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360 Camera Reviews

Buying Guide: Which is the best 360 camera for vacation, travel or cruise? (updated August 2, 2018)

Tiny planet from a cruise - shot on Ricoh Theta S
Tiny planet from a cruise – shot on Ricoh Theta S

A reader wrote to me asking for a recommendation for a 360 camera for an upcoming cruise.  He wanted both photos and videos.  He had a Gear 360 2017, but he wasn’t happy with it.  Here is my response!

360 cameras are excellent for cruises
Playing minigolf on a cruise; shot on Ricoh Theta S.

360 cameras are excellent for cruises.  With the right camera, you can shoot without aiming, leaving you free to enjoy yourself.  In addition, you’ll be able to view your 360 photos and videos on a VR headset, re-living your memories more vividly than possible with a conventional camera.   However, there are now many 360 cameras and it can be bewildering to choose a camera.  Here’s my response to John* (*name changed for privacy).

 

Ultimate 360 camera comparison
Ultimate 360 camera comparison

Thanks for watching my reviews John*!   That cruise sounds exciting!  I’m glad to help you. Here are my recommendations for you in order of priority:

1. For maximum detail, my honest advice is GoPro Fusion ($699; reviewed here).  Besides the excellent detail, it is also waterproof.  You’re right to be concerned about editing its videos – you do need a PC with a dedicated GPU.  Fusion can be stitched at a good speed on a PC with the following specs: i5-4590, 8gb, gtx 1050 ti.  These days you can get a PC like that for around $500 if you get the desktop from ebay.  [If your CPU and RAM are already sufficient, you just need the GTX 1050 Ti 4GB] As a bonus, you will have a VR-Ready PC.

2. Among the other alternatives, Ricoh Theta V ($399, reviewed here) has excellent video quality, is easy and hassle-free to use, and even has an external housing if you want to use it for swimming. It also has great performance in low light.    But like you said the big disadvantage is that the memory and battery are not removable.  Will you have a laptop or something with you?  If yes, then you can download your videos and photos to your laptop each night.

3. Insta360 ONE ($299; reviewed here) is easy to use and has fantastic stabilization, and even has an optional waterproof case.  It works for iOS and Android, but you need to make sure your Android is compatible.

4. Xiaomi Mi Sphere ($250 to 299; reviewed here) Xiaomi is a very good and solid choice for both photos and videos if the video is detailed enough for you.  Stabilization is not as good as that of Insta360 One, but it costs a bit less, and has better photos than Insta360 One.  Here is a sample 360 video:

Between Insta360 One and Xiaomi, I prefer Xiaomi for photos, and Insta360 ONE for videos (because of the stabilization), so it depends which one is more important for you.   There’s a discount code here but if your cruise is coming up, I would buy it from Amazon instead.  And on Amazon, Madventure 360 ($309; reviewed here) is the better deal because it includes Xiaomi’s dedicated selfie stick for just $10 more.
5.  The new Kandao Qoocam ($399 on Amazon in August 2018) is an excellent 360 camera for capturing your memories on vacation because it can switch from 360 to 3D 180 mode, and it has excellent stabilization.   On the downside, it is not rugged (there’s no protective housing yet, and it’s not waterproof).  Also, as of August 2, 2018, its mobile app cannot export 360 photos or videos yet (it can refocus photos, and it can do overcapture videos).

6. Rylo ($499; reviewed here) has the best stabilization to date, has good quality in bright light and has a good waterproof case, but it has mediocre quality in low light.    For a cruise, you may need decent low light for night shots.  If you DON’T need night shots, it’s a good choice.  In July 2018, they made it easier to stitch, edit and share, because now you can do it without downloading the files from the camera (just link the cable).  It’s also excellent for hyperlapse videos.

7. Garmin Virb 360 ($799; comparison here) is nice because of the replaceable lens and G-Metrix (including GPS).  It also has excellent stabilization.   The video quality is similar to Rylo.  If you want to show a map showing where you’re traveling, the Virb is a great choice (Fusion also has GPS but somehow it doesn’t seem recorded in photos).

