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Kandao QooCam 360 and 3D camera HANDS-ON review + 10 FEATURES + Tutorial (updated September 4, 2018 with SAMPLE PHOTOS and VIDEOS)

Kandao Qoocam hands-on report and tutorial
Kandao Qoocam hands-on report and tutorial

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 September 4, 2018 updates: endurance record, new mobile app features

Qoocam app version 1.3 adds export options
Qoocam app version 1.3 adds export options
Qoocam outlasts other 360 cameras
Qoocam outlasts other 360 cameras
5 easy 6DOF animation effects with After Effects and Kandao Qoocam Studio
5 easy 6DOF animation effects with After Effects and Kandao Qoocam Studio
Qoocam sample photos and videos
Qoocam sample photos and videos with analysis

TABLE OF CONTENTS

What is Qoocam?
Hands-On Report
Specifications
Key Features
Introducing Qoocam; First Impressions and Tutorial
Sample videos and sample photo
Workflow and Depth Mapping Effects Tutorial
Defect in some units
Summary and where to buy

Update history:
September 4, 2018 – app update, endurance record
August 27, 2018 – Mac stitcher, defects
August 2, 2018 – demo and tutorial of how you can use its depth mapping to achieve amazing 6DOF effects quickly and easily
July 30, 2018
July 28, 2018 – first impressions,  hands-on report and new 360 video samples!
June 11, 2018 – hands-on report and sample 360 video
May 16, 2018 – sample video
May 2, 2018 10 features
April 30, 2018
February 11, 2018 Qoocam additional features, and minisite launched
January 20, 2018
December 19, 2017


What is Qoocam?

Kandao Qoocam
Kandao Qoocam

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:


I got to try shooting with the Qoocam in May 2018, with both the 360 mode and VR180 mode.  Here is my hands-on report (see below for hands-on demo, tutorial and first impressions):

QOOCAM SPECIFICATIONS:

LensesThree 220-degree fisheye lenses
Aperturef/2.2
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 codecH.264 and H.265
Photo resolution (VR view mode)4320 x 2160
Live streaming3D video
180 3D video
360 + 180 3D video
StorageRemovable micro SD up to 256GB
Battery2600 mAh
180 mins continuous recording
Other featuresdepth mapping
refocusing
background editor
HDR

Note that the table states that the battery life is 180 minutes.  That refers to continuous recording and I can confirm that it is accurate (see below).

KANDAO QOOCAM KEY FEATURES

Qoocam: 10 amazing features
Qoocam: 10 amazing features

Here are 10 of its key features:

1. Class-leading endurance (updated: September 4, 2018) for both battery life and resistance to overheating.  Using a Sandisk Ultra 128GB Micro SD card, I was able to record for 3 hours 26 minutes continuously in 4K.  At that point, the camera battery ran out although there was still space on the card.  This is the longest I’ve been able to record on any 360 camera using the internal battery. I conducted the test indoors in 78F temperature, without air conditioning or a fan.

Kandao Qoocam records for over 206 mins.
Kandao Qoocam records for over 206 mins.

2. Image stabilization. Qoocam has excellent built-in image stabilization.  The stabilization performance is so good that it may overtake Rylo as best-in-class (I plan to do further tests).  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).

3. 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.)

4. 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.  In the future, Qoocam will enable you to change backgrounds, thanks to its depth mapping technology.  See below for a tutorial.

5. 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.

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?

Kandao Qoocam hands-on review
Kandao Qoocam hands-on

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

Kandao Qoocam hands-on review
Kandao Qoocam hands-on

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.

Kandao Qoocam hands-on review
Kandao Qoocam unboxing: the Kandao logo is actually between these two lenses, but it’s so subtle that you can’t even see it in this unedited photo

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
Kandao Qoocam: 1/4-20 tripod hole and reset button

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 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.

Kandao Qoocam 3D 180 Left and right lens synchronization
Kandao Qoocam 3D 180 Left and right lens synchronization

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.

Qoocam 3D 180 has excellent alignment - minimal vertical disparity
Qoocam 3D 180 has excellent alignment – minimal vertical disparity
Kandao Qoocam 3D Alignment test
Kandao Qoocam 3D Alignment test

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

Mobile app (updated: September 4, 2018)

Qoocam app version 1.3 adds export options
Qoocam app version 1.3 adds export options

With version 1.3, Kandao added several features to the Qoocam’s mobile app:
– 360 videos can be stitched in full resolution with optical flow stitching, and with stabilization.
– You can now export 360 or 3D 180 photos or videos either in 360 or 3D respectively. The exported photos and videos will appear in your phone’s Gallery / Camera Roll.  In addition, there are automatic presets for Facebook, YouTube,  Veer and other apps.
–  You can share a non-360 cropped version in Facebook, Instagram, or other apps.  For video, they can be either exported as a non-360 video with a fixed view, or with keyframed animations.  You can use various projections such as fisheye, rectilinear or tiny planet

With version 1.3, the Qoocam app makes a purely mobile workflow possible.  As of September 4, 2018, version 1.3 is available only for Android, but the iOS version will be available soon.

