Best VR Cameras For 360 Degree Videos
Virtual reality is a concept that has been available for years now. It has opened up a whole new world for both developers and users. 360 degree videos allow us to participate in a completely new way. Game developers have found new ways to create VR games, which feel more realistic than ever. But gaming isn’t the only field for VR. 360 degree videos can also be used for travelling and exploring environments. Imagine being able to visit your favorite places all over again. Even during the busiest periods. Or maybe you are buying a completely new home and wan’t to see what it would look like. Designers could build completely realistic VR models and you can see exactly how your future home will be.
VR is no longer the future and it is definitely here to stay. Recently, more companies have started releasing 360 degree cameras. They aren’t as good as action cameras yet but the newer models have definitely improved. That’s why I created this list of the best VR cameras for recording 360 degree videos. I have listed the very best models in all price ranges. So there is something for you even if you don’t wish to spend too much.
1. SJCAM SJ360
SJCAM is one of the most known brands in the action camera industry. Their action cameras are known as some of the best the quality keeps increasing with every release. So it makes sense that they have also entered the 360 degree camera market. Especially since they have tons of experience in urban cameras. If you think about it, the modern action cameras and VR cameras are actually pretty similar. Both of them are as as small as possible and portable. And most of them even have mounting options.
SJCAM’s best VR camera is currently the SJ360. The SJ360 is shaped like a tennis ball. It has a sphere design with a nice big lens on top. The glass lens actually makes up quite a bit of the overall size actually. So make sure that you are careful while using the camera. You definitely don’t want to damage the lens part. The overall build quality of the camera is really good. Nothing is loose or feels weird. The body is made out of good quality plastic as well. Oh and you get to choose between two colors: white and black.
- Dimensions: 50×50×50 mm / 1.97×1.97×1.97″
- Weight: 104 g / 0.23 lbs
- Sensor: Sony IMX078 CMOS 12MP
- Chipset: Novatek 96660
- Field of View: 220°
- Video resolutions: 2K 30fps; 1440p 30fps
- Bitrate: 60Mbps
- Photo: 12MP
- Modes: Fisheye, Hemisphere, Sphere, Panorama, Cylinder, VR, Time Lapse, Self Timer, Burst
- Features: WiFi, 1″ LCD Screen, 360º
- Ports: MicroUSB, MicroHDMI, MicroSD card slot
- Memory: MicroSD with Class 10 and SDXC cards, up to 128GB
- Battery life: 115 minutes of 2K at 30fps
The SJ360 has the following dimensions 50×50×50 mm / 1.97×1.97×1.97″ and weighs 104 g / 0.23 lbs. The body has also got a compartment for the ports and MicroSD card. There is also a small LCD screen that displays the current recording mode and battery life. And of course a recording button. The bottom of the camera has got a threaded tripod hole. Using a tripod or selfie stick is a must when recording with the camera. Half of your video will be just your hand if you hold onto the sphere while recording.
The SJ360 is really easy to use. Just turn on the camera, hit the record button and that’s it. You can connect the camera to an iOS or Android device as well and control it from their app. It’s really useful for also viewing live feed. The camera can record 360 degree videos at two resolutions: 2K and 1440p. Both of them are recorded at a frame rate of 30. Which is pretty decent. The video quality itself is also really good for a 360 camera. Another thing that the SJCAM has done well is the software part. The camera does an excellent job at stitching together the video. Which means that you don’t have to worry about random cut edges while watching the video. There are also some cool recording modes such as Fisheye, Hemisphere, Sphere, Panorama and Cylinder. You can check out examples of those on Youtube.
Overall, the SJCAM SJ360 is one of the best VR cameras available. Especially considering the price.
2. Samsung Gear 360
Samsung is mostly known for their smartphones and TV’s. Since cameras are used to record social events as well, Samsung decided to come out with a camera to support their Galaxy phones. Their first Gear 360 camera was made specially for them. You could only connect it to a limited amount of Galaxy phones and it made the camera kind of useless for people who didn’t use Samsung.
