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Qoocam 8K HUGE update adds SuperHDR, ExpressDNG8 and in-camera DNG8 Raw+! Now the best virtual tour camera?

Qoocam 8K update adds Super HDR, ExpressDNG8, and in-app Raw+
Qoocam 8K update adds Super HDR, ExpressDNG8, and in-camera Raw+

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.

Left: Super HDR glare; Right: HQ method with less glare
Left: Super HDR glare; Right: HQ method with less glare

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.

Super HDR vs. HQ method
Super HDR (left) vs. HQ method (right)

 

 

About the author

Mic Ty

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  • How long do each of these DNG8 and HD/R modes takes to shot, process and save and how does that impact the time between that and taking a new image, or minimum time lapse intervals,

    • The SuperHDR mode takes a while, around 2 mins total, because it shoots, merges, and stitches in one step. The DNG8 is about 30 seconds to shoot. You can merge them any time when you’re not shooting, and the camera can batch merge. Express DNG8 is about 30 seconds to shoot and merge. (These are rough estimates. I didn’t use a stopwatch.)

  • Hi Mic, thanks for the great and timely review. I’m a beginner and have been trying to decide which 360 camera to start with, that can carry me for a while. It does seem like the Qoolcam is looking like a better choice now for this budget range. One thing I’m wondering– I’m very interested in the possibilities of having 3D as an option and floor plan. I saw from your earlier post that Matterport Cloud can do that from the Ricoh Theta and Insta360. Do you know of any options (Matterport or otherwise) for this capability with the Qoolcam?
    Thanks!
    Teo

  • I’ve been testing the insta 360 One R with the Raw 7 shot bracketing feature and feel as though my images are crisper and have better dynamic range than what I’m seeing from qoocams offering.

    • Hi Brett. One R and Qoocam photos have similar detail. As for dynamic range, Qoocam 8k superhdr has more dynamic range (10.0) than the One R 9-shot HDR from insta360 studio (9.25). If both qoocam and insta360 one r are processed with HQ method, then both will have 10.0 dynamic range.

      • Said 7 shot meant 9***

        What is the HQ method you speak of? I usually import the 9 dngs to the desktop insta360 studio which automatically stacks it into 1 dng and then I edit that in photoshop to adjust the color, highlights, shadows etc. and remove the tripod with the clone stamp.

  • Hi i am planning to buy 360 camera only for videos confused between insta360 one r or qoocam 8k.just for fun and travel videos not professionaland i will be using android app for editing so what will be the good option for me.

  • So Mic, is this camera ready for prime time yet? Does it still have video problems? Still overheating? Still bad stitching?

    • Hi there. Yes it is ready. The stitching is very good. No 360 camera is perfect, but the stitching of the Qoocam 8k is now one of the better ones for photo and video. Mine doesn’t overheat.

  • Is there a users manual for the Qoocam 8k? Is there a desktop editor that is equal to or better than a cell phone?
    Cell phones are not the way to go except for certain situations. With all that Fancy Dan stuff, it is troublng to weed through it.

  • Can you use this camera without use of a phone for editing? Can I import directly to Qoocam Studio windows editor and go from
    there thus bypassing cell phone editing. Phone editing is out of the question for me.

  • Hi Mic,

    I’m starting a new side business on virtual tours and I just ordered a Ista360 One X (finally back in stock). I just wanted to start cheap and play a bit before jumping on more expensive equipment (like the Z1).
    After this update on the Qoocam I feel the quality for interior shots could be superior respect the One X, is that the case?
    At the same time I have an android phone and it seems not supported at the moment.

    PS: I can’t wait for your HQ workflow tutorial to see how I can achieve the best out from the camera.

  • I purchased the QooCam 4K camera just before the Firmware update. I was following the YouTube channels. I knew that Bracketing 3 x 8 fotos was a new feature coming with the new Firmware. Getting the camera I needed to upgrade my phone. I was communicating with Kandao about the question what phone to buy and the bracketing function. I bought a brand-new Android phone, so now I was able to install the phone APP. After getting the new Firmware I found out SuperHDR is not supported.
    A big bummer.

    • Hi Albert. Do you mean the Qoocam 8K, or you mean the Qoocam hybrid VR180 camera? For the qoocam 8K they said they will add superhdr to Android too.

  • I just got the update today, I have an android but am unsure where the HDR function is, or how it works. Is it outputting one photo(jpeg)? I am not a huge fan of all the processing it takes to use the DNG8, but the images were much higher quality than just shooting photos.

