Are you looking for a 360 camera but don’t want to spend more than $150? In 2017, your options are better than ever. The best one for you depends on two main factors: what kind of phone you have, and whether you want to shoot mostly photos, or videos, or both. Follow this 3-step questionnaire.
1. Do you have a Samsung S6 or above?
a. Yes: Samsung Gear 360 2016 (in-depth review here; currently below $100 here) or Samsung Gear 360 2017 ($167 at Amazon or currently around $130 on eBay). They both have similar quality video. The difference is that Gear 360 2016 has better stitching and has higher resolution photos. Gear 360 2017 is more convenient to shoot with because of its shape. Gear 360 2017 also has live streaming and true multi-shot HDR mode.
b. No: go to #2
2. Are you ok using a 360 camera without a phone?
You’ll have to rely on the on-camera buttons, and you won’t be able to get a live view or to review your shots until you get to your desktop.
a. Yes, and you have a Windows PC with Intel iCore 3rd generation or above: Samsung Gear 360 2016 (currently below $100) or Samsung Gear 360 2017 ($167 at Amazon or currently around $130 at eBay).
b. Yes, and you have a Mac that meets these requirements: Samsung Gear 360 2017 ($167 at Amazon or currently around $130 at eBay).
c. No, or your PC or Mac is not compatible: go to #3
3. Choose your priority:
a. Videos and/or social media: Insta360 Air (reviewed here; check compatibility). Insta360 Air is available from Amazon (Micro USB or USB Type C). If your phone is not compatible with Insta360 Air, go to option Step 3B below.
c. Real estate, architecture, or landscape photos: check out theVRKit. It will enable your smartphone to take 8K 360 photos of nonmoving subjects.
d. Underwater use: LG 360 Cam (currently under $100) with underwater case or MGCool 360 / Elecam 360 (currently around $120). Available at GearBest (don’t forget the waterproof case) or Amazon. Elecam will have better stitching but lower video resolution.
LG 360 Cam with Voia case:
Elecam 360 with underwater case: