Kandao Qoocam is one of the most exciting 360 cameras of 2018, and could become the top 360 camera for consumers, for its price range. It features three lenses and can convert from a 360 camera to a 3D 180 / VR180 camera. But I found out that its most amazing feature is neither that it is a 360 camera nor a 3D camera. Rather, it is even more amazing for its depth mapping capabilities, which give it unique capabilities. Here are its features (including some industry-first features) and its specs. Check out my first impressions and hands-on report and new 360 video samples! Watch a demo and tutorial of how you can use its depth mapping to achieve amazing 6DOF effects quickly and easily.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Introducing Qoocam; First Impressions and Tutorial
What is Qoocam?
Sample videos and sample photo
Workflow and Depth Mapping Effects Tutorial
Summary and where to buy
Updated: July 30, 2018 –
Updated: July 28, 2018 – first impressions + tutorial
Updated: June 11, 2018 – hands-on report and sample 360 video
Updated: May 16, 2018 – sample video
Updated: May 2, 2018 10 features
Updated: April 30, 2018
Updated: February 11, 2018 Qoocam additional features, and minisite launched
Updated: January 20, 2018
Originally posted December 19, 2017
Hands-on first impressions: Why is the Qoocam incredible? + Unboxing + Tutorial + 21 questions answered
Here’s a video that discusses why the Qoocam is incredible, and what is the benefit of having both 360 and VR180 in one camera. I also show an unboxing video, plus a tutorial for shooting with or without the app. Finally, I answer 21 questions from 360 Rumors readers and viewers.
Desktop app QooCam Studio for Windows now available for download. You can try Qoocam Studio yourself with these sample files (for personal, non-commercial, private use only).
Table of contents for the video:
00:23 Why it’s useful to have both 360 and VR180 mode
02:29 Unboxing; what’s inside the box?
04:09 How to shoot with Qoocam
– Note: the default wi-fi password is 12345678. For iOS, you connect to the Qoocam’s Wi-Fi the same way you connect with a Wi-Fi network (go to your phone Wi-Fi settings). For Android, the app can connect to the Wi-Fi without having to enter the password.
08:50 How to create an overcapture video with keyframes
09:38 How to refocus a photo
11:23 Questions and answers
Sharing photos and videos: to enable the photos and videos to be shared on Facebook and Youtube, I recommend using equirectangular projection, and for 3D 180 photos and videos, use top-bottom (3DV) instead of side-by-side (3DH) format. Veer can accommodate both 360 and 3D 180 photos and videos, whether in top-bottom or side-by-side, and it’s free.
Kandao Qoocam is a camera with three lenses, and can be used either as a 360 camera or as a 3D camera. It has a unique swiveling body. When the camera is vertical, it uses two fisheye lenses on opposite sides to capture 360 images (presumably both photo and video). In 3D mode, the camera lenses can swivel to horizontal position to use two fisheye lenses on the same side. The third lens for 3D mode is identical to the other two lenses, therefore the 3D mode is hemispherical (not just ultra wide angle).
Here’s a promo video:
Hands-On Report and Demo
I got to try shooting with the Qoocam, with both the 360 mode and VR180 mode. Here is my hands-on report:
|Lenses||Three 220-degree fisheye lenses|
|Video resolution (VR view)||3840 x 1920 @ 30fps|
3840 x 1920 @ 60 fps
2160 x 1080 @ 120fps
|Video resolution (3D 180)||3840 x 1920 30fps|
3840 x 1920 60fps
|Video codec||H.264 and H.265|
|Photo resolution (VR view mode)||4320 x 2160|
|Live streaming||3D video|
180 3D video
360 + 180 3D video
|Storage||Removable micro SD up to 256GB|
80 mins continuous recording
|Other features||depth mapping|
KANDAO QOOCAM KEY FEATURES
Here are 10 of its key features:
1. Slow motion and high speed: It can capture high speed 4K 360 video at 60fps or 2K 360 video at 120fps. When these videos are played back at normal speed (e.g. 30fps or 24fps), the result will be smooth slow motion. Note that Qoocam is only the second consumer 360 camera to be able to shoot 360 video at 4K 60 fps. (The other 4K 60fps camera is the $799 Vuze.)
2. Depth mapping. Qoocam has technology developed from the Kandao Obsidian that enables it to use its 3D camera to create a depth map, which can be used in several ways such as replacing the background, or refocusing the camera after the fact. These capabilities make it useful not just for 3D afficionados but even for casual users. It is the first consumer 360 camera to offer depth mapping.
3. Shoot first, focus later. Qoocam is the first consumer 360 camera to allow you to change the focus from the subject to the background and vice-versa.
4. Background replacement. It enables you to change backgrounds, thanks to its depth mapping technology. TBA.
5. Image stabilization. Qoocam has built-in image stabilization. Not only that but it will have two stabilization modes: standard stabilization and forward-facing stabilization (as of April 2018, only three other 360 cameras have forward-facing stabilization: Rylo, GoPro Fusion, and Garmin Virb 360).
6. DNG Raw image stacking. A future update will enable Qoocam to shoot in DNG Raw. Moreover, Kandao’s Raw+ software will be able to stack up to 16 images to reduce noise. Kandao also states that this will improve dynamic range as well. Unlike conventional image stacking (e.g. Photoshop), Raw+ is able to stack images even with moving subjects.
7. Live streaming. It will be able to live stream both via USB and via Wi-Fi (by connecting to your phone). TBA.
8. Tap and direct. On the app, you can create smooth panning movements via keyframing, with an intuitive touch-based interface.
9. Smart tracking. It can track subjects and keep the camera facing the subject’s direction. TBA.
10. Time lapse. As a 360 camera, it can create 360-degree timelapse, or a conventional non-360 timelapse with panning movement. Alternatively, in 3D 180 mode, it can create a 3D 180 timelapse. Available now for iOS. Available for Android in version 1.3.
