Best 360-Degree Cameras
Let’s just say that technology has brought with it some crazy creations and this so happens to be one of them. The idea of shooting 360-degree videos may be hard for you to fathom but there are devices on the market that can pull it off. These are known as omnidirectional cameras (or 360-degree cameras) and there are plenty of them to choose from. However, this is where things can get complicated because how do you (the consumer) narrow down the selection? Well, you need to know your stuff and that is where this guide comes into play. In addition to running through some of the best models currently available on the market, this guide has been created to walk you through the overall process to enhance your education about the subject that is at hand.
In a Hurry? The test winner after 2.75 hrs of research
Equipped with spherical stabilization
The image quality is really good
You can select between different recording modes
- GARMIN VIRB 360
- INSTA360 ONE X
- SAMSUNG GEAR 360
- HD 360FLY
- GOPRO FUSION
- YI 360
- XIAOMI ACTION CAM
- KODAK PIXPRO ORBIT360
- RICOH THETA V
- KODAK PIXPRO SP360
- Criteria Used for Evaluation
- Frequently Asked Questions
OUR TOP PICKS FOR THE BEST 360-DEGREE CAMERAS
1. GARMIN VIRB 360
Equipped with spherical stabilization
The image quality is really good
You can select between different recording modes
The software has performance issues
Not the best battery life
Even though a few flaws still hamper the best of them, the VIRB 360 from Garmin is one of the best consumer brands on the market. It helps that it delivers on its 4K quality.Read more
What this advertises is 5.7K resolution with 4K stitched in the camera itself. And, for the most part, it delivers on the 4K quality quite well.
In addition to the fact that this is built with spherical stabilization for smoother video, it is also equipped with several different recording modes that you can select from, and you can even control this with voice commands.
You can either use your Apple or Android device with this product but when you do so, you need to understand that the accompanying app can have performance issues.
Okay, so the battery life is not that impressive here. Then again, plenty of other models are also only rated to last up to an hour on a full charge, so it is not that shocking.
Even though overheating has been reported as an issue (when using 5.7K), this is built with ruggedness in mind, and can is waterproof to 10 meters.
Garmin VIRB 360 is probably the best consumer model on the market. It is also one of the most expensive, though, so do keep that in mind.
2. INSTA360 ONE X
Designed with Wi-Fi transfer
The body is ultra-thin and sleek
The image and video quality is pretty good
The app is quite clunky
Improved battery life would be nice
The Insta360 One X may be the most well-received model on this entire list. It is no surprise to see why when you factor in the device’s Wi-Fi transfer, excellent image quality, and sleek profile.Read more
The combination of the 5.7K resolution and the 18-megapixel photos make for rather impressive quality overall. Sure, it could be better, but it is still impressive.
Looking past the fact that the app is clunky in its design, there are several essential features integrated here such as the flow state stabilization, drift shots, airborne slow-mo, and also time shift.
This is compatible with both iOS and Android devices (there is a full list of them in the product description). Also, this supports five gigahertz Wi-Fi transfer speeds.
No, you will not be blown away by the battery life (it allows for around an hour of continuous shooting). You can purchase the dual-battery dock to be able to swap out batteries on the fly.
The ultra-thin body is excellent for compactness, but you may want to purchase the venture case alongside this for enhanced protection and water resistance.
Even though it seems ridiculous to pay this much money for such a small device, the implemented features and technologies do warrant your purchase.
3. SAMSUNG GEAR 360
You can upload content to Samsung VR
The battery is pretty good
It is designed with an IP53 water-resistant rating
The picture quality could be better
It is not necessarily the image quality of the Samsung Gear 360 that sells users here (though it is above-average) as much as it is good battery life and IP53-rated protection.Read more
Okay, as mentioned, this is not going to blow you away regarding the image quality. With that in mind, the specifications are still good with 4K video and 15-megapixel photos resulting.
In addition to the fact that you can preview and edit your content with the accompanying app, you can also upload them to Samsung VR for an even more enthralling experience.
