Find the best 360 camera for your needs with this clear, simple, and updated 360 Camera Buying Guide. You can also compare cameras with the 360 Camera Comparison Tool, the industry’s most comprehensive and systematic 360 camera ratings and ranking. This guide is continuously updated as new 360 cameras are released, and as new features are added to existing 360 cameras.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
1. 360 Camera Buying Guide – December 2019
– Upcoming cameras
2. Compare any two 360 cameras for photo.
– Comparison between 360 cameras vs. DSLRs (strictly speaking, mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras)
3. Compare any two 360 cameras for video
4. Use the comparison and ranking table to make a customized list of cameras with the features you choose. Sort the table to rank the cameras for photo, video, or convenience (features and workflow).
5. See a list of professional 360 cameras with the largest sensors
360 CAMERA BUYING GUIDE (December 2019)
Below are the instructions and an explanation of the 360 camera recommendation for each category.
Step 1: Determine your primary intended use. Is it for photos or videos? Look at the row that corresponds to your primary intended use.
Step 2: Determine your top priority, and look at the column in the table that corresponds to your top priority.
– Price / affordability
– Practicality / convenience: this includes convenience and ease of use, from shooting, editing, to sharing.
– Performance / image quality: this is primarily image quality, including features that directly affect image quality.
Step 3: Determine your second priority. Within each cell, see which camera corresponds to your second priority. For example, if your primary intended use is video, and your top priority is performance, and your second priority is practicality, then you should get the Insta360 One X.
Recommended 360 cameras as of December 2019:
A. Priority: Price / affordability
1. Next priority: Performance
Xiaomi Mi Sphere (reviewed here; $199): This 360 camera has the highest detail for 360 photos, for cameras under $500. It has manual exposure and can shoot DNG, and its desktop software can stitch DNG. As for videos, it can shoot 4K 30fps with decent quality, although the stabilization is not as good as the current generation.
GoPro Fusion (reviewed here; $299): This has the best dynamic range for 360 photos for cameras under $500. However, it does not have manual exposure. It does have a raw mode (GPR format) and its software can stitch in raw, but its raw workflow is tedious. Fusion also has excellent video (see below).
2. Next priority: Practicality
Madv Mini $99 (Android only): this is a smartphone 360 camera that takes photos with similar quality to the Ricoh Theta SC. Because it connects to your phone, it can transfer photos automatically to your phone, simplifying the workflow.
Ricoh Theta SC $179 (iOS, Android): this 360 camera can take standard or HDR photos with realtime stitching. The files from the camera are ready to share, no stitching required.
B. Priority: Practicality / convenience
1. Next Priority: Performance
Ricoh Theta Z1 (reviewed here; $999): This 360 camera uses 1-inch sensors (more than 4 times larger than typical 1/2.3-inch sensors in other 360 cameras). It can capture HDR photos with realtime stitching (no need for manual stitching or manual HDR), with excellent image quality, no editing needed. Theta Z1 has manual exposure and DNG mode. The DNG mode is not stitched in realtime, but has an easy workflow that enables editing and stitching in Lightroom.
2. Next Priority: Price
Ricoh Theta SC (reviewed here; $179 for iOS, Android): as mentioned above, this 360 camera can take HDR photos with realtime stitching, no editing needed. The quality is not as good as the Z1 but this is much more affordable. As for video, the Theta SC does have a video mode, but it is limited to a paltry 1920 x 960, which is far too low for 360 videos. The Theta SC is almost identical to the Theta S, except that the SC’s videos are limited to 5 minutes per video.
C. Priority: Performance / image quality
1. Next priority: Dynamic range
Ricoh Theta Z1 (reviewed here; $999): As discussed above, this 360 camera uses 1-inch sensors. It has the highest dynamic range for photos among 360 cameras I’ve tested. It also has very high exposure latitude and in bright light, is ISO invariant, with shadow recovery up to 5EV. It is also sharp and detailed, with very good stitching (although not perfect).
