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best 360 cameras

The Best 360 Cameras in 2021

Author: Robert Wilson

Electronics & Peripherals Expert

Welcome to our big 360-degree camera test. Here we present all 360-degree cameras that we have tested in detail. We have compiled detailed background information.

We want to make your purchase decision easier and help you find the best 360-degree camera for you.

You can also find answers to frequently asked questions in our guide. Furthermore, you will also find some important information on this page that you should definitely pay attention to if you want to buy a 360-degree camera.

  • 360 degree cameras are a very good way to take your friends and family on your adventures. The camera records it exactly as you see it.
  • The cameras basically differ according to their areas of application. Depending on w w hat you plan to do with it, you’ll have a variety of options.
  • 360-degree cameras for everyday use are your companions in normal life. With action cameras, you can record exciting adventures and sports activities. And VR cameras for smartphones are always and everywhere with you.

Best 360 Cameras

Ricoh Theta SC2

Ricoh Theta SC2
485 Reviews
Ricoh Theta SC2
  • Capture your life in 360: Easily take immersive images and…
  • High image quality: Records natural 360° still images and…
  • 4K Movie: High-quality 4K 360-degree videos using the latest…
  • Night View Mode: The new preset mode allows you to shoot…
  • Beautiful selfies: With the built in face detaction you can…

Ricoh’s Theta SC is a 360-degree full-spherical camera. It features Full HD video recording at 30 frames per second and an internal memory of 8GB. Photos have a resolution of 14MP. You can easily transfer your recordings to your smartphone via a Wi-Fi connection.

Customers especially appreciate the simplicity of the application and also the quality, although it can still be considered to be in need of improvement. However, the price-performance ratio also has to be considered, which is a positive aspect for customers.

Ricoh Theta S Digital Camera

 Our Pick
Ricoh Theta S Digital Camera
534 Reviews
Ricoh Theta S Digital Camera
  • 360 Degree Spherical Panorama images and Spherical Videos up…
  • Live view function on mobile device; Wi Fi communications…
  • Transfer videos directly to your mobile device without the…
  • Full HD Video at 30fps , 360 Degree Spherical Video…
  • Charge the battery by connecting it to a PC using the…

The Ricoh THETA S is strongly focused on photography and shooting panoramas. It is therefore perfect for passionate photographers who do not care much about a video function or quality.

The Ricoh THETA S can especially stand out with its photo quality. The video resolution is not too high at 1920×1080 pixels, but recording runs smoothly at 30 frames per second by default. The THETA S even has the option to stream this resolution live when the camera is connected via USB.

Photos are more its forte. With a resolution of 14 megapixels, the pictures are sharp and can capture memories in great detail.

Insta360 ONE X2 360 Degree Waterproof Action Camera

Insta360 ONE X2 360 Degree Waterproof Action Camera
788 Reviews
Insta360 ONE X2 360 Degree Waterproof Action Camera
  • The Pocket Camera Crew: With just one device, shoot first in…
  • FlowState Stabilization: Better-than-ever stabilization and…
  • Invisible Selfie Stick: Shoot with the Invisible Selfie…
  • IPX8 Waterproof: Insta360 ONE X2 is waterproof to 10 meters…
  • In the Box: 1x Insta360 ONE X2, 1x Charge Cable, 1x Battery,…

The 360-degree camera Insta360 One X can not only record videos with a video quality of 5.7K, but also the photos are shot with 18MP. The camera can be connected to Wi-Fi, so the photos and videos can be quickly transferred to your phone.

Owners of this 360-degree camera find it very handy and are thrilled with the quality that this camera offers in 360-degree shots.

Frequently Asked Questions: 360 Cameras

What are 360 degree cameras?

360-degree cameras are devices that not only record a rectangular image section, but also a complete 360-degree spherical sphere, so that you can later look around the recorded image, just as you can look around your surroundings with your eyes.

The trend for 360 degree videos has emerged in recent years with the trend for virtual reality (VR). Panoramic photos already existed before that. The new shooting technique allows you to digitally map the complete environment of the camera.