Despite that fact that this is a Samsung device, it can be used with iOS smartphones. But, it is optimized for Android operating systems and also both Windows and Mac computers.
When shooting continuous video, the battery is going to be drained rather quickly. However, with photos, it will last much longer.
Though this can’t be submerged in water, it is rated to be water-resistant per IP53 standards. This also means it is protected against harmful deposits of dust.
If you are utterly anal about video quality then perhaps you will not enjoy this omnidirectional camera. But, you know what, the quality is still good so do not let that stop you from giving this a shot.
4. HD 360FLY
It is shockproof, dustproof and water-resistant
Comes complete with 64 gigabytes of internal memory
The footage can transform into virtual reality
There is no SD card slot integrated
The image quality could be improved
Most users will agree that the 360Fly is an excellent model for its vast array of features alone. Then again, the image quality (while good) is probably not going to blow you away.Read more
The video resolution of the 360Fly (2880 x 2880) is proper but not as impressive as other models. Overall, the image quality could be a lot better.
Wow, all sorts of features are integrated here. This long list includes features such as time-lapse and front-facing modes, e-compass, non-assisted GPS, and also 64 gigabytes of internal memory. However, speaking of memory, there is not an integrated SD card slot so you can’t expand the storage space.
Granted you have a somewhat modern smartphone, and this should be compatible as it is going to function with most iOS and Android smartphones.
On its own, the battery life is not amazing here, but when you compare it to other popular models, it becomes a bit more impressive (and can last for a few hours).
Do not worry about build quality as this bad boy is dustproof, shockproof and water-resistant to one meter.
From an image quality perspective, this model could use improvements. This is a common theme with 360-degree cameras, however, and sometimes you need to accept their limitations.
5. GOPRO FUSION
It is waterproof down to five meters
Designed with advanced stabilization
The battery life is really good
Basic functions and features are blatantly missing
GoPro has earned a cult following for their amazing and long list of action cameras. However, their Fusion is an omnidirectional device that is impressive (past some basic features that are missing).Read more
After editing your videos, you will notice that they will not be perfect with the Fusion. The 5.2K video capturing may not merely be high enough for some of you.
For whatever reason, several essential functions are missing from this model. Looking past this, you can use the GoPro app to edit your photos which is a plus.
If you want to look at the full compatibility list, you can do so on the product page of this model. For the record, various iOS and Android devices will be able to be used in conjunction with it.
The reason the battery life is so high here is due to the larger battery capacity (2620mAh). When you need longer sessions, you will be enjoying this battery over others.
If you know anything about GoPro cameras then you know they are built with ruggedness in mind. The Fusion is no different and is waterproof down to five meters.
Yes, you can point to the limited functionality as a significant issue with this model, but it may not bother all of you. The truth is; otherwise, the Fusion is really good.
6. YI 360
Sports built-in advanced electronic image stabilization
The battery life is really good
It has built-in Wi-Fi capabilities
It is not waterproof
A few users have not been impressed with the video quality
There are many reasons to fall in love with this model. For starters, it supports both 2.4 and five gigahertz networks and also has one of the more powerful batteries on the market.Read more
Yes, there have been a few reviewers who have felt that the YI 360 produced lousy video quality. It still shoots 5.7K resolution videos at 30 frames per second, though.
YI 360 offers in-camera stitching at up to 4K and is also built with electronic image stabilization which keeps the footage much more stable.
The app is available for both Android and iOS users, for the record. Also, this supports both 2.4 and five gigahertz Wi-Fi networks.
For those users who have left their comments on the battery life, most have praised it. On this list, quite frankly, this could be the most powerful battery that is implemented.
One of the downsides of this model is it is not waterproof. The housing is not precisely cheaply built, though, so that is a plus.
The YI 360 is notable for its impressive battery life and Wi-Fi support. At the same time, it will also not produce professional-quality imagery, either.
