The best hardware to create high quality 360˚ video VR content
This blog is an in depth look into 360˚ cameras in terms of quality and ease of use. We have devided the 360˚ cameras in different price ranges for a complete overview. These cameras are the best cameras at this point in time.
Consumer cameras range from €100 — €500. These cameras are mostly an all-in-one package. This means they are easy to use and stitching software is one click to stitch. The resolution of these cameras is mostly 4K.
Prosumer cameras range from €500 — €1000. The cameras are an all-in-one package. These come with stitching software, but using professional stitching software will improve the stitch. The resolution of these cameras is between 4K and 6K.
Professional cameras range from €1000 — €10.000. Cameras in this category mostly come with their own stitching software. It is however advised to use separate professional software for the best stitching. The resolution is always 8K.
4. High-end professional
The high-end professional cameras range from €10.000 and onward. These cameras are mostly used in the film industry.
The Gear 360 (2017), 4096x2048@ 24fps, does not seem to be any better, judging from the spec sheet, than the gear 360 (2016), 3840 x 1920 @ 30fps. The battery has gotten smaller and it only has half the amount of megapixels compared to the 2016 version.
So why is this an update? The lenses have gotten better and are placed closer together which makes the stitching between the lenses a whole lot easier. Furthermore, it has a better HDR (high dynamic range). But the 2017 version is also twice as expensive as the 2016 version. This makes the gear 360 (2016) a great budget 360 camera.
The Mijia Mi Sphere, 3456 x 1728 @ 30 fps, has less resolution than the gear 360 (2017) with only 3.5K. This should mean it would have less detail, but it doesn’t. This is probably because of a better sensor. The sensor proves this by having a better dynamic range as well. The Mijia Mi Sphere also has great in-app stitching, but stitching by hand afterwards will even improve on this.
The Insta360 One, 3840*1920@30fps, has some great features for consumers which makes it stick out from other 360˚ cameras. The camera can be easily attached to smartphones, making your smartphone the selfie stick, while you can preview the video. The camera also has bullet time, this is slow motion video at 120fps. This makes for some awesome smooth slow motion footage.
For consumers that value image quality the Xiaomi Mijia Mi Sphere is recommended. But if you want more features to play around with, the best camera is the Insta 360 One. While if you are on a tight budget you should go for the Samsung Gear 360 (2016). A lot of websites praise the Ricoh Theta V as the best 360 Camera, it’s on the same level as the insta360 one, but because it only has 19Gb internal storage and no way to expand this, it does not make our list. Overall, we would recommend the Xiaomi Mijia Mi Sphere.
The Garmin Virb 360, 5.7K @30fps, is an high end consumer camera. It has great resolution of 5.7K. It has an exchangeable battery, which is always useful. The dynamic range is pretty good, not on the level of pro cameras though. Stitching is also pretty good, it has near and far stitching options but you can always stitch by hand.
The Gopro Fusion, 5.2K@30fps, has less resolution than the Virb, but the quality of the image, the sharpness, seems way better. The camera has great dynamic range and good stabilization. Thanks to the flatter lenses it does not suffer from lens flares ruining the image. Stitching quality is really good compared to other consumer cameras.
The GoPro Fusion will be important for the VR market. This camera will bridge the gap between action cameras and 360˚ cameras. This is because of the “overcapture” feature. This feature ensures that you can use the 360˚ camera for normal video purpose.
The GoPro Omni is a rig that straps together 6 GoPro 4’s. It has a program to easily import all the video files. The camera comes with stitching software provided by Autopano. With this software you have a lot of control over the stitching process.
The Insta360 Pro is built specifically for VR. The camera is able to do real-time stitching at 4K. This is great for its live streaming capability. The Insta360 Pro can also film 4K at 120fps, this makes the camera great for high quality slow motion footage. The maximum quality is 8K at 30fps.
Furthermore, this camera is built for 360˚ purpose, unlike the GoPro Omni. Meaning it is engineered more precisely for the sole purpose of VR. All the lenses on this camera or on one horizontal line, this makes stitching the footage and framing your subject much easier. Also, multiple microphones are integrated so you can record spacial audio.
This camera also has a live-preview feature which is a must for professional filmmakers. The camera comes with its own stitching software. The stitching is good, but you don’t have a lot of control over it. Having a program like Autopano or Mistika VR would make it even better.
With the Kandao Obsidian R the main advantage over the Insta360 Pro is that you have a lot of control of the separate lenses. You can set your exposure and white balance on each lens individually. This will have a big impact on the dynamic range, this way you will not have one lens overexposed.
In this category we would recommend the Insta360 Pro. This camera has a great price for the quality. It is built with a purpose and it definitely delivers.
These cameras are mostly used for cinema worthy experiences. Like the Nokia Ozo. This camera is more a proof of concept than an actual solution. The quality is not much better than the professional camera’s.
The Z-cam V1 Pro has really good image sensors, close to that of a DSLR. The sensors used are micro four thirds Sony CMOS sensors
Not a lot is known yet about the Camera, but it will definitely have great image quality.
The GoPro Odyssey was one of the first stereoscopic 3D 360 Camera’s. Nowadays most of the professional camera’s are already capable of doing this, except for the GoPro Omni. The Odyssey is made of 16 GoPro’s.
The Facebook Surround 360 x24 is a new step in VR video. Instead of having a flat 360 sphere you can look at, you can see it with actual depth and move around in it. You can even move to positions where the camera was not even placed. This is because of the depth information the camera records, with this information a 3D environment can be made. This Camera shows us the future of immerse 360 video. Though it is not available yet, Facebook just Partnered with RED for the production of this camera.
The camera’s mentioned in this overview are currently available to create 360˚ video. The market for 360˚ video cameras is rapidly changing and many new cameras will hit the market. It is our believe that more all-in-one cameras with a small form factor will be introduces in the future. These will probably facilitate depth information recording.
So, what’s next?
By combining this hardware with the use of our platform technology, Warp Studio, you can create highly engaging virtual reality content yourself. Simply create a scenario, upload 360˚ video, publish and experience with your favourite VR platform. Get yourself a free account and start creating today!