Best 360 Camera Buying Guide and Ultimate 360 Camera Comparison and by 360 Rumors (updated July 30, 2019)

Best 360 camera for virtual tours (December 2018)
Best 360 camera for virtual tours (December 2018)

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.

Best 360 camera buying guide and 360 camera comparison
Best 360 camera buying guide and 360 camera comparison

TABLE OF CONTENTS
1. 360 Camera Buying Guide – July 2019
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 (July 2019)

 

360 Camera Buying Guide by 360 Rumors (July 30, 2019)
360 Camera Buying Guide by 360 Rumors (July 30, 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 July 2019:

I. Photo

     A. Priority: Price / affordability

          1. Next priority: Performance

Xiaomi Mijia Mi Sphere 360 camera (c) 360rumors.com

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 360 camera

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 360 camera with 1-inch sensors

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.

 

Ricoh Theta V (reviewed here; $379 for iOS, Android): this has the same realtime HDR stitching feature as the SC and Z1 but has slightly better image quality than the Theta SC due to better lenses.  The primary benefit of the Theta V over the SC is the ability to record stabilized 360 video at 4K (plus the option to use realtime stitching for video).

     C. Priority: Performance / image quality

         1. Next priority: Dynamic range

Ricoh Theta Z1 360 camera with 1-inch sensors

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).  Note: in August 2019, the new version of XPhase may have better dynamic range.

         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 July 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.

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.

II. Video

     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 360 camera

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
Insta360 ONE

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


Pisofttech Pilot Era (reviewed here; $2799): Pilot Era is the easiest and most intuitive 360 camera I have used.  It is one of the rare 360 cameras with a touchscreen, which makes it easy to view the photos and videos, and to change settings.  Pilot Era also has realtime stitching with stabilization at 4K 24fps.  It can also shoot at 8K 24fps.  At 8K, videos are not stitched in realtime, but can be stitched in-camera automatically — one of only two cameras that have such capability at 8K (the other being the Insta360 Pro) — and the only one to be able to initiate the in-camera stitching entirely in the camera without a phone or laptop.  Another convenient feature is the large 512GB storage, so you don’t have to deal with Micro SD cards.  Other than price, the Pilot Era’s main disadvantage is the stabilization performance, which is mediocre as of July 2019.  However, the stabilization performance has been improving with frequent OTA firmware updates.

Insta360 One X, a stabilized 360 camera that captures a third person view video at up to 5.7K

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 to $299): 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

Insta360 One X, a stabilized 360 camera that captures a third person view video at up to 5.7K

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.

          2. Next priority: Price

GoPro Fusion 360 camera

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.

GoPro Fusion review and comparison
Top to bottom: Ricoh Theta V, Insta360 ONE, Yi 360 VR, Samsung Gear 360 2017, Samsung Gear 360 2016, Kodak Orbit360, Xiaomi Mijia Mi Sphere, Garmin Virb 360, Nikon Keymission 360.

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

360 cameras vs. DSLRs (technically, interchangeable lens cameras)
360 cameras vs. DSLRs (technically, interchangeable lens cameras)

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).