Qoocam 8K (reviewed here; $579): The Qoocam 8K has the second best dynamic range for 360 cameras, thanks to its 1/1.7-inch sensors and DNG8 burst mode with Kandao Raw+ image stacking. When used with the DNG8 mode, the Qoocam 8K is capable of shadow recovery up to 4EV or more. It has a little bit less detail than Theta Z1 but is still fairly detailed.
2. Next priority: Detail
XPhase Pro $879 (reviewed here): This is a new 360 camera with 25 BSI CMOS sensors that are each 8mp, for a total capture resolution of 200mp (stitched resolution: 135mp). With more than double the capture resolution of the previous record holder, Panono, the XPhase is the highest resolution 360 camera as of December 2019. Stitching quality is good, although there is occasional warping. The photos can be exported in 16-bit PNG format for editing and conversion into JPG. Surprisingly, the XPhase costs much less than either the Aleta S2C or the Ricoh Theta Z1.
Honorable mention: Aleta S2C (reviewed here; $1200 but check for discount code): This 360 camera has 66 megapixels. It can capture a 7-shot exposure bracket with identical stitching, which makes it convenient to fuse them as an HDR image using 3rd party software. Without HDR, the standard photos of the Aleta S2C have poor dynamic range. However, with HDR and with third party software, the Aleta can produce good results. Compared to the XPhase, the Aleta has less detail, but it has fewer stitch lines.
A. Priority: Price / affordability
1. Next priority: Performance
Yi 360 VR (reviewed here; $159 to $199): The Yi 360 VR is the most affordable 5.7K 360 camera, and is even more affordable than some 4K 360 cameras. It has been heavily discounted from its original $399 price because it appears the manufacturer is no longer updating it. Nonetheless, the Yi 360 VR still has excellent video quality. Its primary drawbacks are: lack of a Mac stitcher, and very slow stitching.
GoPro Fusion (reviewed here; $299): At $299, the GoPro Fusion is one of the most affordable 360 cameras with 5.6K resolution. At the same time, it also has excellent video quality, second only to the Insta360 One X.
2. Next priority: Practicality
Insta360 One (reviewed here; $199): If you want the convenience and features of the Insta360 One X at around half the price, the Insta360 One is for you. This is the predecessor to the One X with many of its features, including 2nd-generation stabilization, no stitch editing, hyperlapse, manual exposure for photos and videos. The video quality is limited to 4K though. Another issue is that when shooting wirelessly, there is no live preview.
B. Priority: Practicality / convenience
1. Next priority: Performance
GoPro MAX; $499): GoPro MAX is one of the easiest 360 cameras to use. It has a touchscreen, which makes changing settings easier. It is also the first 360 camera to feature a stabilized non-360 mode with realtime stitching (de-fishing and stabilization). Finally, it has fast stitching, although the Cineform format takes up a lot of space.
Insta360 One X (reviewed here; $399): Although the Insta360 One X does not have realtime stitching, it does have a no-editing workflow on both mobile and desktop, which makes it almost as easy as having realtime stitching. At the same, it also has class-leading video quality.
2. Next priority: Price
Yi 360 VR (reviewed here; $159 to $199): The Yi 360 VR is inconvenient for stitching at 5.7K resolution due to its slow stitching speed. However, the Yi 360 VR has a realtime stitching mode at 4K 30fps. In realtime stitching mode, the video is not stabilized. However, the Yi 360 VR does include a sidecar file that includes stabilization data, which enables stabilization to be added after-the-fact with the desktop software.
360Rize Penguin ($149): This 360 camera has realtime stitching for both photos and videos. The videos are 4K 30fps, although it can also shoot 6K at 12fps. It also has a slimmer profile than the Yi 360 VR, which means it has less parallax stitching error. However, its videos have no stabilization.
