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Garmin Virb 360 5.7K vs. Garmin Virb 360 4K comparison – what’s the difference?

Garmin Virb 360 5.7K vs. Virb 360 4K comparison
Garmin Virb 360 5.7K vs. Virb 360 4K comparison
Garmin Virb 360 5.7K vs. Virb 360 4K comparison
Garmin Virb 360 5.7K vs. Virb 360 4K comparison

The Garmin Virb 360 is the first commercially available 360 camera for consumers with 5.7K resolution.  In this post, we’ll compare the footage from the Virb 360 at 5.7K and at 4K to see the difference.

Recently, Virb Edit was updated to enable it to stitch videos from the Virb 360 at 5.7K.  I took videos at 4K and 5.7K (stitched with Virb Edit), then uploaded them to YouTube.  Here is a comparison of frame grabs from each.  See which one you think is sharper – the top or bottom:

Virb 360 comparison 5.7K vs. 4K (blind test)
Virb 360 comparison 5.7K vs. 4K (blind test)

Have you determined which one looks better? Now here is the answer:

Garmin Virb 360 5.7K vs. 4K (labeled)
Garmin Virb 360 5.7K vs. 4K (labeled)

Yes, as surprising as it may seem — the 4K actually looks better than the 5.7K video.  I know this sounds hard to believe, so here is a video playlist showing both:

I thought maybe YouTube compression was the issue, so I also compared the videos from my hard drive using Windows 10 Movies and TV player. The results were similar. I also tried sharpening the 5.7K — it still looked no better than the 4K version:

Virb 360 comparison 5.7K vs. 4K with and without edits
Virb 360 comparison 5.7K vs. 4K with and without edits

Based on these tests I would say the only benefit to using the Virb 360’s 5.7K mode is that it enables you to use a third party stitcher such as Mistika (see here). Otherwise, if you’re just going to stitch with Virb Edit, it seems to offer no noticeable benefit (as of Virb Edit v 5.20, firmware 3.30). Nonetheless, the Virb’s 4K video is still the best I’ve seen among consumer cameras, as of September 2017.

Do you already have a Virb 360?  Do you agree or disagree with these test results?  Let me know in the comments!  And if you found this article helpful, please SHARE it with your friends!  Garmin Virb 360 is available on Amazon or B&H Photo. Thank you very much for using these affiliate links to support 360 Rumors at no additional cost to you so I can do more tests and reviews!

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Mic Ty

27 Comments

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  • Hey Mic!
    I know the prices are vastly different, but how would you compare the Virb 360 to Insta360 One?
    To me it seems the Virb is hands down better in video, but the opposite is true in photos?
    I’m still waiting on my One, but I’m highly considering canceling it and getting the Virb.
    I would probably use video and photo equally. I do love the One’s price and features, but wondering how it’s videos stack up.
    Thanks for any help/opinions.

      • To me comparing Virb 360 to Insta360 One (like to Insta360 Pro) make no much sense. They will never be used by the same people in the same situations.
        One is the action camera (waterproof, replaceable batteries and SD cards) the other is more for amateurs live streaming events like your children birthday etc. Even the fact Insta360 One has in-camera stabilisation means it intended use will be sharing videos directly from the phone without any external software processing.
        To me, Virb is in the same category like Nikon KeyMission, Kodak PixPro and coming GoPro Fusion.
        With both Nikon and Kodak price about £400 and Garmin £600, it will be good to compare quality between them. Your 4K vs 5.7K test suggest that maybe the differences are not so big.

    • I own both. The ONE has great features, but mine is pretty noisy even in sunlight and has artifacts and comparatively low dynamic range. Too bad, because I like the concept and the stitching.

