360 Camera News and Info

The race for the first 8K consumer 360 camera just got real thanks to this new sensor

 

8K consumer 360 cameras may be coming
8K consumer 360 cameras may be coming

Samsung announced a new sensor, the ISOCELL Bright HMX, a 1/1.33 inch sensor (slightly smaller than a 1-inch sensor) with a 6K video resolution and a 108mp photo resolution.  Here’s why this sensor has tremendous significance for 360 cameras.

Since 2015, 360 camera video resolution has been increasing rapidly, almost double per year.   It started out with the Ricoh Theta m15 at 1920 x 960, then we saw cameras such as the LG360 Cam at 2560 x 1280, and in 2016, the Samsung Gear 360 at 3840 x 1920.  In 2017, we saw the Fusion at 5k and the Yi 360 VR at 5760 x 2880.   Since then however, an 8K consumer 360 camera has remained elusive.  The bottleneck is the sensor: 360 cameras typically use small sensors (1/2.3 inch or smaller) which have been limited to 4K resolution.  With two 4K sensors, the highest resolution a 360 camera can offer is 6K.

ISOCELL technology reduces cross-talk and has higher full-well capacity compared to BSI
ISOCELL technology reduces cross-talk and has higher full-well capacity compared to BSI

Samsung’s ISOCELL Bright HMX sensor can capture video at 6K.  It is not the first such sensor to do so — there are 6K sensors for full frame (e.g. in the Pasnasonic S1H) and Super 35 (e.g. Black Magic Pocket Cinema 6K).  Larger sensors are harder to use for 360 cameras because they require proportionately larger and more expensive lenses.  Moreover, larger sensors have a larger distance between the other lens, which usually means larger parallax stitching error.   The Bright HMX sensor, however, can capture 6K video 30fps and at just 1/1.33 inch size, it is easier to create a lens for it.  For example, Ricoh Theta Z1 was made with two 1-inch sensors (slightly larger than the Bright HMX sensor), and is barely larger than the Theta V.  Because the Bright HMX sensor has 6k video resolution, it is possible to capture 8K 360 video with two Bright HMX sensors.

Bright HMX also has a high 108mp photo resolution (12,032 x 9,024).  In low light, the HMX can also decrease resolution to 27mp with lower noise.  A 360 camera with two Bright HMX sensors, using two circular fisheyes (9,024 x 9,024), could see a photo resolution of perhaps 122mp (stitched), almost as high as the XPhase Pro (reviewed here).

I would not be surprised if we saw a prosumer 360 camera that uses this new 6K sensor, perhaps from Insta360…?  What do you think?  Would you be interested in such a 360 camera, and how much would you be willing to pay for it?  Let me know in the comments!

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Mic Ty

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  • Hi Mic,
    I am very interested in a 360 cam with high resolution sensors and a camera format that is portable. I am a traveler who does not feel like carrying a large or heavy (360) camera. Price: €. 750 – €. 1000, with the size I.e. Theta / One X

    John

  • A camera as you say would be wonderfull, so i could use one camera for photos and videos together, not like now, that i have to use to cameras, one for photos mijia sphere and one for video yi360vr

    • I would definitely desire such a camera that could produce high quality video unlike the present group of consumer cameras. Price: less than $1,000 US.

  • I do worry a little about the added overhead that will come with 8K videos. I’m sure they will require more power and storage space. That said I would be interested in a consumer 8K 360 camera and know it is only a matter of time before they are practical. I’m looking forward to that day!

  • I really don’t want to own a PC. Hopefully as things go bigger the stitching workload can move into the cameras and allow my phone to view finished images.

  • I’m actually more intersted in a compact solution for stereo 360.
    Obviously shoot-and-reframe will gain a lot from the high-resolution video capabilities and 360 photography will enjoy a good bump from this but i’m still convinced that the hard wall of “immersiveness” of the media is still there to be broken 😉 Any new implementation will be welcom

  • I am shooting and cutting at least 10 clips in 360 for clients down in Mexico, the market is growing, people are paying, this said, I really think I need better performance from small cameras to do a lot more shootings when ever I want, I like a lot all the Pro cameras but they are big, and if you are shooting in public spaces In Mexico, vigilance people will stop you, so a small camera is a plus, but because this cameras are dangerous as the lenses break very easy and they are not as durable as we want, I really think they should be all bellow 1000 dollar mark so the market can grow

    • I hear you my friend! The Pilot Era is similar to what you want, but it is more expensive and the resolution is not much better than One X.

  • A prosumer 8k video camera with 120 mbs still capability would be a winner if it does well in low light. It would solve a lot of the number of file bloat on most high res cameras and stitching problems. Just think what 4 of these chips could do in a single camera.

  • The sensor is just one piece of the equation. Stitching and processing 8K video is no joke, especially if you want to keep the camera decently light and small (a lot of heat to dissipate and battery constraints).

  • Thanks for the update Nic! A few added info..

    This 180mp sensor is specifically designed for mobile phones. Weather it can be used in dual-configuration on a 360 camera, is another matter. Also, there are currently already available 40mp, 48mp and 64mp all of which (theoretically) could also be used for an 8K 360 camera, even before this 108mp unit is mass-produced. Lets not forget this sensor will be at start exclusively available for the new upcoming Xiaomi Mi Mix 4 phone for later this year/ early next year, with other manufactures (including Samsung itself) to be able to use it on their on device much later next year. People should NOT CONFUSE Samsung Semiconductor business (who makes this new 180mp sensor) with Samsung’s Mobile division (that makes mobile phones). These are NOT the same company (though under the same corporate entity) so just because Samsung Semiconductor makes a product, it means absolutely nothing, if or when, Samsung Mobile (or anyone else) can get licensing and availability to use it.

    Also, we must not forget is that one of the weakest links in current 360 cameras is the fact the quality of the lenses used is very mediocre (specially corner sharpness). To largely improve IQ (and perceivable resolution), aside from the higher-res sensor and processing to support 8K video recording, there will be the need for larger and much higher quality lenses to go with it.

    This is my opinion and I think the jump from 4K/5.7K to 8K will require from 360 manufactures a jump into higher quality components AS WHOLE, and to keep it all in a compact size and within a budget friendly price range, is no small feat. I think $1000 is too high and cannot be over the $700 range if it is to become a mainstream mass-selling product.

    I believe if a a company like Insta360 could come up with such product before the release of the new new Fusion 2 (Max.. hummmmmmm), it would smack GoPro directly on the face and rapidly take over the market.

    Fingers crossed 🙂

    • Thanks buddy! Good to know! Re these other sensors do they have 6K video resolution? That’s the only way you can get 8K in a 2-lens 360 camera. Re lens quality, i think insta360 is getting it right. In the One X, the sharpness is consistent almost all the way to the stitchline. What do you think? Best regards, Mic