I found photos from the Kodak PIXPRO Orbit360 on Facebook!
The Kodak PIXPRO Orbit360 (previewed here) is one of the most highly anticipated 360 cameras at the moment. It offers the same excellent lens from the Kodak SP360 4k paired with a new higher-resolution BSI CMOS sensor, in a camera that makes stitching photos and videos much smoother and easier, addressing the key difficulty with using the SP360 4k Dual Pro. BTW, did I mention it costs only as much as one SP360 4k?
The strange thing with the Orbit360 is that Kodak has been extremely quiet about it. They have not posted a single sample photo or video ever since it was announced. I’ve asked for samples but they have politely declined.
But I’ve found some Orbit360 photos on Facebook! They are from a Kodak PIXPRO employee (who shall remain anonymous – and if you recognize him, please don’t identify him).
First, I’ll show you the photos. Then I’ll show how I know they are from the Orbit360. Then I’ll talk about my observations about the photos.
First, the photos (these are just a few of them):
So here is how I know these are from the Kodak Orbit360. The Orbit360 is a unique 360 camera because it has asymmetric lenses. One lens is the same as that of the SP360 with 235-degree field of view. The other lens has a narrower 197-degree field of view. This allows the Kodak to capture three fields of view: fully spherical (with both lenses), hemispherical (with the 235 degree lens), and ultrawide (with the 197-degree lens):
In the photos from this album, the camera has a stitch line that is not at 90 and 180 degrees. For example, here is a partial view of a spherical photo that shows the stitch line (see the slight doubling of the trees in the middle). Note the compass heading on the lower right, which is around 10 o’clock.
Here is the other stitch line from the same photo. You can see where the stitch is based on the slight break in continuity of the horizon. If this were from any other 360 camera with symmetrical lenses, then the heading should be at the opposite side, i.e., 4 o’clock. Instead, the heading is at 2 o’clock:
Another evidence is the appearance of the equirectangular shot. First, here is an equirectangular shot from a typical 360 camera (in this case, the Ricoh Theta):
You can see the stitch lines by looking at my hand at the bottom of the frame — there are are two vertical stitch lines. All fully spherical 360 cameras with two symmetrical lenses have stitch lines like this.
Now here is an equirectangular photo from this camera:
Can you see the stitch line? Rather than two vertical lines, it appears as a faint circle. You can see part of it by looking at where the selfie stick ends and follow the circle. This circular type of stitch line would be possible only by a spherical 360 camera with two lenses, where one lens is smaller than the other, and there’s no other camera like that except the Orbit360.
Finally, you can also observe the shadow of the camera, which is consistent with the size and shape of the Orbit360:
These facts confirm that these photos are indeed from the Orbit360.
So what can we tell about the Orbit360’s characteristics based on these photos? Here are some observations.
1. The small lens appears sharper than the SP360 lens. The SP360’s lens is already well regarded for its sharpness. But I didn’t know how sharp the new smaller lens would be. In that regard, these photos show that the smaller lens actually appears sharper than the SP360 lens. In the shot below, the left side is from the SP360 lens, while the right side is from the new small lens:
You can see that the snow on the right side appears sharper, with better microcontrast and acuity. It is not a fair comparison, given that the SP360 lens/sensor has to cover a wider field of view, but purely in terms of appearance, the small lens looks sharper than the SP360 lens.
2. The small lens side has a tiny bit of purple fringing at the edge.
You can see at the bottom of the photo above that there’s a hint of purple fringing on the side of the small lens, whereas the SP360 side has no noticeable fringing.
3. The small lens side has better contrast. In the shot below, the left side is from the small lens, while the right side is from the SP360 lens.
4. The small lens is considered the ‘front‘ of the SP360.
In these photos, the view from the small lens is the “north” heading and is the first view you see when you open an Orbit360 photo. This makes sense given that the small lens side appears sharper.
5. The stitching isn’t perfect.
The stitching is not obtrusive, but it is not perfect. It appears similar in stitching quality as the template-based stitching of the SP360 4k Dual Pro, in my opinion.
6. The small lens side has reasonably good flare resistance. Even with the sun shining directly into the small lens, there are only a few flare artifacts, and no drop in contrast.
7. Exposure, colors and white balance on both sides are reasonably consistent.
Some 360 cameras have a slight difference in color or exposure between its two lenses. In the case of the Orbit360, the exposure, colors and white balance look consistent.
8. The Orbit360 has excellent dynamic range. The shots demonstrate the new sensor’s excellent dynamic range. In the shot below, the snow isn’t washed out, yet at the same time, the shadows are not blocked (you can still see detail in them).
So in summary, these shots look very encouraging and I’m looking forward to the Kodak Orbit360. Hopefully the video quality is just as good. If you haven’t already done so, you can sign up at kodakpixpro.com to be notified when preorders begin. I *believe* you will also get a discount code emailed to you, although I can’t guarantee that.