Top row: new comparison with Ricoh Theta Z1 and XPhase Pro (August 2019)
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 resolutionPhoto resolutionPhoto qualityVideo qualityStabilizationUsabilityKey featuresIssuesCompatibility
Panohero H5B89none11466 x 5733
approx.
9.7006.5HDR (if supported by stitcher), raw (must convert to JPG)Needs manual stitching, difficult to capture dynamic scenesGoPro Hero 5 Black or Hero 6
Panono2099none16384 x 81929.5007.8manual exposure, HDR, throwable, optical flow stitching5 feet minimum stitching distance; stitching is via cloud; fringing; short battery lifeiOS, Android, Windows, Mac
Insta360 Pro34997680 x 3840 30fps
6400 x 6400 30fps
3840 x 1920 120fps
3840 x 3840 60fps
7680 x 7680
7680 x 3840
8.79.38.84K 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, bugsAndroid, iOS, Windows, Mac
Pano5+1 mk II59none11470 x 5735
approx.
9.7006.5HDR (if supported by stitcher), raw (must convert to JPG)Needs manual stitching, difficult to capture dynamic scenesGoPro Hero 3, 4, 5, 6
Insta360 ONE X3995760 x 2880 30fps
3840 x 1920 50fps
3008 x 1504 100fps
6080 x 30408.78.99.09.5Slow 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 recording5.7K limited to 30 mins per video, colors and contrast a bit flat, requires graphics card to stitch at full resolutioniOS, Android, Windows, Mac
MADV Madventure 360309.993840 x 1920 @ 30fps6912 x 34568.88.58.08.5stabilization, 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 aboveSome purple fringing near stitch line, bugsiOS, Android, Windows
Xiaomi Mijia Mi Sphere2503840 x 1920 @ 30fps6912 x 34568.88.58.08.5stabilization, 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 aboveSome purple fringing near stitch line, bugsiOS, Android, Windows
GoPro Fusion3994992 x 2496 30fps
3008 x 1504 60fps
5760 x 28808.69.08.87.9stabilization, 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 MaciOS, Android, Mac, Windows
Samsung Gear 360 original903840 x 1920 30fps7776 x 38888.57.87.9water resistant, street view, optical flow stitchingBlurgate, glare, prone to overheating, slow stitching, no manual exposureSamsung S6 and above, Windows with Open CL 2.0
Insta360 ONE 1.16.7.12993840 x 19206912 x 34568.38.58.78.8stabilization, 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 recordingNo wireless live preview, video stitching can take a long time, battery not removable, prone to glareiOS; (Android TBA), Windows, Mac
Insta360 Nano S2393840 x 19206272 x 31368.38.09.0multiview, 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 lifeiOS, Mac, Windows,
Ricoh Theta V3993840 x 1920 30fps5376 x 27888.38.58.33D 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 memoryiOS, Android, Mac, Windows
Samsung Gear 360 20171054096 x 2048 24fps5472 x 27368.28.57.87.9live streaming (1920 x 960), HDR, water resistant, optical flow stitching, street viewlimited compatibility, stitch line warps when anything crosses stitch line near the camera, slow stitchingSamsung S6 and above
iPhone 6 and above
Windows with OpenCL 2.0
Mac
Rylo4993840 x 2160 30fps6000 x 30008.18.89.08.3Best stabilization, Best hyperlapse, frontback, follow me (tracking), look here (keyframing), waterproof housingNo Windows desktop app, need to delete a lot of files on your phone to process, no exposure controlsiOS, Android, Mac
Ricoh Theta S2991920 x 960 30fps5376 x 26888.06.58.3manual exposure, HDR, exposure bracketing, intervalometer, interval composite, street view, waterproof housing optional, optical flow stitchingStitching videos via app is slowiOS, Android, Mac, Windows
Ricoh Theta SC1991920 x 960 30fps5376 x 26888.06.48.3manual exposure, HDR, exposure bracketing, intervalometer, interval composite, street view, waterproof housing optional, optical flow stitchingStitching videos via app is slow; 5-minute limit on videosiOS, Android, Mac, Windows
Yi 360 VR3995760 x 2880 @ 30fps5760 x 28808.08.77.94K 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 3607995760 x 2880 @ 30fps desktop stitched
3840 x 2160 @ 30fps in-cam stitching
4736
5640 x 28168.28.48.8Realtime stitching, stabilization, waterproof, replaceable lens, G-Metrix overlays, 4k live streaming with iOS, hyperframe, timelapse, travelapse, voice control, 3D spatial sound, GPSPhotos not street view compatible, template-based stitching for video, stabilization requires desktop stitchingiOS, Android, Mac, Windows
Kodak Orbit3604993840 x 1920 @ 24fps7360 x 36807.88.07.8water resistant, live streaming via pc, replaceable lens, intervalometerNoticeable stitch line, lens becomes soft toward one stitch line, need to manually adjust stitching per image / videoiOS, Android, Mac, Windows
Kodak SP360 4K Dual Pro6493840 x 1920 @ 30fps7680 x 38407.57.86.5water resistant, replaceable lens, aerial kit, waterproof case with underwater stitchingLong workflow, flare, noticeable stitch lineiOS, Android, Mac, Windows
Nikon Keymission 3604993840 x 1920 @ 24fps7744 x 38727.57.508.3in-cam stitching for photos and videos, waterproof, remote activationLens is soft outside of center, noticeable stitch line, hard to connect to the app, recording button easily pressed by accidentiOS, Android, Mac, Windows
LG 360 Cam1002560 x 1280 30fps5660 x 28307.57.08.0remote activation, street view, hard case / lens cap / handle, 3D spatial sound (via firmware update)Noticeable stitch line, hard to update appiOS, Android
Giroptic iO1991920 x 10803840 x 19207.47.08.5360 video calls, stabilization, live streaming, realtime in-camera stitchingGiroptic now closed; short battery life, Cannot be used without phoneiOS, Android
Ion360 U2993840 x 19203840 x 19207.47.57.8live streaming 3840 x 1920bugs, no desktop appiPhone 7, 7 plus
iPhone 8?
Samsung S8, S8 plus
Insta360 Nano1993040 x 15203040 x 15207.37.58.8stabilization, live streaming, HDR, tiny planet streaming, hybrid phone connection (can be used without a phone)Soft at stitch lineiOS, Mac, Windows,
Insta360 Air1293008 x 1504 some phones
2560 x 1280
3008 x 15047.37.58.8stabilization, live streaming, tiny planet streaming, manual horizon correction,Cannot be used without phoneAndroid, Mac, Windows
Kandao Obsidian R69997680 x 7680 30fps7680 x 7680live streaming 7680 x 7680, depth aware stitching, depth mappingNeeds i7, 24GB ram and GTX 1080 to stitch video at 8KiOS, Android, Windows (i7, 24GB RAM, GTX 1080)
VRDL360 preproduction1993072 x 1536 30fps7000 x 3500iOS, Android,
Vuze 3D 360 Camera7993840 x 3840 30fps
3840 x 2160 30fps
3840 x 38403D 360,Stitching on corners is noticeableiOS, Android, Windows, Mac (beta)
LucidCam4992048 x 4096 24fps4320 x 2160 SBS3D 180,Long workflow for youtube 360, 180 onlyiOS, Android, Windows