  • +mic ty Very impressive video in 4K. The reason the 5.7K video looks not as good as the 4K video CAN be that it has to render the video in a lower bitrate…
    I like the videos from the Garmin more and more.
    Still more than pleased with the Xiaomi and I think I’ll stick with that as my final 2D 360 camera and buy the Vuze as my next 360 camera because of the 360 3D option.
    I’ve tried several times to make descent 3D 360 videos with two 2 fish eye lens 360 cameras (LG360CAM) but the distortion from the two fish eye lenses makes it impossible to get the parallax right all around the 360 view. Right now I’m testing to depth mapping Xiaomi videos to 3D wich is fun but not good if it’s a lot of movements around the cam. Vey fun to play around with though. Also adding spatial audio to the Xiaomi (using the recorded 2 channels and adding another 4 silent channels) adds a lot to the 360 video.
    Like Roger Maddy use to say: “are we having fun yet?” 🙂

  • Hi Mic, I record a few videos largely hobby with a gear 1 and 2 but still miss final quality. I want to offer more final quality to the customer, I am evaluating a lot of Virb and Insta 360 pro (well above the available) but among them has Kandão, what would you tell me about this investment?

  • The Garmin VIRB did not perform any better than most other of that 4K low priced comsumer VR cameras. I compared some of them using the footage of Facebooks Eric Chang. Even the older Gear 360 did perform at the same level. Have a look for yourself: https://ruhrnalist.de/2017/09/13/the-best-360-camera-for-vr/
    The phenomen you discovered here is not only based on sharpening of the 4K material, but on further image processing, where you’d have your own latitudes with the flat 5,7K material playing around in an editing system.

    To me, working with 360 cameras as a journalist, the Theta V might bring a new dimension to VR production: it is the microphone jack. Not only the dedicated 3D microphone, but the ability to plug-in an external microphone to record sound some meters way from the 360 camera. That will be new to that class. Because then you could publish from the field, without synchronising using a NLE.
    If someone could test that further and report back…

  • Notice the same because encoding output are too low with virbedit.
    One 4k nativ is at about 80Mb/s
    One half sphere in 5k7 is a 60Mb/s (so we virtually have 120Mb/s for the full sphere)

    And every output of virbedit are at about 35Mb/s so more input resolution you have more the compression is hard. Such speed are used for good HD encoding, not 4k or 5k7, we should be at least at 80/100 Mb/s
    Such bad export for a such interesting tools (stab specially) is a shame.

  • I think the difference has mostly to do with processing. The 4K video looks to me over-sharpened while 5.7k looks soft/foggy but more natural. You can see it mostly if you look up at the telephone pole or the wires overhead. This makes the 5.7k closer to a true RAW, it gives you more control over the look but requires more work.

    I wonder how would the comparison look in full sunlight.

  • Thanks, Mic for your great work on the site. You are a big resource and help!
    I didn’t receive the same results you did when I tried 5.7k a few weeks back. I used autopano video for stitching and the detail was much better than the in-camera 4k stitch.
    I will retry though.

  • I have the Garmin. I really find the virb edit software not as good to push out top quality renders in 5.7k(or what ever). I used mistika VR to stitch using your guide and I’m very happy with the results. I just wish there was a way to keep the spatial audio.

  • I have been using a VIRB 360 for quite a while. The 4K auto-stitch quality is very very low, in fact producing utterly worthless and unusable video. The 5.7K quality is at least 10 times better than the 4K. I have been using Autopano to stitch in RAW mode and since I am a mac user, I am still looking forward to VIRB edit being able to stitch in 5.7K.

    • Thanks Noemon. Please post screenshots with the same field of view to illustrate how the Virb’s 5.7K quality is better than the 4K. In the Facebook Virb forum, no one could show any improvement of the 5.7K over the 4K.

      Best regards,
      Mic

  • The bitrate on the RAW 5.7k before being processed is 60 mbps. The bitrate on the 4k footage is 80 mbps. This would explain the quality difference. Even though the resolution of the 5.7k video is higher, it has a lower bitrate than the 4k footage, thus causing the softer, less detailed look of the 5.7k video when compared to the 4k footage.

    This would also mean there is nothing one can do minus a firware hack to improve the RAW footage in post production to make it look better.