360 Camera News and Info

I’ve had over 100 cameras — look at this, NOT SPECS

Some of the cameras I've owned over the years (including DSLRs and 360 cameras)

I’ve had over 100 cameras since 2006 – including two dozen DSLRs and mirrorless cameras and over eighty 360 cameras and panoramic cameras (I stopped counting in 2020).  I’ve learned that specs can be very misleading.  Here’s my suggestion for comparing cameras.

I remember a long time ago when digital cameras had just started to become more popular.  I was talking to my uncle about photography and I saw he was shooting with a DSLR.  I asked him about the specs and it had fewer megapixels than some compact digital cameras that had just been released.  So I asked if those smaller cameras had higher image quality.  He said no, his DSLR had better image quality, but he wasn’t a technical guy and couldn’t explain why.

When you’re just starting with photos and videos, it’s very easy to look at the specs because they are easy to understand.  Higher megapixels mean more detail, right?  Yes and no.

Left: shot with 6mp Pentax K100D; Right: shot with 7mp Casio EX-V7
Left: shot with 6mp Pentax K100D; Right: shot with 7mp Casio EX-V7

My uncle was telling the truth, even though he couldn’t explain it.  A DSLR will have better image quality than a compact digital camera, even if the compact camera has higher megapixels because the DSLR has a larger sensor that collects more light and therefore has a higher signal to noise ratio.  In the example above, the image on the left is from a 6-megapixel Pentax K100D.  The one on the right is from a 7-megapixel Casio Exilim EX-V7.  (BTW my son is now in high school.  That’s how old these shots are.)  Obviously there are other differences such as the lighting, but you can see that the image from the DSLR is much better — not only does it have more detail, but it looks more ‘three-dimensional’ (because of the much higher bit depth, and smoother highlight rolloff for camera geeks reading this).

There are many other reasons why specs could be misleading.  For example, some camera manufacturers simply upscale their photo or video resolution to make it appear higher, even though there is no additional detail.  And resolution isn’t the only spec that can be misleading.  For example, some manufacturers artificially inflate the ISO numbers on their cameras (labeling it as a higher ISO) to make them look like they have better low light noise performance.

If we shouldn’t rely on just specs, then what’s a better approach?  In my experience, it’s much better to compare photos side by side.  Sometimes, cameras with a lower spec can appear to have better image quality when compared this way.  In fact that happens quite often with 360 cameras.

(Which two cameras are these?  You’ll find out soon.  I’m working as fast as I can to finish my review.)

One challenge with this approach is when comparing cameras that use lenses of different focal lengths, such as a GoPro Hero and a 360 camera.  In such cases, my approach has been to take a photo or video from the same position then compare the images with the same field of view.  There are pros and cons to this approach and some will say it’s not fair to compare cameras this way because it penalizes a camera with a wider field of view.  That’s what some readers and viewers said about my X3 and Go 3 comparison.

But I’m a practical person and I’m more interested in practical differences to consumers.  If a camera is more detailed, then it doesn’t matter whether it had an advantage with a smaller field of view — the bottom line is that it is in fact more detailed.  If it does have a smaller field of view, I’ll emphasize that and let users consider for themselves whether the larger field of view would be more important than the additional detail.

Of course, image quality is only one factor.  We also need to consider usability.  I’ve had several cameras that had better image quality but had a much more difficult or inconvenient workflow, and I ended up using other cameras instead, even though I knew I was sacrificing image quality.

How about you?  How important are specs for you?  Let me know in the comments!

About the author

Mic Ty


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  • The resolution is the fundamental factor in 360 cameras! I’ve been waiting for years that Insta360 provides a consumer camera with 8K resolution! I am happy owner of an InstaX3; Insta One RS 1 inch and a XPhase Pro X2!!

    • Congrats on your cameras Alberto! This year, Kandao is releasing the Qoocam Ultra, which is an 8K 360 camera. I hope it delivers on its promise!

  • Hi Mic,

    I completely share your point of view. I have around 20 or 21 360° cameras, if I remember correctly.

    Resolution is very important (the most important aspect for a normal tour), since all the other aspects can be corrected and improved with a lot of post-production. Actually, I’m working on a tour with more than 2000 panos and it takes about one day to get the final image (from shot to editing).

    As you said, many other things are important like decent stitching, ease of use (forget about cameras where you need to read several SD cards to stitch your pano), light sensitivity (I’ll take some shots in a cluster of caves that are already almost unexplored), flare resistance and so on…

    Luckily AI is helping a lot, but delivering good work is always intensely laborious.

    So specs are, of course, a good thing but to be honest and as far as I know there’s not a single 360° camera on the market that can deliver pictures with good quality (16k) without a ton of editing. And when we start to talk about video, the story is even worse because most people have no idea that current devices are so limited still (capturing, editing and even playing large files).

    I wish everyone a good weekend!

      • Here is the text corrected:

        Hi Sven,

        No need to wait so long! I think I’ll start publishing the tour progressively from Q1 2024.

        I’m currently exhausted and need to take some holidays in August, but in September I’ll start coding a lot of new features that the tour is currently missing.

        I think the total number of panos will be slightly under 2,000. But that’s just part of the tour. For example, we’ve already taken more than 7,000 stereoscopic pictures too. We also still need to do some aerial panos and 360 timelapses.

        If Mic is okay with it, I’ll share the result here. 😉