Samsung has now released an upgrade of their previous Gear 360 and made it available for both Samsung and Apple devices! You can find the list of compatible devices below. Despite the limitations, the video and build quality is just so good at it is definitely one of the very best VR cameras available. Especially if you have a compatible phone.
The new Samsung Gear 360 has a pretty unique shape. Instead of just using a tripod, Samsung has added a base handle to a sphere shaped top. It’s pretty weird to describe it but you can see what I mean from the picture. The camera itself is made out of white plastic. Pretty high quality. The camera has also got 2 lens that are made out of glass and stick out quite a lot from the body. So definitely be careful with them.
- Dimensions: 100.6×46.3×45.1 mm / 3.96×1.8×1.7″
- Weight: 130 g / 0.29 lbs
- Video resolutions: 4096 x 2048 24fps (Dual camera); 1920 x 1080 60fps (Single camera)
- Photo: 15MP
- Modes: Video, Photo, Time-Lapse, Looping video
- Features: WiFi, Bluetooth, 360 degree video, Gyro, NFC, Dust & Splash proof
- Ports: USB-C, MicroSD
- Memory: MicroSD card Class 10 up to 256GB
- Battery life: 1 hour of 4K at 24fps
Since the Gear 360 has a handle now, the record button has been moved there. A nice move as it makes it easier to start recording while walking. There is also a small LCD screen on the handle that displays the recording mode. The Menu and Power buttons are still on the sphere area. Oh and the handle has also got a MicroSD slot now, it supports up to 256 GB cards now. The overall dimensions have also changed. It’s now 100.6×46.3×45.1 mm / 3.96×1.8×1.7″ and weighs 130 g / 0.29 lbs.
Recording videos is pretty straightforward. Just power on the camera, pick the video mode/resolution and press record. The Gear 360 can record videos at a resolution of 4096 x 2048 (24fps). That’s basically considered 4K so that’s pretty impressive for a 360 degree camera. You can also use just one lens to record normal fish-eye videos at a resolution of 1920 x 1080 (60fps). Like I mentioned before, the camera can also be connected to an Apple or Samsung device via WiFi or Bluetooth. You also need to get a Samsung Gear 360 App. You can change all the settings, start recording and view live footage from the App. It’s really useful.
The following devices are compatible with the Samsung Gear 360 camera: Samsung Galaxy S8, S8+ S7, S7 edge, Note5, S6 edge+, S6, S6 edge, A5/A7(2017) running Android 5.0 or later. Apple iPhone 7, 7+, 6S, 6S+, SE running iOS 10.0 or later. So if you got any of those phones, then the Samsung Gear 360 is one of the best 360 cameras you can get. It’s quality is just that good. For everyone else though, I’d personally go with something else as I find it extremely important to be able to connect a camera to my phone.
3. Xiaomi Mi 360
Xiaomi is yet another action camera brand. They gained a lot of attention when they released the Xiaomi Yi 4K+, the best action camera currently available. While doing that, they were also developing their first ever 360 degree camera. It’s part of their Mi brands which is more focused on phones and social devices. So while it is not one of their famous Yi action cameras, the Mi 360 has still got the same quality.
Unlike the other cameras here, Xiaomi Mi 360 is the only one that has kind of kept a camera shape. It has a pretty typical rectangular design with a massive lens sitting in the middle. Once you turn the camera around, you’ll notice that there is a lens on the opposite side as well. So it’s pretty much a typical camera with a lens on each side. The total dimension of the camera is 78×67.4×24 mm / 3.1×2.6×0.9″ and it weighs 109 g / 0.24 lbs.
