Here is a comprehensive, brutally honest review of the Rylo camera, a new compact, stabilized 360 camera with 4K video resolution. First of all, it’s NOT a clone of the Insta360 ONE or any other camera. On the contrary, Rylo has some very cool and interesting capabilities. But it also has significant weaknesses. Please see my review and video tutorial.
Specifications and features
What’s in the box.
New! Review and video tutorial.
How to shoot with Rylo; Workflow tutorial
Sample videos and photos
Updated! Comparison with Insta360 ONE.
New! Discounts and deals.
Updated: December 11, 2017 added Discounts and deals
Updated: December 8, 2017 with review and tutorial.
Updated: December 5, 2017 with new sample video and stabilization test, key features, package contents, tutorial
Updated: November 19, 2017 with sample user videos
Originally posted: October 31, 2017
Rylo is a San Francisco-based startup made by former Apple and Instagram engineers. On October 31, they announced an eponymous fully spherical 4K 360 camera that features stabilization and the increasingly popular ability to frame the 360 video as a conventional 16:9 video. Here is the promo video:
RYLO generated some controversy when I pointed out that their Amazon listing was full of similar-sounding 5-star reviews that sounded like ads and appeared to be fake. I didn’t expect this from a company that seems reputable. Nonetheless, I ordered a Rylo camera to test it. I got the Rylo last week and have been shooting with it under a variety of conditions. Below is my review.
RYLO camera specifications and features
Here are the key specifications for RYLO 360 camera:
|Lenses||Two 208-degree fisheye lenses (7mm equivalent)|
|Photo resolution||6000 x 3000 (18 megapixels)|
|Video resolution||3840 x 2160 (4K @ 30fps)|
|Storage||Removable Micro SD up to 256GB (16GB included)|
built-in Micro USB charging
|Compatibility||iOS (iPhone 5S and above)|
Android coming soon (Android 6.0 and above)
|Construction||Anodized aluminum alloy|
|Dimensions||72.5mm (h) x 37.0mm (w) x 42.7mm (d)|
|Weight||108 grams, 3.8 oz|
|Warranty||1-year limited warranty|
30-day return policy (RMA required)
Here are the top features of the Rylo:
1. Image stabilization: the Rylo has built-in gyro-based image stabilization to ensure not just steady action shots but a level horizon to ensure ease of viewing.
2. Shoot first, point later. Like other 360 cameras, Rylo captures all directions at once. It has a built-in function in its app to convert the 360 video into a cropped 1080p video that can show any direction you choose afterward, allowing you to shoot first and point later (a feature that GoPro called Overcapture).
3. Subject tracking. When exporting a cropped video, you can follow any subject automatically like an intelligent tripod, or direct the video to face any direction. You can change the target at any number of points within the video and the video will pan smoothly from one target to the next.
4. FrontBack. This is a feature that is unique to Rylo. When exporting a cropped video, you can show a picture-in-picture effect of another view of the 360 video. You can use this for example to show the shooter’s reactions.
5. Hyperlapse. A hyperlapse is like a timelapse, but the camera is moving, which creates a surreal effect. Normally, hyperlapses take a lot of time and effort to create, requiring hundreds of photos, meticulously positioned. Rylo makes hyperlapses very easy, with convincing results. The app can fast-forward the video up to 2, 3, 4, 8, 12, or 16x. Combined with its exceptional image stabilization and optional subject tracking, the hyperlapse looks very smooth.
I ordered my Rylo from Amazon. It arrived as a package with two boxes — one for the camera and another for the mini handle (“Everyday Case”).
The packaging was very nice – one of the best I’ve seen. It gives the impression that the Rylo is a first-class product. The package contained:
– Rylo camera
– Sync cable (Micro USB to lightning port)
– Charging cable (Micro USB to USB type A)
– 16GB Micro SD card
– Everyday case
– Mini handle
– Wrist strap
The Rylo is very small – one of the smallest 360 cameras I have. With a frame made of smooth aluminum, it feels solidly built and has some heft. It is heavier than you would expect for its size. I like its bright OLED display, similar to that of the Gear 360. I also like the spring-loaded battery door (speaking of battery, the battery is very small — not much larger than a postage stamp). The battery compartment is also where you insert the Micro SD card. I had no trouble inserting or removing the Micro SD card.
The included pouch feels luxurious but has no padding, so it seems like it won’t protect from impacts. It also doesn’t seem like it would be good for wiping the lens.
The everyday case is a plastic frame that protects the frame of the Rylo and has a GoPro style connector, without which there would be no way to mount the Rylo to a tripod. I’m not a fan of the GoPro connector for 360 cameras — while it is great for positioning a GoPro or conventional camera, a stabilized 360 camera is much better used when flush with the handle, to put the handle within the stitch line, thus rendering it invisible. With a GoPro connector, those new to 360 cameras will likely attempt to adjust the camera to face them, thus unnecessarily making the selfie stick visible.
