Ever since Virtual Reality headsets entered the market, YouTube has been flooded with 360 degree videos; hot air balloon rides, tours of cities, even Salvador Dali art exhibits. These are videos that let you scroll in any direction you like, not just where the camera’s pointing.
How do they do this, you ask. Well, over the last year, a number of innovators have created 360 degree cameras, some as simple as point-and-shoot, and some as hard to operate as a tank. These cameras promise high quality immersive video recording, and could change the way we watch sports, or live music. It could also offer a radical new opportunity for directors to move from a 40 degree field of view to 360, making movies more life-like and interactive.
Ricoh Theta S
Apart from looking like the memory eraser from Men in Black, the Ricoh Theta S, according to most reviews, is probably the best VR camera for personal use. It allows you to shoot in 1080p HD for up to 25 minutes at a time and live stream 360° videos. Footage that you shoot can be transferable straight to your phone through WiFi or Bluetooth without the need to hook up to a PC first, so you can upload a 360 degree selfie straight to Facebook.
The Sphericam does exactly what its name suggests, records “spherical video” in very high resolution. The Sphericam 2 is over 2 inches in diameter, weighs under 400 grammes, but houses six cameras. Footage shot by it can be viewed in VR headsets such as Oculus Rift and Gear VR. The company also says it’s working on live-streaming capabilities to allow for instant sharing. The device is perfect for professional-grade video and immersive content.
The Eye, which might secretly be a Transformer, markets itself as the world’s first professional Virtual Reality camera. The device, which is shaped like a ball, somehow manages to fit in 42 cameras and 24 microphones. The Eye hasn’t been released commercially yet, but when it does will be one of the only cameras that can capture 3D video in all 3 axis of head movement – pitch, roll and turn, ensuring a full stereoscopic image, no matter which way the viewer turns their head.
The Bublcam hit the market after a successful funding campaign on Kickstarter. Like the Sphericam 2, the Bublcam captures both still spherical photos and video, but with added time-lapse and HDR photography features. The device has four 5-MP cameras and is capable of filming 360-degree footage at 1984×992 pixels at 30 frames per second. It is also the cheapest of all options.
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