Note: previously, Kandao stated that Qoocam would have realtime optical flow stitching, but that doesn’t appear to be the case as of July 2018.
Here is a 360 video interview with Kandao’s Vice President Grace Yang (with me was longtime reader Bill Strehl):
As a 360 camera, the Qoocam appears capable, with 4K resolution and simple controls. Users can also switch to the front-facing 3D 180 mode, which I think is especially ideal for beginners. I have the LucidCam hemispherical 3D camera and I enjoyed shooting with it. Among other things, composition was much easier than with a 360 camera, and far easier than with a 3D 360 camera (which is even more challenging for composition).
What’s in the box?
The Qoocam includes:
– the camera
– lens protector / stand
– synthetic velvet pouch
– Micro USB to USB A OTG cable
– Micro USB to USB female
– USB-C to USB female
– quick start guide, instruction manual, warranty card
The Qoocam is solidly built. It feels heavier than what you would expect and feels like the outer shell might be made of metal. There are nice details such as the concentric rings on the power button, and the subtly embossed black-on-black Kandao logo.
One issue with the design is that it’s very hard to open the rubber covers for the Micro SD card and USB port, if you have short fingernails. I’ve resorted to using the Micro SD card to pry the rubber doors open. Another possible issue is that the 1/4-20 tripod hole is off-center. There is a slight possibility that Qoocam could twist from its own weight and eventually get unscrewed. You probably should check every now and then.
Kandao Qoocam sample videos and sample photos; image quality
Here are sample photos from Qoocam in both 360 and 3D 180, and an analysis of their image quality. You can download both stitched and unstitched sample photos and videos here (only for personal, non-commercial, private use).
1. 360 video. Here is a sample 360 video montage, with stabilization, with a prototype:
Another video from the release version:
The video shows very good dynamic range, and excellent stabilization. In the video from the prototype, there is a waviness in the stitch line. But in the release version, the waviness has been all but eliminated, as shown in the second sample above, and as reflected in my own tests (more samples TBA).
2. Here are sample 3D 180 / VR180 videos posted to Youtube as top-bottom equirectangular 3D 360 video:
Note that the 3D 180 video is offset from the center. This was intentional. Kandao engineers reasoned that for a 180 photo or video displayed as 360, the user might want to put their logo or some other illustration to fill the black background. To make it easier to do so, they placed the image on the left side of the equirectangular frame rather than in the middle. This way, the logo would not have to be split between the left edge and the right edge of the equirectangular frame.
I also tested whether the lenses are synchronized in 3D 180 videos. I shot a 3D 180 video with a very bright studio light to force the Qoocam to shoot at a high shutter speed. I then popped a flash several times (with approximate flash duration of around 1/1600 according to DP Review). On each flash, both lenses caught the flash at the same position (only a part of the flash is visible due to the rolling shutter). This proves that the left and right lenses are completely synchronized.
I also checked for stereo alignment. The video appears to have very good stereo alignment, as you can see in this anaglyph, which shows very little vertical disparity throughout the frame.
3. Here is a sample 360 photo and 3D 180 / VR180 photos, showing very good dynamic range and minimal chromatic aberration. The stitching is excellent. It is sharp throughout the frame except there’s a bit of blurring at the stitch line. However, the resolution is limited (for 360 photos, up to 4320 x 2160). For the 3D 180 photos, you can see it in 3D by clicking on the Cardboard icon on the bottom right. The image looks sharp, with pleasant, natural-looking colors and white balance, and a good 3D effect.
In the album above, you can see a 3D 180 photo with refocusing effect applied. You can see that the refocusing effect isn’t completely accurate but works reasonably well.
Workflow and Depth Mapping Effects Tutorial
Here is a tutorial on how to use the Qoocam’s depth mapping capability to achieve amazing 6DOF and 2.5D animation quickly and easily:
The first part of the tutorial shows 5 2.5D animation effects, including 6DOF animation, that you can achieve with After Effects and an add-on called Volumax.
The second part is a tutorial for using the Kandao Qoocam to generate a depth map instantly using the Qoocam Studio software.
In the video, I also discuss different ways to render the photos and videos from the Qoocam, including why I believe you should NOT render videos (or photos) in Google VR180 format. Briefly: Google VR180 is difficult to edit. Even Google’s own Google Photos app cannot correctly edit VR180 photos. As for videos, Google created a metadata injector tool, but only for Mac and Linux. Finally, even with the correct metadata, not all headsets can view VR180 in 3D 180 format. Essentially, you need a native Youtube app to view VR180, which means it can be viewed on Google Cardboard, Google Daydream, Samsung Gear VR, Playstation VR and HTC Vive. However, Oculus Rift and Oculus Go do not have native Youtube apps and cannot view VR180 in 3D.
For these reasons, I instead recommend stitching photos and videos as equirectangular top-bottom photos for maximum compatibility with 360 sharing platforms and VR headsets. You’ll be able to view, edit, merge, and share Qoocam 360 and 3D 180 photos and videos painlessly.
Summary and Where to Buy
Kandao Qoocam is the most feature-packed 360 camera for consumers, with incredibly innovative features that should be very useful for users of all levels. It launched successfully on Kickstarter May 2, 2018 at 9am ET, raising $100,000 in a matter of hours. At the time of this writing, it is currently available for preorder for $419 with 64GB card, for delivery August 2018.
I will continue to update this page, so please bookmark it if you’re interested, and please let me know if you have any questions. Check out Kandao’s fascinating minisite at qoocam.kandaovr.com and please join the Facebook VR180 group. There is also a Facebook group for Qoocam.