The everyday case has a hole on the side to allow you to connect the Rylo to a sync cable or charge cable even with the Everyday Case. The included mini handle is quite short and you can attach the included wrist strap to the end cap. The end cap is also removable and reveals a standard 1/4-20 tripod hole.
Rylo Camera Review
Here is my brutally honest review of Rylo 360 camera:
Please hit the Like button on my YouTube video so that YouTube can show it to more people. Thank you very much! Here’s the table of contents:
04:23 Headline features
04:26 Feature #1: Overcapture-like video
04:56 Feature #2: Subject-tracking
05:18 Feature #3: FrontBack
05:43 Feature #4: Image stabilization
06:11 Feature #5: Hyperlapse
06:21 How to shoot with Rylo
08:54 Workflow tutorial: how to edit Rylo photos and videos
09:52 How to trim the video and add effects
12:21 Subject tracking modes: “Look Here” and “Follow This”
15:23 Image quality
17:31 Rylo vs Insta360 ONE
19:36 Rylo advantages
21:48 Insta360 ONE advantages
28:17 Conclusion: who is Rylo for?
30:08 Essential accessories
Should you buy it? I would firmly say, “It depends!” 🙂 I know it sounds cheeky but that’s my honest opinion – it’s not an absolute yes or no. Rylo is excellent at certain types of 360 and HD videos, but not so good for others. In particular, it is very good for action videos in daylight. But as the ambient light decreases, the noise becomes quite noticeable.
For photos, the quality is nice enough but the controls are very limiting, especially the fact that there is no self-timer or remote trigger option. In my opinion, this prevents it from being used for photos other than selfies.
Rylo Camera Tutorial
Here’s how to shoot with the Rylo and use its special features. See also the video review above, which incorporates a tutorial.
How to shoot with the Rylo:
The Rylo is one of the easiest and simplest 360 cameras to use. There are only two buttons: a shutter button (doubles as a power button), and a mode button beside the OLED display.
To turn on the Rylo, you simply hold down the shutter. Then you can use the mode button to switch between video or photo. For photos, just use the shutter to take a photo. For videos, use the shutter to start or stop recording. That’s it.
There are no other controls and no shooting settings. There’s no live preview either because it can’t connect to a phone for shooting.
One unique feature of the Rylo is that it can vibrate to give haptic feedback when you turn it on, or take a photo or start or stop a video. I think this is useful for situations where you don’t want beeping or when it’s so noisy that you can’t hear the beep, but you want to make sure that the shot was taken.
If you connect the Rylo to the phone app, you can tap the upper right corner of the app screen (on the camera icon) to access the camera settings. From there, you can change the recording from Normal to High, turn the beeping on or off, and turn the vibration on or off.
How to stitch and share Rylo photos and videos:
Rylo photos and videos must be stitched in the smartphone app. There is no desktop app.
After installing the Rylo app, you connect the Rylo to your phone with the sync cable (a Micro USB to lightning port cable). The camera turns on automatically and the app launches automatically.
From the app, you’ll see rectangular thumbnails of the photos and videos in the camera. You tap on the ones you want to download to your phone. Downloading is reasonably fast. Once downloaded, the photos and videos are immediately viewable in 360.
After downloading, you can edit the photos or videos:
– Speed: you can increase the speed of the video to create a hyperlapse effect. You won’t see a preview of the hyperlapse effect. Instead, you’ll just have to look at the rendered file, using trial and error to find the best speed. And while that is not as straightforward as it could be, it’s still far easier than a traditional hyperlapse, which requires hundreds of photos.
– Stabilization: you adjust the horizon if it is not completely level.
– Look here: this allows you to cause the video to face any direction (even up or down). More than one point can be specified, in which case each point acts as a keyframe.
– Follow this: this lets you choose a subject and the video will follow that subject. As with Look Here, you can change the subject of the Follow This. You can also mix and match Look Here and Follow This, although of course only one of them can be active at any given time.
– Frontback: this is a unique feature of the Rylo that creates a picture-in-picture overlay of a second point of view. By default, it is the camera facing the user, but it doesn’t have to be. You can make it face any direction, adjust the field of view, the shape (circle, capsule, or half of the screen), and its location (left, right, or in the case of a portrait orientation video, on the bottom).
After editing the photo or video, you can export the video as a 360 video or as a 1080p video, and you can share it to Facebook, YouTube, or Instagram.
Important notes about workflow:
Rylo seems to require a lot of storage on your phone or tablet. I had a 9 minute video file and it wouldn’t let me export it in 4K 360 video despite having almost 20GB free space on my tablet. This is quite puzzling given the limited video quality. One workaround for longer videos is to trim it into shorter segments (5 mins or less) then combine them later in post-processing.
Rylo Camera Sample Photo and Videos
Here is a 360 photo, with a similar 360 photo by Insta360 ONE for comparison (click on the thumbnail on the bottom).
