Someone said that a writer’s most important tool on the road is a camera. What about 360-degree cameras that can capture everything around them? Would they be even better tools for photography and documenting places or events?
Prices of 360 cameras have quickly com down. It was only two or three years ago when I tried a few models, but the prices were between 500 and 1000 euros/dollars then. Now, it is possible to get a 360 camera from a reliable brand for 150 euros. Let’s find out which products are the best if you are in the market for a 360-degree camera in 2017.
High-end 360 cameras
360FLY 4K is a ball-shaped camera with the lenses on top and screw holes at the bottom for a tripod. The price, around 300 dollars, is unbeatable at the moment in the high-end category.
Garmin Virb 360 is a camera from the successful GPS and sports electronics product manufacturer. The Virb 360 has been acclaimed in many reviews because of its image quality, but the price is on the high side, about 800 dollars.
Budget 360 cameras
LG 360 Cam is the winner of the price/value category. At 150 dollars, you get a 360 degree camera that fits in a pocket.
Another product in this category to consider is the Dunkam 360 Camera. It is attached to a smartphone which means that the image processing takes place on the phone and only the special lens sticks out from the other end of the phone. No cables or anything, the camera is plugged directly into the port. The Dunkam is priced at 150 dollars which means they have been able to raise the price after the launch when it was 99.
Product reviews at Tom’s Guide and Digital Trends were among the sources for this article.
Traveling in western and northern regions of Norway is a dream come true for everyone who admires dramatic sceneries. The downside is that it takes more time than most sightseeing trips because of those majestic landscapes. Yet, it is possible to choose road travel, sea cruises or even train journey (in some parts of the country). The Flåm railroad in western Norway is probably the most popular section for train travelers. Now, you can watch how a train ride along the famous Flåm railroad looks like.
Flåm, the end station of the railtrack, is a village at the bottom of a fjord. The track starts from Myrdal, a station on the mountains that is connected to Oslo and Bergen via railroad. The 20 kilometer journey from Myrdal to Flåm is considered the steepest railtrack for passenger trains (with the most spectacular sceneries along the way) in the world.
The Flåm railroad company has recorded a 44 minute film of the whole journey in 360 degree video format. You can view the video below, and change the viewing angle as you wish.
A good question is why capture a train ride in a 360-degree video? The camera that has recorded the journey was attached at the front of the train. It doesn’t make sense to rotate the image and watch back because all you can see is the train’s front window. Look down, and you see the railroad track. Probably a better result could have been achieved with an ordinary weatherproof camera. Perhaps the experience on a virtual reality device is better than on a computer. Nonethless, the journey itself is impressive, and definitely one that we will have add to our bucket list.
We can recommend another magnificent train ride that starts from Norway and ends in Sweden. Originally, the railroad track between Narvik, Norway and Kiruna, Sweden was constructed for transporting mining produce, but nowadays it is a popular way to access some of the best sceneries, hiking trails and skiing tracks in Swedish and Norwegian Lapland.
A major road that connects not only two Nordic countries, but places like Abisko and other national parks to the rest of the world follows the railroad track. Here is a video captured during road trips between Narvik and Kiruna.
Wide-angle and macro lenses for cameras – even for smartphones and tablets – are useful in many situations when the photographer has to be close to the subject, but must get everything that matters into the frame. 360-degree cameras are a step further from that. The new generation of lenses can capture fairly high-quality images that cover everything around the lens. Now, the prices of 360-degree cameras have dropped to an affordable level. We took a look at a few low-cost models that are available today globally.
First, let’s take a look at a 360-degree camera in action. Here is a promo video by 360fly:
Who needs a 360-degree camera? Some photographers will buy a 360-degree camera just because it is a novelty, and soon forget about it. A 360-degree camera is another device that you have to carry along in addition to your smartphone camera. More likely use cases for 360-degree cameras are sports and action photography. Also, travel photography will benefit from 360-degree cameras, because travel writers/photographers often have to capture or document something in a small space, like in a room. Another common problem in travel photography is to frame a large object, like a building or statue, but it is impossible to move so far from it that it would fit into a frame.
Here are five 360-degree cameras for you to explore: 360fly, Bublcam, Giroptic 360cam, Kodak Pixpro SP360 4K, and Ricoh Theta S. 360fly
360fly wants to become the GoPro of 360-degree cameras. The black, round camera looks cool and comes with several optional accessories for mounting it on sports gear. It is waterproof and shock-resistant. Video resolution is 1504 x 1504 at 30fps. List price $399. New model, 360fly 4K is scheduled to be available in 2q2016 with a price tag of $500. The new camera can record video in 2880 x 2880 resolution.
Most 360-degree cameras can capture the surroundings around the lens horizontally, but not vertically. It means that when you view the image, you can’t see what is above or below the camera. The Bublcam can capture everything, also the vertical dimension. Photos are captured in 14 megapixel resolution. In multiplex video mode, the Bublcam can record 1440p x 1440p (30 fps) or 1920p x 1920p (15 fps). In equirectangular mode, the camera can capture 1984p x 992p (30 fps) or 2688p x 1344p (15 fps). Price $799.
View images captured by Bublcam users at the Bubl Cloud site. Giroptic 360cam
The Giroptic 360cam is waterproof down to 10 meters for up to 30 minutes. Giroptic has a unique solution for battery: the standard base packs a removable rechargeable battery. The company was financed at Kickstarter, and had a long delay in getting the product out, but it is now available. Price $499. Kodak Pixpro SP360 4K
Kodak has positioned the Pixpro SP360 4K as an action camera, and has made available a range of accessories required for mounting the camera on different types of equipment. The camera can capture 2880 x 2880-pixel-resolution video or widescreen video at 4K UHD (3 840 x 2160 pixels). Prices start from $449. Ricoh Theta S
The camera comes with two 12-megapixel lenses. The images captured via the lenses are merged into one 5,376×2,688-pixel-resolution photo that shows 360 degrees of the surroundings. The Rich Theta S can record spherical video in full HD (1080p) at 30 frames per second. Competitively priced at $350, the product is available globally.