equipped with two 13mp sensors and two 206-degree fisheye lenses
- f/1.8 aperture
photo resolution: 5660 x 2830 (16 megapixels)
video resolution: 2560 x 1280 @ 30fps. MP4 / H.264
3 microphones, with 5.1 channel audio (AAC 5.1)
Micro SD card slot (up to 2 TB)
Dimensions: 1.57″ x 3.82″ x 0.98″
Weight: 75 grams (2.65 oz)
internal 1200mAh battery; 2 hours charging time
Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.1
The 360 Cam comes in a simple box. Other than the camera, it includes a protective cap / cover and a USB cable. The 360 Cam needs a Micro SD card, which you need to buy separately.
The bottom of the 360 Cam remains exposed with the cover attached, which makes it possible to keep the 360 Cam attached to a selfie stick or tripod while also being covered. You can also charge the 360 Cam with the cover on (although you won’t see the LED lights showing whether it’s fully charged).
Besides being useful as a tabletop stand, the extra height/length afforded by the case allows you to hold the camera with the lens farther from your fingers, making them less prominent in the shot. Here is a comparison. The shot is identical, except in the top photo, I held the 360 Cam normally, and in the second photo, I held the 360 Cam at the bottom of the grip (using a self-timer).
|The protective cover can be used as a grip, which lets you hold the camera further away, so that your fingers can be less prominent in the shot.|
Besides having to use both hands to remove the cap, the other thing is that I wish there was a wrist strap on the protective cap.
SHOOTING WITH THE 360 CAM
The 360 Cam is one of the “LG Friends” accessories for the LG G5 phone. However, it does not require a G5 and can even be used independently.
Without a smartphone
Turning on the 360 Cam can be done with the power button, or if it is on standby mode (see below), pressing the shutter will also turn it on.
The 360 Cam can be set with a self-timer using the app (3 seconds or 10 seconds). After the self-timer setting is selected in the app, the 360 Cam will retain that setting, even after the app or 360 Cam are turned off. When the self-timer is counting down, you’ll hear a beeping sound. The sound changes when it’s on a 10-second countdown and when it’s on a 3-second countdown.
There are several ways to turn off the 360 Cam:
– To put the 360 Cam on standby, hold down the power button for 1 second. There will be a sound confirming it is on standby. The LED light below the power button will also glow intermittently to let you know it’s on standby.
– To shut down the 360 Cam, hold down the power button for about 4 seconds. There will be a different sound effect.
– To reset the Wi-Fi password, hold down the power button and shutter button for about 4 seconds (there will be a beep).
– To do a hard reset of the 360 Cam, hold down the power button and shutter button for about 12 seconds (there will be a beep, keep holding down, then there will be a beeping sound). When you hear the beeping sound, press the shutter to confirm.
If the 360 Cam is on standby mode, pressing the shutter or power button wakes it up again right away. It can also be turned on remotely via the app (see below). If the 360 Cam has been shutdown, the startup cycle takes about 11 seconds.
With a smartphone
As mentioned above, the 360 Cam doesn’t require an LG phone, and works with both Android and iOS. I tested it on a Samsung Galaxy S6 and an iPhone 6. Note: this is based on the stock firmware. Note also that some users report not being able to connect their 360 Cam with their Android phone. I’m not sure if that is a user error or an actual incompatibility with some phones.
Pairing the 360 Cam:
Pairing the 360 Cam to an Android phone is pretty easy. You just download the 360 Cam Manager app, then turn on the 360 Cam. When you launch the app, it automatically finds and connects to the 360 Cam.
On an iPhone, it will take a few more steps to pair the 360 Cam.
1. First, download the 360 Cam Manager and turn on the 360 Cam.
2. Launch the app, and look for the search icon on the upper right corner to search for nearby 360 Cams. Select your 360 Cam.
3. When prompted, go to the iPhone’s Wi-Fi setting and choose the 360 Cam’s Wi-Fi signal. Enter the password 00xxxxxx where “xxxxxx” is the last 6 digits of the serial number. If for whatever reason you lose the serial number sticker on the phone, the serial number is also displayed in the app when you searched for and selected the 360Cam. If the password doesn’t work or you changed it and forgot it, you can reset the password to the default password by turning on the 360 Cam, then holding down the power and shutter buttons for about 1 second.
The next time you want to connect the 360 Cam to your Phone, you need to do step 2 and sometimes that’s sufficient, but more often than not, I also need to do step 3 except that I don’t have to reenter the password.
One of the cool features of the 360 Cam is that you can turn it on remotely if it’s on standby mode. There have been a few times when I’m recording an event such as a school play where the camera is on a tripod away from me, and I don’t necessarily want to record everything. With my other cameras, I have to walk up to the camera to turn it on (or else leave them on and risk overheating). With the 360 Cam, I can allow the camera to go on standby and turn it on remotely only when I’m ready to start recording.