8.  If Fusion is out of the question, the next best in terms of detail for video is Yi 360 VR ($399, reviewed here) but it is not rugged and i’m concerned that if you drop it by accident or something during your cruise, it might stop functioning, leaving you without a camera for the rest of the cruise.  The other problem is that it takes a very long time to stitch its videos, which can only be stitched on a desktop with its Windows software (there’s no Mac version).  It is about as slow to stitch as the Gear 360 2017 although the good thing is that the desktop app has batch stitching.

9. Samsung Gear 360 2017 (~$100; reviewed here).  Samsung Gear 360 2017 is also a good choice because it is affordable and has stabilization as of July 2018 .  It also has good photo and video quality.  It is splash resistant, which is useful.  Just use a faster micro sd card (64GBor 32GB) so it can record without overheating.  The main disadvantage is that it takes a very long time to stitch, and you can only stitch on a phone not desktop.  If you come back from a vacation with many videos, prepare to spend several days stitching them with your phone (I do it overnight each time).

For the selfie stick, I highly recommend Benro MK10 – that’s the one I use most often.    If you want something taller, but still portable, I like this Yunteng stand but please note it will NOT be invisible in the shot (unless you have a Virb).

For vacations, I also highly recommend the WD My Passport Wireless Pro, which can back up a memory card without a PC.  Just insert an SD card (or micro SD card with adapter) and it will begin backing up your files, with a separate folder for each day, and a separate subdirectory for each camera or memory card.  It even has its own battery.  The biggest disadvantage is that it’s kind of slow to startup and copy files. and because it is magnetic drive based, you can’t move it while it is in use.  There’s an SSD version, which solves all those issues.

If you have other questions, the best way to reach me is via 360Rumors’ Facebook page, or via Google Hangout!  Thanks again for subscribing to my YouTube channel!  I have very interesting videos coming up!  Enjoy your cruise!

Best regards,
Mic

About the author

Mic Ty

5 Comments

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  • I took my MiSphere on a cruise back in December. It was fantastic for all kinds of shots! I would have loved it if it were a little more waterproof, I really didn’t feel comfortable keeping it near water (even though it’s IP53, I think). I’m looking forward to playing with my newly acquired Insta360 One and a waterproof housing on my cruise in September!

    Would love a GoPro, but can’t justify the price, and necessary computer upgrade!!

  • Very interesting to read the pro and cons for each camera. I wish there were one camera that was all “pros”. I suspects “John” may still have a hard time making a choice – especially if he likes to shoot both stills and video.

    One thing I did notice – which “John” might take into account – is that the Xiaomi appears to be the smallest and thinnest of the cameras on the list and thus might be the easiest to slip into a small shirt pocket…

    One of the things that stand out in your article is the question regarding built-in batteries. That is exactly one concern I have in regards the Yi Horizon. It too appears to have a non-removable battery. Yet, in your article on the Yi 360 VR, you specify that one does have a removable battery. Why would they remove such an important feature in the Horizon ?

    Also, I was concerned by your comment that the Yi 360 VR appears to be a fragile construction. Did you find the Yi Horizon construction equally fragile ? And are you implying that the other cameras on your list might survive a drop ?

    • Hi Francois. Yes the Yi 360 VR has removable batteries. I don’t know why they omitted it in the Horizon…

      Yes the Yi 360 VR is not exactly super durable. For example, Hugh Hou used one while skiing and then he crashed. Even though he did not break the lenses, the camera stopped working.

      Yes some of the others such as insta360 one are tougher. Shawn Ide’s insta360 one survived a fall from a drone… without a scratch :O

      Best regards,
      Mic

      • I emailed Yi about the lack of a removable battery right after the CES fair and next thing I knew, they delayed introduction of the Horizon from spring to October. I wonder if they’ll redesign it and add a battery compartment. I suspect they did not expect that the Mirage would have one.

        I wonder how the Qoocam will compare, given it is both a 2D 360 and a 3D 180 camera…

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