The Rylo’s 360 photos are pretty good. In particular, I like the sharpness and tonality. It’s a little undersaturated straight out of the cam, but that can be fixed in postprocessing. The biggest issues are the lack of controls, and the misalignment in stitching.
I tested the key features of the Rylo by taking a video in a bounce house, in the cropped / overcapture mode, while using the FrontBack feature. I was very impressed with the stabilization. Here is the video:
You may have noticed that I was holding another camera in my other hand. That’s right — I also had the Insta360 ONE with me. I’m sure you’d love to see how the Insta360 ONE performed in this bounce house test. See below or watch my review video to see how they compare.
Here are some more 360 videos from Rylo (thanks to Anthony for sharing the pickpocket video)
Here’s a video by Casey Neistat:
Rylo Camera vs Insta360 ONE: their similarities and differences
With its compact, capsule-like shape and single button operation, Rylo has more than a passing resemblance to the Insta360 ONE. Spec for spec and feature for feature, it seems very similar to the Insta360 ONE (reviewed here), which is also a compact stabilized 4K 360 camera for iOS (Android version coming soon). But there are definitely important differences between them. Here is a list of their similarities, the Rylo’s advantages, and the Insta630 ONE’s advantages.
Here are their similarities:
o Both have gyro-based stabilization
o Both can reframe the 360 video as a conventional 16:9 video. With Rylo, this is done by tapping on objects in the video. This will cause the video to center its view on the object. It’s therefore functionally equivalent to keyframing. Insta360 ONE can use keyframing as well with its Insta360 Studio software, although it is desktop-based, not mobile. (But see also FreeCapture below).
o Both can track a subject (Rylo calls it “follow,” while the ONE calls it Smart Tracking)
o Both have a time lapse feature.
o Both have an optional waterproof case.
Here are the Rylo’s advantages:
+ noticeably better stabilization
+ FrontBack: with this feature, Rylo can create a picture-in-picture effect with one lens facing you to show your reaction
+ smoother hyperlapse; can use speeds of up to 16X (not usually available in consumer-level video editing programs)
+ anodized aluminum body (compared to the Insta360 ONE’s plastic body)
+ OLED display (Insta360 ONE has no on-camera display)
Here are the Insta360 ONE’s advantages:
– f/2.2 aperture (2/3 stops brighter)
– photo resolution: 6912 x 3456 (32% higher)
– can take and record photos in Adobe DNG Raw format
– 4K spherical live streaming capability
– tiny planet live streaming capability
– has a built-in 1/4-20 tripod connector (Rylo doesn’t seem to have a built-in tripod connector)
– can be controlled wirelessly via Bluetooth
– built-in lightning connector
– bullet time effect up to 120fps
– hardcase that doubles as a lens cover
– FreeCapture: this is a unique feature of the Insta360 ONE that allows you to reframe a 360 video by holding your phone as a virtual camera. This allows you to capture videos that look natural, instead of robotic camera movements from keyframing. See this in-depth look at why FreeCapture is different.
In terms of image quality, here is how they compare:
– Sharpness (video): similar
– Sharpness (photo): Insta360 ONE is more detailed.
– Stitching quality: the Insta360 ONE has significantly smoother stitching, especially for photo, and especially if you use the optical flow stitching mode of Insta360 ONE.
– Dynamic range: For highlight range, the Rylo and Insta360 ONE are similar (Rylo may be very slightly better). For shadow range, the ONE stomps on the Rylo.
– Flare resistance: Rylo is noticeably superior. The ONE is actually decent at flare resistance but its lens is some kind of fingerprint magnet (oleophilic) that is very hard to keep clean.
– Chromatic aberration: both Rylo and the ONE are excellent.
– Colors: Rylo is rather undersaturated. The ONE is slightly saturated but still looks good. Most consumers would find the ONE more appealing.
In terms of video, the Insta360 ONE looks like it has better image quality (particularly with dynamic range and low light performance), with the Rylo has noticeably better image stabilization. For action videos in daylight, I would prefer to use Rylo. For photos and for indoor or lower light videos, I would prefer Insta360 ONE.
Summary and Conclusion
I would recommend Rylo for action videos in daylight. Its image stabilization may be the best I’ve seen (standby for a comprehensive stability test). I also like its hyperlapse mode, which is exceptionally smooth and very easy to use.
For photos, I would not recommend Rylo because of the limited controls, and limited triggering options (only with the on-camera button, with a 1-sec. delay). There is no live preview, no remote shutter option, and no exposure controls.
Please let me know in the comments if you have any questions about Rylo!
As of December 11, 2017, you can get a $75 launch discount on Rylo here (the discount is only for certain countries and is only for a limited time). Rylo is also available on Amazon. Meanwhile, Insta360 ONE is available on Gearbest or Amazon. If you’d like to discuss Rylo openly and candidly, check out the Rylo user group on Facebook. Please bookmark this page — I will update it with more information and discounts.