7. XIAOMI ACTION CAM
Rated to be waterproof per IP67 standards
Designed with 6-axis stabilization
The two lenses will automatically calibrate and adjust the image
The software needs to be improved
When you compare this to some of the other options on the list, you may not be that enthralled by it. But, it is equipped with 6-axis electronic image stabilization is also fully waterproof.Read more
Xiaomi Action Cam is capable of recording 3.5K video, and while this is certainly far from bad, it is not nearly as high of a resolution as others are capable of.
Even though the software needs some work (for example, the ability to remember your settings from previous sessions), this is built with 6-axis electronic image stabilization.
The Mi app is compatible with both iOS and Android smartphones and, for the record, this also supports 2.4 gigahertz Wi-Fi networks.
The integrated battery can deliver up to 75 minutes of recording on one charge which is not too shabby for this type of technology.
Since Xiaomi Action Cam is rated per IP67 standard of waterproofness, it means that it can be submerged in water (of depths down to a meter) for several minutes with no risk of damage.
If you are someone who prefers to stick with the crowd, then you may not be willing to take a chance on this model. Keep in mind, however, that this will produce stellar, 360-degree results.
8. KODAK PIXPRO ORBIT360
It is really three cameras in one
Sports a futuristic housing
It features loop recording
An additional battery would be nice
The stitching could be improved
Look, the PixPro Orbit360 is not perfect, and there is a fair share of naysayers out there to remind you of that. But, it is a well-designed device and if you want further proof, keep on reading.Read more
This device supports one of the highest resolutions for still panoramas. However, one reviewer pointed out that the stitching could result in blurriness.
The Orbit360 is three cameras in one as it has three different viewing angles. You have a 360-degree VR mode, 235-degree dome mode and also a 197-degree 4K ultra-wide mode.
One of the neat aspects of this device is the fact that you can upload your content to various social media platforms (with Facebook and YouTube coming to mind).
Because the battery life is pretty lackluster, the addition of another battery would have been excellent (though you could say that for several other options too).
As you can see from the photos, the housing equipped here is futuristic for sure. But, it is also built to protect the interior components from damage.
Once again, you can nitpick this option. That is the nature of this technology, but the Orbit360 is still proof that it can be executed reasonably well.
9. RICOH THETA V
Built with a new Qualcomm Snapdragon processor
It can connect to most iOS and Android smartphones
Waterproof housing is available to purchase
The app is quite buggy
Image sharpness could be enhanced
In spite of some performance issues with the accompanying app, the Theta V is another highly popular omnidirectional camera that does manage to deliver the goods.Read more
Now, the Theta V is equipped with a new Qualcomm Snapdragon processor and also a 4K video that runs at 30 frames per second. The images are not amazingly sharp, however.
Both three-axis acceleration and three gyro sensors are built into the Theta V. Additionally, and it sports a four-channel microphone for enhanced audio. Of course, the app has been known to have performance issues.
Yep, this supports wireless transfer speeds of both 2.4 and five gigahertz. By utilizing Bluetooth technology, as well, you can connect this to your compatible smartphone.
The battery life sort of falls in the middle of the pack when comparing the Theta V to other models. It is not dreadful, but it is also not astounding.
It is going to be in your best interest to purchase the TW-1 underwater housing as it adds much-needed protection for this device.
As with other models, the Theta V is not flawless, and it does not pretend to be, either. What it is, however, is a well-designed device equipped with Wi-Fi and an improved processor.
10. KODAK PIXPRO SP360
It is water-resistant
Features 4K resolution
You have access to the free desktop editing software
Many users have bashed the included stitching software
The mounts are not practical
Even though both the dual and single camera mounts are not the most practical, the PixPro SP360 can shoot 4K content and withstand mild conditions.Read more
Capable of 4K resolution, most of you will be pleased with the content that this device produces.
This is lacking in this area just a bit. First off, the included stitching software has been heavily criticized. Secondly, the included remote has response issues from time to time.
You have access to the free 4K desktop editing software, and this can allow you to upload your videos on platforms such as Facebook and YouTube.
