Best 360 Camera 2021 • 7 360 Cameras Reviews
360-degree cameras have become incredibly trendy, especially in the opinion of YouTubers. In just a few years, these devices have gone from being hardly accessible to increasingly affordable for the general public. Tests show that they now offer a wide range of uses. In our test, we will show you the results of our research.
360 Camera Leaderboard 2021
What is a 360 camera and how does it work?
As their name suggests, these cameras are characterized by the various lenses they feature. This allows them to get a complete 360-degree picture of their surroundings. Each lens captures a specific viewing angle that the camera’s processor then joins to create a single image.
Additionally, you can naturally record immersive, 360-degree videos with these gadgets. Nowadays, many models integrate a microphone that can record 3D sound. The small dimensions of these lightweight cameras are particularly attractive for YouTubers and travelers.
Once you get your hands on one of these devices, you will be able to record videos and take 360-degree photos. Our test presents that these cameras are perfect for creating a virtual tour of your company’s facilities, showing a home for sale or rent, and recording experiences such as weddings or other festivities.
What types of 360 cameras are there?
Right now, through our test, we can identify three main types of 360 cameras on the American market.
On the one hand, you will find the action cams that stand out for their resistance to water and dust. On the other hand there are cameras designed for more general use; these tend to be particularly light and easily transportable.
Finally, manufacturers have created 360 cameras tailored to video surveillance tasks. These can be installed in a fixed location and often offer a lower image quality in comparison to the others, making them more affordable to the general public. Pinpointing the most interesting 360 camera depends on your needs and opinion.
Advantages and Disadvantages of 360 Cameras
Our test demonstrates that these devices offer a wide range of advantages that fit many user profiles. Besides, the number of new applications is continuously growing.
- They are lightweight and smaller in size in comparison to standard cameras.
- They tend to be very easy to use.
- They are compatible with most cell phones.
- You can record 180-degree perspectives.
- Their number of uses is increasing every year.
- They allow you to generate virtual reality (VR) content.
- They can help you reduce the advertising costs of your real estate business.
- You will need your own VR headset to fully enjoy the content they create.
- High-end models remain relatively expensive.
Shopping Criteria for 360 Cameras
If you have decided to purchase your own 360 camera, there are various shopping criteria that you will need to consider. Our test delved into those aspects that we considered most important, which are as follows.
- Photo & video quality
- Storage capacity
After reviewing these qualities, you will be able to browse through the vast array of options on the market and identify the model that is best suited to your needs.
You won’t need the same type of camera to broadcast live on your YouTube channel as you would to generate virtual reality content for your mountaineering adventures. Designing a virtual tour for your real estate business may also require a distinct model, as the duration of the battery life or the resistance to weather conditions won’t matter as much.
However, waterproofing and shock resistance are absolutely fundamental if you intend to use your camera in natural environments. In these circumstances, action cameras like those in our selection will clearly be your best option. If you are looking for a model for security purposes, you will be particularly interested in motion detection and night vision features.
As you know, the lens is an essential component of any camera. 360-degree models generally integrate at least two of them — and more than that, in many cases. That being said, the fact that a camera has more lenses shouldn’t lead you to think that the image quality will be better in comparison to a standard camera. Our test shows that you do need to pay attention to the distance between the different lenses: the closer together they are, the less you will notice the seam between the cameras’ contents.
Photo & Video Quality
Here is another aspect that is fundamental in any optical device, especially those that allow you to record videos. In that regard, we encourage you to carefully test and evaluate the maximum image resolution that your 360 camera supports, as well as the number of frames per second (FPS) that it can record at that resolution.
Nowadays, many models can record at 4K resolution (3840 x 2160 pixels). In fact, now you can find a few selected ones that reach 5.7K resolution. On that note, bear in mind that the higher the resolution at which you record, the larger the resulting file. Therefore, your camera will require a larger storage capacity, and copying and processing the video will require more time.
If you intend to record videos in the best resolution available, you should opt for a camera with large internal memory and the possibility of expanding this storage capacity with a microSD card. Some models can offer up to 64GB — or even 128GB — of internal memory.
Most of the 360 cameras in our selection, with the exception of the Ricoh Theta V, allow you to add your own microSD card to increase its overall storage. In any case, our advice is to choose a device that offers at least 32GB of internal memory. Otherwise, you may quickly find yourself limited and will have to waste time freeing up space and counting your shots.
Generally speaking, these cameras have outstanding connectivity features. The most important is that you make sure it is compatible with the devices you frequently use, whether it is your cell phone or your computer. Your 360-degree camera should include Bluetooth and/or Wi-Fi connectivity at the least.
In addition, you will need an USB port — Type-C, if possible. As we discussed in the previous criteria, the camera must be compatible with microSD cards of the highest possible capacity. This is particularly important if you want to record high-quality 4K video, as this tends to make up for very large files. A microphone input is an interesting option, too.
The last aspect we want to discuss isn’t the least important of all. In fact, battery capacity is a critical factor of your camera, especially if you plan on using it outdoors. Regarding the charging system, keep an eye out for Quick Charge (QC) technology. Nowadays, many cameras integrate a removable battery so you can replace it when it runs out. This is particularly common in action cams that are frequently used in outdoor contexts.
In any case, the vast majority of manufacturers design cameras with autonomies that are equivalent to one hour of HD video recording. Know that the capacity of a battery is measured in milliampere-hours (mA⋅h). In that regard, good values start from 1000 mA⋅h, which you will find even in the most affordable models.
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In which fields are 360 cameras common?
We keep talking about the incredible versatility of these devices. Our product test shows that while some uses are quite obvious, others are more recent and therefore less popular for now. In our opinion the most suitable uses for 360 cameras are video surveillance, creation of virtual reality (VR) content, live streaming online, VR for real estate properties and museums, implementation control in public works, recording and photography of trips, holidays, celebrations and driving aid and parking assistant in the automotive industry.
How should I use my 360 camera?
Before you can start using your new device, familiarize yourself with the essential aspects. First of all, remember that it is already recording the whole of your surroundings, so you don’t need to rotate it. You can move around but try and follow a predictable trajectory to prevent excessive movement. In that regard, tilting is an exciting movement that these cameras allow for. Keep in mind that you may need a stable arm to make the most of your device. Last but not least, editing software that is compatible with your videos and photos is, in our opinion, almost as important as the quality of the best 360 camera.
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