Kandao Launches a New Prosumer 8K 360 Camera, the Qoocam 3 Ultra

Kandao Launches a New Prosumer 8K 360 Camera, the Qoocam 3 Ultra

Kandao made quite a splash with the QooCam 3 earlier this year, undercutting its nearest competition by quite a few dollars to make a very good case on value versus performance. Kandao just announced that camera's bigger brother, the QooCam 3 Ultra, and it looks to take the same formula and amp it up.

While only on the market since this past summer, The QooCam 3 quickly become my favorite consumer 360 camera. I've put it through its paces for everything from urban exploration, to 360 photojournalism, to family photos. Its ease of use and speed have encouraged me to take it on most shoots where I wouldn't have otherwise taken it.

The QooCam 3 Ultra, at least on paper, seems to take the specs just a step further in some ways. The big headline feature is the return of 8K video, something that was a huge selling point for Kandao's previous effort, the QooCam 8K. The QooCam 3 Ultra supports 8K/30 fps videos, 5.7K/60 fps, and 4K/120 fps, compared to the 3's 5.7K/30 fps. The Ultra also supports log capture for video. Livestreaming is supported as well.

The body's a little bit larger than the regular 3, more rectangular, but still maintaining the design language of the QooCam 3. Aside from the finicky battery door, I didn't have much to complain about, so this isn't a bad thing. The Ultra's sensor is a little bit smaller (1/1.7" vs. 1/1.5" on the QooCam 3) but lenses are still are at f/1.6, so it will be interesting to see how the quality stacks up versus the lower model camera. Photo resolution is up to 96 megapixels versus the regular 3's 62 megapixels. While more resolution is great, the biggest feature for me is the in-camera stitching. I have been waiting for this since Nikon's KeyMission 360. The biggest complaint I have for 360 work is the insane workflow that involves apps just to get a basic photo out the door. To eliminate this, at least for photo, is a huge step.

The QooCam 3 was already a pretty good effort and if the company took off from making cameras for the year, it would have still been a good year. The promised upgrades for the Ultra model seem compelling enough to make it worth a look, especially if the company prices it as competitively. Still no word on that or any sample footage.

Kandao plans to show off the camera at the Consumer Electronics Show on January 9 in Las Vegas. It looks like it should make 2024 an interesting year for 360 cameras.

Wasim Ahmad's picture

Wasim Ahmad is an assistant teaching professor teaching journalism at Quinnipiac University. He's worked at newspapers in Minnesota, Florida and upstate New York, and has previously taught multimedia journalism at Stony Brook University and Syracuse University. He's also worked as a technical specialist at Canon USA for Still/Cinema EOS cameras.

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Very excited to see pricing and sample footage!

I had 2 QooCam 3's right after launch and found it so disappointing that not only did I return them but wrote a detailed review and ended up only giving it one star from both hardware and software design issues. Including them shipping it with a memory card that the camera itself said was too slow to record 5.7k 30 FPS video and stitching being so off it was distracting even after calibration.

However, someone on reddit's 360 sub just posted a nighttime Christmas video from their QooCam 3 that had a much higher firmware version than the one I had for a month after launch. And it looked good with decent stitching which I could never get even with hours of calibration. So I'm curious if they'll launch the QooCam 3 ultra with actually usable firmware instead of rushing it.

I'm hoping the answer is yes considering it's release will be over a year after announcement. And I would really like a camera with 8k 360 since even that still looks rough in VR but at least with AI we can upscale and clean it up then down-res back to 8k for Meta quest 3 resolution delivery. Or keep it higher res for future apple vision pro type headsets.

And the Panox v2 has also turned out to be miserable since it has a supposed max bitrate of 90mbps but the individual files are only 33mbps in h264 and 30mbps in h265 so it's stitching is actually making the 90mbps. But even that is far to low for 8k at even 10fps and 5.7k at 30 FPS.