UPDATE: If you are looking for a list of cameras that are currently compatible with HoloBuilder’s JobWalk App, please click here.
2016 is the year of Virtual Reality: Oculus Rift, Playstation VR, and many other devices are rolling out to the consumers. Accordingly, 360° content is virtually everywhere. YouTube and Facebook offer 360° videos and platforms like HoloBuilder enable the creation of advanced 360° virtual tours. But how do you capture 360° pictures to be able to make use of this do-it-yourself content creation? You can use your Smartphone or you go serious with a 360° camera. With the latest generation of new devices, it has become easier than ever before to capture great 360° content. But what has not become easier is choosing which device you would like to go for. To help you at choosing one, the following sections will present you with all you need to know to get a comprehensive idea about their specifications and features.
How does a 360°-camera work?
Magic? It´s not that difficult as you might think. All the (true) 360° cameras have at least two lenses facing in different directions. If there only two lenses, they face in opposite directions. Each of them has a fisheye lens to get an 180-degree field of view. When you take a picture, the device will shoot a picture for each lens and assembles them together. The process of linking these two pictures is called stitching. You will get an equirectangular image that looks like the one at the top. With an easy-to-use web application like HoloBuilder, allows you to create and share interactive 360° experiences like this one. This is cannot only be fun in your leisure time but also highly useful in professional contexts like job site documentation in construction projects or virtual walkthroughs of real estate properties.
The Insta360 Nano can be used as a standalone camera, but it´s designed for an iPhone. It´s like an addon to your mobile phone for about $200. You can attach it to an iPhone and shoot 360° photos using an app. If you use this device without an iPhone, you need to get a MicroSD memory card to save your photos. The Insta360 Nano picture resolution is 3040 x 1520 pixels and you can get an idea of this quality in the picture in our comparison. All specs can be found in the table at the bottom. Unfortunately, because this camera doesn’t work with Android yet, it´s not for everyone. Nevertheless, it is an interesting approach to competing with the “regular” cameras listed below.
Ricoh Theta SC
The Ricoh Theta S was one of the best cost-benefit ratio 360° cameras when it was released. This is why we also recommend it for using it with the HoloBuilder JobWalk app, to digitize your construction project in the most efficient and convenient way. The Ricoh Theta SC is the latest camera of Ricoh. It might be seen as the little brother of Ricoh´s Theta S because it is essentially a (feature wise!) stripped-down version of the Theta S. It´s smaller, with no HDMI port, and a five minute limit on Full HD video capturing (the Ricoh Theta S is limited to 25 minutes). The lenses with a 14MP sensor of the two models, as well as the 8GB internal memory (you do not need an SD memory card, but can’t extend it as well), are the same. Thus, you will very likely basically get the same quality of images from both devices (this is also the reason why we provide images of the Ricoh Theta S in the comparison).
By downloading the companion app for this camera on your mobile phone, you can easily control the camera and edit the settings through WiFi. The Theta SC is available in pink, blue, beige and white at a price of $299. The Theta SC seems to be a good all-round talent, but there are some other good alternatives to look for.
Earlier this year we already wrote an article about the Samsung Gear 360, but until now it was only rarely available for purchase in the United States. Now you can easily get your hands on one at Amazon for about $350, making it affordable for casual users while providing a significantly better image and video resolution than other devices, e.g. the Insta360 Nano. The camera features WiFi, Bluetooth, and a 30MP resolution. According to Samsung’s official website, the Samsung Gear is pretty outdoor friendly as it is robust to dust as well as splashes and thus perfectly suited to accompany you to all the action events you want to capture.
For the Samsung Gear 360, you will need a MicroSD Card to make it work, and a Samsung smartphone like the S6 or S7. This might be one of the biggest drawbacks of this device. Without one of these phones, you cannot (officially) use this camera. But if you are a user of newer Samsung mobile phones anyway and interested in getting started with 360° images, you should seriously consider buying this device, because the image quality you can get is comparatively really good.
Crowdsourcing makes everything possible, even very affordable 360° capturing devices that claim to the smallest ever so far. The Nico360 is one of these new cameras. It´s campaign finished on August 24, 2016, with reaching 582% of its funding goal. The devices that go to backers of the campaigns are estimated to be shipped in December 2016. With its compact and waterproof case, its 32GB of internal storage and a 2560 x 1440 @ 30FPS resolution, this camera offers an incredible package for only 199$ retail price. As one of its perks, Nico360 claims to be the first 360 that features live streaming. Right now, the camera has not been shipped. Thus you only have Nico360´s official test images (contained in our comparison) to get an impression of the provided quality. The images were shot with a prototype, but this will give you a first idea about the final quality. If this device will meet the expectations and become regularly available, it could become “the real deal”.
Nikon KeyMission 360
The Nikon KeyMission 360 is announced to be a sports and action talent. It is meant to be a 360° action camera. Being shockproof up to 2 meters (6.6 feet) and waterproof up to 30 meters (100 feet), this portable device will be your companion in most situations. It can be mounted to almost every surface and thus, can be taken on every adventure to capture 360° images and video of the most exciting adventures. Each side of the camera has an f2.0 8.2mm lens (equivalent to 35mm) backed by a 20-megapixel CMOS sensor. Besides 4K UHD video (3,480 x 2,160 pixels, 24 FPS in MOV format) this camera can shoot 30-megapixel pictures and record sound via stereo mics. Additionally, the performance is enhanced by an image stabilizer to provide great depth of field.
So finally, which one could win you over? Which camera will you buy and why? Or will you stay with your old one? We would love to read your opinion and see your 360°-creations on HoloBuilder.com! :)