With the new techniques for rendering through VR, 360 degree videos can now also be used meaningfully and shown to viewers. 360-degree cameras are often called VR cameras because the techniques go hand in hand.

How to use a 360 camera?

A 360-degree camera is ideal for sharing your life with your friends and family or even the whole world. The special thing about it is that you don’t have to choose a specific image section, but can record everything around.

When someone watches your videos later, they can put themselves in the exact situation you filmed. This is called immersion. The more immersed the viewer is in your video, the more “immersive” it is. Being able to look around in 360 degrees therefore has a strong impact.

Did you know that 360-degree cameras are used to make VR videos?
Special head-mounted displays then help display the video in virtual reality.

What else do I need besides the 360 degree camera?

Apart from the camera, you don’t need anything to film. Some cameras come with accessories. Sometimes software is also included. To have the best experience in playback, there is also additional equipment.

Especially with the 360 degree action cameras, a mount is often included that allows you to attach your camera anywhere. They can often be used on the common GoPro mount system. If you don’t have anywhere to attach it, it’s a good idea to use a handle or tripod. You can’t attach the camera itself, otherwise you would block part of the image.

Some manufacturers have their own software to edit the images and videos as they come out of the camera. These are always pretty beginner friendly and help you to be able to show your footage to others as quickly as possible.

To watch the 360 degree videos, you need the right player. This is often included in the software. You can also upload your videos to YouTube or Facebook. These now also support all-round playback. However, you will have the best viewing experience if you watch your recordings in VR glasses. There are very simple versions, such as the Google Cardboard, or higher-quality models, such as the Samsung Gear VR glasses.

To be able to use a 360-degree camera at all, you need a PC, a smartphone or a tablet. Depending on the intended use (hobby, sports/action, professional), you should pay attention to the image quality of the camera, what features it has (battery life, storage capacity) and how the camera can be operated. Remember: higher price = better quality!

What technology is in 360 degree cameras?

It depends on the model and the price range. So the quality of the parts can be different. However, the technical structure is always the same.

360 degree cameras work exclusively digitally. They have one or more sensor chips, depending on the number of lenses. These chips record with relatively high resolutions, since the total resolution of the image is not just distributed over a rectangle (as with a screen), but over a spherical sphere. In a later playback, one always sees only a section of the overall image.

The lenses used in VR cameras are usually very wide-angle. Depending on the system and the number of lenses, they must be able to image the complete environment. In a two-lens system, both lenses must be able to capture 180 degrees, i.e. a hemispherical sphere.

How do I make 360 degree videos and photos?

The operation of the VR cameras is very user-friendly and differs only slightly from conventional cameras. You can take pictures with just a few button presses.

The operation differs slightly from model to model. Most of the cameras have a video and a photo mode. Pressing the shutter button takes the picture. To keep you out of the picture, many models also have remote control via a smartphone.

Did you know that only certain video portals can play 360-degree videos?
They can be published on video portals like YouTube or Vimeo. The videos can then be navigated through the touch screen or mouse and you get a glimpse of different perspectives.

After the recording has been made, there are different ways to proceed with the material. Small cameras usually directly output a finished, stitched image that you can directly continue to use. Otherwise, this is done automatically by the software that comes with the camera. Professional systems consisting of several devices output individual images, which then have to be stitched together in special software. This has the advantage that a human can pay attention to details on the merged edges that an automatic algorithm might not.

Can I attach a 360 degree camera to a drone?

Sure, you can. Most VR cameras have the same mounting options as normal cameras or action cameras. This makes them just as easy to attach to a drone.

Drone footage has a special appeal. Pictures and movies from the air in 360 degrees are always particularly spectacular.

Are there alternatives to 360 degree cameras?

Yes and no – depending on what you want to do with the camera.
The panorama function has been available in many cameras for a long time. And you can also take such pictures with smartphones. Many pictures are taken to create a sphere, which are then stitched together by software.

