I was an audience member in a future game show for CBS the other day, and I noticed how they had a 360-degree camera rig with about twenty cameras. The device, which was remotely controlled, slithered around the stage like a robot. Since the show is for CBS, they are likely shooting footage for VR devices.
I was thinking about when 360-degree cameras will take off on a commercial (and affordable) level. Last year, I reviewed the Samsung Gear 360 camera, which was a noble but ultimately failed effort by Samsung. The spherical camera that came with an attachment that looked like robot legs took had too many quirks. Not only was the battery life poor, but the camera inaccurately stitched photos and videos together. The photos and videos looked decent on laptop or computer screens, but looked like artifacts from the VHS days when watched on a virtual reality device such as the Gear VR.
It’s great that Samsung isn’t giving up on 360-degree cameras and will release the updated Gear 360 camera very soon. The device is smaller, gets rid of the robot legs (you can use a tripod if you want), shoots 4K videos, and allows you to shoot real-time 360-degree broadcasts. Instead of just being compatible with Samsung devices, the new Gear 360 can now be used with other Android smartphones and the iPhone as well.
Trusted Reviews says that although the Gear 360 is still a niche product, it’s cute and — most importantly — powerful. Even though it’s unlikely to attract a huge audience at first, the new Gear 360 looks like the type of 360-degree device that can help mainstream consumer 360-degree cameras.
Another camera consumers may want to take a look at is the 360fly 4K, which Mike Prospero of Tom’s Guide calls the 360-degree camera to beat. The original 360fly was one of the first consumer 360-degree cameras released in 2015. It received mixed reviews. I was so unimpressed with the camera that I didn’t even want to waste my time giving it a bad review.
Since the release of the 360fly camera, others cameras from Ricoh, Kodak, and LG, and Samsung have been released. None of the cameras have been able to capture even a niche audience. Those who use these cameras for VR videos have been very disappointed. Even if a camera shoots in 4K, the highest resolution a VR device can display now is 2K video, and even that looks pixelated in a VR headset. When 4K VR devices finally come out (hopefully within the next year), things will be different.