VR is well and truly here, but it's not just all about the immersive gaming. It's now possible to use a top 360-degree camera to create amazing VR videos and super spherical flicks.
Wareable big test: Five 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 flagship 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 (2017)
Samsung's back with a new 360 camera for 2017, and it's actually cheaper than last year's model. Gone is the tripod, replaced with a more grippable body, while dual fisheye lenses bump up the 4K shooting resolution to 4096 x 2048. It can also grab up to 15MP 360 images.
Livestreaming is the headline feature here though, letting you beam your real-time videos to Facebook and YouTube, so long as you have a compatible Samsung handset. Speaking of which, you can get one of Samsung's new cams for a reduced price when bought with the Galaxy S8.
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 $259 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.
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.
The iO cam clips onto iOS and Android phones hooking up to your smartphone via Lightning, Micro USB or your USB-c connector. From there it can take 360-degree pics (up to 4K), video (up to 2K) and livestream 360 footage too. You can share via Instagram or stream via services like Facebook Live with the dinky little clip-on cam storing all of your immersive data on your phone or tablet.
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.
The compact, flat Vuze camera houses eight full-HD cameras with 180 x 120-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 July 2017.
Garmin VIRB 360
Garmin is entering the 360 game with its new VIRB 360, a high-end action cam capable of capturing 5.7K/30fps video and 15-megapixel stills. It also comes with four built-in mics so you get all-encompassing sound too.
It's as rugged as you'd hope for, waterproof to 30 meters and capable of withstanding high temperatures. You've got GPS and GLONASS - this is Garmin, remember - and the ability to overlay data onto your videos.
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 Orbit360 4K
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. Originally set to land in early 2017, the camera has faced some delays and it's unclear when it could release.
It's taken GoPro a while, but the company is finally joining the 360 cam game with the Fusion. The Fusion is apparently like "six GoPros fused into one," hence the name. By the way, that's the same amount of GoPros in an Omni rig. It can record 5.2K video with GoPro's OverCapture software. When you go home, you'll also be able to "punch out" HD images and video from your 360 vid.
We don't know too many details other than that. Pricing is a huge question mark. No news on memory or durability or battery either. We don't really know a release date either, just that it's arrive in a limited fashion by the end of the year. If you happen to make killer extreme sports videos, GoPro wants you to apply to take it for a test run this summer.
Price TBC, gopro.com
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 over $300,000 on Indiegogo and is estimated to ship in August 2017.
While the LucidCam isn't actually a 360-degree camera, we called it the "virtual reality camera for the everyman" 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, then delayed until April 2017, then delayed until June 2017, the Lucid Cam is now expected to ship in July 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.
Ok, this is only one if you're super serious about 360 video. Easily the most expensive of the bunch, the Nokia OZO+ is also going to give you the best experience.
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.
Nokia's already done a lot of big deals with various companies, so even if you're not using it yourself, you'll still be reaping the benefits.
The most affordable professional 360 camera you can get, the Insta360 Pro takes a lot of the convenience on the company's smaller 360 cameras and brings them to the professional realm. Not only does it look like BB-8's adorable cousin, it can stitch together 4K 360 images and video, saving you a whole bunch of time. You'll have to stitch things together if you want 6K footage, however.
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.
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 Halo
After originally partnering with GoPro for its Google Jump Odyssey, the Mountain View company partnered with Yi Technology to make its second-generation 360 camera, saving thousands of dollars in the process. The Halo maintains the 16 cameras of the Odyssey but adds an up camera. It also, of course, utilizes Google's Jump assembler to create the best possible stitch for a VR video.
Shop for recommended action cameras on Amazon
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