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Vecnos Iqui 360 Camera Review: Simple but Limited – WIRED





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6/10
Last year was just about the worst possible time to launch a 360-degree camera—capture 360 views of you and all your friends out having fun! That just wasn't 2020.
Somehow, Vecnos, a brand spun out of the Japanese company Ricoh, managed to survive the pandemic collapse of social life and incrementally kept improving its Iqui 360 camera. Unlike most 360 cameras, this isn't an action camera. The company recently released a new version with more colors available, and, more importantly, a significant update to its companion app.
360-degree content has yet to hit mainstream popularity largely because these cameras aren't easy to work with. Unlike a video captured with a smartphone or regular camera, 360 footage needs to be flattened out before it can be shared online. The typical “tiny globe” spherical images are the most common form of 360 photos because they're the easiest to share.
Facebook is one exception to this rule. It allows you to share 360 images your friends can pan and tilt to explore, but if you want to put your 360 vids and images on Instagram, Twitter, or elsewhere you're probably going to have to edit them first. And let's face it, tweaking video footage before you can put it on the web? That's enough friction to keep most people away.
Where 360 footage has found a toehold is in the action camera market. That's partly because the major camera brands in this category, like GoPro and Insta360, have released 360 cameras, but it's also a natural fit. When you strap a camera to your head and point your mountain bike down a 30-degree slope, you have no idea what the story is going to be. A head-on view as you wipe out might be good footage, but it also might miss the reason you wiped out—the Sasquatch that was off to the left, out of the field of view of the camera.
If you had a 360-degree view of the scene, you could go back after the fact and use editing software to pan around inside that 360 footage, highlight Sasquatch, and then pan back to show yourself going head over heels.
Editing video is complex and time-consuming, and most of the software you need usually requires more powerful (and more expensive) hardware to run. Those YouTube channels you follow that make everything look professional, easy, and effortless? Those people do a ton of work—work the rest of us aren't going to do just to share some 360-degree footage with our 20 Instagram friends.
Vecnos' Iqui camera aims to remove most of these barriers by simplifying the process of both capturing and sharing 360 photos and videos. It largely succeeds at the first goal.
The Iqui goes a long way to making 360 cameras approachable to the non-professional, non-action-cam-loving market. Perhaps the best trick is that this is probably the only 360 camera you won't need a manual to use. 
The design is simple and intuitive. There are three buttons: power, shutter, and a switch to toggle between video and still images. The only thing you won't discover on your own is that you need to hold down the toggle button to pair the Iqui with your phone, but the app walks you through this.
The simplicity is nice, but the Iqui uses a proprietary charging plug. It's not a deal-breaker, but it is annoying. Even worse, the adapter you connect to the bottom of the Iqui has a USB-C port on the bottom, and this goes into a stand that keeps it upright. But … you need to lay it on its side to recharge it. Why have a charging base to hold the camera upright if you can't charge it in that orientation? By laying it flat, you risk scratching the lenses, and there are a lot of lenses to scratch.
Vecnos Iqui 360 Camera
Rating: 6/10
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Most consumer-oriented 360-degree cameras use dual lenses, one in front and one in back, each capturing a 180-degree field of view. This makes them affordable but leads to considerable distortion at the edges of each image. You often end up with ridiculously stretched faces and objects when the software stitches the images together.
The Iqui gets around this by squeezing four lenses into the camera, three shooting horizontally and one pointed straight up. There's less distortion in each image, because each camera has a smaller field of view and less distortion in the final image (and video). That alone makes the Iqui better than most 360 cameras I've tested.
It's too bad the image quality from the Iqui is not the best I've seen. It looks good when shared via the app's exporting options (more on that below), but if you zoom in on shadows, there's a good bit of noise present. These also aren't the sharpest images, with details sometimes a bit mushy. 
Again, neither of these are that noticeable in the final product when shared on the web, but keep in mind that you won't be getting ultra-sharp images like you would from a traditional camera lens.
Arguably the most important part of the Iqui camera isn't the camera, it's the Iquispin Android and iOS companion apps that make sharing your 360 photos and video a snap. In removing the complexity of sharing 360 photos and videos, Vecnos also cut out several features. The result is an app that's intuitive and approachable for newbies, but somewhat limited.
This is where I need to reiterate that Vecnos was spun out of Ricoh, which released the first consumer-oriented 360 camera, and more importantly, has a pretty great app for editing and sharing 360 footage from your phone. That's why, when I first tested the Iqui last year, I was taken aback by how limited the app was. 
Vecnos Iqui 360 Camera
Rating: 6/10
If you buy something using links in our stories, we may earn a commission. This helps support our journalism. Learn more. Please also consider subscribing to WIRED
To get your images out of Iquispin and onto the web you have two options: a screenshot of a region of your 360 image, or a video tilting and panning around the image smartly composed by artificial intelligence (AI). If you just want the image, like those you see here, they are saved directly to your phone. There are filters that try to intelligently enhance images, and they work pretty well most of the time, but it would be nice to have some manual controls for when they don't.
A recent app update added a few more features, such as a facial detection system that uses AI to align the angles of each face in a 360-degree group photo, and a "beauty" filter that softens and brightens faces. If your idea of beauty correlates to heavily Photoshopped magazine covers, then the new filter has you covered.
Unfortunately, neither of these additions change the fact that editing and export options are limited. Still, this is primarily a software problem and one Vecnos can solve by updating its app, which is better than having to buy a whole new camera to get these features.
If your primary use case for a 360 camera is short videos panning around a 360 image of you and your friends, posted somewhere like Instagram, then the Iqui is one of the best cameras available. Its limitations, including the lack of a MicroSD card slot, are easily trumped by the ease of use. The only hesitation I have is that it's a little pricey for what you get.
Looking for a more full-featured 360 camera? If you're willing to spend the time and effort to edit your footage, there are other options out there that have more features and can handle a greater range of shooting scenarios, with higher-quality clips. 
Vecnos Iqui 360 Camera
Rating: 6/10
If you buy something using links in our stories, we may earn a commission. This helps support our journalism. Learn more. Please also consider subscribing to WIRED


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