Ultracker Aleta S2C is a 360 camera with one of the highest photo resolutions on the market and it is now available in the US. Meanwhile, here are new full-resolution sample photos from the release version of the Ultracker S2C, which can capture 12K (66-megapixel) 360 photos and shoot 360 video in 4K. October 31, 2018 update: new samples show improved stitching.
October 31, 2018 update: new samples with improved stitching
August 31, 2018 update: availability, how to shoot, new samples.
June 18, 2018: New sample photos from prototype.
May 15, 2018: features updated, price and availability updated
There are many 360 cameras on the market, and they’re leapfrogging each other with video resolution. But most 360 cameras have a resolution of only around 16mp and very few have a resolution higher than 32mp. Seeking to fill the need for high resolution photo, Ultracker’s Aleta S2 is a new 360 camera that will take 12K (66 megapixel) 360 photos. There will be two versions of the Aleta S2: S2C (Light) and S2 Pro (Professional), which differ in video quality. The S2C is now available, while the S2 Pro is still being developed.
Here is a product video:
Ultracker Aleta S2 and S2C Specifications and Features
Here are their specfications. Note: Aleta S2 and S2C specifications are the same, except for the video framerate at 4K.
|Lenses||five 2.6mm fisheye lenses (four horizontal + 1 zenith)|
|Field of view||Fully spherical|
|Sensors||five 14mp CMOS sensors|
|Photo resolution||11520 x 5760 (66mp)|
|Video resolution||3840 x 1920 @ 30fps (S2 model)|
3840 x 1920 @ 10fps (S2C model)
3072 x 1536 @ 24fps
1920 x 960 @ 30fps
|Time lapse||7680 x 3840 @ 2fps|
5760 x 2880 @ 3fps
|Live streaming||HDMI, Wi-Fi, RTMP, RTSP|
|Audio||Line in, Microphone input|
|Stabilization||9-axis IMU (gyroscope, accelerometer, e-compass)|
|Connectivity||Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n|
|Battery||18650 Li-ion battery (2600 mAh) x 2|
|Operating temperature||-10C to 40C (14F to 104F)|
|Operating humidity||0 to 90%|
|Dimensions||103mm diameter x 158mm height|
One of the key features of Ultracker is its in-camera optical flow stitching. For users who prefer to stitch with their own software, it is also possible to save the photo as five unstitched photos.
Aleta S2C will also feature HDR. It will take 3 exposures a mere 0.1 secs apart (which makes it less likely that there will be noticeable ghosting). In July, Ultracker will update the firmware to enable the camera to enable the HDR shots to be blended automatically.
The in-camera stitching and HDR mode will be particularly useful and convenient for virtual tour photographers.
How to shoot and stitch with Aleta S2C
Shooting with the Aleta is easy. You can either shoot with the on-camera controls, or the app. The on-camera control is limited to a shutter (although it can use a self-timer). Startup takes a while on the prototype (around 30 seconds, including the time to read the Micro SD card). There is a noticeable fan noise.
Once the app is installed, you can connect the camera to the app using your phone’s Wi-Fi. The password will be shown on the LCD display of the camera.
Aleta S2 can stitch photos automatically in-camera, in 360 equirectangular format, saved into the Micro SD card. You don’t need to do anything.
Aleta S2C Sample Photos (updated October 31, 2018)
Here are several new full resolution photo samples from the Aleta S2C showing improved stitching.
The stitching on the October 31, 2018 samples is very good, if not excellent. There are only somewhat minor stitching errors in the nadir.
The detail and resolution on these samples look excellent, similar to the level of detail you would expect from a panoramic shot from a DSLR with a circular fisheye lens. Here is a 100% crop:
The dynamic range looks much better than the prototype, although nowhere as good as the dynamic range of a spherical panorama from a DSLR. In the screenshot below, the photo was taken in sunny 16 conditions, yet even the highlights on the metallic lions and the white sphere were all preserved, as were the details in the shadows of the trees in the background.
Flare appears controlled insofar as there appears to be little reduction in contrast. However, there are some flare artifacts.
WDR Sample Photos
In August, Ultracker added a WDR (wide dynamic range) mode. Although WDR and HDR both increase the dynamic range, WDR is different from HDR in that WDR uses only a single exposure, whereas HDR uses multiple exposures. Here is a cropped photo showing the dramatic difference with and without WDR:
Here are the 360 photos showing WDR. First, a photo without WDR:
Here is a photo with WDR:
In addition to WDR, Aleta S2C will also have HDR mode, but processing the HDR may require desktop software.
PRICE and AVAILABILITY (updated: August 31, 2018)
The price is around $1210 with Free Prime shipping. I’ve used the prototype for a few weeks, but the final version is much better. Ultracker said they’ll send the final version for review so check back for a hands-on review soon. What do you think of the Aleta S2C so far? Any features that you want to be added? Post your questions and suggestions in the comments! Ultracker’s official website is here.