360 cameras have become increasingly popular in recent years due to their ability to capture immersive and interactive photos and videos. People are interested in experiencing virtual reality, augmented reality, and the metaverse. With 360° video, viewers can experience a real world scene as if they were actually there!
With so many options on the market, it can be overwhelming to choose the right 360 camera for your needs. In this article, we will discuss the top 360 cameras on the market, key features to look for, and tips for choosing the best 360 camera for capturing the world around you.
Key Features to Look for in a 360 Camera
Before we dive in, lets go over the key features we are considering, so that you can make your own educated decision.
- Resolution – A higher resolution can provide better image quality and detail in the final output. This is important for both video and photo, but some users may prioritize one over the other, of course.
- Stitching quality – Good stitching is essential for producing a seamless and natural-looking 360 image.
- Image stabilization – This feature helps to minimize camera shake and produce smoother footage.
- Live streaming capabilities – If you plan on live streaming your 360 content, make sure the camera has this feature.
- Durability and weather resistance – If you plan on using the camera in challenging environments, consider a camera that is rugged and weather-resistant.
- User interface and ease of use – A user-friendly interface and intuitive controls can make it easier to capture the content you want.
- Battery life – A camera with good battery life can ensure that you won’t miss any important shots due to a dead battery.
- Other features – Other features to consider include storage capacity, customizable settings, and accessories such as mounts and tripods.
Top 360 Cameras on the Market
After thorough research, we have compiled a list of the top 360 cameras on the market. Each of these cameras offers unique strengths and features that cater to different 360 photography needs. The Insta360 ONE X2 and GoPro MAX are popular choices for their high resolution and image quality, as well as their user-friendly interface and advanced features such as hyper-lapse and bullet time. The Ricoh Theta Z1 offers exceptional image quality and stitching, making it a great choice for professional 360 photographers. The Vuze XR is a versatile camera that can capture both 360 and 180-degree content, and the Garmin VIRB 360 is a rugged and waterproof camera that is ideal for outdoor and adventure photography.
The Insta360 gets one of our top recommendations because it is indeed one of the best all-around options. It offers good image quality for both 360° video and stillls, and a physically durable build quality. The interface is user-friendly, and yet the results are professional! Also consider the Insta360 X2 ($429) for those who want a little bit more.
- 5.7K dual-lens 360° auto-stitched video
- FlowState digital stabilization
- Waterproof to 33 ft (no housing required)
- Single-Lens camera mode
The name GoPro is obviously the most well-known in the entire action camera genre. While their main line of cameras aren’t 360° cameras, the company did a great job with this one. The GoPro MAX is a bit like their Hero lineup, with impressive Hypersomooth digital stabilization for very active people, doing activities such as extreme sports etc. With features such as the ability to program different voice commands, the GoPro MAX truly is the best 360 camera for highly active videography.
- 5K (4992 x 2496) dual-lens 360° Video
- Hypersmooth digital stabilization
- Waterproof to 16 ft (without housing)
- Up to 14 voice commands
- Still photos up to 5.7K (5760 x 2880)
The Ricoh Theta looks similar to the “stick” type of 360° video cameras, however, it is also highly specialized for still photography! It offers DNG raw still images from its relatively large sensors, and the overall image qulaity is impressive. (Hence the price tag!) For those who are maybe looking for a good 360 camera for general use, but also considering doing professional work for real estate photography, the Ricoh Theta Z1 is an excellent choice.
Also consider the Rico Theta X ($796), which includes a touchscreen and is a bit more user-friendly, though lacking the larger sensor of the Z1.
- 4K, 29.97p, 360° video
- Live streaming 360° in
- 3-axis image stabilization
- 51GB internal storage
- 23-megapixel DNG/JPG still photos
The Vuze products are definitely a first-gen way to get into 360, 3D, virtual reality videography. And by “first-gen”, you know that we mean they’re a really cool concept, but the results and experience do leave a bit to be desired. As such, we are recommending this camera simply because it is available at an incredible price compared to its original MSRP.
In other words, if you’re just looking for the best 360 camera and/or action camera, definitely go with the GoPro or the Insta360. However, this camera’s 8-lens, 4-microphone system is capable of delivering a true virtual reality experience, because it doesn’t just record from one camera angle, but two, in every direction. Other 360+VR options can cost many thousands of dollars, so for $179, we can’t not recommend the Vuze 4K 3D 360!
- 4K, 3D (two sets of 360 4K videos; one per eye)
- IP64 weather-resistant
- 4 microphones
As its name implies, this is one of the best 360 cameras for those who are looking to capture 8K video. Also, with such high resolution, (and a slightly larger sensor, and DNG raw still photo capture) …the Kandao QooCam is one of the best 360 VR cameras for real estate photographers, too! The QooCam 8K does offer in-camera stitching and HDR capture, making it an excellent choice for working professionals who want to photograph interiors from a tripod.
- 8K 30p, 4K 120p, 360° video
- 2.4″ touchscreen
- 6-axis gyro stabilization
- DNG raw still 20-megapixel images (680 x 3840)
How to Choose the Best 360 Camera for Your Needs
To choose the best 360 camera for your needs, consider your specific photography and videography needs and preferences. Do you prioritize image quality, for potential professional use? Or are you mostly interested in a device that is effortless to use, so you can simply share short video clips or still images on social media? Are you looking for a camera that can withstand extreme environments, or will you mostly be in decent, controlled conditions? Are you working in low-light, or broad daylight?
Of course, it’s also important to try out different cameras out for yourself, if possible, and read in-depth reviews before making a decision. Ultimately, each of the cameras in this article are some of the best 360 cameras, however, there is definitely an optimal ONE for you.
In conclusion, choosing the right 360 camera is an exciting tool for capturing immersive and interactive photos and videos. When choosing a 360 camera, consider the key features, your specific needs and preferences, plus, try one out before making a decision. With the right 360 camera, you can capture the world around you and share it with others in an entirely new way!