If you have ever attempted to produce a 360 or virtual tour in the traditional manner, you’ve probably done so using a fisheye or very wide angle lens, panoramic tripod head, millions of spirit levels, and software to stitch the images together and produce the final tour. Even today, this setup can be quite costly, but as per usual with technology, prices drop over time and all-in-one solutions are now the norm. That’s why we’ve put together this list of today’s best options for 360 cameras.
A 360-degree view of the world still requires either multiple cameras or an automated and rotating device, with the final video or image being far easier to produce than ever before. Some units include automatic stitching and image stabilization, with other additional features such as slow motion and GPS. The end result is still to produce detailed 360 images or video, ideally at a respectable price point.
If you’re in the market for a new 360-degree camera, check out our top picks.
1. Insta360 ONE X (Overall Winner)
The Insta360 ONE X is an extremely slick design, which doesn’t just produce 360-degree video and stills, but is also great for widescreen video. It features 5.7K resolution (5760 x 2880 at 30fps), 18MP stills, and a very useful image stabilization system, with the unit having two fisheye lenses on either side of the camera.
There are also other included features such as drift shots for slow mo footage, 3K ‘bullet time’ for Matrix-like sequences and even WiFi for easy transfer of footage. Stitching is also a painless process, with easy integration into the likes of Adobe Premiere Pro.
This unit is packed with loads of features and with its compact size, it can be easily be used like a GoPro device. As a great balance between quality, functionality and price, the Insta360 ONE X is a great all-in-one solution.
2. GoPro MAX
GoPro has taken all its action cam expertise and crammed it into a 360-degree camera solution. The GoPro MAX features 5.6K/30fps video or 1440p 2D footage at 60fps, 16.6MP stills, image stabilization, live streaming, great audio quality, and waterproofing down to 5m. This camera is as ruggedly built as the rest of the GoPro lineup, with plenty of accessories available.
The included app is extremely easy to use, with very quick auto editing and a wide range of easy to use tools for gaining the best look from your footage. Just like regular GoPro cameras, the HyperSmooth stabilization works extremely well, as with the 360-degree TimeWarp sequences. But, the 2D video footage isn’t as good as GoPro’s regular units, which is kind of expected as this is a dedicated 360 cam and the company still wants you to buy GoPro regular cameras for traditional use.
In every other respect, the GoPro MAX is the best option if you want 360-degree footage from an action cam.
The Insta360 ONE R has a unique design, being modular and containing a camera, battery and control block. There are options to shoot in 5.7K 360 view or 4K wide-angle at 60fps with H.265 encoding (as shown in the image). It also features a flow state stabilization system, an HDR mode, and is waterproof to 5m. The modular design allows for different camera units, with 4K and 5.3K wide-angle units available, with the 5.3K version only shooting stills.
The cam has plenty of features packed into this little unit, like the point to track feature, bullet time, timeshift, night shots, STARLAPSE mode and HDR photos and video. HDR quality is respectable, which is a needed feature if you are shooting interiors and want to show the best of the dark and lightest areas of a scene.
The overall image quality is extremely good and this camera will be the ideal solution if you buy into the company’s modular way of doing things.
4. GoPro Fusion
Another offering from the action cam specialists comes in the form of the GoPro Fusion. The camera has a healthy top resolution of 5.2K at 30fps, with 3K at 60fps also available. Gimbal-like stabilization has been included, along with waterproofing down to 5m, plus a fusion grip, which acts like a big selfie stick, ideal for VR footage.
One of the main selling points of this camera is that it can turn 5.2K spherical videos into regular 1080P videos with the OverCapture mode. The resulting video in this mode is good quality, but not as detail-orientated as a regular GoPro camera. However, with features such as GPS, an accelerometer, 3D audio and a wealth of GoPro accessories available, this is a great alternative to the more expensive GoPro MAX.
Although the RICOH THETA V doesn’t have the same resolution as the other cameras on this list (3840 × 1920 at 30fps), the sleek form factor and basic workings justify the price. 4K video is possible with live streaming and the four internal microphones do a good job of capturing high-quality audio.
The 4K video is very good quality and even works well in low-light conditions. The video can be easily streamed to popular video websites and the included app has straightforward functionality for the most common tasks. The unit is not waterproofed, but an optional TW-1 underwater housing is available to expand its use.
As for the negatives, the sensor is the same as in the older THETA S camera, the tripod thread is plastic and quite flimsy, and it’s quite expensive compared to other units. Still, the RICOH THETA V produces good-quality 360 footage in a very usable design.
The Rylo 5.8K 360 video camera has dual lenses that capture the user’s surroundings for detailed content without having to worry where to aim the device. Sync cables are included for both Android and iOS devices, meaning you can easily get access to the content you’ve created and taken a closer look at before publishing.
Rylo’s 360° camera is accompanied by an app that you can use to control the camera’s movements wherever you are. If you have a helmet, you can easily mount the camera there or use the selfie stick if necessary.
By allowing you to shoot videos in 5.8K, the result is sharp and crystal-clear content, but bear in mind the quality will be decreased if you’re using the camera in low-light settings. The device easy to navigate and the app makes working on the clips quite enjoyable.
7. Samsung Gear 360 (2017) (Budget Winner)
At today’s prices, the Samsung Gear 360 is a cost-effective way to shoot 360 video with good-quality results. Resolution comes in at 4096 x 2048 at 24fps, with 8.4MP stills. The cute robot-like design means it can be handheld, but it does also have a tripod mount which is very sturdy. Compatible with most Samsung smartphones or iPhones up to version 7, there is also a microSD memory card slot for easy transferring of footage.
The included app and software are reasonably easy to navigate and while stitching can be done on a smartphone, it’s much better for the process to be done on a dedicated computer to save running down a phone’s battery. Overall, the image quality is good, but bear in mind that this is a unit for the masses, with easily accessible software. As a cam to quickly shoot 360-degree footage, the Samsung Gear 360 is a reasonable solution.
Summary of the Best 360 Cameras
All the cameras noted on this list are a quick and accessible way to take 360-degree video and stills as an all-in-one solution. They may not cover the ground of high-quality VR tours for real estate, but for applications like all-round action footage, they are a great solution.
Some fair far better as action cams with full waterproofing, while the majority shoot the latest standard of 4K video with reasonable results. One thing’s for sure, 360-degree footage has never been more accessible or easy to use.