The Garmin Virb 360, Garmin’s 5.7K 360 camera, is due to be released within the next couple of weeks. It is quite expensive at $799 but it is the most feature-rich 360 camera I’ve seen for consumers. You may already know that it is waterproof, has gimbal-like image stabilization (spherical stabilization), 360 surround sound, and voice control for hands-free operation. Here are 10 other cool features of the Virb 360 that you might not know about (in no particular order).
1. Remote wake up.
The Virb 360 is one of the few 360 cameras that can be remotely turned on from standby (two others are LG 360 Cam and Nikon Keymission 360). Let’s say you are recording a long event and you only want to capture the highlights. With this feature, the Virb can remain off while you wait for the action from a distance. When the moment comes, you can turn on your Virb remotely to begin recording.
This feature does sip the battery on standby, which is why you can choose to deactivate the feature.
2. Exposure Balance
A common issue among 360 cameras is that there is sometimes a difference in exposure between a camera’s lenses. Among other things, this makes the stitch line more obvious, even if the stitch itself is smooth. The Virb 360 has a feature that can mitigate this, called “exposure balance.” With this feature, a single exposure setting can be set based on the front lens, the rear lens, or both lenses, or it can set independent exposure levels for each lens to maximize dynamic range.
3. Instant on
You’re walking with your Virb 360 when suddenly something interesting happens and you want to record it immediately. On most other 360 cameras, you’ll have to power on the camera, wait for it to startup, and then you can start recording. On the Virb 360, you simply slide the recording switch, which turns on the camera and starts recording immediately.
Actually, the Nikon Keymission 360 has this feature as well. With the camera off, you simply press the photo shutter or video shutter to start recording. Unfortunately, for the Keymission, this feature became an annoyance because the buttons were easily pressed by accident. Sometimes I would open my bag to find the Keymission has been recording the entire time while in the bag, leaving the battery and memory drained unnecessarily. On the Virb however, recording is begun by sliding the recording switch. Because it uses a sliding, rather than button-pressing, motion, it’s not as easy to start it by accident.
4. Customizable stitching
The Virb 360 is one of the few 360 cameras that has customizable stitching settings. You can select focal distance used for stitching, to either Near (stitching distance at 5m / 16ft) or Far. This lets you choose the best stitching setting based on your shooting environment.
5. Control and record from multiple Virbs with one smartphone
With a single smartphone, you can control multiple Virb 360s and switch between them as needed. Among other things, this feature allows you to record a single event from multiple angles. To use this feature, one Virb will be designated as the main camera while the others are extended cameras. Alternatively, you can also control Virbs that are connected to the same Wi-Fi network as your phone. Garmin did not specify the limit to the number of cameras, nor did they say whether you can mix different types of Garmin Virb cameras (e.g. non-360 cameras).
6. Photo Intervalometer
Many readers have requested an intervalometer that would automatically take photos at specified intervals. This can be used for street view, or for capturing star trails (by making a composite of multiple photos taken with an intervalometer).
7. 30-second shutter speed Edit: no manual exposure, sorry.
The Virb 360 has shutter speeds as slow as 30 seconds, enough to capture the night sky. On the opposite end, the shutter spped can be as fast as 1/8000.
8. Exposure bracketing
The Virb 360 has an exposure bracketing feature that will automatically take a 3-shot bracket.
9. Avoiding wind noise
The Virb 360 records 360 surround audio with 4 microphones. However, if you are moving fast, the wind noise would render the audio unusable. In this situation, the Virb 360 allows you to choose to record from the rear microphone only, thus minimizing wind noise.
10. Draw (a track)
The Virb 360 has multiple sensors that can measure many types of data such as speed, jump distance, lap time, and many more. One cool feature for motor sports is that it can draw the track shape and position and display an Overlay of it on your 360 video, as though you are in a video game!
Here is the complete list of metrics that the Virb 360 can measure (in addition, the Virb 360 is compatible with accessories that can measure other data specific to certain applications, such as instruments for motor sports that can measure engine RPM and torque):
Track shape and position