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360 Camera Reviews Rylo

Rylo camera review and resource page: super stable, auto-aiming action camera (updated April 19, 2018)

In-depth Rylo review, resource page, and tutorial
In-depth Rylo review, resource page, and tutorial

This is a comprehensive review and resource page for Rylo, a 4K 360 camera launched on October 31, 2017, which has the best stabilization among all 360 cameras I’ve tested to date, and other unique features and capabilities.    UPDATE: On April 19, 2018, Rylo issued a major update that added new features including a wireless mode and a 180 mode.  See the complete details, including a comparison between 360 mode and the new 180 mode.

Rylo's April 2018 update added new features such as the 180 mode
Rylo’s April 2018 update added new features such as the 180 mode

Contents:
Background
Specifications and features
—  December 2017 update
—  New! April 2018 update.
What’s in the box.
Review and video tutorial
How to shoot with Rylo; Workflow tutorial
Sample videos and photos
Sample hyperlapse video
Updated! Comparison with Insta360 ONE.
Sample 180 mode video
Discounts and deals
Rylo forum and discussion group

Updated: April 19, 2018 with neew features
Updated: December 13, 2017 added holiday update
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 Camera is a 360 camera with stabilized 4K video
RYLO Camera is a 360 camera with stabilized 4K video


BACKGROUND

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.  Nonetheless, I’ve been shooting with Rylo since December and have found it to be a very good 360 camera, albeit with some limitations.  Below is my review.

RYLO camera specifications and features

Here are the key specifications for RYLO 360 camera:

LensesTwo 208-degree fisheye lenses (7mm equivalent)
Aperturef/2.8
Photo resolution6000 x 3000 (18 megapixels)
Video resolution3840 x 2160 (4K @ 30fps)
360 Audio
StorageRemovable Micro SD up to 256GB (16GB included)
Battery60 mins.
removable
built-in Micro USB charging
CompatibilityiOS (iPhone 5S and above)
Android coming soon (Android 6.0 and above)
ConstructionAnodized aluminum alloy
OLED display
Dimensions72.5mm (h) x 37.0mm (w) x 42.7mm (d)
Weight108 grams, 3.8 oz
Warranty1-year limited warranty
30-day return policy (RMA required)

 

Rylo 4K 360 camera
Rylo camera

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.

December 2017 Holiday Update

On December 13, 2017, Rylo released a major update to the app and firmware with significant new features and benefits:
– tiny planet mode: zooming out a video will cause it to switch to tiny planet mode.
– cinematic crop mode (2.35:1 aspect ratio)
– tuning tools to adjust how the photo or video looks
– improved low light performance

Here is a sample tiny planet video.

April 2018 Update


On April 19, 2018, Rylo released another major update that added several important features for compatible phones (some users reported that their phones were not able to use the new features):
Bluetooth wireless control (for iOS app only as of April 2018).  Rylo can now be controlled wirelessly.  You’ll be able to change modes, and start or stop recording.  However, there is no live preview.   The wireless range is about 12 feet.

To use this mode, you launch the app, ensure that your phone’s Bluetooth is active, and then turn on the Rylo near your phone.  The app will show a wireless icon on the top right.  You tap on that and in the following dialogue box, tap on remote control.  There will be an indicator for signal strength (weak or good).
180 mode: capture a stabilized 180-degree video. Designed for use with chest mounts, when one side would be blocked.  Note: in 180 mode, the active lens is the one opposite from the OLED display.  This lets the user see the recording time and other information when recording in 180 mode  See below for a detailed analysis of the 180 mode image quality and stabilization .
Self-timer: there is now an optional self-timer for 3 seconds or 10 seconds. The setting is ‘sticky’ and will be retained even if the camera is disconnected from the app, or the camera is turned off.
Motion blur effect for hyperlapses. This cool effect makes hyperlapses look more cinematic.  To find out more, see below under Hyperlapse.

How to install the April 2018 update:
1. Update the Rylo app.
2. Ensure that your camera is adequately charged. Connect the camera to the app via the included cable.
3. In the Rylo app, tap on the camera icon on the upper right corner of the main screen. You’ll be prompted to update the camera.
4. After the camera is fully updated, disconnect the cable and turn the camera on again.
5. You’ll now see that the Rylo icon on the upper right has a wi-fi signal indicator, showing that the app is connected to the camera. Tap on that Rylo icon and select “Remote Control”.


