Last updated: September 6, 2020

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360-degree cameras have become incredibly trendy, especially among YouTubers. In just a few years, these devices have gone from being hardly accessible to increasingly affordable for the general public. In fact, they now offer a wide range of uses. Naturally, their standout feature is that they allow you to get a full picture of your surroundings.

This is particularly interesting to generate virtual reality content. That being said, keep in mind that you will need a VR headset to make the most of this possibility. You can find a wide variety of models with increasingly better features on the American market, which means that picking the right 360 camera isn’t always easy.

Key Facts

  • 360-degree cameras have a wide range of professional and leisure applications. Many have turned to them for live broadcasts on the Internet, virtual reality uses, or for their real estate offices, for instance.
  • These devices offer a multitude of benefits. Since they are small and lightweight, you can easily carry them with you anywhere you go. Besides, they are very easy to use, and the vast majority are compatible with cell phones.
  • Before you can make your purchase, you will have to analyze a series of key shopping criteria. These include how you plan on using it, but also the lens, image quality, and battery life of the device.

Our Selection: The Best 360 Cameras on the U.S. Market

In the following section, you will discover our very own selection of the best 360 cameras currently available out there. We have done our best to include different models tailored to the needs of various user types. Whether you want it to film your exciting travels or as a security camera, there is everything you need on our list. Besides, all these products have received praise from past customers and offer great value for money.

Best 360 Action Camera

We’re sure that you have heard of GoPro before, the American brand having completely revolutionized the action cam industry. Its Fusion 360 camera is so popular that is has become Amazon’s Choice in the category, blending high quality and affordability. Capable of capturing videos in 5.2K resolution and 18MP photos, this action camera is ideal if you want to create virtual reality content of your outdoor activities.

Best 360 Camera for Online Broadcasting

Another leader in the world of technology, Samsung has designed the Gear 360 for those of us who love YouTube and social media. Easy to use and compatible with virtually every smartphone, it is incredibly compact and allows you to share your video instantly on online platforms. The Gear 360 is also water-resistant. You can film in 4K resolution at 24 frames per second and take 15MP 360-degree photos.

Best 360 Camera for Travelers

This model also allows you to record video in 4K resolution, as well as snap shots in 14-megapixel resolution. The four built-in microphones are designed to record 3D sound. Its internal memory and battery let you record 80 minutes of video. You can easily share your content on your social media when connecting your camera to your cell phone. Connectivity-wise, this model features both Bluetooth and wireless options.

Most Versatile 360 Camera

Last but not least, the Insta360 ONE is a fantastic all-round camera. Whether you want to face the elements with it or simply record your best friend’s wedding, it will be a great fit. It has 4K video and 14MP photo resolution, as well as a variety of features that make it a fascinating camera. The Bullet Time mode creates slow-mo cinematics, while the FlowState Stabilization is ideal for smooth action recording. Note that an adapter is needed for Android compatibility.

Shopping Guide: Everything You Should Know About 360 Cameras

If you haven’t owned a 360 camera before, it’s normal that you may have some doubts. This is why we have answered the most frequently asked questions regarding these devices in the following section. Keep in mind that every model is different and offers its own sets of features and functionalities. The versatility and comfort use are undeniably some of their most popular aspects. Let’s get right into it!

360 degree panoramic camera in human hand

Nowadays, there is a wide variety of models with increasingly better quality to choose from.
(Source: Ocskaymark: 88056587/ 123rf.com)

What are 360 cameras exactly?

As their name suggests, these cameras are characterized by the various lenses they feature. This allows them to get a complete 360-degree picture of their surroundings. Each lens captures a specific viewing angle that the camera’s processor then joins to create a single image.

In addition, you can naturally record 360-degree immersive videos with these gadgets. Nowadays, many models integrate a microphone that can record 3D sound. The small dimensions of these lightweight cameras are particularly attractive for YouTubers and travelers.

