VR is well and truly here, but it's not just all about the immersive gaming. 360-degree videos are on the rise and it's getting easier to shoot your own spherical flicks.
Wareable big test: 5 360-degree cameras reviewed and rated
We've picked out the best 360-degree cams at both ends of the price spectrum, as well as the most exciting ones yet to come.
Best 360-degree cameras available now
Already tried and true, these are the cameras that enthusiasts and regular folks like us can pick up. While some run a bit high in terms of cost, most are still under a $1000 or figure in around that mark.
Ricoh Theta S
Ricoh has been on a roll with 360-degree cameras. The latest Theta S model lets you shoot in 1080p HD at 30fps for up to 25 minutes at a time. You can also livestream your videos and even transfer footage to a mobile device without connecting to a PC. Plus, it's a great price for the portable camera.
Samsung Gear 360
Combining a duo of 180 degree f2.0 fisheye lenses, each with 15 megapixels, the Samsung Gear 360 is capable of shooting two super wide videos or images at once, which can be stitched together using the companion app to create 360 degree visuals.
Once you've recorded your 360 degree action, it's simple to share on Facebook or YouTube by tapping the relevant icon in the app and, of course, you can view the images or video on the Gear VR headset - for which there's a dedicated mode.
Kodak PIXPRO SP360 4K
The Kodak PIXPRO SP360 4K has a splash-proof build and can record UHD content at 30FPS via an ultra wide 235-degree lens. The camera can also survive 2m drops (Kodak notes with a drop cover) and extreme temperatures. You also have the option to pair two PIXPRO SP360 4K cameras together for fully spherical content capture. A mobile app and stitching software come bundled with the camera.
If it's still too pricey for you, the previous model - the Kodak PIXPRO SP360 - is cheaper at $279 if you don't mind sacrificing 4K quality. Instead, the camera delivers 1080p, which still isn't too bad.
LG 360 CAM
The LG 360 CAM is one of the most affordable cameras on the list and it doesn't fall short on specs. It comes equipped with two 13MP, 200-degree wide angle cameras, surpassing several competitors. There's also a 1,200mAh battery and 4GB internal memory, which can be supplemented by a microSD card, and you'll get 2K video and 5.1 surround sound channel recording through three microphones.
Like several other cameras, you'll be able to upload to YouTube360 and Google Street View, or view the content on the LG 360 VR.
Nikon KeyMission 360
The KeyMission 360 is the first in a line of action cams from the veteran camera company. The camera has two lenses with f2.0 apertures and 20MP sensors that can record footage in 4K with electronic stabilization.
The device also does all the stitching in-camera, is waterproof to 98 feet, shockproof up to 6.6 feet and can be operated in temperatures as cold as 14 degrees Fahrenheit. The KeyMission is launching October of this year.
Another tough little guy, the 360fly 4K promises water, dust and shock resistance along with 1,504 x 1,504-pixel resolution at 30 frames per second. However because there's only one lens, there's no spherical image. A newer version is on the way that shoots in 4K and costs $100 more.
The pear shaped camera from Giroptic is pretty cute with its unique design but it's also packed with decent features too. The camera is completely waterproof down to 33 feet for up to 30 minutes and comes with a removable base to let you swap out rechargeable batteries. The rugged little thing can also stream video, connect to GPS for geotagging and more.
The Insta360 actually comes in two flavors: The Air is a BB-8 lookalike that works with Android devices via either USB-C or Micro-USB while the more flat (and, frankly, less cute) Nano is built for iPhones via Lightning. Both of them are built to quickly and easily create 360-degree videos to share and stream on the social networks of your choice. The Air has the added benefit of an optional and totally adorable stand that makes it look like a certain Star Wars droid having a fun day on a scooter.
Best 360-degree cameras coming soon
These are the next cameras you'll see everyone scrambling to buy in order to create their own 360-degree videos.
Kodak Pixpro 4KVR360
Unlike the last Pixpro SP3604K action camera mentioned earlier, the 4KVR360 can actually shoot with two 20MP lenses on the front and back, meaning you get 360-degree shots without spending money on a second device.
It connects to your mobile device via Wi-Fi, Bluetooth (to an optional remote control) and through NFC. You can record up to 128GB of footage on a microSD card where in-camera stitching clocks in at 15fps. It's set to land in early 2017.
Designed to look like regular sunglasses, the ORBI Prime holds four full HD cameras - two one the front, two on the back - and shoots 360-degree video and images.
One charge cycle will let you capture around 90 minutes of video, and with microSD storage capability running up to 128GB, you should have plenty of space to keep it before exporting. It comes bundled with a video editor that will help you stitch your highlights together and share them on social media.
It's raised just shy of $200,000 on Indiegogo and is estimated to ship in August 2017.
The compact, flat Vuze camera houses eight full-HD cameras with 180x120-degree lenses on its edges that records in 4K at 30fps and also offers stereophonic sound. You'll get up to one hour of video on the camera's battery and SD card with one minute of processing per minute of footage at the touch of a button.
The Vuze is also bundled with a companion app, editing software and a VR headset to view your creations. Preorders are shipping now and all new orders will start shipping in April 2017.
While the LucidCam isn't actually a 360-degree camera, we called it the "virtual reality camera for the everyman" in our last write up of the device because of its simplicity. With the press of a single button you can capture video and photos in full HD, and connecting three cams will allow you to shoot in 360-degrees. Initially expected to land in 2016, and then delayed until April 2017, the Lucid Cam is now expected to ship in June 2017.
Born out of Samsung's in-house C-Labs incubator program the FITT360 is a wearable 360-degree recorder that wants to be more subtle than most. FITT360 is a hands-free way of capturing VR-ready footage, and looks like it might not be uncomfortable to wear. The headband-style device aims to make it easier to shoot from all angles and here's hoping this one goes from project to product in the not too distant future.
Price TBC, samsung.com
High-end 360-degree cameras
If you're still curious about the cameras that require deep pockets, here's the shortlist. These rigs are aimed at the professional filmmakers rather than average consumers, but it's still fun to learn about things you can't have.
The GoPro cameras are pretty much the go-to for 360-degree creators but the company also launched its own rig. That means you get six cameras, Kolor software, smart remote, cables, memory cards and more, or you can buy the $1,500 casing alone if you already have the cameras.
Easily the most expensive of the bunch, the Nokia OZO also promises to be one of the best. There are already big deals in place for companies to use the camera - like a recently inked deal with Disney - so here's hoping we'll get to see some cool stuff out of it.
The spherical camera has eight synchronised global shutter sensors that capture stereoscopic 3D video, accompanied by spacial audio that's captured by eight integrated microphones.
Surround360 was a surprise announcement from the social media company but the news after made it even better. The hardware and software specs for this camera are free for the public to download through GitHub.
The Surround360 consists of 17 cameras, one fish-eye camera pointing up and two pointing down to capture footage that renders online via a specially created software. From there, images will be stitched together in 4K, 6K and 8K for each individual eye.
Google JUMP Odyssey
The Jump camera rig called the Odyssey was announced at the last Google I/O as a partnership with GoPro. The rig consists of 16 camera modules in a circular array where the size of the rig and the arrangement of the cameras are optimised to work with the Jump assembler, which is Google's software that stitches together the 16 pieces of video into stereoscopic VR video.
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