For the most part, the battery life is pretty disappointing. Do not expect anything more than 30 to 45 minutes per session (if you are continually recording).
In addition to being water-resistant, this is also rated to handle temperatures down to 10 degrees Celsius (which is 50 degrees Fahrenheit).
If you can appreciate this device for what it is, then you should be pleased with it. Then again, some of you may want more, and that is fair.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
When it comes to image quality, it is a little different here.
Right from the get-go, this section is going to address the fact that these cameras are not like normal ones. You know that they are different as they record 360-degree video but did you know that the quality is also different? After all, this type of device needs to account for more coverage than a traditional camera. Traditional models can typically at least record 1080p content (which is considered Full HD). For omnidirectional models that are just not going to cut it due to the nature of their design. To appear suitable in quality, you need to find models that can shoot 4K video. Oh, and as far as the frame rate (which is measured in frames per second and essentially measures the smoothness of a video), you want to shoot for at least 30 frames per second (the more, the better, though).
You may be wondering, how exactly do cameras create videos and images that are 360 degrees? Well, they do so by a technique called stitching. As the name implies, this refers to stitching together two or more images together. Now, some models will be able to do so with their software, but others will require the use of an app. Either way, not all stitching will be done with the same quality so keep that in mind.
There are plenty of features that you need to keep in mind here.
These types of video recording devices are always loaded with features, and it is no different here. While we could talk about so many features for hours on end, let’s focus on the major ones to look out for. First off, how about image stabilization? For those of you unaware, with this integrated, the model will account for shaking and will reduce the blurring effect that can result from it. But, there are different types of image stabilization technologies out there. In general, it needs to take into account at least 4-axis motion, but you will also see 6-axis image stabilization systems (which account for rotation on all axes).
Past this, you should also assess the storage capabilities of any given model. Some models will come with internal memory for storing your content and others will require an SD card (and some will implement both). Without an SD card slot, however, be aware that you will not be able to expand your storage. Now, given that these are cameras, you can also look for different shooting modes such as time-lapse and first-person POV (point-of-view). Oh, and of course, always bear in mind that the accompanying app will have features.
Keep your smartphone in mind here and also if Wi-Fi is integrated.
When it comes to assessing the compatibility of any given model on the market, there are a few factors to keep in mind. Firstly, most if not all 360-degree cameras will have accompanying apps that can be used for additional functionality. However, in order to ensure that your device is going to work, there needs to be an app for it and it needs to be compatible with your model. Thankfully, there are sellers out there who will list off all compatible devices and, also, most models will be compatible with both iOS and Android smartphones.
Of course, you also need to look out for Wi-Fi integration. If you want to be able to upload your content automatically on social media and video platforms, you will want a model with Wi-Fi built in. This will come in handy granted you have access to an internet connection. But, there is more to this. For optimal speed, look for models that support 5 gigahertz networks. This speed is going to provide faster transfer rates than 2.4 gigahertz (at the sacrifice of shorter distances).
The battery life is important, but keep in mind that many models will not have the best battery capacities.
With any wireless device such as this, battery life is going to come into the fold. You need to buy according to your needs. To elaborate, if you need to record 360-degree videos for longer sessions and will not have regular access to a charging source then you will want to prioritize models that come equipped with longer battery lives (you can also gauge this by assessing the capacity of the battery). Of course, and you probably noticed this throughout this list, even the best options on the market tend to suffer in this respect. But, why is that?
When you think about the extra processing power that is required for these cameras to run, it begins to make more sense that their batteries are only capable of so much. For the most part, you will see most options range anywhere from 30 to 75 minutes (with many landing right around the one-hour mark). Also bear in mind, though, that this is referring to the battery life if you consistently record. In other words, it is not going to be in real-time and only in record-time (so to speak).
Both durability and water protection will come into play here.