Desktop app

The desktop stitching software is now available for Windows and Mac.

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.


Defect in some units

Kandao Qoocam defective base plate
Kandao Qoocam defective base plate. Photo by Scott Pooler. Used with permission

Some units have a defective base as first reported by reader Scott Pooler (he share these photos from his unit).  In some units, the base can be pried off due to a weak mount.  If you attach the camera to a selfie stick or monopod, the base will break off with normal use in these defective units.  Kandao’s CEO tested random units and confirmed that a small percentage have this defect.  He has promised to replace defective units.

Kandao Qoocam defective base plate. Photo by Scott Pooler. Used with permission
Kandao Qoocam defective base plate. Photo by Scott Pooler. Used with permission

For defective units, the repair consists of inserting a screw into the tripod hole itself.

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 has incredible stabilization, good image quality for videos, and is one of the first consumer cameras to be able to convert from a 360 camera to a 3D 180 camera.  In the next few months, we should see more updates that will add other capabilities such as raw photos.  Qoocam is currently available on Amazon.

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.

About the author

Mic Ty

40 Comments

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  • This reminds me of the TwoEyes VR camera that has four lenses – two on each side – for a 3D 360 capture (of sorts).

    And I say “of sorts” because twin fish-eye lenses do not fully capture the scene in 3D – only that which is directly in front of them…

      • They went through several design changes and now are trying to upgrade the electronics according to a recent post on Indiegogo. Their new delivery date is now November 2018 and they are probably not going to meet it.

        Anyhow, the big problem is the design and quality of this camera. Their video samples revealed a lack of sync between left and right images, poor video quality and poor audio. I don’t know how much better the final product will be, but it will be competing against VR180 cameras that seem to perform much better.

  • Maybe it can do 3D 360° in the same way that I have been experimenting in creating full 360 in stereo with one Theta S – not just front and back, but to the sides as well.

    It would be a manual process for photos only, rotate it 90° taking four photos altogether. The lens close to the pole looks like it might be offset 3.25cm (half the distance of the two lenses/half the IPD).

  • Backer #1. I was refreshing form 9AM on. I’m very excited to see this make it to the finish line – hopefully before a vacation I’ve got planned in December (I never truly trust the delivery dates on Kickstarter).

  • Thanks for a great summary of this camera. The focus-after-the-fact feature intrigues me and I wonder if the depth function can be used with some AR/VR-ish ideas i have for a short film . Thanks again.

  • A friend of mine who subscribed to the Kickstarter campaign just sent me a link to some recent picture and clip samples taken with the Qoocam and I was surprised to find both the pics and clips are substantially sharper than those from the Mirage. In fact, the clip is the sharpest I have seen from a consumer 3D 180 or 360 camera. Video sync looks much improved over their initial clip samples. But stills sync is not perfect yet as seen in the picture of the peacock where the foot at the left is clearly out of sync.

    https://onedrive.live.com/?authkey=%21AIuPxIUoA8F41So&id=3B28AF740261022E%2119711&cid=3B28AF740261022E

  • The qoocam only does 3d at 30fps? THat doesn’t make sense because 360 is at 60fps. 3d would just be using a different lens. Not sure why that would cause 3d to have to be at half the framerate of 360 video. It should be the same thing, but just switching to using a different lens. I need 60fps 3d basically. This is what is stopping me from buying just about every 3d product out there. I am shooting synced gopro cams now and its still the best due to the wide range of framerates I can shoot at. I can shoot twin 4k 30fps now, so that’s really 8k 3d. 2.7k per eye gives me the 60fps I need. Nothing is close to this yet. Orangelab makes the gopro sync device.

    • Hi Steve. There is a difference between headset refresh rate and the video rate. Headset refresh rate for decent VR as you know is at least 60 hz (Gear VR). But the video doesn’t have to be more than 30fps or even 24fps. You can watch on youtube any number of 360 videos with 30fps and they won’t make you sick in a VR headset. but if you really want 3D 360 at 60fps, yes it’s doable with cameras such as Kandao Obsidian S (8K 3D @ 50fps), Kandao Obsidian R, Insta360 Pro (4K 3D @ 60fps).
      Best regards,
      Mic

  • Whoops. I just watched your latest video update on the Qoocam and was so excited that I immediately purchased via Indiegogo. Only after I purchased did I realize the very low photo resolution of the product. I had to cancel and refund immediately. It is definitely geared towards video capture. I love the concept of a combo 360 camera and VR180 camera, but the photo resolution is a personal disappointment.

