Get the right camera for shooting 360 video

Image: Jason Kempin/ Getty Images for Samsung

Yes, those 360 -degree videos you meet sometimes on YouTube and Facebook < em> are purty , not only because they’re new and shiny, but because they’re more immersive than even the most stunning two-dimensional Instagram images. But how do those video wizards develop them, you may ask?

Although some of those videos were emphatically created using very expensive and sophisticated cameras, it’s absolutely possible to create your own 360 videos readily and cheaply.

But before we get into specifics, it’s important to understand what 360 video is and isn’t. First: It’s not “virtual reality.” An suffer isn’t truly VR unless it has an interactive component. Ideally, that interactivity will come with an interface or restraints that allow you to truly involve the environment and control its own position and perspective in it, rather than simply allowing you to passively look around at panoramic video imagery.

Ok, with that bit of nerdery out of the mode, it’s also important to mention discrepancies between monoscopic and stereoscopic videos. Monoscopic videos( most of the 360 videos you meet online) essentially experience you’re simply looking at everything from within of a world, the images seeming flat. Stereoscopic video, on the other hand, has magnitude and more closely resembles an actual 3D surrounding at least to onlookers watching via a VR headset.

But aside from esthetics, the only big question you’ll actually have to wrestle when considering all the options is quality how much of it do you want? At this degree in the still early immersive video space, there are three basic tiers: professional, prosumer and enter grade( AKA “amateur” ).

Entry level

If you’re low-priced on funds but high on experimental concern, the options for inexpensive 360 -degree video are robust, but there are only a pair worth mentioning here: the Ricoh Theta S, and the new Samsung Gear 360. Both deliver monoscopic( flat) video and are emphatically inexpensive, with the Ricoh Theta S priced at $350( you can usually find it for less) and the Gear 360 set to go on sale soon for under $350.

The Ricoh Theta S is slim, lightweight and readily fits into your pocket, capturing HD video( 1,920 x 960) at 30 frames per second for up to 25 minutes. And while the Ricoh camera has a solid reputation among users, the new Gear 360( which is currently works on iPhones as well as Samsung telephones) looks like the most powerful picking. The tiny device gives 4K resolution( 4,096 x 2,048) and live streaming of 2K video to YouTube and Facebook( simply on certain Samsung telephones ).

The Gear 360 also has a handy rubber base for stationery video, as well as a tripod socket for more traditional camera mounts and it can accommodate up to up to 256 GB of memory via removable micro SD card( versus the 8GB in the Ricoh camera, which doesn’t substantiate memory upgrades ).


This is the territory you’ll tread if you want a step up in excellence but have a limited budget and aren’t certain 360 -video production is something you’ll investment in for years to come.

The Vuze 360 -degree camera.

Image: Alex Wong/ Getty Images

So far, the best option in this category seemed so be the Vuze, a camera that sells for $800. The device residences eight cameras that deliver 4K video, as well as four microphones that capture positional audio. The big-hearted upgrade over the entry-level material is the ability to create stereoscopic video, so your videos will have magnitude, at least for anyone viewing them with VR headset. There’s also integration of 360 video and audio, so this is easily the best blow for your buck.

Pro Cameras

If you’re an aspire filmmaker, would be interested to get an early lead on developing 360 movies, you’ll want the very best quality, which means you’ll have to shell out a good deal of currency. Depending on your belief in the future of the platform as the next stage of major motion pictures, it may or may not be worth the investment.

Currently, there are really simply two machines worth your attention: the Nokia Ozo and the GoPro Odyssey. You already know the GoPro name and its reputation for producing affordable machines that deliver amazing action video footage for simply a few hundred bucks. The Odyssey is in an entirely different class and costs $15,000. For that cost you get 16 cameras( the GoPro Hero4 Black) mounted in a circular array, allowing you to record 8K-resolution spherical video at 30 frames per second.

If you’re looking for something a little less elaborate-looking but no less powerful, Nokia’s Ozo is a great alternative … presupposing money is no object. To get your hands on this article of sci-fi-looking alien technology, you’ll have to invest $45,000. But along with giving you an all-in-one 360 rig, the Ozo also applies embedded microphones to deliver spatial audio that’s synced to the video.

Both cameras give stereoscopic video and should only be considered if you’re actually is fully committed to high-end( albeit independent) filmmaking.

The 360 road ahead

Of course, cameras are just the start. Other things to consider before diving into this new world are things like how to best set up your immersive hits and how to send the viewer’s eye in 360( a somewhat new subject, even for professionals ), as well as differences inherent to editing 360 footage versus traditional 2D footage.

The possibilities of 360 -degree are all very exciting, but will nonetheless necessitate patience and a creative approaching, even at the low-grade intention. The good news is that 360 -degree video is greater the sole arena of multimillion-dollar special effects studios. If you have the desire, it’s now easier than ever to dive into the world of creating obligating immersive videos.

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