360 Hardware

The best 360° cameras on the market right now – (2022)

360-best-cameras

Unlike some other tech blog rankings, our best 360° cameras list is not affiliated with any 360° camera manufacturer. Our rankings are based solely on our experiences with the cameras and are thus 100% independent.

Three-sixty photography and videography are constantly evolving. As hardware becomes more and more accessible, it’s easy to get lost amid the plethora of options on the market.

We’ll start by giving an overview of the technology behind 360° cameras and follow up with a list of the best devices on the market right now (mid-2022).

A closer look at 360° cameras


What is a 360° camera?

Three-sixty cameras capture static scenes (360° photos) and innovative action sequences (360° videos), that cannot be shot with a conventional, 2D camera. No matter where you point the camera, you won’t miss any part of the surrounding environment because the capture is spherical. Hence the name 360° camera.

How does a 360° camera work?

Imagine the recorded scene, not as a flat rectangle, but as the inner surface of a sphere. When viewing a photo or video in a 360° player, you are looking out from the center of that sphere, navigating the inner surface by dragging the image. Try clicking and dragging the photo in the Panoraven player below.

That’s the software part, but how does the device physically capture this sphere? Three-sixty cameras, like traditional cameras, use flat sensors. But unlike their conventional counterparts, 360° cameras employ two back-to-back fisheye lenses, each capturing 180° of the environment. The camera then merges these two hemispherical images to produce a spherical view.

rendu de captation des objectifs fisheye des meilleures caméras 360
Visual of the two photos from each sensor before merging

A 360° image is, by definition, static. You can navigate the image at will, focusing on any portion of the virtual environment.

360° videos are more sophisticated. While you have the freedom to watch any region, the action of the video continues regardless of your point of view. This means that it is possible to look in the “wrong” direction at a significant moment and miss the action that the videographer wanted to highlight. For this reason, we advise purchasing a photo rather than a video solution if your professional activity allows.

What does 360° technology offer your business?

Three-sixty cameras provide several shooting options. Quite popular are panoramic photos and videos, which are viewed through a specific player. Scroll up to see the player we are developing.

Three-sixty filming also affords a creative way to shoot classic “flat” videos.  Recording the entire scene allows you to follow any subject during post-production. Since the camera covers all possible shots, you don’t need to frame the subject precisely, a definite advantage over a conventional camera.

These innovative cameras are revolutionizing the way companies present their products and services. Virtual tours of professional environments and simulated displays of merchandise are increasingly common. Want to leverage the technology for your business, but don’t know where to start? Read our guide to VR and 360° photography.

On the other hand, if you’ve already decided to invest in one of these technological gems, you’ve come to the right place. Our team specializes in 360° production, and we are passionate about our field. To understand what the market offered, we reviewed a slew of cameras that covered a range of applications.

This guide is the fruit of our in-house testing. (To deliver the best advice on this dynamic market, we regularly update our rankings [Mid 2022].) Without further ado, the top 360° cameras available today!

The best 360 cameras on the market right now


Trisio Lite 2 – Unbeatable value for money for virtual tours

The Trisio Lite 2 is unbeatable for creating virtual tours in this price range.

Price: $379 |  Weight: 157g | Dimensions: 147 x 51 x 23mm | Waterproof: no | Still image resolution: 32 MP | Video resolution: does not make video | Memory: 7.1 GB internal – no micro SD | Mounting: Tripod Socket | Battery life: approximately 3 hours

Designed for the needs of virtual tour creators, the Trisio Lite 2 is exclusively dedicated to taking stabilized 360° photos. Unlike conventional 360° cameras, the Trisio Lite 2 does not have back-to-back lenses. It has one lens but has the particularity of being mounted on a motorized rotating part. Thanks to this, the camera turns on itself to take a set of 4 photos, then stitches them to create a single 360° photo. 

This specificity makes it impossible to take 360° videos but gives serious advantages for 360° photography. Having only one lens allows the Chinese firm to display a competitive price compared to other cameras that have 2. Thus, the Trisio Lite 2 has a great price for 8K photo rendering ($399), giving it excellent value for money. 

