What is a 360 camera? Everything you need to know
There’s a huge buzz about 360 cameras. Find out what all the fuss is about with our guide…
What is a 360 camera?
State-of-the-art cameras through which you can record the world as you see it in 360°. This means the camera captures video from up and down and left and right. You can also shoot cool spherical still images.
How does it work?
These eyeball-shaped cameras record all 360° of a scene thanks to their multiple lenses (often two wide angle lenses). The camera will then automatically stich the two images together to bring you one spherical image.
What can you do with a 360 camera?
Lots. YouTube has its own 360 channel and the videos cover everything from the Coachella music festival and scuba diving to base jumping and motorsports. National Geographic has some really cute videos of lions.
Basically, people are using 360 cameras to shoot all manner of amazing footage; everywhere from exotic locations to back gardens. And whatever you shoot or watch, you’re seeing the action from all directions.
360 cameras are built for YouTube and Facebook
YouTube and Facebook are the number one destination for 360 video, and uploading your creations to the sites is super-easy. You may well have seen 360 videos pop up in your Facebook news feed. Such videos are tagged with a 360 logo and simple instructions for how to view from various angles.
You can even livestream your 360 footage to YouTube from the Samsung Gear 360 2017 camera and smartphone app. What’s more, you can do this in 4K resolution. ‘4K streaming of 360 video can ‘can truly transport you,’ said YouTube.
Whether you’re on holiday or at a music festival, your social videos will look sensational and go way beyond the average holiday snaps or phone video.
What about virtual reality?
Whether on Facebook or YouTube or elsewhere, the best way to view 360 video is through a virtual reality headset. That way you truly will be in the centre of the action.
‘Virtual reality and 360-degree video can help get you one step closer to actually being at those places and in those moments,’ reads a YouTube blog.
Not got a VR headset?
Don’t worry. The videos still look really cool. On your laptop, you can see things from different perspectives, say from above, by dragging the screen with your mouse or trackpad.
On your smartphone, it’s even easier. Tilt your phone one way and then the other, and the footage will move accordingly.
Are all 360 cameras the same?
No. They vary widely in terms of features and costs. Some, like the Ricoh Theta SC, can be slipped inside your pocket. The Ricoh Theta SC is ideal for people who want a fun and easy way to capture interesting footage at the push of a button.
Others, like the Samsung Gear 360 2017, are designed for YouTube sharing. Then there are tough, waterproof models for adventurous types who stray from the beaten track.
They work with your phone
The smartphone app is at the heart of lots of these cameras. Take the Samsung Gear 360 2017, which connects wirelessly to your smartphone via Bluetooth and works with the Samsung Galaxy S8 and S7 but also the recent iPhones.
With the Gear 360 app you can view videos shot on the camera and also remotely shoot video using the app as a shutter button. To share content on Facebook and YouTube, you also use the app.
How much do they cost?
Cost varies too. If you’re a beginner looking to take your first steps in 360 video, the Ricoh is a good option at £199, whereas something like the waterproof 360 FLY 4K is more than £450.
They’re easier to use than you think
Don’t be put off by the techy aspects of 360 cameras. Shooting video couldn’t be easier. On cameras like the Ricoh and the Gear 360 2017, simply push a button to start shooting.
What about resolutions?
Again this is different depending on the camera you decide upon. Cameras like the Ricoh Theta SC shoot footage in Full HD (also known as 1080p (which is the same as older TVs).
The Samsung Gear 360 2017 steps this up, with the ability to shoot footage in 4K Ultra HD. This resolution, increasingly common on new TVs, is 4 times sharper than Full HD.
The 360FLY 4K is another that can record in 4K Ultra HD.
Are there 360 action cams?
If you’re a GoPro fan who loves shooting their latest swim, surf, ride, run or hike, there’s a 360 camera for you. GoPro itself is developing its own epic 360 camera, the GoPro Fusion. But the Fusion is some way off, and will likely be at the top end of the budget.
Luckily, there are plenty of other options too. Take the 360FLY 4K, an action cam that shoots 360 video in super-sharp 4K.
And if you’re a sailor or surfer or hiker, you can enjoy waterproofing up to 32ft with the included housing.
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