360 degree technology is evolving fast. As this format becomes more and more accessible to amateurs and pros, it is possible to get lost as there are a lot of offers for 360 degree devices.
Here is our selection of the best 360 cameras available on the market in 2018, categorized according to your needs. Note that we are not affiliated with the manufacturers of these devices, in any way.
1) Ricoh Thêta V for semi pros
The Ricoh Theta V, with a minimalist and compact design, is one of the first cameras that captures 360-degree images and videos in 4K / UHD (3840 x 1920 px) at 30 fps. It also includes a 4-channel microphone for an audio recording in all directions + an output for an external microphone.
Photos can be taken on the fly by simply pressing the main button - so without image feedback - or via the mobile application (android or iphone). From the application, it’s possible to take pictures remotely or to set a timer. Other settings for image quality (eg exposure, white balance,…) via the app are of course available.
As for the image quality and stitching - the operation of merging the two hemispherical parts of the photo or video - rendering is very good, with no visible distortion. The image processing algorithm has been completely reviewed from the Theta S version and provides high quality images, with a great noise content even in low light.
As for the storage, Ricoh opted for an internal memory of 19Gb so it’s not possible to use your own SD card. This is unfortunate because 4K videos are heavy in size. You can still take 40 minutes of video in full resolution and if you want to take only photos, there is no problem here because the capacity of 19GB is largely sufficient (4800 photos) to avoid unloading the device in the course of the event you want to cover.
With a new price of $395 , the Ricoh Theta V is an excellent semi-pro choice that will allow you to take great 360 pictures. If you want to use 360 technology for commercial purposes, we advise you to start with this camera.
|Good quality photo & video||19GB built-in memory card|
|360-degree Audio Capture|
2) Samsung Gear 360 2017 for amateurs
The samsung gear 360 has two fish-eye lenses, 8Mpixels each. Capable of making 360° photos with a definition of 4096 x 2048 pixels, it belongs to the new generation of 4K 360 cameras.
As for the ergonomics, it is quite compact and weighs only 130g, so you can easily carry it in your pocket. Unlike its earlier version (2016), the battery is not removable. You will have an battery life of 2h20 to shoot in 1920 x 960 pixels and about 1h in 4K. So remember to take the charger when you want to cover a longer event. For the storage, Samsung opted for an external SD card, and this is an advantage compared to the Ricoh. This card is sold separately, we recommend at least 64 GB.
The quality of the image is correct in bright light although the color management could be improved. In low light, there is more noise than with the Ricoh and you will have a hard time to making beautiful pics in this condition.
What really makes the samsung gear stand out, is its great value for money ratio. Available at around $165 you will not get a better cam in this price range. We therefore recommend this camera to take your first steps in the 360° but not for commercial use.
|Excellent value for money||Average video quality|
|Ergonomic design||Bugs on IOS app|
|External SD card||Chromatic aberrations on photos|
3) Garmin Virb 360 for adventurers
Composed of two megapixel 9M sensors, the Garmin Virb 360 can shoot 360 video in 5.7K/30fps and 4K/30fps when both videos are merged. It has 4 built-in microphones, an electronic stabilizer with three different stabilization modes and sensors to measure G-Metrix data. Its mobile application allows the editing of videos. Off-road, it can operate up to 10 meters under water and with a temperature ranging from -20 ° to 40 °.
The VIRB 360 is a compact, surprisingly light (160g), rugged and waterproof camera designed to follow you on all your adventures. It can be attached on a helmet, a car hood, a windshield or on the tripod delivered with the cam. The stabilization function is pretty clean as you can see in the video below.
The autonomy of the camera is about one hour. Think about the charger for longer event - if you have access to a power source – but, unlike the Ricoh and the Samsung, you can also buy additional batteries (35 €) as it is removable in the Virb 360.
The Garmin VIRB 360 is excellent when it comes to the video quality, but it's a little bit fuzzier for the photos. The stitching is not excellent and the quality is overall not better than the Ricoh Theta V. If you only want to take pictures, there are two possibilities: if you want to take photos in water, or in hostile temperatures then we recommend a VIRB 360. If you want to take pictures mainly indoors, or in normal climates for unsportsmanlike use, take a RICOH THETA V. The price difference is not negligible and you do not want to pay for functions you will not use.
|Video stabilization||photo quality compared to the price|
4. Wrap up
You will find below a table with all caracteritics that matter the most when it comes to choose a 360-degree camera.
Ricoh Theta V
|Samsung Gear 360 -2017||Garmin Virb 360|
|Video resolution||4K – 3840 x 1920/30fps||4K – 4096 x 2048/24fps||4K – 3840 x 2160/30fps|
|Photo resolution||5376 x 2688||5472 x 2736||5640 x 2816|
|Waterproof||Accessory sold separately||Splash resistance||Étanche 10m|
|battery life/removable?||300 photos or 80 min video 4K/no||60 min in 4K/no||60min in 4K/yes|
|Memory/microSD?||19Gb/no||Up to 256 Gb/yes||Up to 128 Gb/yes|
|Size (mm)||45,2 x 130,6 x 22,9||100.6 x 46.3 x 45.1||39,0 x 59,3 x 69,8|
|Price||$ 397||$ 120||$ 799|