C. Priority: Performance / image quality
1. Next priority: Practicality
Qoocam 8K (reviewed here; $579): The Qoocam 8K has the best video quality among consumer 360 cameras, with slightly better detail and has less compression than the MAX or One X. It is also easy to use, thanks to its touchscreen. As of December 2019, the software is still a little buggy, but Kandao issues frequent firmware and app updates, and when they finalize it, I expect it will be very capable.
Insta360 One X (reviewed here; $399): The Insta360 One X is the most popular 360 camera at the moment because it has excellent video quality and is also easy to use. It has the longest list of features, such as slow motion, bullet time, time shift (speed ramping), hyperlapse, HDR Video, and more. Although it has flaws, it has no major weaknesses that could be truly considered dealbreakers.
GoPro MAX; $499): GoPro MAX has excellent video quality even without editing. Its weakness for performance is that it does not have a slow motion mode for 360 videos. If you’re willing to live with that, it’s a good choice for a camera with high performance.
2. Next priority: Price
GoPro Fusion (reviewed here; $299): The GoPro Fusion has video quality that is comparable to that of the Insta360 One X, although the stabilization in anti-shake mode is not as good as the One X’s direction lock. The Fusion doesn’t have as many features as the One X but is waterproof. Please note Fusion requires a graphics card, and exports only to Cineform or Prores codec.
These photos and videos are copyrighted and licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0). That means yes you can take screenshots for non-commercial use but you need to post a link back to this page. For any other use, please contact me to obtain a license. The comparison and ranking chart is copyrighted and may not be copied.
UPCOMING 360 CAMERAS
Next Insta360 camera: expected to be announced in January at CES.
Pilot One: already announced but pricing has not yet been revealed. Still waiting for sample photos and videos.
Teche Revolution: the first consumer 360 camera from the company that created the Teche Phiimax, Teche TE720 and other professional cameras.
360 CAMERA VIDEO COMPARISON TOOL
Click on the upper left corner to select a camera. Do the same for the other side. Remember: you can pause and loop (right click and select loop). You can also maximize each window by double-clicking on the video. Some cameras have multiple samples. Please choose the sample with the SAME DATE to make sure the lighting conditions are the same. I relabeled the playlist to make it easier to find the samples with the same lighting conditions.
360 CAMERA PHOTO COMPARISON TOOL
The comparison tool now includes comparisons of 360 cameras and some mirrorless cameras. This comparison is designed for 360 camera users who are considering using a DSLR for higher quality, as well as for DSLR shooters who are considering 360 cameras for speed.
Click on the carousel on the bottom to select a camera. Do the same for the other side. You can also maximize each window if you wish. Some cameras have multiple samples. Please choose the sample with the lighting conditions closest to the other camera you are comparing (use the shadows as a hint).
Bottom row: older 360 camera samples
360 CAMERAS vs. DSLRs (INTERCHANGEABLE LENS CAMERAS) PHOTO COMPARISON TOOL
Click on the carousel on the bottom to select a camera. Do the same for the other side. You can also maximize each window if you wish. Some cameras have multiple samples.
360 CAMERA COMPARISON TABLE AND RANKING CHART
This table is sortable, searchable, and can be filtered. You can sort the list by Photo rating, Video rating, Usability or other criteria to obtain a RANKING for Photo, Video, or Usability (features & workflow). Explanation of the scores here. You can also filter the results based on your requirements. For example, if you want to see which cameras are compatible with iOS and are waterproof, type “iOS water” in the search box.
