While some 360 cameras such as the Insta360 One X and GoPro Max 360 have become household names in the budding immersive photo/video market, there are plenty out there to choose from, most though from brands you’ve never heard of. YouTuber Ben Claremont cuts through the noise and takes a look at what some of the best options are in early 2020.
There are definitely some oddball choices on his list. While Xiaomi may be more closely associated with cell phones than cameras, they did indeed make a 360 camera. The Xiaomi MiSphere is a very good one, in fact, at least for photos. It’s something that I still reach for if I know I’m not going to need quality video, which it doesn’t really do well.
One thing that’s not touched upon though is that app support has slowly been dying for this favorite camera of Claremont’s. It’s not even possible to get the app for the camera on Android, and the camera doesn’t stitch well at all unless you purchase a third party app called MiSphere Converter. A big oversight that isn’t mentioned here.
That brings me to something that’s been the bane of my 360 existence: manufacturer support. I’ve used cameras from Samsung, Nikon, Xiaomi, Kandao and Insta360 One X, and all had one thing in common: each had half-baked software at launch. In some cases, such as the Nikon Keymission 360 and Insta360 One X, software was updated and things got better, but all of the cameras on this list are only as good as the manufacturers that support them. A constant refrain of Claremont’s is that many of the cameras on the list weren’t being updated before, which basically turned them into expensive paperweights, as you can see he says about the Samsung Gear 360 and the Rylo 360. I’ll add that the Nikon Keymission 360 seems to be a zombie 360 camera, in that’s it’s still on sale but hasn’t seen any meaningful updates in a long time.
It may mean that you can spend a boatload of money and end up with something that will be unusable without a proper app in just a couple of ears. Tell a DSLR user that their camera will cease to function in just a few years and see how that goes.
So take Claremont’s recommendations with a grain of salt. It’s premature (and frankly, a bit irresponsible) to heap praise on a camera like the Kandao QooCam 8k 360 Camera while talking about how it’s software just isn’t ready. The original QooCam didn’t get significant fixes in its first six months, as I noted in my review of it, and history may show the same. If manufacturers want to build a customer base and convince users to upgrade to a newer camera, it’s important to show a commitment to the product.
There are many layers to what makes a camera a good 360 camera, and while there are definitely some weird cameras on this list, you can’t go wrong with one of the established players that Claremont recommends. Check out the video above for his full list of regulations.