What’s in the box

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”).

Rylo camera - what's in the box
Rylo camera – what’s in the box

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
– Pouch
– Battery
– 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:

Here is the table of contents:
01:14 Background
02:13 Unboxing
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 because of its amazing stabilization — in fact, the best stabilization among all 360 cameras I’ve tested.  See my stabilization comparison and these demos:

At the time I reviewed the Rylo, it suffered from poor low light performance.  The December 2017 update improved this slightly.  I have not yet tested Rylo in low light after the April 2018 update.

Rylo holiday update improves low light performance
Rylo holiday update improves low light performance

For photos, the Rylo’s quality is nice enough, and the April 2018 update finally added both a self timer and a remote trigger option.  However, it does not yet have exposure controls.

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:
– Trim: trim the start and end of the video.
New! Crop: you can change the aspect ratio of a cropped video, from landscape, square, portrait, and the cinematic mode (2.35:1 aspect ratio). The cinematic mode has three benefits: first, it makes the video seem more cinematic (insofar as the 2.35:1 aspect ratio is associated with movies). Second, the audience can see a wider view. Third, because the field of view is wider, the video will seem more detailed and noise will be less noticeable.
New! Tune: you can adjust the appearance of the photo or video. You can adjust the brightness / exposure, contrast, highlights, shadows, and vibrance (similar to saturation).
– 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 issue is the lack of exposure controls.  Note that my first unit had a misalignment in stitching.  I returned it and got a replacement.  The second unit had no stitching issues.

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 is a sample video from DC Rainmaker showing the cinematic crop mode and the Follow This feature.

Here are some more 360 videos from Rylo (thanks to Anthony for sharing the pickpocket video)

Here’s a video by Casey Neistat:

So far, most samples from Rylo have been in 1080p 16:9 format, but rest assured that the Rylo is also capable of saving to conventional equirectangular 360 photo or 360 video format.

Rylo: best camera for hyperlapses (sample video)

You’re familiar with timelapse videos — they consist of photos taken at intervals and then played back like a video.  A hyperlapse is like a timelapse, but the camera is moving, which creates a surreal effect.  The Rylo is probably the best tool for a hyperlapse for reasons I will discuss.  First, here is a sample hyperlapse from Rylo:

Traditionally, a hyperlapse is made by placing a camera on a tripod, taking a photo, moving the camera and tripod slightly, then taking another photo, etc. Then finally combining those photos, playing them at around 24 or 30fps as a video.  It is tedious work.

However, Rylo makes it incredibly easy to create a hyperlapse.  It has five features that makes it an excellent camera for creating a hyperlapse.  First, when you shoot a 360 video with the Rylo, it is incredibly stable so it looks like a hyperlapse video shot on a tripod.  Second, as a 360 camera, it captures all angles simultaneously, making it possible to make smooth panning movements in post production.  Third, it has two autofollow functions (Look Here and Follow This) that make it easy to ‘aim’ the camera at any target consistently. Fourth, it has a built-in speed adjustment up to 16x, which makes it easy to simulate a hyperlapse with a fast forwarded video.  Finally, it has a new motion blur option that can make hyperlapses look more cinematic.

Not only does Rylo make it easy to create a hyperlapse, but some hyperlapse effects would be difficult to do using a traditional hyperlapse, such as going up or down a flight of stairs (it would be difficult to move the camera position smoothly over the stairs).

When you take all of the foregoing into consideration, the conclusion is that Rylo is an amazing tool for hyperlapse videos — and in my opinion, unsurpassed for creating hyperlapses.


180 mode

Rylo’s April 2018 update introduced a new 180-degree mode, intended for use when the Rylo is chest mounted, or has one lens blocked.  What is the advantage of using the 180 mode in such circumstances?

To find out, I took a 360 video on a tripod, and a 180 mode video from the same position. I then rendered the 360 video as a cropped video. Both the 360 crop and the 180 mode video used the Cinematic crop, which resulted in a resolution of 2520 x 1080. Here are the videos:

360 mode:

180 mode:

Comparing 100% crops from the two cropped samples, I found that 180 mode had noticeably more detail and better shadow range (note the detail in the shed and grass, and the shadow detail in the trees):

Comparison between Rylo's 360 mode (left) and 180 mode (right). Both are 100% crops
Comparison between Rylo’s 360 mode (left) and 180 mode (right). Both are 100% crops

You can see that the 180 mode has noticeably more detail, and has more details in the shadows.