|Camera (click for review)||Price (USD)||Video resolution||Photo resolution||Photo quality||Video quality||Stabilization||Usability||Key features||Issues||Compatibility|
|Panohero H5B||89||none||11466 x 5733|
|9.7||0||0||6.5||HDR (if supported by stitcher), raw (must convert to JPG)||Needs manual stitching, difficult to capture dynamic scenes||GoPro Hero 5 Black or Hero 6|
|Panono||2099||none||16384 x 8192||9.5||0||0||7.8||manual exposure, HDR, throwable, optical flow stitching||5 feet minimum stitching distance; stitching is via cloud; fringing; short battery life||iOS, Android, Windows, Mac|
|Insta360 Pro||3499||7680 x 3840 30fps|
6400 x 6400 30fps
3840 x 1920 120fps
3840 x 3840 60fps
|7680 x 7680|
7680 x 3840
|8.7||9.3||8.8||4K live streaming, record while streaming, 3D photo, 3D video, DNG raw, HDR, stabilization, identical batch stitching, VR live preview, manual exposure, GPS (with optional dongle)||Loud internal fan (has fanless mode up to 15 mins), slow startup time, needs recalibration for every new scene, minimum stitching distance around 6 feet, bugs||Android, iOS, Windows, Mac|
|Pano5+1 mk II||59||none||11470 x 5735|
|9.7||0||0||6.5||HDR (if supported by stitcher), raw (must convert to JPG)||Needs manual stitching, difficult to capture dynamic scenes||GoPro Hero 3, 4, 5, 6|
|Insta360 ONE X||399||5760 x 2880 30fps|
3840 x 1920 50fps
3008 x 1504 100fps
|6080 x 3040||8.7||8.9||9.0||9.5||Slow motion, HDR photo, HDR video, removable battery, stabilization, live streaming, free capture, smart tracking, bullet time, batch processing, tiny planet streaming, DNG raw stitching, hard case / lens cap / handle, optional waterproof case, can be plugged to USB while recording||5.7K limited to 30 mins per video, colors and contrast a bit flat, requires graphics card to stitch at full resolution||iOS, Android, Windows, Mac|
|MADV Madventure 360||309.99||3840 x 1920 @ 30fps||6912 x 3456||8.8||8.5||8.0||8.5||stabilization, manual exposure, water resistant, bullet time (120 fps)*, exposure bracketing*, DNG raw*, intervalometer, slow motion, timelapse, high bitrate mode video (55 mbps vs 40 mbps)*. Note: *requires app 1.8.4 or above||Some purple fringing near stitch line, bugs||iOS, Android, Windows|
|Xiaomi Mijia Mi Sphere||250||3840 x 1920 @ 30fps||6912 x 3456||8.8||8.5||8.0||8.5||stabilization, manual exposure, water resistant, bullet time (120 fps)*, exposure bracketing*, DNG raw*, intervalometer, slow motion, timelapse, high bitrate mode video (55 mbps vs 40 mbps)*. Note: *requires app 1.8.4 or above||Some purple fringing near stitch line, bugs||iOS, Android, Windows|
|GoPro Fusion||399||4992 x 2496 30fps|
3008 x 1504 60fps
|5760 x 2880||8.6||9.0||8.8||7.9||stabilization, waterproof, voice control, intervalometer, optical flow stitching via desktop, overcapture / cropped video, 3D spatial sound, GPS, raw (stitching software included)||No external housing, 5.2K videos exported in Cineform or Prores format only, slow stitching on Mac||iOS, Android, Mac, Windows|
|Samsung Gear 360 original||90||3840 x 1920 30fps||7776 x 3888||8.5||7.8||7.9||water resistant, street view, optical flow stitching||Blurgate, glare, prone to overheating, slow stitching, no manual exposure||Samsung S6 and above, Windows with Open CL 2.0|
