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Top 5 reasons cyclists and motorcyclists love 360 cameras (with samples + tips + top cameras)

Why motorcyclists and cyclists love 360 cameras (motorcycle photo by Sporty Driver)
Why motorcyclists and cyclists love 360 cameras (motorcycle photo by Sporty Driver)

Would you like to be able to get super smooth stabilization? How about being able to change angles anytime later?   Whether or not you want to create a 360 video, a 360 camera has unique capabilities that make it an ideal camera for cyclists and motorcyclists.  Before we talk about the reasons why, or which 360 cameras in particular, here a few demo videos that will immediately show just why cyclists and motorcyclists love 360 cameras.   I’ll then discuss the top 5 reasons 360 cameras are great for cyclists and motorcyclists.  I’ll also talk about which are the top 360 cameras for cyclists and motorcyclists.  Finally, I have a quick tutorial on using 360 cameras.


Sample biking and motorcycling videos with 360 cameras

Here are the top 5 reasons cyclists and motorcyclists love 360 cameras:

1. Focus on riding, not shooting: When we ride, our attention has to be focused 100% on riding. In fact, I would say that intense focus is why riding a motorcycle is a zen-like experience.  Because 360 cameras allow us to change perspectives after the fact, we don’t have to worry about missing anything.  This let us focus on riding, not shooting or looking around.

2. Amazing stabilization:  360 cameras can have exceptional stabilization, making your bike or motorcycle videos look impossibly smooth — in some cases, even smoother than a gimbal.

3. Multiple angles:  When we use a regular action cam for a bike ride, we get only one angle.  With a 360 camera you can keep changing angles.  For example, you can show a forward view, a view of yourself, or switch to a view of the passing scenery.  This makes videos look much more interesting.

4. Panning:  If you use mount an action camera to a bike, you need to make sure the mount is very secure, which often precludes panning.  With a 360 camera, you can pan during postprocessing, and the panning can be as smooth as you want it to be.

5. Object tracking:  Some 360 cameras can track an object and pan the view automatically to follow that object.  This can be used for cool parallax shots, or to track fellow riders.

Which 360 cameras are best for bikes and motorcycles?

The best 360 cameras for bikes and motorcycles are those that have built-in stabilization.  Here are the cameras that have the best stabilization:

1. GoPro Fusion ($699; reviewed here):  This 360 camera has excellent stabilization, the most detailed videos and also has the best dynamic range among consumer 360 cameras.   I also like that its stabilization has two modes: one that uses a fixed compass heading, and another that lets the video face the camera’s direction.

The desktop app is simple to use.  The downsides are that it doesn’t have a protective external housing yet, and in order to stitch it, your computer should have a dedicated graphics card, or else stitching will take a while.  However, the image quality is really worth it, in my opinion.

Fusion app is available for Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android (however, the Android version cannot share photos or videos yet).

2. Rylo ($499; reviewed here):  Rylo is the 360 camera that rocked the industry with its stabilization, which was far better than anything that had been released until that time.  Rylo is also one of the 360 cameras with object tracking.  It also has an external case, and the case has pretty good optics that allow it to be used in water, or outside water, with no increase in glare.

The downsides are that it doesn’t have a desktop app yet, so everything has to be stitched on your phone.  It also doesn’t have a remote (yet), although Rylo’s co-founder told me that they will enable Bluetooth capability “soon.”  Finally, it does poorly in low light and has poor shadow detail.

Rylo is available for iOS or Android.  It has no desktop app [yet].

3. Insta360 One ($299; reviewed here):  Insta360 One is one the most user-friendly 360 cameras and also happens to have one of the best stabilization after a March 2018 firmware update.   It also features  object tracking.  It also has  an external case that allows it to be used in rough environments, or underwater.

The downsides are: it is very susceptible to flare (because its lens is oleophilic), and the battery is not removable (but it can be charged while recording).  Its exposure is also quite aggressive and videos can look overexposed.

Insta360 One is compatible with Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android (note: Android app doesn’t have the latest stabilization update yet).

4. Garmin Virb 360 ($799; previewed here): There are several things that make the Virb 360 great for motorcycling and biking.  It has very good stabilization, is weatherproof, has replaceable lenses, and most importantly, has G-Metrix overlays, which can display speed, G-force, or show a map of where you’re traveling.   The app is also easy enough to use, either mobile or desktop.  The issues with it are the poor shadow detail and susceptibility to flare.  It also doesn’t stitch very smoothly.

Garmin Virb 360's unique G-Metrix displays speed and other data
Garmin Virb 360’s unique G-Metrix can display a map showing where you’ve been, along with other data such as speed, and other information.

Basics of using 360 cameras: an introduction

360 cameras are easy to shoot with because you can just start recording, without worrying about where it’s pointing. After shooting, you’ll then have to export the video into a usable format (“stitch” the video). The stitching process is generally to open the file in your camera’s dedicated app, then export the video, which will stitch it at the same time. The result will be a 360 video that you can share on sites such as Facebook or YouTube, which will automatically recognize it and show it as a 360 video.

If you prefer to present your video as a conventional non-360 video instead of a 360 video, there are several software, both paid and free, that can convert a 360 video into a conventional video, while letting you control the view.  Examples include: Adobe Premiere (with the free GoPro VR Reframe plugin), Cyberlink Powerdirector 16 UltraMagix Movie Edit Pro Plus 2018 ($99), Insta360 Studio (free), Garmin Virb Edit (free).  Here is a 2-part tutorial for Magix (the concept is the same for the others):

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