    Also, can anyone tell me if the following is acceptable video performance out of the Qoocam8K on an Insta360 stick? Seems a little shaky for me. We just purchased the Moza gimbal and I haven’t had a change to test it yet.

    4102b87b02

  • Too much fancy Dan for the phone. How about a good Windows and Mac editor instead of a uncomfortable phone? It has its uses in some cases though, so how about both? A user’s manual explaining all this stuff should also be available. The web site is inadequate. It might improve sales too! I don’t expect an answer.

  • I have watched CreatorUp’s SuperHDR workflow and he end up with an equirectangular photo on his iPhone…I have a Pixel 4XL and I end up with a fully stacked over/under fisheye. So I still have to drop it in studio. Am I doing something wrong?

  • The Kandao Team hasn’t answer some basic questions:

    Editing (with On1 photo Raw 2020, Affinity Photo or Aurora HDR) a DNG file from (DNG8 stacked with Raw+) and saving it as JPEG, a programm as PTGui gets the meta file information and I can stich it, but the QooCam Studio program from Kandao can NOT.

    ASK YOURSELF ON SIMPLE QUESTION: WHY A PROGRAMM LIKE PTGUI CAN READ THE META FILE AND STICH A THESE jpeg FILES AND THE QooCam-Studio PROGRAM CAN’T

    Unless the QooCam-Studio program exclusively works with Lightroom Photoshop

    Please answer me these question:
    1- With which photo editing program is QooCamStudio compatible besides Adobe Lightroom?
    2- Why is a program like PTGui reading the camera + lens details from these files and QooCamStudio NOT?

    Basically they either forcing me to purchase Lightroom Photoshop as editing program or PTGUI to do the stiching

    Best regards,

    Albert

    • Hi Albert. With almost all 360 cameras, once you edit a photo using 3rd party software (like Aurora), you will no longer be able to stitch with the original software. This has been true for almost every 360 camera: Insta360, Ricoh, Mi Sphere, GoPro, etc. That is one of the reasons I am creating the HQ Method class, which enables you to stitch almost any 360 camera with 2 lenses, smoothly and reliably, including Qoocam 8k.

      Best regards,
      Mic

      • Thank you for your reply,
        Each time when I HDR merge the 3 DNG files which are 3840 x 7680 each, in a program like Adobe Lightroom, Aurora 2019, afinity or ONe1 Photo Raw 2020 the output file can be a little bit off in resolution (e.g. 3839 x 7676). Each time when the resolution is 3840 x 7680 QooCamStudio stiches the files correctly. A small difference in resolucion, QooCamStudio doesn’t accept the file. Kandoa has this information and I hope they do something with it in the next software update from QooCamStudio.

        The workflow that Kandoa suggest with Adobe Lightroom as editing program and then stiching it with QooCamStudio, doesn’t work at the moment you use HDR-merge in Lightroom

        In the end, costs are building up:
        1. The Camera itself
        2. I had to buy a new Phone because my android phone was not powerfull enough to install the APP
        3. Editing program.
        4. And now most likely a STICHING PROGRAM, because QooCamStudio is to restricted.

        I both asked Aurora 2019 and Adobe Lightroom, I asked them the same question: Is it possible that the resolution of the export file can stay the same as the original files 3840 x 7680. I am still waiting for an answer.
        Changing the size in the export screen of Aurora 2019 leads to undesirable files which won’t be stiched properly in QooCamStudio 8K

        • Together with the Aurora team we found out that the HDR merge will leave the picture resolution unchanged, only when you don’t tick off the box “auto align”.
          Now the stiching works in QooCam Studio, but this program reduces the size of the file tremendously.

  • Hi guys anyone had wifi connectivity issue? (Qoocam 8k) Care to share your experience please

    Main issue is it takes very long to connect, I have to on off the cam a few times/ on off my phone WiFi a few times to connect.
    Just today, the connection is very unstable, it keeps prompting for wifi password although I already keyed in few times
    When I take with dng 8, it’s supposed to have a few clicks, but there’s only 1 click and the shot doesn’t appear in the phone and camera album.
    After numerous tries, sometimes I get my shots sometimes I don’t.

  • So the ultimate consumer camera will be a hypothetical qoocam 8k but with 1inch sensor like Z1. Lets wait another year and see if we get just that.