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With the entrance of virtual reality to the art world, 360-degree cameras can be useful and creative tools for artists looking to experiment with the form. They’re also great for videographers who want a full 360 degrees of footage to choose from for standard widescreen framing. Even artists who post video on YouTube and Facebook may embrace consumer-grade 360-degree cameras to provide viewers with an immersive experience. Whatever your aim, we offer a primer in good 360-degree cameras, below.
The folks behind the Insta360 One R know that if you want 360-degree footage, you also are likely going to want a superior action cam as well, so they combined the two into a full-package modular camera. The 360 Edition comes with a dual-lens 360 module that offers superior stability and excellent stitching. The interchangeability of its lenses doesn’t affect its durability, and the 360 module is waterproof to depths of 16 feet. The additional “invisible” selfie stick accessory was a breakthrough waiting to happen: Just like it sounds, the cameras don’t pick up the stick, leaving the sphere complete. The editing software is noteworthy for its ease of use for beginners and its wealth of features for more advanced users.
Unsurprisingly, GoPro’s 360-degree option outshines much of the competition. It’s a big upgrade from the Fusion with its improved stabilization and 5.6K-resolution video when stitched. It’s meant to perform well without add-ons: It’s waterproof, is built to withstand drops, has built-in mounting clips that can work on their own, and captures good audio. For potentially treacherous environments, GoPro MAX is the best choice.
If you’re looking for 360-degree capabilities without the need for whitewater rafting–level durability, the Ricoh Theta V is a good choice. The Ricoh Theta was actually the first successful consumer 360-degree camera, and it maintains a niche in the camera market. It’s easy to hold and simple to use on its own without the related smartphone app. The app, for its part, is also accessible to all users. However, the camera’s 19GB memory leaves something to be desired, and it’s not waterproof.
With an 8K resolution, KanDao’s QooCam blows the image quality of other 360-degree cameras out of the water. That additional capability comes in a larger package, but while the QooCam is heftier than others, it isn’t so bulky as to take it out of the running. It’s also more sensitive than some other action cams and is not waterproof. But for unparalleled imagery, the QooCam is seriously impressive.
A more affordable option, the Kodak Orbit360 is an innovative camera that works well despite a fairly visible seam. The seam is distinct because the front camera spans just 155 degrees, so it can capture high-quality video on its own; this leaves the back camera to cover 235 degrees. That being said, the small camera is portable and easy to operate even without the compatible app, has good audio, and is dust and splash resistant.
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