|Insta360 ONE 126.96.36.199||299||3840 x 1920||6912 x 3456||8.3||8.5||8.7||8.8||stabilization, live streaming, free capture, smart tracking, bullet time, tiny planet streaming, DNG raw stitching, hard case / lens cap / handle, optional waterproof case, hybrid phone connection (can be used without a phone), can be plugged to USB while recording||No wireless live preview, video stitching can take a long time, battery not removable, prone to glare||iOS; (Android TBA), Windows, Mac|
|Insta360 Nano S||239||3840 x 1920||6272 x 3136||8.3||8.0||9.0||multiview, 360 video calling, stabilization, 4K live streaming, free capture, smart tracking, bullet time, tiny planet streaming, DNG raw, hybrid phone connection (can be used without a phone)||stabilization works only if connected to phone, short battery life||iOS, Mac, Windows,|
|Ricoh Theta V||399||3840 x 1920 30fps||5376 x 2788||8.3||8.5||8.3||3D spatial sound, external mic input, manual exposure, HDR, exposure bracketing, intervalometer, interval composite, street view mobile, waterproof housing optional, optical flow stitching, in-camera stitching (photo and video), stabilization, GPS geolocation tags via Street View app (if supported by phone)||Limited nonremovable memory||iOS, Android, Mac, Windows|
|Samsung Gear 360 2017||105||4096 x 2048 24fps||5472 x 2736||8.2||8.5||7.8||7.9||live streaming (1920 x 960), HDR, water resistant, optical flow stitching, street view||limited compatibility, stitch line warps when anything crosses stitch line near the camera, slow stitching||Samsung S6 and above|
iPhone 6 and above
Windows with OpenCL 2.0
|Rylo||499||3840 x 2160 30fps||6000 x 3000||8.1||8.8||9.0||8.3||Best stabilization, Best hyperlapse, frontback, follow me (tracking), look here (keyframing), waterproof housing||No Windows desktop app, need to delete a lot of files on your phone to process, no exposure controls||iOS, Android, Mac|
|Ricoh Theta S||299||1920 x 960 30fps||5376 x 2688||8.0||6.5||8.3||manual exposure, HDR, exposure bracketing, intervalometer, interval composite, street view, waterproof housing optional, optical flow stitching||Stitching videos via app is slow||iOS, Android, Mac, Windows|
|Ricoh Theta SC||199||1920 x 960 30fps||5376 x 2688||8.0||6.4||8.3||manual exposure, HDR, exposure bracketing, intervalometer, interval composite, street view, waterproof housing optional, optical flow stitching||Stitching videos via app is slow; 5-minute limit on videos||iOS, Android, Mac, Windows|
|Yi 360 VR||399||5760 x 2880 @ 30fps||5760 x 2880||8.0||8.7||7.9||4K live streaming, intervalometer, street view mobile, erase yourself automatically, optical flow stitching via desktop, voice control, GPS geolocation tags via Street View app (if supported by phone)||Slow stitching, poor in-cam stitching (use app or desktop stitching |
- they're excellent)
|iOS, Android, Windows|
|Garmin Virb 360||799||5760 x 2880 @ 30fps desktop stitched|
3840 x 2160 @ 30fps in-cam stitching
|5640 x 2816||8.2||8.4||8.8||Realtime stitching, stabilization, waterproof, replaceable lens, G-Metrix overlays, 4k live streaming with iOS, hyperframe, timelapse, travelapse, voice control, 3D spatial sound, GPS||Photos not street view compatible, template-based stitching for video, stabilization requires desktop stitching||iOS, Android, Mac, Windows|
|Kodak Orbit360||499||3840 x 1920 @ 24fps||7360 x 3680||7.8||8.0||7.8||water resistant, live streaming via pc, replaceable lens, intervalometer||Noticeable stitch line, lens becomes soft toward one stitch line, need to manually adjust stitching per image / video||iOS, Android, Mac, Windows|
|Kodak SP360 4K Dual Pro||649||3840 x 1920 @ 30fps||7680 x 3840||7.5||7.8||6.5||water resistant, replaceable lens, aerial kit, waterproof case with underwater stitching||Long workflow, flare, noticeable stitch line||iOS, Android, Mac, Windows|
