about two hours of filming and the small compact camera does an excellent job of recording audio with video. The fisheye lenses blur the image quality around the edges – especially in low-light settings – but for $239 a pop from the manufacturer, the Insta360 Nano S is amongst the best deals for a consumer looking to get into 360-degree photography.
Offering a 360 by 240-degree field of vision and live streaming capabilities, this spherical camera can be found for less than $100 and is the cheapest option on our list.
Shaped like a small black sphere, chiseled with sharp triangles around it, and a proprietary socket fisheye camera design, the 360Fly HD looks nothing like a traditional camera – but do not be fooled, it is dirt, shock, and dustproof enough to go through the swamps and back.
The camera comes with a uniquely designed charging port, as it does not have a USB port, and has an easy to use app interface for video editing. The audio on the camera is lacking, as the casing is rather thick and the microphone is located behind a tiny hole in the hefty black casing.
Kodak PIXPRO SP360
The Kodak SP360 is a dust, freeze, and shockproof beast of an entry-level camera. It shoots a 16 MP image and offers a multitude of different filming styles. With wifi capabilities and the Kodak name behind it, the SP360 Action Camera offers a nice level of reassurance to the consumer afraid of the relatively young age of the 360-degree camera industry. As is a trend emerging with many other entry level 360-degree cameras as well, the camera is operated by using an app, available on Android or iPhone.
The major drawback of the camera is two are needed to create a complete 360-degree camera. Since its release in 2014, Kodak released the Orbit360 4K, which is a full 360-degree video with two lenses for $100 more.
Ricoh Theta V
The most expensive option on this list, the Ricoh Theta V straddles the line between consumer and prosumer. The camera also offers the best features of any option on this list. As a descendant of the first commercially successful 360-degree camera to hit the market, the Theta V upgrades the previous resolution of 1080 to 4k with a 14.5 MP imaging capability. It shoots with a locked frame rate of 30 fps and offers live streaming as well as action camera image shooting.
The Ricoh Theta V has four internal mics, allowing for the camera to be able to record audio with directional volume in mind, although it also offers an audio jack to connect an external mic for consumers with a more strict expectation. It is not waterproof, although it offers a waterproof case for aftermarket purchase – although it Is expensive already and the case adds an additional $200 to the bill.
Samsung Gear 360
A newer, updated option in the 360-degree camera market, The Samsung Gear 360 offers a simple 360-degree camera set up for only $229 from the manufacturer’s website, although it does have its own issues. With nothing extraordinary about the camera to be boasted, the same can be said about its downfalls, offering a nice level of standardization to the entry-level 360-degree camera platform.
The camera features two 8.3 MP cameras that create the 360-degree effect. Still, the major drawback is it doesn’t effectively capture images while moving. A best practice would be to leave the camera stationary while filming.
The battery is about as good as any other entry level, which is not too good at all, draining at a rate of a percent a minute. Although substantially cheaper than earlier models, the camera still suffers the same problems and really is nothing more than a good attempt by a reputable company to create a new kind of camera – but as with many budding markets, it is fraught with its own problems.
Article by Andrew Wei, an associate analyst with Greenlight Insights.