Remote activation is pretty easy. On an iPhone, assuming your Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are activated, you can launch the 360 Cam Manager app and search for your 360 Cam (even while the 360 Cam is on standby). After the app finds the camera, you can connect to the camera’s Wi-Fi signal, which will activate it. On an Android phone, it’s even easier. Whenever you launch the 360 Cam Manager, it will automatically turn on the 360 Cam (assuming it is within range and your phone’s Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are active) and connect to it.
For me, this is a very useful and thus far unique feature that distinguishes the 360 Cam from my other 360 cameras.
Using the app:
The app is simple to use, with an interface similar to most camera apps.
The app is useful for providing a live preview and for adjusting the shooting settings. The live preview only shows a view of the front lens or rear lens, as opposed to a stitched fully spherical view. The framerate of the live preview is acceptable, but there is a lag of around 2 seconds.
The app features several shooting controls, among the most comprehensive I’ve seen for a 360 camera:
– switch between auto exposure (exposure compensation +/- 2EV), or full manual mode.
– activate exposure lock
– switch between fully spherical 360 and rectilinear fisheye (180 diagonally)
– change the white balance (specify the color tempetarature in Kelvin)
– change the exposure preset mode from auto, night, indoor, landscape, sports
– activate the intervalometer (needs firmware update) and select the interval (2, 5, 10, 30, or 60 seconds)
– change the resolution of the photo or video
– change self-timer from off, 3 seconds, or 10 seconds.
– toggle audio from 5.1 to stereo
– toggle location tag
– toggle the sound effects (can’t adjust the volume)
You can also use the app to view the available storage, check the battery level, change the auto-sleep setting, or change the password.
– As with other 360 cameras, the aperture cannot be changed. The 360 Cam’s aperture is fixed at f/1.8.
– Shutter speed is from 1/2 to 1/6000, in full stop increments. I really wish the slowest shutter speed could have been slower.
– ISO is from 50 to 2700, in half-stop increments.
– Whenever you shoot with the app, the self-timer resets to 0. If you prefer to use a self-timer (as I do), you’ll need to remember to turn it on again before you exit the app.
– The 360 Cam’s auto exposure is quite aggressive and does not appear to make any effort to underexpose to preserve highlights.
In general, it is a pleasure to shoot with the 360 Cam. The controls don’t get in the way, and there are no inordinately long delays. There is almost no shot-to-shot lag, which is impressive considering that the 360 Cam stitches photos in-camera.
My only complaint is that the sound effects can be too loud even if they are useful. I would have liked a volume setting for the sound instead of just turning it on or off.
VIEWING, EDITING and SHARING
Photos and videos can be viewed, edited and shared on the phone or on the desktop app.
From the 360 Cam Manager app, you can view photos and videos stored on the 360 Cam. When you view a video, the app will also stitch the video from two circular fisheyes to a standard equirectangular panoramic video. You can choose to save photos and videos to your phone’s memory, where they will be stored in the Camera Roll / Gallery. They can then be edited or shared on your preferred app.
The 360 Cam Manager has the same sharing options as your phone’s Camera Roll / Gallery app. If you share the photo or video to Facebook, YouTube, or Google+ they will be recognized as 360. In iOS 10, there is also a sharing option to directly import the photo to compatible 360 sharing apps such as Spinnable.
On the desktop, there are two programs for the 360 Cam. There’s the LG 360 Cam Viewer, and the LG Bridge. The 360 Cam Viewer is used for stitching videos and viewing photos. From the LG 360 Cam Viewer, photos can be shared on Google+, Facebook or Twitter. Videos can be shared to Facebook or YouTube. On Google+, Facebook and YouTube, the file will be recognized as 360.
The 360 Cam has excellent white balance and colors. The colors are vibrant yet natural, with accurate hues, except that reds are a little oversaturated. The auto white balance is not perfect but is more accurate under a wider range of conditions than other 360 cameras.
Chromatic aberration: the 360 Cam has minimal chromatic aberration, with very little fringing except at the stitch line.
Flare: the 360 Cam is quite prone to flare.
Stitching: stitching is usually unobtrusive, although occasionally, some images at the stitch line might look doubled. There is a distinctive crescent line at the nadir, which some people might find objectionable.
Dynamic range: the 360 Cam’s dynamic range appears to be average for a camera with a small sensor. It tends to lose bright highlights.
The 360 Cam’s luminance noise is about what I expect from a consumer 360 camera. However, it does have quite noticeable chroma noise (blotches of color). The chroma noise is easily cleaned up in apps such as Lightroom:
|Low light torture test: f/1,8, 1/10, ISO 1600.
chroma noise before (top) and after (bottom) chroma noise reduction in Lightroom
The video quality is not bad, and is more than adequate for casual use. However, on a headset, the video will look soft. Here are a couple of samples:
Here is a screenshot from the Samsung Gear VR:
In summary, the LG 360 Cam is a competent 360 camera that offers good performance in comparison to its low cost. My favorite feature is the remote activation, a feature not yet found in other 360 cameras. I will be working on a direct comparison between the LG 360 Cam, Ricoh Theta S (reviewed here), Samsung Gear 360 (reviewed here), and Insta360 Nano (reviewed here).
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