Which 360 Camera is Right for You?

360 photos and videos are here to stay...at least hopefully longer than 3D! If you have started your search for how to create 360 media, you are probably confused, overwhelmed and not sure where to start when it comes to purchasing your first 360 camera (at least that is how I felt and still feel!). Identifying a few key elements and setting correct expectations is critical for choosing. 

 Here are a few tips that should help when trying to understand what camera is best for you:

  1. When is says it shoots in 1080, don't be fooled. 1080 stretched around a 360 video turns out looking like old tube television SD quality. To get crisp footage, you either need to shoot in 8K or create a rig with multiple cameras shooting in HD (prepare yourself for an expensive purchase).
  2. Most of the "pro's" video footage in 360 looks a little low budget. Everyone is trying to figure out how this works and which rig to get. Also, not everyone has $60,000 to buy a Nokia Ozo. The uniqueness and unknown factor covers up for the lack of HD (for now).
  3. 360 photos are more manageable and higher quality than video. Maybe reconsider your plans and try to create a VR experience through photos. I have done this and got great results with crisp 360 photos. I even photoshopped my tripod out and added graphic overlays on it to give it more dimension! Take a look. This was shot with a Ricoh Theta S.
  4. Get your foot in the door and wait it out. If your industry sees purpose in 360, it may be a good idea to get in the 360 ecosystem and try some stuff out. You can learn a lot from even a low budget camera. The market is going to produce better cameras at lower prices, but it is just a matter of time!
  5. Think about what you have to do after you capture your photos or video. Do you know how to properly stitch and edit 360? Some cameras come with built in software or drivers to software that you can use with their specific media, but others do not. Another aspect to think about is where are you going play your media or view it? There are not a lot of options out there for embedding 360 images and video, so be sure to think through your workflow on how your media will be able to be easily seen by the viewer.

Shooting and capturing is just half the game. The next half is the medium in which people will view your content. If you are providing the wearable, what brand and style works best for you and makes the most sense? There is Google Cardboard, Unofficial Cardboard, Samsung, Oculus Rift and more options out there. The combo I have used in the past for creating and viewing the media was with a Ricoh Theta S and the Unofficial Cardboard 2.0+ headset. Here is a 360 photo I took and here was a video I captured.

There is more coming on the market each quarter and it seems like the quality is getting higher, price points are dropping and usability is going up!

Good luck!