With normal cameras, you take these pictures one after the other. The advantage of 360 degree cameras is to take these pictures at the same time. Especially in a scene where there is a lot of movement, there are fewer errors in the edges where the image is stitched together.

The same is even more true for videos. Here, all sections of the image must be filmed at the same time in order to obtain a coherent 360-degree image later. This can be done with several assembled cameras. A 360-degree camera is a ready-made all-in-one solution that often even automatically stitches the image together.

Types of 360 Cameras

360 degree cameras can basically be divided into three different types:

  • 360 degree action cameras
  • 360 degree cameras for everyday use
  • 360 degree smartphone cameras

Each of these three types has a different area of application and its own advantages and disadvantages.

Depending on what requirements you have for your camera and how you want to use it, a different type of 360 degree camera is suitable for you. In the following section, we would like to help you find the right one for you.

For this purpose, we will introduce you to the mentioned types of cameras and show you what advantages and disadvantages they have.

360 Action Camera

If you’re an active person and love filming your adventures, a 360-degree action cam is the best choice for you.

Advantages

  • Waterproof
  • Small size
  • Can be mounted anywhere

Disadvantages

  • Low resolution
  • Partially no complete 360° recording
  • Spartan features

These cameras are waterproof or at least splashproof and very weather resistant. This makes them great for use during sports or other activities.

Most of the time, they bring their own mounting options. But can also be attached with standard mounts, such as from the GoPro. This means the camera is always with you.

Similar to normal action cams, their 360 degree versions are also very handy and small. They can easily be taken anywhere. To achieve this small size, often only one lens is built in. Thus, the resolution is lower or there is no 360 degrees recorded. However, there are also models that do not have these problems and record with two lenses.

360 degree action cameras are durable and can handle most challenges. If you’re not sure which category is right for you, this is the safest way to go.

360 Cameras for everyday use

With a 360-degree camera for everyday use, you’ll be super-equipped in almost any situation as an avid amateur filmmaker.

Advantages

  • Good price-performance ratio
  • Simple operation
  • High resolution through at least two lenses

Disadvantages

  • Loss in low light
  • Can only be used stably on a tripod

With a good image for an acceptable price, these cameras have the best price-performance ratio. With this you get a very good 360 degree experience.

Because these cameras have no special protection against environmental influences, there are more operating options directly on the camera. Often there is also a display with more information built in.

Due to the two lenses that are almost exclusively built into this type of camera, you always get the full 360 degree view. You can hold the camera in your hand. However, the image is most stable on a tripod.

360 Smartphone Cameras

This market is still very small at the moment. But there are already a few models that you can simply plug into your smartphone. If you do a lot of filming or photography with your phone, this option is perfect for you.

Advantages

  • Immediately shareable recordings
  • Easy to use on the smartphone via app

Disadvantages

  • Cameras always limited to one type of phone
  • Unsuitable for professional recordings

A 360 degree clip-on camera is great if you want to capture something anytime, anywhere and share it instantly with your friends. By plugging it in and integrating it directly through an app, you can send the shots through all the popular social media services.

However, you have to be careful here. Not every clip-on camera fits every cell phone. There is a distinction between devices for iPhone and Android in particular.

Also, this type of camera is less suitable for professional shots and much more for your personal memories.

If you’re looking for a 360° camera for your smartphone, make sure you buy the one that fits your phone.

How To Choose The Best 360 Camera

In the following, we would like to show you which factors you can use to compare and evaluate VR cameras. This will make it easier for you to decide whether a certain device is suitable for you or not.

In summary, these are:

  • Size and weight
  • Resolution
  • Field of view
  • Memory
  • Battery
  • Display
  • Waterproof case
  • WiFi
  • Ports

In the following paragraphs, you can read about the individual purchase criteria and how you can classify them.

Size & Weight

Size and weight are important for transportation. Depending on how you want to use and transport your camera, you should pay attention to this.