Do you want to buy an omnidirectional camera that is cheaply made? This is not alluding to the internal technologies as much as it is alluding to the build quality, for the record. Now, there are two vital areas to assess for this section. The first is regarding housing. This is the portion that encases all the interior components, and it should not shatter easily. While you can’t expect it to withstand severe drops or accidents, it should also be relatively resilient. Of course, the second factor is just as important, and it all comes down to water-resistance.
Many technology devices, such as these, will come with IP ratings and these are used to measure how protected any given device is against both dust and moisture. The first number of this rating refers to the degree of protection the device has from moving parts (which includes tools and dirt) and the second refers to the protection against water. For most of you, the second number will be the most important as you may want to use your model near or in the water. If you are looking for models that will be able to be fully submerged, the second number should be high (such as seven, eight or nine).
Expert Interviews & Opinions
No matter what type of device you want to use for photography, the image quality it can produce will often be the first priority. The thing is, however, it is much different to gauge the image quality of an omnidirectional camera as opposed to a traditional model. While 1080p is going to deliver high-quality content for the latter, it will not cut it for the former. You may want to look for models that record 4K video.
There are really tons and tons of features that you can look out for and doing so can begin to make your head hurt, like quickly. To avoid the issue of becoming overwhelmed, you should only prioritize certain features that can really make or break your purchase. Some of these can include image stabilization, storage capabilities, different shooting modes and even the features of the app.
In the modern world of technology, there is no such thing as a standalone device, when you think about it. The world has become so predicated on social media platforms and smartphones that more and more devices are being created to sync with them. In this regard, you need to ensure that the model you pick supports the current smartphone you own and also Wi-Fi technology.
Frequently Asked Questions
q: Should you buy one?
Does this question contradict the purpose of this guide? This is probably the better question but back to the topic at hand, there actually are pros and cons of buying this type of recording device? Let’s start with the good stuff as owning one allows you to upload and show off some 360-degree photos and videos. However, and this is where the “but” comes in, this technology can’t replace your current camera. Maybe one day this will happen but it is not very likely.
q: Are 360 videos considered virtual reality?
The concept of this type of video content often gets confused with virtual reality and while it makes sense when you think about the context of it, the two are not the same. You see, you can still watch these types of videos on flat 2D screens. When you want to enjoy virtual reality, you will need to use a dedicated system that is designed to immerse you into the environment you are looking at.
q: Okay, so what is the difference between virtual reality and 360-degree videos?
This is a follow-up to the last question as now that you know that there is a difference between the videos that these devices shoot and virtual reality, what exactly is that difference or differences? The ironic thing about it all is it can be quite tricky to answer this as the difference between the two is tough to specify. In a technical sense, virtual reality implements 360-degree images into a more immersive experience. So, that would be the main difference.
q: What do you do if you want to shoot static videos?
Perhaps you do not want to be physically holding your camera every single time you want to shoot videos. If this is the case, you can either invest in a tripod or light stand to provide you a place to set your camera on. Now, between the two, a light stand may be better for the sole reason there is a less of a chance that it will be included in your shot. With a tripod, the legs may stick out too far and appear on your video. And, while you can always edit it out afterward, it is a hassle that does not need to be there.
q: How do you clean them?
The good news when it comes to video recording devices is they will not require too much cleaning. With that being said, it is still a mandatory action on your part as the quality of your images can rely on it. The component you need to worry about the most is the lens. It is very easy to accidentally touch it and when you do this, smudges can persist. So, get in the habit of consistently cleaning the lens. But, you should only do so with a cloth that is specifically designed to handle lenses. Do not just use a random rag as this could scratch the lenses (which, clearly, you want to avoid).
q: Can’t you just use your iPhones?
Yes, you can, but you will be doing yourself a disservice if you want to shoot 360-degree videos. Speaking for some iPhones, you can take photos that are 360 degrees by simply utilizing a panorama mode. Again, though, this will not do you any good when you want to do so for videos. In regard to if iPhones will produce the same quality, the cameras that are being implemented into modern smartphones are getting better and better so you can’t scoff at them anymore.