  • I was surprised to hear you say (in your recent hands-on review) that the VR180 footage from the Qoocam appears to be on par with that of the Mirage. I found the zoo clip shot with the Qoocam (downloaded directly from their page) much sharper than any footage I have seen shot from the Mirage. Granted, the footage I saw taken with the Mirage came mostly from YT. But nonetheless, the Qoocam footage turned out to be sharper than most VR content I have yet seen. The video sync (left and right image sync) is also much improved on the zoo clip when compared to the earlier fencing clip where sync errors are obvious.

    However, as I mentioned in an earlier post, the stills sync remains problematic. I don’t know if they left you a sample of the camera. But if they did, you might want to test stills sync accuracy and report your findings to them. Sync has always been a concern with stereo cameras. Cameras such as UCVR or Lucidcam never even managed good video sync.

  • Excellent product! I have a few questions. When streaming, does the video also being recorded to the SD card? Can you remotely control the camera from a mobile phone?

    • Hi Nathan! Yes you can remotely control the camera from a mobile phone. In the video, you can see Ivy was controlling the camera with her phone wirelessly. I don’t know if live streams are also recorded. Let me find out!
      Best regards,
      Mic

  • Thank you for a great review!

    If you were to pick between the Rylo and the Qoocam, which one would you go for and why?
    (Main focus is on the 360 photos and videos).
    Would be great if you can help me decide between the two!

  • Great review, thanks for sharing your insights.

    Have you noticed any issues with the tripod mount not being centered? I had a mount for my Fusion 360 that was slightly offset and had issues seeing the pole at the nadir. Wondering if Qoocam will have the same issues, or if the pole is completely hidden?

    How would you compare image quality between Qoocam and Fusion 360? And workflow..is Qoocam workflow better than Fusion Studio?

  • I bought Qoocam and recieved it yesterday.
    This is my first impression
    I compared it with the other two I own
    The easiest to use is MI
    Low resolution is a big problem for me.
    I expect improvement with firmware

    Video color ThetaS>QooCam>MI
    White balance QooCam>ThetaS>MI
    Color profile QooCam>ThetaS>MI
    Dynamic range QooCam=MI>ThetaS
    Video resolution MI>>QooCam=ThetaS
    Video stability QooCam>>MI>>ThetaS
    Still picture color ThetaS>QooCam>MI
    Resolution of still image MI>>>ThetaS>QooCam
    Ease of holding MI>>>ThetaS>QooCam
    Remote shutter MI>QooCam
    battery QooCam>>>MI=ThetaS
    Smartphone application function MI>ThetaS>>>>QooCam
    PC software function QooCam>>>ThetaS>MI
    Stability of PC software QooCam>ThetaS>>>MI

  • Is there a way to generate depth maps for the 360 images? It seems that the front and back lenses are offset and hence may be possible?

  • Thank you for the quick ‘tutorial’ on using AE’s Displacement Map Filter. Regrettably, I have little luck with the depth maps. Edge detection seems to be very week and hence, when applying After Effects’ Displacement Map, for example, even with the slightest (<30) horizontal or vertical displacement values, the image gets cut up and distorted. There have been a few situations where it worked, but mostly not.

    • Hi Andras. The Qoocam is not a true 6DOF camera, so the displacement map effects can only work within a relatively narrow range. You’ll need to use it for more subtle animations to make it convincing, or else the image will look distorted as you noted. This is not so much a Qoocam issue but simply a limitation of depth map technology at the moment. IOW, that’s all we can do at this point, unless you have an actual 3D model from videogrammetry or 3D scanning.

    • While there have been a statistically small number of mishaps, the company has taken steps already to own the newly discovered issue and address the it on multiple channels. They are also offering to have the faulty units replaced at no charge. Please keep in mind, this is a brand new product, and those who have it hand must (and do) understand these risks when they support the development of a brand new product from scratch. Overall, it is a truly innovative camera which has a highly capable team behind it; one that has also has shown their hard work in the development of the supporting software. I applaud them.

  • don’t really understand why they didn’t add a 4th lens to give a real 3d 360 camera. Vr180 is a good idea but for few bucks more you would get vr360 3d and of course also vr180 3d letting the choice to the photographer witch one he want.

    • I gather they did not want to appear to be stealing the concept from TwoEyes VR which offers exactly that.

      TwoEyes VR announced their project much before Kandao but they are still in development As I mentioned elsewhere in the comments, the new delivery date for the TwoEyes VR is November 2018. But at this point, I would wait till the camera is actually in production and the user reviews have been posted. Many of the subscribers now believe the camera will never go into production and that this will be yet another failed Kickstarter campaign…

  • Hi,
    Which android phones are compatible with the qoocam. I have emailed kandao service and sales and not had any reply. There is a small list on their help page but it also says android 6.0 and above .

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