Is your New Year’s resolution to start a virtual tour business for yourself? Well, FYI there’s a huge holiday discount on the 66-megapixel Ultracker Aleta S2C (previewed here) right now! And 360 Rumors readers can get an even better deal — for a total of $270 off the Ultracker Aleta. Should you buy one? I’m still working on my review but I’ll give you the key points.
Introducing Aleta S2C
Ultracker Aleta S2C is a new 360 camera that is designed for high-res 360 photos, with a resolution of 66 megapixels. (It takes videos too but the videos are not very usable at only 10fps.). Its resolution is comparable to a DSLR panorama from a 24mp DSLR with circular fisheye lens. Check out this comparison crop between the Aleta and a Sony a6000 with Meike 6.5mm fisheye:
In case you’re wondering, the Aleta is on the left, while the Sony a6000 with Meike 6.5 is on the right. The Sony is more detailed and has better bit depth, but the Aleta comes close in terms of detail.
Besides high resolution, Aleta’s other strength is its workflow. It stitches everything in-camera, with optical flow stitching, including both standard and WDR (wide dynamic range) photos. There is nothing to stitch. (Note: there is an option to save files as five separate unstitched JPG files if you wish.)
One more thing I like about the Aleta is that it seems better at coping with small spaces than other professional 360 cameras I’ve tested. See my virtual tour camera comparison.
The Aleta has several disadvantages you need to be aware of. First, the stitching is rarely perfect. There is usually some warping in a part of the image. Here is an album of Aleta photos, so you can see:
Besides the imperfect stitching, the Aleta’s dynamic range in standard mode is not so good. However, it does compensate with two features: WDR and bracketing. WDR mode is essentially HDR with two shots, stitched and fused in-camera. It does increase the dynamic range significantly, although the tone mapping can sometimes be unnatural, in my opinion
The other feature is the one I am more pleased with, which is bracketing. It can automatically bracket 3 shots, at +2EV, 0EV, and -3EV. The three shots are stitched identically, which makes it easy to fuse them in HDR. I use Photomatix HDR, and the results look pretty good. Here are some samples that show the detail:
Fortunately, you DON’T always need the phone to use the bracketed mode. Once you choose bracketing on the phone app, the camera will keep that setting even after being powered down and disconnected from the phone. The bracketed shots are stored in separate folders, with 3 photos each. Photomatix can batch process the HDR, enabling you to fuse all of them in one click.
Summary; How to get the special discount on Aleta and Photomatix
In summary, if you are looking for perfect stitching or the highest image quality possible, the Aleta S2C is not for you. Instead, Aleta S2C is for those who want a fast workflow with high-resolution photos than would otherwise be possible with a consumer 360 camera such as Xiaomi Mi Sphere, or Insta360 One X or Ricoh Theta V, or GoPro Fusion.
Ultracker Aleta is regularly $1,210. To get the special discount, use this link and enter the code rumors2c during checkout on Amazon. You’ll get an extra 6% discount, for a total discount of $270 off the original price!
This camera doesn’t ship with batteries because of restrictions on lithium batteries. But the batteries are 18650 type (they look like larger AAs) and are cheap and readily available. I recommend getting at least a few because the Aleta’s battery life is somewhat short (it uses 2 batteries at a time btw).
And if you get Aleta, I very strongly recommend getting Photomatix Pro. You can get 15% off using this link and the code 360rumors .
As always, thank you very much for using these links to support 360 Rumors at no additional cost to you so I can do more reviews and tutorials for you!