What’s more, where other cameras have to recompose the final 360° photo from just 2 photos, the Trisio Lite 2 has 4. This explains the quality of the images, comparable to those of the Theta X and the Theta Z1 which belong to a much higher price range ($999).

During our test, we liked its ease of use. The camera automatically analyzes the ambient light (AnyScene technology), shoots the 4 photos in HDR, and ensures no overexposed areas are in the final image. It will take 30 seconds per image unlike conventional cameras, which are faster. The recomposition of the 4 images is of very high quality and the stitching defects are almost invisible. It’s actually the best stitching we’ve seen out of all the 360° cameras tested. Image contrast is natural, accurate colors, and the dynamic range is excellent. Overall, the quality of the images is really there.

The main flaw of the Trisio Lite 2 is that there is no RAW mode. This will disappoint some for sure, but keep in mind that the output images are already of good quality. In addition, note that this is a con shared by Theta X. 

On the hardware side, the storage capacity is built-in (no SD card) and 7.1GB (officially 8GB). This seems limited at first sight but knowing that a final photo is 4MB, you’ll be able to take 1,500-2,000 photos, which is quite reasonable. 

The battery is also built-in: you cannot buy spare batteries. So you have about three hours of use ahead of you. One solution may be to use an external battery, but we found this annoying in practice because the camera needs to rotate to operate.

In conclusion, the Trisio Lite 2 is smartly designed to lower the manufacturing cost while optimizing the quality of the output images. It only does one thing, shoot stabilized 360° photos but did it exceptionally well. The photo quality is comparable to that of the Theta Z1 and the Theta X. If you are a virtual tour professional, this is the best 360°camera in this price range.

AdvantagesDisadvantages
Very detailed 360° photoNo videos
Great stitchingNo RAW
AnyScene mode (exposure calibration)Few manual settings
Excellent value for money

Insta360 ONE X2: the best option for most

insta360 One X2 - une des meilleures caméras 360
The Insta360 ONE X2 is generally the first camera we recommend to our customers.

Price: $429 | Weight: 149 g | Dimensions: 113 x 462 x 29.8 mm | Waterproof: 10 m | Photo resolution: 18.5 MP | Video resolution: 5.7K | Memory: MicroSD (not included) | Mount: Tripod socket | Battery life: 80 minutes

Fitting the needs of most users, the Insta360 ONE X2 is one of the best 360° cameras overall. The ONE X2 provides the most advanced software and features on the market, in addition to boasting quality hardware.

This ​​camera can take 360° ​​photos at a resolution of 6080 x 3040. The photo rendering is precise, and the HDR function allows you to obtain excellent colorimetric results, even in low light.

On the video side, the ONE X2 has an impressive image stabilization feature, which will make the most chaotic videos smooth. It can capture 5.7K (5760 x 2880) video at 30 fps and 4K video at 50 fps. The FlowState image stabilization algorithm allows for smooth shots, while the TimeShift tool enables you to slow down or speed up video segments efficiently.

The Insta360 ONE X2 differs from the ONE X in several aspects. Heavier than its predecessor (which remains a good product for the price), the ONE X2 resists water down to 10 meters (33 feet) and has a longer battery life of up to 80 minutes. The camera also features a circular touchscreen that lets you preview videos/photos and change settings on the fly.

If you are considering the ONE X2, remember to buy the extra protective cap. It’s a shame that the case is not a standard accessory since daily handling makes it essential.

The Insta360 ONE X2 is a great camera that is versatile. It has well earned its position among the best 360° cameras, and we recommend it to all amateurs and professionals who do not need super high quality. A 360° tech enthusiast, I use this camera every day.

AdvantagesDisadvantages
Excellent image stabilizationRelative heaviness
Waterproof bodySomewhat tedious video editing process
Good color and photo/video detailNo included protective case

Ricoh Theta X – The best 360 camera for virtual tours

If you can afford it, the theta X is the best 360° camera (along with the Z1) for making virtual tours.

