Every year more 360 cameras flood the market, there are so many to choose from. It becomes quite a search to see what products are okay for beginners, and which ones produce decent results, bordering on a professional level and above. I’ve always been a bit fussy about quality. If it impresses me, it’s definitely going to turn other’s heads as well. 360 panoramas caught my attention when Google Street View first made its appearance many years back. I often played around with cell phone pictures and learned how to stitch photos together using Paint Shop Pro, even though the EXIF data was wrong, Ii still enjoyed looking at the results. To date, I still do not yet own a 360 camera. The reason is that up til now the price for professional-level quality was exceptionally high. But recently products have been dropping in price as newer and more advanced models started to appear on the market.
The Best Professional Kit
There is much debate over which is the best camera to use for panoramic quality vs price. There are expensive options like the Insta 360 Pro 2, which offers the best possible quality for very little time spent. For commercial purposes, the Insta 360 Pro 2 is the solution. It offers true HDR stacking and produces a lifelike image as seen with the eye. Another truly phenomenal feature is its dual-scopic live streaming panoramic video, placing it in a league of its own. Without going into too many technical details, this camera setup is extremely easy to use and optimizes time while giving the best end result. We have our eye on this solution as soon as we have enough production.
Borderline Professional Quality
At this stage, I would say the Theta Z1 and XPhase are hot contenders for still photography. The Theta Z1 is the first 360 camera to utilize 1-inch sensors, which captures a lot more detail then it’s former model, the Theta V. The Theta Z1 will soon be one of our tools and will be happy to show anyone interested in learning more about this amazing camera. I need to remind you that this is a great camera for high-quality stills, and is aimed more at the still photography market. There are many mixed feelings about its video quality. I will need to see for myself, but nevertheless, we want it for its HDR quality. We would like to run test the XPhase first to confirm, but it shoots extremely high resolution, better than the previous record folder, the Panono, which previously boasts the highest resolution of 100 megapixels, to a new record of an incredible 200 megapixels!
The GoPro Fusion, Insta360, and Theta V are all decent and deliver a great result for the price. We prefer the GoPro although its post-production editing can take up some time. In my opinion, they fall a dash below professional level and are more suites for capturing personal footage at a decent price, while having fairly decent quality. For ease of use and fairly decent quality, I recommend the Theta V.
But let’s go through a few cameras that have been featuring in 2018 and some newer ones that have made their way onto the 360 arena in 2019.
Insta360 One X – 5.7k 360 video and 18-megapixel photos. It’s excellent and will deliver high quality. What makes it stand out is its excellent stabilization.
GoPro Fusion – stitches as close as one foot away, making it better than the Insta360 One X. At first glance, the GoPro Fusion has a higher dynamic range but is not as sharp as the Insta360 One X. The fusions workflow, however, is a lot more than the Insta 360 One X.
For that one feature, I would go with the Insta 360 One X, for ease of use. Let’s face it, there is nothing more frustrating than having faulty software after filming content.
Note: This article will be updated over time, as I am able to add more information from experience.