Interested in shooting VR-ready video? From Insta360 and Kodak to Samsung and LG, plenty of manufacturers are selling their own brand 360-degree video cameras which can capture HD footage of your entire surroundings quickly and easily. Professional videographers are well catered for too, thanks to Nokia and GoPro. Here’s our pick of the best 360-degree cameras in 2017.
Cameras that capture images of the world in basic 2D are so last millennium – now it’s all about shooting in 360-degrees, to produce immersive virtual reality photos and videos.
Shooting in 360 used to mean expensive multi-camera rigs or swinging your phone about for a snap with odd-cut edges and general mind-bending failure. Thankfully a new wave of cameras are here to help capture your environments and experiences for enjoying in a virtual world, easily and effectively.
From smartphone attachments to stand-alone units, there are plenty of options that use multiple lenses to capture 360 degree images and videos easily. Sure, these cameras use up a lot of memory and drain the battery for that level of powerful capturing. We can’t fault the results however, or the ease of use. It really is a case of just hold and shoot – you don’t even need to do the pointing part anymore.
Here are some of the best 360 degree VR cameras you can buy right now, and check out our pick of the best VR headsets for viewing your results back.
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Best 360-degree video cameras for everyone
Whether you’re a complete amateur at shooting video, or know a fair bit about the practice, the following 360-degree cameras will be a solid all-round choice. These shooters offer some solid features and high quality results, ready to view with a VR headset.
Insta360 Nano VR camera
One of the big names in 360 degree capture right now is Insta360 and one of its more minimal but impressive offerings is the Insta360 Nano for iPhone. This dual lens unit charges via micro-USB then plugs direct into your iPhone, to capture immersive detail for videos and photos. Its box even doubles as a virtual reality headset that your phone can slide into. So viewing your images and videos back in virtual reality can be done right away.
The Insta360 app allows you to hold your phone aloft and capture your surroundings in 360 degrees. Then when watched back, you can look about in the real world as you glance around the virtual reality environment captured by the camera.
Insta360 has even launched an 8K Pro version of this camera, for those wishing to capture really life-like quality 360 degree footage.
Samsung Gear 360 (2017) VR camera
Samsung, never one to miss an opportunity, jumped into the VR camera world quite early. With its latest Gear 360 (2017 model), the Korean giant has a seriously impressive offering.
The Gear 360 (2017) is a standalone camera that can be used separately to your phone. An ideal situation, since it comes with a stand so you can leave this sat on whatever surface as you dance around it. Specs include video resolution of up to 3,840 x 1,920 and photos at 25.9-megapixels, courtesy of the dual f/2.0 aperture lenses. Shoot in 180 or 360 degree modes and share easily with Wi-Fi direct, Bluetooth and NFC connectivity.
The Samsung Gear 360 (2017) even features a 0.5-inch PMOLED screen, so you can switch modes without needing to connect a phone. Ideal for jumping into time lapse mode, for example.
LG 360 Cam VR camera
If Samsung has put out a 360 degree VR camera, you can bet that LG is too. Except this one is called the LG 360 Cam, of course.
LG’s camera is a slender unit for handheld use. That portability means lower specs, although you still get the option of shooting 180 or 360 degree photos and videos at 2K resolution or up to 13-megapixels. Thanks to three built-in mics, you get 5.1 channel surround sound recording for your video. There’s 4GB storage onboard, plus microSD support for capturing all you need before sharing via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi.
A 70 minute battery life isn’t too bad considering the size either, offering plenty of juice for most virtual reality captures.
Orbi Prime VR camera
The Orbi Prime VR is a really cool way to capture 360 degree photos and videos, as that functionality is built into a relatively normal looking pair of sunglasses. This is clearly designed for those out experiencing the extreme, while capturing it all hands-free.
The catch? At time of publishing, this is still due for an Indiegogo-funded August 2017 release date. So here’s hoping that promise actually holds up. If it is and you’ve backed it for $229 (£179), you’ll get a water resistant device with quad-HD cameras and video stabilisation for 360 degree video and photo capture. Not to mention an impressive 90 minutes of recording time. Share it all to a Wi-Fi connected smartphone to enjoy right away.
After Kodak began offering 4K 360 degree footage with its SP360 4K dual camera setup, it decided to roll that all into one unit. This will be called the 4KVR360 when it lands in the UK. While still classed as “coming soon” at the time of publishing, it already looks seriously impressive.
Thanks to dual 20MP CMOS lenses, it’s possible to capture true 4K video in Full Frame View with a 197-degree super wide angle lens; or Hemisphere View with the 235-degree wide angle lens. Then share it all via a smartphone and even edit using the included software. Alternatively, share straight to Facebook and YouTube with a few icon taps using the super simple smartphone app.
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Best 360-degree video cameras for the pros
If you’re a more experienced and demanding user, check out the following professional 360-degree video cameras. You’ll be able to shoot some incredible-looking VR-ready video, although be prepared to pay a steep price for the pro features and quality on offer.
The Nokia Ozo isn’t just a scary bug-like lens-filled camera – it’s an entire suite. For the pros, this lets you capture 360-degree virtual reality footage, edit it with special software including SDK, edit sound and then share it on top-end virtual reality. Rather than simply watching on YouTube or on a phone, like the other cameras offer, this records at a quality worthy of working with the likes of the Vive headset, for a more intense and realistic virtual reality experience.
The price for this eight 2K camera and eight microphone setup? A hefty £34,000.
For the more extreme environments where 360 degree virtual reality footage works at its best, GoPro is there.
The GoPro Odyssey is a rig that comprises a whopping 16 GoPro Hero4 Black cameras, to capture detailed 360 degree footage. That means you can capture 8K30 video for a super high quality immersive virtual reality environment.
Just expect the price to reflect that number of units at $15,000 (£11,736).