Price: $799 | Weight: 170g | Dimensions: 147 x 51 x 23mm | Waterproof: No | Resolution of still images: 11008 x 5504 – 60MP | Video resolution: [email protected][email protected] | Memory: MicroSD + 46Gb internal | Mounting: Tripod Socket | Battery life: 30 min in video mode – 200 photos

The Theta X, released in the first quarter of 2022, is Ricoh’s new 360° camera. It follows the Theta Z1, which has become a reference for creating virtual tours.

The first thing you notice, which denotes its elders, is the presence of a touch screen on the camera. Large and responsive, it allows controlling the device and previewing images/videos without having to connect to the device. 

Also, the battery is now removable, which allows for a simple solution during long work sessions, but we would have liked it to have a larger capacity, 1350 mAh being a bit tight (about 30 minutes of video or 200 photos). As for the storage capacity, the camera finally has a MicroSD slot to complete its internal 46GB memory. These show that Ricoh, which had previously focused on photo quality, makes the Theta X more versatile and better equipped for video. 

The Theta X has two sensors of 1/2 inch each, thanks to this it can take 360° photos with a resolution of 60MP, which is much more than its competitors. Overall this gives good quality photos, which are sharp and dynamic. Indoors, the camera is able to reduce overexposure and capture plenty of detail with auto-HDR mode. On the other hand, the colors can sometimes appear dull and, unlike the Z1, the Theta X does not have a RAW mode to correct these color defects. However, it is possible via the touch screen to manually adjust the bit rate, ISO, shutter delay, and exposure. 

Ricoh has never designed its cameras with video in mind first. That said, this device is now capable of taking videos, 25 min max, in [email protected] or [email protected] The camera, therefore, aligns on this point with the Insta One X2. On the other hand, the quality of stabilization, unchanged since the Z1, is still below the competition, it’s clear that you will not be able to use the Theta X as an Action Cam. The camera also has an image stitching feature built into the camera. You will not have to recompose them via software afterward: this considerably reduces the processing time. 

The Theta Z1 takes better quality images than the Theta X in terms of looks, thanks to the 1 inch sensors and RAW mode. That said, the workflow to get the best quality images for the Z1 is much longer than for the Theta X; you can get around 80% of the quality with the Theta X in half the time. Honestly, the jpegs output from the Theta X is very good and the RAW will only miss the purist.

In conclusion, the Theta X is an excellent choice for the creation of static virtual tours. The Theta Z1 is capable of outputting slightly higher quality images but at the cost of a heavier workflow. As a purist, you will prefer the Z1. For others, the Theta X will be an excellent choice.

AdvantagesDisadvantages
Very detailed imagesNo RAW mode
Multitudes of settingsBattery capacity is a bit tight
Excellent auto-HDR modeLenses sensitive to glare
Large touch screen to preview and adjust

RICOH THETA Z1: the choice for pro photography

The Z1 remains in 2022 a very good choice for virtual tours if you have the budget.

Price: $ 999 | Weight: 182 g | Dimensions: 133 x 48 x 30 mm | Waterproof: No | Photo resolution: 6720 x 3360 | Video resolution: 4K | Memory: 19 or 51 GB | Mount: Tripod socket | Battery life: Approximately 60 minutes

Released in 2019, the Ricoh Theta Z1 is still competitive in 2022 and deserves its place in our ranking. The camera has since benefited from an update increasing the internal memory from 19Gb to 51Gb in May 2021. In March 2022, Ricoh released the Theta X (tested above), which is a more accessible camera but which lacks some functions that the Z1 has. The Theta Z1 is therefore still an option that you can consider in 2022.

The Theta Z1 can capture 23MP (6720 x 3360 px) photos and 4K videos, but the image quality is much greater than these numbers suggest. Thanks to its 1 inch sensors – larger than other 360° cameras – the Z1 shoots high-resolution photos and videos with excellent dynamic range.