What are the advantages of 360 cameras?

These devices offer a wide range of advantages that fit many user profiles. Besides, the number of new applications is continuously growing. In the table below, you can compare the pros and cons of 360-degree cameras:

Advantages
  • They are lightweight and small in size
  • They tend to be very easy to use
  • Most cell phones are compatible with them
  • You can record 180-degree perspectives
  • Their number of uses is increasing every year
  • They allow you to generate virtual reality content
  • They can help you reduce advertising costs in your real estate business
Disadvantages
  • You will need your own VR headset to enjoy the content they create fully
  • High-end models remain relatively expensive

What can I do with my 360 camera?

Once you get your hands on one of these devices, you will be able to record videos and take photos at a 360-degree angle. This is perfect to make a virtual tour of your company’s facilities, show a home for sale or rent, and record experiences such as weddings or other festivities.

They are also professionally used in engineering and architecture, as well as for public works. As we have already mentioned, a 360 camera also allows you to create virtual reality content. Anyone watching with VR goggles will be fully immersed in your video.

In which fields are 360 cameras common?

We keep talking about the incredible versatility of these devices, and we have already discussed a few of their applications – both for professionals and the general public. While some are quite obvious, others are more recent and, therefore, less popular for now. In the list below, we have summed up the most important uses for 360 cameras:

  • Video surveillance
  • Creation of virtual reality content
  • Live broadcasting online
  • Virtual tours for real estate properties and museums
  • Implementation control in public works
  • Recording and photography of trips, holidays, and celebrations
  • Driving aid and parking assistant in the automotive industry
360 degrees video cameras system in filmed production at the Wes

Tilting is an exciting movement that these cameras allow you to do.
(Source: Wavemovies: 58752415/ 123rf.com)

How should I use my 360 camera?

Before you can start using your new device, you need to be familiar with a certain number of essential aspects. First of all, remember that it is already recording your whole surroundings, so you don’t need to turn it. You can move around but try and follow a predictable trajectory to prevent excessive movement.

In that regard, tilting is an exciting movement that these cameras allow you to do. Keep in mind that you may need a telescopic arm to make the most of your device. Last but not least, the editing software compatible with your videos and photos are almost as important as the quality of your 360 camera.

What types of 360 cameras are there?

Right now, we can identify three main types of 360 cameras on the American market. On the one hand, you will find the action cams that stand out for their resistance to water and dust. If you are looking for one of them but don’t necessarily want a 360 model, you can check our article on action cameras.

On the other hand, there are cameras designed for more general use; these tend to be particularly light and easily transportable. Finally, manufacturers have created 360 cameras tailored to video surveillance tasks. These can be installed in a fixed location and often offer a lower image quality, making them more affordable to the general public.

The camera that shoots 360 degrees in the background of the stadium.

Keep in mind that you may need a telescopic arm to make the most of your camera.
(Source: Иван Река: 91252117/ 123rf.com)

Buyer’s Guide

If you have decided to purchase your own 360 camera, there are various shopping criteria that you will need to take into account. Since our guide is designed to make your life easier, we have delved into those aspects that we considered the most important. Once you evaluate them, you will be able to browse through the vast array of options on the market and identify the model that is best suited to your needs.

Use

You won’t need the same type of camera to broadcast live on your YouTube channel or to generate virtual reality content with your mountaineering adventures. Designing a virtual tour for your real estate business may also require a distinct model, as the duration of the battery or the resistance to weather conditions won’t matter as much.

However, its waterproofing and shock resistance are absolutely fundamental if you intend to use your camera in natural environments. Action cameras like those in our selection will clearly be your best option under these circumstances. If you are looking for a model for security purposes, you will be particularly interested in motion detection and night vision features.

