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The Best 360-Degree Cameras And Video Cameras For 2019 – Forbes

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A photo taken with the GoPro Fusion.
Taking spherical photos, or 360-degree images, allows you to show someone everything about a given location. They’re terrific for real estate, panoramas or the chance to show someone a location they couldn’t otherwise get to.
The cameras that take these photos typically use fish-eye lenses capable of shooting images that cover half of the sphere. So “360 cameras” are two cameras combined in one, shooting two halves that are then stitched into the whole. These cameras are more expensive than standard models, but include special optics and software to connect the images in a smooth spherical rendering.
The results are manipulatable on social media, viewable with virtual reality goggles, or just pannable using a mouse or a finger on a normal display. But the images typically show the distortion that extreme wide-angle lenses add. (For an example, see the main image above.)
So if you want the big picture, here are five cameras to consider for 360-degree photos and video:
The Ricoh Theta Z1 is the flagship of the Ricoh line (which also includes the solid but not quite as fancy Theta V.) Don’t let its diminutive size fool you: It may only be an inch thick, but there are two 1-inch CMOS sensors on either side of this stick-shaped camera to take 23 megapixel spherical images in a variety of formats, including RAW, with its pair of extreme wide-angle lenses.
The Z1 can handle high-contrast and low-light situations, and its images look professional whether you’re in tiny spaces—a room, the front seat of a car–or a huge cityscape. While the ZI shoots decent stabilized 4K 360 video, it takes even better still photographs.
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The Insta360 One X in use (shown on a selfie stick.)
This 360-degree camera shoots 5.7K video and 18 megapixel stills, and includes stabilization, 50-frames-per-second mode for smooth video, and the ability to transfer in real time via Wi-Fi. But save a little room in your budget for an SD card, because this camera doesn’t come with one.
The camera is 4.5″ x 1.8″ by 1.2″ and weighs 3.2 ounces, including its rechargeable battery. Want to shoot in Bullet Time? The One X still maintains 3K video at 100 frames per second. In addition to its smooth video, the stabilization works extremely well. And with Wi-Fi transmission on, it can shoot continuously for about an hour on a single charge.
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This little, square 360 camera doesn’t shoot terrific images compared to the Insta360 or the Ricoh. But its superpower is that it’s waterproof down to 16 feet, right from the box, allowing you to take underwater videos without fussing with a separate water-tight case. The GoPro Fusion takes 5.2K video and 18 megapixel photos. The software included with the camera allows you to pick a perspective and save traditional 1080p video or flat photos if you desire, though they’ll still have the fish-eye distortion. (It will not livestream, however.) The Fusion is compatible with iPhones and most popular Android models.
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The Rylo 360 software offers some really nice tools for following a subject or a particular path through 5K 360 video. While viewers can look anywhere in a 360 composition, typically the video will focus on a particular target within that space, and the Rylo app does a nice job of accomplishing that.
The little pill-shaped camera includes stabilization and will shoot 16X time-lapse video for speedy overviews of crowd scenes or other dynamic motion without requiring separate editing. It also includes sync cables for both iPhone and Android phones. If it has flaws, it’s that the camera is set to low-quality mode by default and that it can be difficult to get good video in low light, which is true of many 360 cameras. Generally, the Rylo 360 does a better job with video than stills.
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Kodak PixPro SP350 Action Cam, shown with its yellow case, at top left, and accessories.
This entry-level 360 camera from Kodak is better suited for stills than video. It will shoot in 1080p, but only at 10 frames per second; it takes 16 megapixel photos. Kodak advertises this model as smashproof, able to survive falls from two meters, -10 degrees, dust and splashed (not submerged) water. The camera will share to Facebook and YouTube via Wi-Fi, and you can control it with iPhones and Android devices, and it uses an SD memory card, sold separately. 
One SP360 Action Cam can record in 360 degrees, but in a half-sphere. For full-sphere recording, it takes two Action Cams bound together, using Kodak software. Alternatively, you can create 360-globe stills by using a tripod, pointing the camera lens in one direction, then flipping it and using the software to stitch. Still, the Pixpro SP360 Action Cam is small, hardy and a great 360 camera for the price.
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