No doubt, photo quality is the crowning glory of the Theta Z1. Compared to other 360° cameras, the Z1 produces better raw photos and gives you more control over the exposure. Under low light conditions, it is superior to other models. In fact, we prefer the Z1 over the QooCam, which has a higher resolution on paper, precisely because the Z1 is more reliable in terms of photo rendering, especially in low-light situations.

But the Theta Z1 has one drawback: the price. At $999, it remains too expensive for most amateurs. Moreover, the camera has not decreased in price since its release two years ago. Logic would have that the Z1 be more accessible ($200-$300 less), and we regret that this is not the case.

The Theta Z1 still benefited from an increase in its internal memory (51GB), which clearly suffered from its size (19GB). This equips it slightly better for video, but the camera isn’t waterproof and the stabilization is far from optimal. Overall, like all Ricoh’s, it’s not really designed for video and you won’t be able to take good outdoor action shots with it. If you want to use it in this context, we prefer the Insta One X2 or the Gopro Max.

If you have the budget and want to shoot professional 360° photos (e.g. virtual tours), you can invest in the Ricoh Theta Z1 or the Theta X. As long as your first priority is the quality of photography and consistency of rendering, it remains a great choice in 2022.

AdvantagesDisadvantages
Exceptional photo qualityHigh price tag
Auto HDR modeBuilt-in 51GB memory – no Micro SD slot
RAW modeNonremovable battery

Kandao QooCam 8K – high resolution for video (8K)

Kandao Qoocam 8K: one of the best 360 camera
The QooCam 8k remains a good choice for the video quality that it offers.

Price: $599 | Weight: 245 g | Dimensions: 179 x 57 x 33 mm | Waterproof: No | Photo resolution: 29.5 MP | Video resolution: 7.7K | Memory: 64 GB plus MicroSD (not included) | Mount: Tripod socket| Battery life: About 60 minutes

Released in 2020, the QooCam still remains in our opinion one of the best 360° cameras in 2022, mainly for its ability to take 8K videos. It is indeed the feature that sets it apart from the competition in the same price range. That being said, note that Kandao no longer seems to sell this model on their website, and might be preparing its successor. However, you can still buy it from a second-hand market and make a good deal, so note that the output quality remains competitive in 2022.

The QooCam suffers a few minor defects. Fortunately, these issues do not significantly impact image or video quality, especially because since the launch of the QooCam, Kandao has released numerous firmware updates for the camera.

On the technical side, the QooCam 8K integrates 2 large, 20MP back-to-back sensors, each capable of capturing 200° of view. While the quality does not compare to that of expensive cameras intended for seasoned professionals, Kandao is taking steps in that direction. Another highlight of the QooCam is its longer lifespan than other models with similar prices. Longevity and technical competitiveness make this camera a wise investment.

Note that in addition to a MicroSD slot, the camera has an internal memory of 64GB. Native storage is valuable because you can easily forget to remove the MicroSD from your computer.

One downside of the QooCam 8K is the noise of the internal fan and the lack of waterproofing (It is possible to buy a separate waterproof shell). Several users have reported that the lens is somewhat fragile. Furthermore, although you can connect an external power bank, the battery life remains rather short. In defense of the QooCam, higher energy consumption is not unreasonable, given the quality of the photos and videos.

Finally, the autofocus can be erratic. In a few cases, we had to capture several 360° photos before we were satisfied. For a professional application, where you can’t afford to waste time on finicky functions, the QooCam lacks the needed dependability.

In conclusion, the QooCam 8K is the camera for amateurs and semiprofessionals​​, non-sportsmen who want the best photos and videos at a reasonable price. If you are not obsessed with quality, pick the Insta360 ONE X2. For the virtual tour, prefer the Theta X if you have the budget, and otherwise the Trisio Lite 2.