Next I compared the 360 mode and 180 mode for stabilization. Here are cropped videos from each.

360 mode:

180 mode:

180 mode has pretty good stabilization but it appears that 360 mode appears to have noticeably better stabilization than 180 mode.  Nonetheless, the 180 mode’s stabilization is still vastly superior to conventional action cameras such as GoPro Hero6:

Rylo Camera vs Insta360 ONE: their similarities and differences

With its compact, capsule-like shape and single button operation, Rylo is often compared to Insta360 ONE (reviewed here), which is also a compact stabilized 4K 360 camera.  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.

Insta360 ONE 360 Camera
Insta360 ONE 360 camera

Here are their similarities:
o Both have gyro-based stabilization
o Both can reframe the 360 video as a conventional 16:9 video. Both have keyframing as well.
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.
o Both have a picture-in-picture effect with one lens facing you to show your reaction (an effect that Insta360 One copied from Rylo).

Here are the Rylo’s advantages:
+ noticeably better stabilization
+ better highlight range; more detailed in highlights
+ smoother hyperlapse
+ 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)
– better shadow range; more shadow details
– can take and record photos in Adobe DNG Raw format
– spherical live streaming capability
– tiny planet live streaming capability
– has a built-in 1/4-20 tripod connector
– 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:
o Sharpness (video): similar.  Rylo is better for highlight detail.  Insta360 One is better for shadow detail.
– Sharpness (photo): Insta360 ONE is slightly more detailed.
o Stitching quality: similar
o Dynamic range: Rylo has better highlight range and detail, while Insta360 One has better shadow detail.
+ 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.
o Chromatic aberration: both Rylo and the ONE are excellent.
+ Exposure:  Insta360 One’s exposure is a little too aggressive and shots can appear overexposed (after its March 2018 update).  Rylo’s exposure is balanced.
– Colors: Rylo is slightly undersaturated. The ONE is slightly saturated but still looks good. Most consumers would find the ONE more appealing.

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

Rylo has very good image quality in daylight.  Its image stabilization is the best among 360 cameras, bar none.  I also like its hyperlapse mode, which is exceptionally smooth and very easy to use, and when it is combined with the Follow This feature, can create impressive hyperlapse videos.  Its weakness is that it has less shadow detail compared to competing 360 cameras.

For photos, Rylo has good image quality and is now more usable due to the remote trigger and the self-timer up to 10 seconds.  However, please note there is no live preview and no exposure controls.

Based on the April 2018 update, I’ve revised the Rylo’s ratings as follows:

Photo is now 8.4, approximately similar to Samsung Gear 360 2016.  It now has a remote shutter and has a self-timer, making it much more useful.  In terms of image quality, it is more detailed than Ricoh Theta, with consistent sharpness throughout the frame, minimal chromatic aberration, and good resistance to flare.  However, it lacks exposure controls (not even exposure compensation).  Another issue is that the white balance is excessively warm.

Video is now 8.5, approximately similar to Insta360 One, Xiaomi Mijia Mi Sphere, and Ricoh Theta V.  It has excellent detail in highlights, but poor detail in shadows.  This is mitigated by the possible use of 180 mode, which does have higher image quality, albeit with less versatility.  As with photos, the white balance is excessively warm.

Stabilization is 9.0, a huge improvement compared to the baseline (average 360 camera stabilization of February 2018).  This has the best stabilization performance I’ve tested.

Usability is unchanged at 7.9, very slightly below average.  The app is excellent and convenient, but there is no desktop app.  Moreover, the files take up a lot of space, often requiring the user to delete many apps and files.  Rylo also requires a cable to be connected to the app, and only the original cable works for the iOS version.  This means that if you lose the cable, you won’t be able to use the app or stitch any photo or video until you buy a replacement cable.  It is rumored that Rylo will be releasing a desktop app in the future, in which case its Usability rating could rise significantly.


Rylo Discount Codes and Deals

Rylo is available on Amazon.  As of March 2018, the discount program for Rylo has expired.  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.

 

  • 8.4/10
    Photo - 8.4/10
  • 8.5/10
    Video - 8.5/10
  • 9.0/10
    Stabilization - 9.0/10
  • 7.9/10
    Usability - 7.9/10
8.4/10

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