Qoocam 8K (reviewed here) got a major update that added several major features including in-camera processing of DNG8 photos, ExpressDNG8 mode, and SuperHDR. With the new features, is Qoocam 8K now the best camera for virtual tours?
Qoocam 8K is a 360 camera with 1/1.7 inch sensors, and the first consumer camera to offer 8K 360 video. Today’s update adds new features for 360 photos:
- In-camera DNG8: the camera will take a burst of 8 raw DNG photos. Previously, this required the use of Kandao Raw+ to process. With the update, the camera itself can now stack the DNG8 photos from the playback gallery in the camera (not the phone or desktop). In the end, you will have eight DNG photos, plus one stacked DNG8 photo in 16-bit DNG, and a JPG version of the stacked DNG8 photo. The stacking can be done at any time, even long after the shooting is over. And if you have more than one DNG8 shot, the camera can batch-stack them, one after the other.
- Express DNG8: similar to DNG8, but the 8 photos are stacked in the camera during the shooting process, without the need to use Kandao Raw+ or the phone app to stack them. The output is a single 16-bit DNG photo, and a JPG version of that stacked photo (2 photos total).
- Super HDR: a new mode that combines both image stacking and HDR. See below.
The most interesting mode to me is SuperHDR. SuperHDR takes three ExpressDNG8 photos at -3EV, 0EV, and +2EV, then merges them to an HDR photo in the phone app. The HDR photo is in JPG and saved in your phone app. However, the three original Express DNG8 photos are each stored in your Qoocam 8K’s memory in DNG and JPG.
Here is a sample of SuperHDR:
Note: there is a noticeable difference between the front lens and rear lens due to glare, and there is slight warping. If you use the HQ method (coming to 360rumors.thinkific.com), there is less glare, and no warping.
I also tested SuperHDR for indoor photos and it had enough dynamic range for a full color window pulldown in Sunny 16 weather. SuperHDR is now available for both iOS and Android.
HOW DOES QOOCAM 8K COMPARE TO OTHER CAMERAS WITH THE LATEST UPDATE?
SuperHDR is now the Qoocam 8K’s best mode for minimal editing. Previously, the best mode for minimal editing was DNG8, which had very good dynamic range but was a bit of a chore, requiring processing with two apps (stacking with Kandao Raw+ and stitching with Qoocam Studio). With SuperHDR, photos are stacked, merged and stitched in the phone app. This is the easiest workflow thus far for getting a dynamic range of 10.0 on my rating scale (sufficient dynamic range for full color window pulldown in sunny 16 weather).
With SuperHDR, the Qoocam 8K’s scores for its “fast” mode with minimal editing increased substantially. Detail stays the same at 8.5, but dynamic range jumps from 9.25 (with DNG8) to now 10 (with SuperHDR). As for ease of use, it has also increased significantly from 7.0 (with DNG8) to 8.5 (with SuperHDR).
How about for a workflow for better image quality? The HQ method produces similar detail and dynamic range but more consistent exposure between lenses, better colors and bit depth, and better stitching, but with a longer workflow (Qoocam 8K HQ method ease of use: 7.0). If you want to compare SuperHDR and the HQ method side by side, you can use the 360 camera comparison tool.
In summary, with this update, the Qoocam 8K now has one of the best quality for minimal editing (better dynamic range than Theta Z1‘s built-in HDR, but not as detailed as Theta Z1 or XPhase). For higher quality editing, the Qoocam 8K is still among the top 5 (limited mostly by its detail). If you’d like to get the Qoocam 8K, it is available from Amazon, B&H Photo (get a sales tax rebate with their Payboo card), or direct from Kandao.