- Dimensions: 78×67.4×24 mm / 3.1×2.6×0.9″
- Weight: 109 g / 0.24 lbs
- Chipset: Ambarella A12
- Sensor: 2x Sony IMX 206
- Field Of View: 190º lens, 360° two lens
- Video resolutions: 3200×1800 (3.5K) 30fps; 3456×1728 30fps; 2304×1152 60/30fps
- Photo: 24MP (2x12MP)
- Modes: 360 Degree mode, Action Camera mode
- Features: WiFi, Electronic Image Stabilization, Splash proof IP67
- Ports: MicroUSB, MicroSD card slot
- Memory: MicroSD with Class 10 and SDXC cards, up to 128GB
- Battery life: 75 minutes of 3.5K at 30fps
Most of the camera is made of matte black plastic. It looks really nice and you don’t have to worry about fingerprints. The sides are actually made out of black aluminium. There are also 3 buttons on the camera: record, power/mode and WiFi. The right side has got a compartment for the MicroSD card and a MicroUSB port. Bottom of the camera has a standard threaded tripod hole. Oh and the MI 360 comes with a small foldable tripod. You can easily hold onto it while recording with the camera.
The Xiaomi Mi 360 can be used to record videos with the following resolutions and frame rates: 3200×1800 (3.5K) 30fps, 3456×1728 30fps, 2304×1152 60/30fps. The resolutions are far from standard and what you are probably used to seeing, but that’s pretty common for 360 degree videos. The overall video quality is really good. You will get a bit of blur but it’s nothing too bad. Definitely good enough to be one of the best VR cameras.
One of the most important features about the best 360 cameras is the stitching of videos. It has to be done very well and that’s also the case with the Xiaomi Mi 360. The Xiaomi actually does it in their Mi Sphere app and not inside the camera. All you have to do is connect the camera to an Android or iOS device via WiFi and open the app. You can find the app by scanning a QR code that’s included in the cameras manual. You can control the camera from there as well and share videos.
4. Kodak Pixpro SP360-4K
The Kodak Pixpro SP360-4K is an upgraded version of their very first VR camera. It now features 4K resolution, new black casing and improved video quality. The experience behind the Kodak brand has shown again. The Pixpro SP360-4K is the first and best 360 camera made for professionals. Which doesn’t mean that a hobbyist or novice can’t use it. Just that the price doesn’t justify for anyone other than a professional to buy it. You will also need two of the cameras as the lens only has a field view of 235 degrees. Kodak has a dual pack so if you are serious, you can get that.
- Dimensions: 52.5×50×48 mm / 2.1×2×1.9″
- Weight: 128 g / 0.28 lbs
- Lens Field Of View: 235º
- Round video resolution: 2880×2880 30fps; 2048×2048 30fps; 1440×1440 60/30fps; 1072×1072 60/30fps
- Flat video resolution: 4K 30fps; 1080p 60/30fps; 720p 60/30fps; 480p 60fps
- High speed video: 720×720 120fps; 1280×720 120fps; 848×480 240fps
- Photo quality: 12MP
- Shooting modes: Still, Burst Mode, Movie, Time Lapse, Loop Recording, High Speed Movie
- Features: Electronic Image Stabilization system, WiFi
- Memory: MicroSD Class 10 cards up to 128GB
So first about the design. It’s a plastic box with a massive glass lens on top. Just one lens, that’s why it can’t record full 360 degree videos. The camera is fully made out of black plastic. It has a dimension of 52.5×50×48 mm / 2.1×2×1.9″ and a weight of 128 g / 0.28 lbs. The body has a ton of buttons for changing settings, recording, etc. There is also a tiny 1″ LCD screen for information about recording mode, battery life. Also a threaded tripod hole, a compartment for the microSD card, MicroUSB and MicroHDMI ports. If you want the best VR camera, then the Dual Pro pack is a must. You get two cameras and all the mounts needed to record the best VR videos.
As you can probably tell from the name, The Kodak Pixpro SP360 can record 4K resolution videos. That’s when you are using the flat video mode. If you are recording in round mode, the highest resolution will be 2880×2880. So that’s not bad either. The great thing about the SP360-4K is that Kodak actually supports the use of dual cameras. So you don’t have to worry about any software issues etc. Having to use two cameras is definitely a downside though. The only reason why the Kodak is still on our list, is because it simply has the best video quality among all other VR cameras. So if you want the best 360 degree video quality, then the Kodak Pixpro SP360-4K is for you.