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5 Setup And Settings Tips For A New 360 Camera – Forbes

QooCam Fun and app
I love 360 cameras, but they’re a bit weird. It will take some time, and some trial and error, to get used to their different way of shooting. Before you start experimenting, it’s best to check to make sure all your settings are correct. In many cases, you’ll get radically different quality with just a few taps on their screens or in their apps.
And that app is really the first thing. If you haven’t already, make sure you download the company’s app. Some also have desktop apps, which are worth getting too.
Ideally, you’ll be able to connect to your new camera just by following the instructions in the app. If you have a new camera and a new phone, it should work fine.
However, if you have a slightly older phone, or a camera that came out a year or two ago, you might have an issue. One of the strangest workarounds to a camera that refuses to connect, is to turn off your phone’s mobile data. It sounds weird, and it is, but it works. Not Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, but specifically mobile data. Doing that should let you connect the camera to the app. You might not need to do this again, and then again, you might have to every time you try to connect. It’s a weird quirk with some phones and cameras.
Once you’ve got everything connected, one of the biggest settings choices is resolution and, often connected, framerate. Though it may be tempting to use a lower resolution so you can fit more on an SD card, don’t. 360 videos need all the resolution possible, otherwise they’ll look really soft. Your TV might look great at 4K, but 360 videos even at 5.7K can look soft, especially if you’re cropping them with FreeCapture/OverCapture.
For comparison, the above video is the full 5.7K videosphere, and below is the same video cropped in Insta360’s app to a 1080p FreeCapture version.
All current cameras cap out at 30 frames per second at their maximum resolution. 30fps is fine, but you can’t do any cool slow-motion. If that’s what you’re hoping to do, sacrificing resolution for framerate is fine. Generally, though, the highest resolution setting is preferable.
There are also lots of picture settings in these same menus. I recommend leaving these in Auto for now, and experimenting with them later after you’ve got the basics down.
A selfie stick is a must-have accessory for all 360 cameras. If you didn’t get one when you purchased it, definitely get one now. Nearly all 360 cameras can “delete” the selfie stick from their photos, leaving a pristine photosphere hovering near your person. The result is infinitely better than the weird chopped-off finger result that happens when you hold the camera in your hands.
Check out 5 Must-Have Accessories For 360 Cameras.
In the video above you can see some examples of a perfectly-positioned selfie stick, and a few where the camera is tilted (because I’m an idiot) and you can see the selfie stick. For comparison, below is a video about the QooCam Fun, which is a great inexpensive camera, but doesn’t easily let you use a selfie stick. Your fingers are always in the shot:
Some cameras only mount perpendicular to the selfie stick. This is great. Other cameras can pivot at the end, this isn’t. For best invisible selfie-stick results you should makes sure the camera is perfectly in-line with the selfie stick.
Shooting with a 360 camera requires some adjustment to even the most seasoned photographer’s mind. Framing, in the traditional sense, doesn’t exist. You’re getting everything around the camera. If you’re going for cropped images, like Tiny Planets and inverse Tiny Planets, it’s best to think about the 360 camera is an ultra-wide fisheye. As such, it’s less about getting what you want in focus (everything is in focus) and more prioritizing the subject depths. Objects/subjects closest to the camera will be biggest, and in many cases, the farthest from the camera will be hard to make out.
It takes some getting used to. Placing the camera on a flat boring surface is often a recipe for a boring photo, for instance, even if everything in the medium and far distance is interesting.
And after years of shooting 360 images, I’ve found that the most likes and comments I get on my photos is when I (or someone else) is clearly in the shot. We’re all programmed to react to faces, so an otherwise OK image with a person in it will probably be better than a the same photo without. This took me, someone who predominantly shoots landscapes and machines, a while to get used to.
Tiny Planet at Griffith Observatory. From my Instagram.
Lastly, I’m including lens cleaning and safety in an article about setup tips because you shouldn’t leave home without a microfiber cloth and something to protect your camera’s lenses. I’ve destroyed several 360 cameras just by having them in a backpack with what I thought was an OK case.
Even if your camera comes with a neoprene case or silicone lens covers, I strongly, strongly recommend getting some sort of hardshell case. All it takes is one dropped backpack, one wrong bump, and you’ll crack a lens. This is even more so than a traditional camera because the lenses stick out from the body, and are made with far less expensive glass and plastic.
Smudges aren’t nearly as big of a deal as cracks, but they can make your photos look washed out or blurry. You’ll be amazed how much the lenses attract fingerprints. Having a microfiber cloth handy is ideal, as your shirt/coat/sweater is not an idea material to clean any lens.

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