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360 Camera Reviews

Pisofttech Pilot Era stitches 8K video in-camera (NEW HDR 360 photos and videos – updated 8/13/18)

Pisofttech Pilot Era sample 360 videos in 8K and 6K
Pisofttech Pilot Era sample 360 videos in 8K and 6K

Here are full resolution sample 360 photos and 360 videos from the Pisofttech Pilot Era, a compact professional 360 camera with in-camera stitching of 8K 360 videos! 7/12/18 update: they just updated the specs. Photo resolution decreased to 33mp 🙁 although video frame rate increased slightly to 8k 24fps instead of 22fps. And there’s a new 7k mode for video with 30fps.

Pisofttech Pilot Era is a powerful yet compact 360 camera with 8k video, 50mp photo, and innovative features such as a built-in touchscreen, and voice control.  But what I think is most impressive is how quickly it can stitch 8k or 6k video.  Update: added HDR sample photos.

Pilot Era 360 camera HDR samples
Pilot Era 360 camera HDR samples

TABLE OF CONTENTS
Specifications
Sample 360 video
Sample 360 photo
HDR samples
Price and availability
Hands-on report

Pisofttech Pilot is an 8K camera with realtime stitching
Pisofttech Pilot is an 8K camera with realtime stitching

Updated: August 13, 2018 – added HDR shots
Updated: July 11, 2018 – added sample video


Here is a product video:

Pisofttech Pilot Era Specifications

Here are the specifications:

LensesFour fisheye lenses
Aperturef/2.4
SensorSony 12mp 1/2.3-inch sensor
Photo resolution8,192 x 4,096* updated 7/12/18
Video resolution (in-camera stitching but not realtime)7680 x 3840 @ 24fps*
6784 x 3392 @ 30fps
5760 x 2880 @ 30fps*
3840 x 1920 @ 60fps*
*updated 7/12/18
Video resolution (realtime in-camera stitching)7680 x 3840 @ 7fps
5760 x 2880 @ 15fps
3840 x 1920 @ 30fps
Live streaming3840 x 1920 @ 30fps
Facebook and YouTube
Video format, encoding and bitratemp4
H.264 / H.265
Bitrate:
up to 100mbps*
*updated 7/12/18
Audio4 microphones
Ambisonic sound
StabilizationRealtime image stabilization with AI and 9-axis gyro
LCD screen3.1-inch TFT LCD
touchscreen
full color
800 x 480
Storageinternal 64GB* +
one Micro SD card up to 256 GB
*updated 7/12/18
ConnectivityUSB Type C
Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
Ethernet (Gigabit)
4G (upgradeable to 5G)
Nano SIM Card
Mount1/4-20
Battery life7000 mah
3.5 hrs recording
removable battery
Dimensions61mm x 61mm x159mm
2.4 in x 2.4 in x 6.2 in
Weight565 grams
1.2 lbs.
Price and availability$3,000 (estimated)

At CES 2018, I met Pisofttech’s CEO Mr. Shen and CPO Mr. Gao and they explained that Pisofttech specializes in software and has been working with 360 camera manufacturers for a few years now but has finally decided to create its own camera, hence the Pilot Era.

The Pilot Era is very compact, with about the same dimensions as a regular-sized 16 oz. Monster Energy drink.

Thanks to Pisofttech’s expertise in software and AI, the Pilot Era has several unique features:

1. Realtime stitching for 6K video. 6K video can be stitched in realtime, in-camera. Imagine never having to spend time stitching 6K video.

2. In-camera stitching for 8K video.  With 8K video, stitching is not in realtime but can be done entirely in-camera. It takes approximately 2 mins to stitch 1 minute of video. By comparison, Insta360 Pro’s in-camera stitching takes 14.4 minutes per minute of video. Most other 8k 360 cameras can’t stitch 360 video at all.

If the user wishes to use third party stitchers, the camera can output to circular fisheye format.

3. A hybrid stitching approach. Some cameras use simple template based stitching which is fast but can only stitch correctly at one distance. Anything farther or closer will have stitching errors.  Other 360 cameras use optical flow stitching for smoother stitching but it is very processor-intensive and time consuming. Pilot Era uses a hybrid stitching approach that is comparable in accuracy to optical flow stitching but is much faster. In the demos we did, the stitching looked smooth for anything at least one meter away from the camera. The zenith also looked smooth because the Pilot Era’s lenses are pointed slightly upward, resulting is more overlap at the zenith. The nadir stitching was less smooth but was still decent.

4. Stabilization. Pilot Era uses AI to stabilize the video in addition to an internal gyroscope.

5. Easy intuitive controls. The Pilot Era has a color touchscreen with controls that are as intuitive as the controls on a smartphone camera.

6. In the future, they will add additional AI features, such as face recognition, gesture recognition, and being able to generate a depth map from a 2D 360 video.

PISOFTTECH PILOT ERA SAMPLE 360 VIDEO

In this montage, the first 2 clips are at 8k 22fps.  Starting around 0:45 there are four sample clips at 6K 30fps

Here is an older sample.

To me, the video samples have impressive detail. The dynamic range could be better, but it’s not bad. I also like the natural-looking colors and contrast. Stitching is better than I expected for a camera of this size, and looks quite smooth except at the nadir.

PISOFTTECH PILOT ERA SAMPLE PHOTOS

Here are sample photos from the Pilot Era, shot by Pisofttech at IVRPA 2018:

New HDR Samples

Pisofttech provided new HDR samples, showing a wider highlight and shadow range for HDR shots:

Pilot Era 360 camera HDR samples
Pilot Era 360 camera HDR samples

According to their representative, users can select the exposure interval for the HDR shots, up to +/- 4EV.

Here are the HDR 360 photos:


PRICE AND AVAILABILITY

The Pilot is estimated to be around $3,000, and is expected to be available on Amazon in Q2 2018.  They said they would send me a review sample for testing.  For more news on the Pilot, including an upcoming video of the Pilot in use, please bookmark this page.  In the meantime, here is Pisofttech’s official webpage.   You can apply to become a beta tester here (with a discount).

HANDS-ON REPORT

I got to try shooting with the Pisofttech Pilot Era at IVRPA and will post a new hands-on impressions video.  Stay tuned!  To get alerted by email, pls subscribe here (it’s totally free).

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Mic Ty

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