|Nikon Keymission 360||499||3840 x 1920 @ 24fps||7744 x 3872||7.5||7.5||0||8.3||in-cam stitching for photos and videos, waterproof, remote activation||Lens is soft outside of center, noticeable stitch line, hard to connect to the app, recording button easily pressed by accident||iOS, Android, Mac, Windows|
|LG 360 Cam||100||2560 x 1280 30fps||5660 x 2830||7.5||7.0||8.0||remote activation, street view, hard case / lens cap / handle, 3D spatial sound (via firmware update)||Noticeable stitch line, hard to update app||iOS, Android|
|Giroptic iO||199||1920 x 1080||3840 x 1920||7.4||7.0||8.5||360 video calls, stabilization, live streaming, realtime in-camera stitching||Giroptic now closed; short battery life, Cannot be used without phone||iOS, Android|
|Ion360 U||299||3840 x 1920||3840 x 1920||7.4||7.5||7.8||live streaming 3840 x 1920||bugs, no desktop app||iPhone 7, 7 plus|
Samsung S8, S8 plus
|Insta360 Nano||199||3040 x 1520||3040 x 1520||7.3||7.5||8.8||stabilization, live streaming, HDR, tiny planet streaming, hybrid phone connection (can be used without a phone)||Soft at stitch line||iOS, Mac, Windows,|
|Insta360 Air||129||3008 x 1504 some phones|
2560 x 1280
|3008 x 1504||7.3||7.5||8.8||stabilization, live streaming, tiny planet streaming, manual horizon correction,||Cannot be used without phone||Android, Mac, Windows|
|Kandao Obsidian R||6999||7680 x 7680 30fps||7680 x 7680||live streaming 7680 x 7680, depth aware stitching, depth mapping||Needs i7, 24GB ram and GTX 1080 to stitch video at 8K||iOS, Android, Windows (i7, 24GB RAM, GTX 1080)|
|VRDL360 preproduction||199||3072 x 1536 30fps||7000 x 3500||iOS, Android,|
|Vuze 3D 360 Camera||799||3840 x 3840 30fps|
3840 x 2160 30fps
|3840 x 3840||3D 360,||Stitching on corners is noticeable||iOS, Android, Windows, Mac (beta)|
|LucidCam||499||2048 x 4096 24fps||4320 x 2160 SBS||3D 180,||Long workflow for youtube 360, 180 only||iOS, Android, Windows|
How to use the Ultimate 360 Camera Comparison Tool:
Here are the 360 cameras with the largest sensors
|Camera (click for more info)||Price||Sensor||Video Resolution|
|Excalibur||15100||Four full frame sensors (Sony A7S)||6K (8mm lens)|
|Rig Red||Two full frame Red Helium sensors||8K 60fps|
|Entaniya 250 rig||Two APS-C sensors (Sony a6500)||5K (back to back)|
4K (side to side)
|Z Cam V1 Pro||35000||nine Micro Four Thirds sensors||8K 2D|
|Insta360 Titan||12000||Eight Micro Four Thirds sensors||10K 3D 360|
|iZugar Z8XL||9999||Eight Micro Four Thirds||5.4K 3D 360|
|Z Cam S1 Pro||9800||Four Micro Four Thirds sensors||6K 2D 360 (partial 3D 360)|
|iZugar Z4XL||4999||Four Micro Four Thirds sensors||6K 2D 360|
|Boxfish 360 underwater camera||15000||Three Micro Four Thirds sensors||5K (waterproof to 300 meters)|
|Z Cam K1 Pro||3000||Two Micro Four Thirds sensors||6K VR180|
|iZugar Z2XL180||2699||Two Micro Four Thirds sensors|
|Entaniya 250 one-shot||One Micro Four Thirds sensor||4K 250-degrees|
|Sphericam Beast||Four 1-inch sensors||6K|
|Indiecam nakedEye S4||Four 2/3-inch sensors||6K CinemaDNG raw|
|Indiecam nakedEye||9500 EUR||Two 2/3-inch sensors||4K CinemaDNG raw|
OTHER BUYING GUIDES:
Previous buying guide (November 2018)
Best 360 camera for virtual tours and real estate:
Best 360 camera for virtual tours and real estate (Q1 2018)
Best 360 camera for a travel, vacation, or cruise
Best 360 camera for cyclists, motorcyclists, and motorsports