How to use the Ultimate 360 Camera Comparison Tool:


PROFESSIONAL 360 CAMERA COMPARISON CHART

Here are the 360 cameras with the largest sensors

 Camera (click for more info)PriceSensorVideo Resolution
Excalibur15100Four full frame sensors (Sony A7S)6K (8mm lens)
Rig RedTwo full frame Red Helium sensors8K 60fps
Entaniya 250 rigTwo APS-C sensors (Sony a6500)5K (back to back)
4K (side to side)
Z Cam V1 Pro35000nine Micro Four Thirds sensors8K 2D
7K 3D
Insta360 Titan 10K Micro Four Thirds 360 camera
Insta360 Titan 10K Micro Four Thirds 360 camera
Insta360 Titan12000Eight Micro Four Thirds sensors10K 3D 360
iZugar Z8XL Micro Four Thirds 3D 360 camera rig
iZugar Z8XL Micro Four Thirds 3D 360 camera rig
iZugar Z8XL9999Eight Micro Four Thirds5.4K 3D 360
Z Cam S1 Pro
Z Cam S1 Pro
Z Cam S1 Pro9800Four Micro Four Thirds sensors6K 2D 360 (partial 3D 360)
iZugar Z4XL Micro Four Thirds 360 camera rig
iZugar Z4XL Micro Four Thirds 360 camera rig
iZugar Z4XL4999Four Micro Four Thirds sensors6K 2D 360
CES 2017: Boxfish 360 is a professional underwater 360 cameraBoxfish 360 underwater camera15000Three Micro Four Thirds sensors5K (waterproof to 300 meters)
Z Cam K1 Pro Micro Four Thirds VR180 camera
Z Cam K1 Pro Micro Four Thirds VR180 camera
Z Cam K1 Pro3000Two Micro Four Thirds sensors6K VR180
iZugar Z2XL Micro Four Thirds 3D180 camera
iZugar Z2XL Micro Four Thirds 3D180 camera
iZugar Z2XL1802699Two Micro Four Thirds sensors
Entaniya 250 for Micro Four Thirds
Entaniya 250 for Micro Four Thirds
Entaniya 250 one-shotOne Micro Four Thirds sensor4K 250-degrees
Sphericam Beast 360 camera with 1-inch sensors
Sphericam Beast 360 camera with 1-inch sensors
Sphericam BeastFour 1-inch sensors6K
Indiecam nakedEye S4Four 2/3-inch sensors6K CinemaDNG raw
Indiecam NakedEYE
Indiecam nakedEYE
Indiecam nakedEye9500 EURTwo 2/3-inch sensors4K 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