When action cameras hit the market, extreme sports fans and handheld moviemakers were frothing at the mouth at the potential of creating fantastic POV videos. Now, one new innovation has changed the game: the ability to capture a 360-degree view of everything around you, including yourself, in one click. As VR continues to make waves, a surge in interest for 360-degree content is rising, it’s with spherical photos and videos that you can explore on Facebook and YouTube, as well as view through a Google Cardboard headset. When capturing your footage, though, it’s all about the lenses and the body build: one lens will give you 360-degree horizontal panning, whereas the ‘two-or-more’ lens design will give you a spherical view, allowing you a full-360-degree panoramic rotation, as well as a 180-degree vertical rotation allowing the user to generate a fully-working 360-degree view of their surroundings. The only questions remaining are; how do you go about creating this kind of footage? Well, we tried out five different cameras, all unique in their own ways but all with a ubiquitous goal: to make 360 filming not just accessible, but to make it relevant to you.
Nikon KeyMission 360
Somewhere between the PixPro and the Theta SC, the KeyMission 360 is a compact double-lens unit that will fit in the pocket easily, attach to a bike helmet or tripod just the same, as well as shooting 4K video. Designed with exploration and extreme sports in mind, the KeyMission is waterproof up to 30 meters, freezeproof down to -10 Celsius, as well as shockproof up two metres. It accepts microSD so you aren’t limited by its internal memory. You have the option of one-touch recording for stills or video on the unit itself, or via smartphone control using the KeyMission’s inbuilt Wi-Fi module. This said, connecting to the SnapBridge companion app wasn’t as smooth as we would have liked and there were a few problems in establishing a link, so, sadly, if the KeyMission was to lose marks, it would be because of its app and the stitching of the imagery. When looking back through the captured footage, the join was jarringly noticeable, and not a patch on the less-costly Theta. Although, this isn’t all doom and gloom for this 360-degree adventure cam – as its storage is removable, and control is manual, you can bypass the need for the smartphone app and take the footage directly to your computer.
£420 | $495 | nikon.com
Kodak PixPro SP360
With more than a passing likeness for some kind of technological fondant fancy/camera hybrid, the 12MP Kodak PixPro SP360 4K is the kind of 360-degree camera that you will achieve a rotational 360-degree surround image with. But due to the single lens build, you won’t achieve the full orb 360-degree image created by the likes of the Theta. There are accessories aplenty to help you attach the PixPro to bikes, helmets and tripods, though. As well as snazzy-looking GoPro-inspired housings, there is the curious full-360 attachment, which is basically an accessory that allows you to attach two cameras together using a bracket. That is one way to get around your 360 camera not allowing you to achieve full- 360 viewing in all directions. The PixPro is compact, versatile and durable, boasting a dustproof and splashproof body designed to withstand falls from a distance of roughly six feet, though it’s not as waterproof as the Nikon Keymission. Its Wi-Fi and NFC connectivity as well as YouTube and Facebook 360 support for easy uploading to social networks, but Kodak’s bundled free video editing software for Mac and PC isn’t sophisticated enough for pro users it’s aimed at.
£350 | $450 | kodak.com
Ricoh Theta SC
The double-lensed Richo Theta SC is quite possibly the least imposing, most user-friendly camera in the group. This pocket pal the latest model in the range, and is designed specifically to be a lighter, mid-class model that utilises the same technology, body design and lens built as the original Theta S. And, like the S, the SC sits proudly in the compact, pocket-sized and simple-to-operate band, while delivering full orb, 360-degree photos an videos thanks to its duel-lens system. The camera also has a built in Wi-Fi module that you can connect your smartphone or tablet to and in conjunction with the Theta companion app, you can view and shoot still imagery as well as remotely-control your 360-degree filming (there’s no in-app preview for filming, though, sadly). The Theta isn’t designed to be worn, and the inbuilt storage is only 8GB and video will only record in up to six-minute segments – that said, though, the app is very intuitive and allows for split-screen VR use as well as the actual stitching of the stills being among the best we have seen. All in all, this is a brilliant all-in-one, general-use 360-degree camera.
£250 | $295 | ricoh-imaging.eu
The all-seeing-eye approach works brilliantly with the 360Fly’s intriguingly-designed spherical camera. This device is built for rugged use – it’s waterproof up to one meter, not to mention dust and shockproof as well. This 16MP action cam is certainly the cyclist’s choice. Utilising an upward-facing lens to give you a fully-rotating 360-degree surround view and a 240-degree vertical view, all in crisp 4K, the one thing you will need to be conscious of is the camera’s positioning. With the single-lens iterations of 360-degree cameras, any off-kilter placement can and will result in a rather skewed position and a dizzying result when used in video mode, especially when filming cycling, or any other movement based activities, for that matter. To get a more immersive experience, the 360Fly also features dual microphones to add more realism into your VR experience, and there’s no real need to worry about storage as the unit itself contains a massive 64GB of internal storage. It also has Wi-Fi functionality for smartphone connectivity as well as doubling up as a standard point-and- shoot camera with its POV mode.
£430 | $500 | 360fly.com
Purchasing and using a dedicated 360-degree camera can be quite a commitment – especially when you consider its housings, attachments and, in many instances, its overall cost – however, you don’t need to worry as the Insta360 Nano will turn your own iPhone into a fully-working 360-degree camera. Drawing vast similarities to the Theta camera, this lightweight, dual-fish-eye-lensed stick simply attaches to your phone via its lightning connector or microUSB, and, with the help of the Insta360 Nano Companion app, you can use your phone to start shooting full-360 images straight away. Yes, the Insta360 Nano is basically a peripheral device but it delivers 30fps at 3|K resolution. The camera can work independently of you phone, just not remotely, but with the app and the headset the unit comes with, you can instantly review everything in VR. Drawing from a removable microSD card for storage and a Micro USB for power, the Nano certainly helps make things easier to get that shot, although sadly not 4K, and resolution in low light is a little lacking – also, the unit we used had a tendency to overheat; you would want to be upgrading very quickly. Initially just for iPhones, an Android-friendly Nano just launched.
£200 | £200 | insta360.com