Action cameras are usually small and handy, so you can take them everywhere. But many other 360 cameras are also space-saving and lightweight. So you can take them everywhere and make recordings. If you are traveling light and small, you will probably want to take a smaller camera with you.

To some extent, size and weight can also tell you something about the built-in technology. Larger cameras often contain larger image sensors and deliver a better image with them. However, this cannot be generalized, so take a close look at the individual cameras in our reviews.

Resolution

One of the most important criteria for the image quality of a camera is the resolution. To be able to recognize something later on your recordings, it should be high – especially with 360 degree cameras.

The resolution of most cameras differs between photo and video. Photos can often be taken with a higher resolution. Videos do not come close to this resolution, but a high value is important here as well. You have to keep in mind that this value refers to a spherical sphere, of which you will only ever see a section later. This is like zooming into a normal photo.

360-degree cameras also work with the common resolution designations. A camera should have HD in any case. There are also models with Full HD, 2K and 4K resolution.

FOV (Field of View)

With 360-degree cameras, the field of view comes into play in addition to the resolution. This value determines whether you capture a complete spherical sphere or whether some areas are left out.

To capture this much image, cameras use very wide-angle (also called fisheye) lenses. There is no device yet that can shoot full spherical with one lens. Therefore, most devices use at least two lenses and later stitch the image together.

Cameras with two lenses are larger and usually heavier. Single-lens systems are handier and are mostly found on action cameras. They lack a round hole in the image on the opposite side of the lens. This is not necessarily a disadvantage. There is often an area in the image where nothing is happening (e.g. the ground), so the hole can be placed there.

Memory

When it comes to camera memory, it’s the same as everywhere else in today’s digital world – longer shots, larger memory requirements.

Some of the cameras have a built-in memory. However, this is usually not very large. Therefore, the memory can be expanded in almost all cams with a micro SD card as a storage medium.

The memory cards are already included in some devices, but in most cases they have to be purchased additionally.

Pay attention to how much memory your 360-degree camera has and whether you might need to expand the memory.

Battery

The battery determines how long you can shoot with your VR camera. More battery capacity promises longer runtimes. However, you can also replace the battery in some devices.

The battery capacity values vary from device to device, just like the power consumption. Therefore, it is not possible to say across the board which value is really good. A higher capacity is good in any case.

Some cameras also allow you to replace the battery. This way, you can achieve a longer runtime with charged replacement batteries. Nevertheless, you have to interrupt the recording for the exchange.

Display

Displays on a camera are not bad in principle. They facilitate operation and give you additional information, but they also have a disadvantage.

The displays on 360 cameras are usually not very large. The cameras are kept compact. Nevertheless, they give you some information and setting options that you would otherwise have to do via a smartphone app.

However, the installation of a display often means that the cameras cannot be kept waterproof, since gaps occur between the display and the housing. Some manufacturers have managed to keep the housings tight despite the display.

Waterproof Case

Waterproof housings protect your 360 camera from environmental influences and allow you to take impressive underwater pictures.

Some devices are already waterproofed in their housing. Others – especially action cameras – can be protected by an additional enclosing housing. For some devices, they are already included in the scope of delivery. Otherwise, they can be purchased for a small price (US$20-US$30).

WiFi

With a wireless connection, you can control your VR camera directly from your smartphone. Almost all devices have this option, and the providers always include their own app.

Even if your camera has a display, you cannot view your recordings on it. Instead, you can connect the camera to your phone via Wi-Fi (sometimes Bluetooth or NTFC) and control it directly from there.

If the camera has a Wi-Fi connection, the provider always includes an app. You can usually download it from your phone’s app store.

Ports

Besides a wireless connection, you can usually also connect the 360-degree camera via cable. The most common are USB and HDMI.

Almost every camera has a USB port. In addition to data transfer, it is also used to charge the camera. The cable is often included in the delivery.

An HDMI port allows you to stream the image from your camera directly to a playback device. Thus, you get a preview image directly. However, not all devices come with this port.

Last product update on 2021-09-23 | Source: Amazon Affiliate