AdvantagesDisadvantages
8K videos and photosLoud internal fan – excessive heat gain
64 GB internal memory plus MicroSD slotRelatively short battery life
4K slow motion at 120 fpsSensitive lenses; unreliable autofocus

GoPro MAX – The camera for outdoor and sportive shooting

GoPro Max: one of the best 360 camera
Relive sports adventures with the GoPro MAX.

Price: $379 | Weight: 115 g | Dimensions: 25 x 64 x 69 mm | Waterproof: Yes | Photo resolution: 18 MP | Video resolution: 5.7K | Memory: MicroSD (not included) | Mount: Tripod socket | Battery life: 85 minutes

If you want to record immersive videos of sporting excursions or outdoor adventures, the GoPro Max is one of the best 360° cameras for the task.

The GoPro Max is waterproof down to five meters (16.5 feet) without a case, and the editing workflow through the app is relatively straightforward. If you want to turn your 360° video into a traditional 2D movie – one of the innovations facilitated by 360° cameras – the app’s OverCapture software makes the job easy.

The GoPro Max expands many features of the GoPro Hero 8 Black (its predecessor), including HyperSmooth stabilization and 360° TimeWarp footage. Qualitatively, the photo and video results are slightly poorer than those of other contenders in this ranking. This is the primary limitation of the camera and what prevents it from achieving top status.

On the other hand, the GoPro Max is solid and waterproof. Equipped for sports outings, it frees you to capture the drama of the moment without sweating over the direction of the shot or the integrity of your device.

Besides the GoPro interface, the GoPro Max is comparable to the Insta360 ONE X2.

We recommend the GoPro MAX to sportspeople and outdoor adventurers. The rest should select a different model, such as the ONE X2, to obtain better images under indoor or other low-light conditions.  For the others, its’ quality in low light and the general quality of the photos indoors – (however very correct) – should point you towards another model, like the X2.

Advantages
Disadvantages
Ease of editing via the appNo traditional 4K capture
Robust designInferior performance in low light
Waterproofness to 5 m without a shell

A few additional models to mention


360° ​​and 3D hybrid models

Vuze XR and Kandao Qoocam
Left to right: Vuze XR, Vuze 3D 360, Kandao QooCam

For 360° shooting, you can ignore these cameras. Their quality doesn’t come close to the standard. But for 3D imaging, consider the Vuze XR, which offers good value for the money.

Insta360 ONE X2 vs. ONE R and ONE X1

Insta360 R and Insta360 X
Insta360 ONE R (left) and Insta360 ONE X1 (right)

The Insta360 ONE R provides no technical advantage over the Insta360 ONE X2. Choose the latter if you place image quality before camera design.

We observed that the Insta360 ONE R has a design closer to GoPro devices, which may appeal to some. The only other feature that tilts us in favor of the ONE R is its modularity. You can buy multiple accessories, including a drone attachment.

If you are interested in a specific use, explore the lenses and mounting options available for purchase. The quality of the renderings remains fairly good.

From a lens perspective, the ONE X is equivalent to its successor, the ONE X2. Indeed, its technical specifications differ little from those of the ONE X2. The update tends to improve the physical and software aspects of the camera. Now waterproof, the ONE X2 boasts a touch screen and new, more efficient photography modes. The battery also has a greater capacity.

The release of the ONE X2 may lower the prices of the ONE X1, particularly on the secondhand market. Those on a budget should keep their eyes open for a good deal.

The best 360 cameras of 2022 : Wrapping up!


360 best cameras

The Insta360 One X2 remains the most versatile 360° camera of 2022. If you don’t plan to use your 360° camera for commercial purposes, we definitely recommend it. An alternative for GoPro fans is the GoPro MAX.

For professional creators of virtual tours, go for the Ricoh Theta X, or secondly a Theta Z1 if your budget allows it. A very good alternative, less expensive and that can produce a comparable quality, would be the Trisio Lite 2 which is, for us, the surprise of 2022. Finally, if you find a good deal, know that the QuooCam 8K remains competitive.

1 Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Worth reading...
The Complete Beginners Guide to VR and 360 Photography