Home security camera

360 cameras are professionally used in engineering and architecture, as well as for public works.
(Source: Sutee Ploykhoksung: 100988621/ 123rf.com)

Lenses

As you know, the lens is an essential component of any camera. 360-degree models generally integrate at least two of them, and more in many cases. That being said, the fact that it has more shouldn’t lead you to think that the image quality will be better. What you do need to pay attention to is the distance between the different lenses; the closer they are together, the less you will notice the union of the contents.

Photo & Video Quality

Here is another aspect that is fundamental in any optical device, especially those that allow you to record videos. In that regard, we encourage you to carefully evaluate the maximum image resolution that your 360 camera supports, as well as the number of frames per second (fps) that it can record at that resolution.

Nowadays, many models can record at 4K resolution (3,840 x 2,160 pixels). In fact, you can now find a few chosen ones that reach 5.7K resolutions. On that note, bear in mind that the higher the resolution at which you record, the larger the file. Your camera will, therefore, require a bigger storage capacity, and it will take longer to copy and process the video.

People attend Open Innovations 2017 forum

You won’t need the same type of camera to broadcast live on your YouTube channel or to generate virtual reality content with your mountaineering adventures.
(Source: Anton Gvozdikov: 88010387/ 123rf.com)

Storage Capacity

If you intend to record video in the best resolution available, you should opt for a camera with large internal memory and the possibility of expanding this storage capacity with a microSD card. Some models can offer up to 64GB – or even 128GB – of internal memory.

Most of the 360 cameras in our selection, except the Ricoh Theta V, allow you to add your own MicroSD card to increase its overall storage. In any case, our advice is to choose a device that offers at least 32GB of internal memory. Otherwise, you may quickly find yourself limited and will have to waste time freeing up space and counting your shots.

Connectivity

Generally speaking, these cameras have outstanding connectivity features. The most important is that you make sure it is compatible with the devices you frequently use, whether it is your cell phone or your computer. Your 360-degree camera should at least include Bluetooth and/or Wi-Fi connectivity.

In addition, you will need a USB port – Type-C if possible. As we discussed in the previous criterion, the camera must be compatible with microSD cards of the highest possible capacity. This is particularly important if you want to record high-quality 4K video, as this tends to make up for very large files. A microphone jack input is an interesting option, too.

Mark ZuckerbergCo-Founder of Facebook

“The incredible thing about [virtual reality] is that you feel like you’re actually present in another place with other people. People who try it say it’s different from anything they’ve ever experienced in their lives.”

Battery

The last aspect we want to discuss isn’t the least important of all. In fact, battery capacity is a critical factor of your camera, especially if you plan on using it outdoors. Regarding the charging system, keep an eye out for the quick charge method. Nowadays, many cameras integrate a removable battery so you can replace it when you run out. This is particularly common in action cams that are often used in outdoor contexts.

In any case, the vast majority of manufacturers design cameras with autonomies that are equivalent to one hour of HD video recording. You should know that the capacity of a battery is measured in milliamps per hour (mAh). In that regard, good values start from 1,000 mAh, which you will even find even in the most affordable models.

Summary

There is no doubt that 360-degree recording has massive potential and a multitude of possibilities and applications that need to be explored. Now that they have been on the market for a few years, the price of these cameras is dropping and becoming accessible to all of us.

Their uses range from virtual reality to home surveillance, as well as live video broadcasting and recording of extreme sports. This is why the use you plan on making is the very first criterion that you should evaluate before purchasing a specific model. Once you have done that, you can start delving into the more technical specifications.

We hope that you found our shopping guide on 360 cameras helpful and informative. If that’s the case, feel free to leave us a comment in the section below. You can also share this article with your friends and family so more people explore the untapped potential of these devices!

(Source of featured image: Hakan Can Yalcin: 128024540/ 123rf.com)

Why you can trust me?

Brett Holmes Technology Geek
Brett is a keen observer of the latest technology trends and knows his way around the industry because he runs an electronics store. He writes about it in his spare time and wants to help others learn more about the technology industry.