Watch me eat a ghost pepper burger in hemispherical 3D (similar to VR180) shot on LucidCam.
LucidCam is a hemispherical 3D camera (previewed here). Its videos are similar to 3D 360 videos but the field of view is limited to the front hemisphere.
Here again are the key specifications:
– photo resolution: 4K per eye (4320 x 2160 in SBS format)
– video resolution: up to “4k 30fps per eye” or 2k per eye
– f2.2 aperture
– field of view: 180 degrees
– 1.5 hour battery life
– stereo audio
– “Live streaming”
– 32GB internal storage, 2GB RAM. Also has a Micro SD slot.
LucidCam is one of the first, if not the first, 3D 180 camera for consumers. It was launched as a crowdfunded camera in November 2015 and shipped to backers a couple of months ago. At around the time they shipped to backers, Google announced the very similar VR180 format, which gave validation to the idea of capturing 3D 180 (instead of 3D 360).
SIMILARITIES AND DIFFERENCES WITH GOOGLE VR180
LucidCam’s 3D 180 and VR180 are both designed to be viewed on Google Cardboard or a similar headset. When viewed that way, they both look like 3D 360 videos that have empty space at the rear hemisphere. The difference between LucidCam’s 3D 180 and Google’s VR180 is that when you’re not viewing VR180 in VR, the view is fixed, just like a non-360 video (i.e., you can’t swipe or use a magic window). LucidCam said they are working with Google to have LucidCam certified as a VR180 camera. If that happens, then I am assuming there will be an option to save in VR180 format.
I’ve had the chance to shoot with LucidCam for a few weeks and here are my first impressions.
The camera is very simple. The front has two circular fisheye lenses. The back is empty except for the LucidCam logo.
On the bottom of the camera is a 1/4-20 tripod mount, and a rubber cover for the Micro SD, Micro USB and Micro HDMI ports.
LucidCam has very simple controls. On top, you’ll see the power switch, which is also a mode switch. From the “power off” position, switching to either photo or video turns on the camera while also switching to that shooting mode. To turn off the camera, you switch the mode back to power off, and after a couple of seconds, it will shut down. (Note: Switching from photo to video will not turn off the camera even if you momentarily pass the power off.)
One the right side is a shutter and a Wi-Fi button. When you activate the Wi-Fi, you can connect to the camera with the app, available for both iOS and Android.
LucidCam can create either a side-by-side video (similar to a non-360 3D camera), or it can create output that is compatible with 3D 360 top / bottom format (with the rear hemisphere either empty or mirrored). To create the 3D 360 format, you need to switch to equirectangular capture, then use the YouTube converter which will create a 3D 360 copy of the video.
Shooting with the LucidCam is very easy — I found it much easier to shoot with it compared to 360 cameras. With 360 cameras, I try to visualize the location and how the viewer would feel if they were there. I also have to consider where to hide, or at least where to place myself. With LucidCam and other hemispherical cameras, my approach so far has been simply to compose for it the way I normally would with a regular ultrawide lens on a non-360 camera. I have to admit it is a relief not to have to worry about how I look in the photo or video.
Here’s a sample video from LucidCam, as you watch me eat a ghost pepper burger! The video was taken before LucidCam posted a firmware update that increased the resolution to the equivalent of 4K per eye (the video file is 4096 x 4096 but half of the field of view is either empty or is just mirrored).
I also took several photos but there is currently no standard platform for sharing 3D 360 or 3D 180 photos. Here are a couple of samples, FWIW (these were taken in equirectangular format, side-by-side):
LucidCam said they have an important update coming, so my plan is to post a full review after that update. Meanwhile, I think 3D 180 / VR180 looks quite promising!