From obscure cameras to slight website changes, our Pass the Mic series delivers the week’s tiny tidbits of news you might have missed.
Join us every week to get a rundown from Mic Ty from 360 Rumors on the latest 360 camera news and announcements.
The 360 camera industry is very dynamic and there is a constant stream of new developments. In this series of posts, I discuss the top news from the past week and give a survey of other news that you may have missed.
First, the top news stories from the past week in the 360 camera industry:
Garmin’s Virb 260 waterproof 360 camera
Garmin just announced that it would be launching a waterproof 360 camera called the Virb 360 which will feature 5K video. Garmin hasn’t announced the details yet, but so far, it will be waterproof up to a depth of 10 meters, will have 360 audio, Wi-Fi, and G-Metrix. The teaser video on Garmin’s site seems to suggest it will have a rugged exterior that may also be shockproof. Garmin will launch the Virb 360 on May 24, where the full specifications will be revealed.
Yi 360 Camera’s first full-resolution sample
The other major story this past week was the first full resolution sample from the Yi 360 VR, Yi Technology’s 360 camera which was announced at NAB Show 2017. Yi described their camera as “game- changing,” and on paper at least, it certainly seemed that way. It offers 5.7K video resolution, 4K video with in-camera stitching, and 2.5K live streaming, all for just under $400. This is the highest nominal video resolution for consumer cameras, at a price not much more than the launch price of the Ricoh Theta S.
Prior to the sample being posted, there had been a few brief live stream samples that seemed to be from Yi employees that did not really show the Yi 360 VR’s full potential. Finally, last Thursday, tech vlogger Sami Luo posted what appears to be the first full resolution 5.7K video sample from the Yi 360 VR.
The video generated a lot of interest and many were impressed with the level of detail, but the video also attracted some criticism. Critics pointed out that the stitch was not smooth, at any distance. My own guess is that the lens on this preproduction unit was misaligned (one lens seemed to have a negative pitch). Yi representatives told me that the software was not the final one, and that the footage was only stitched automatically. The final software would use optical flow stitching for a much smoother stitch.
In any case, the video was eventually taken down, perhaps out of an abundance of caution. We have yet to see another video sample from the Yi 360 VR.
Google announces 20 new StreetView-certified camera
Another major story was Google’s announcement of 20 new StreetView-certified cameras, to be rolled out in the next few months. Two of those cameras are the Insta360 Pro, shipping this month, and the NCTech iStar which can take HDR 360 photos of up to 27EV dynamic range.
360 Rumors’ 4K 360 camera shootout results
My site, 360 Rumors, posted an informal 4K 360 camera shootout between four of the current best low-light performers for 360 consumer cameras: the 2017 Samsung Gear 360, the Nikon Keymission 360, the Kodak SP360 4K Dual Pro, and the new Xiaomi Mijia Mi Sphere 360 camera, which has surprised me with its image quality (both photo and video) and its manual exposure modes.
I invited readers and viewers to judge the samples for themselves. People had different preferences, although anecdotally, it appears that many people preferred the Xiaomi for its detail, except for the fact that highlights were blown. (Fortunately, in that regard, the exposure can be adjusted in its app, and the exposure compensation is sticky, i.e., it will be retained even after the camera is turned off.)
Speaking of which, the Xiaomi continues to impress me. The camera captures detailed photos and videos, and the stitching is unobtrusive. However, the app feels like it is in alpha,with many bugs, especially when exporting videos. Nonetheless I’m very fond of my Xiaomi and will conduct further tests and comparisons with it.
Here are other highlights from the past week:
- Insta360 posted an update to the Air app that unlocked 3K video mode not just for high-end Android phones but also other Android phones (although the frame rate will vary based on the phone’s processor). They also posted an update to the Nano app for live streaming in tiny planet mode, among other new features.
- Humaneyes posted new tutorials for Vuze, the first affordable 4K 3D 360 camera. The tutorials teach techniques for shooting in 360, and there’s a separate tutorial for best practices for rendering Vuze 3D 360 videos.
- CatEyes Cat360 is a 4K 360 camera that can live stream wirelessly in 4K for up to four hours, without a phone.
- Guru Air 360, a gimbal designed for heavier 360 cameras such as the Z Cam, is about to have a price increase, but is still available at its original introductory price for not much longer.
Those were the top stories this week. Check back next week for a review of the top stories for the week in 360.
From obscure cameras to slight website changes, our Pass the Mic series delivers the week’s tiny tidbits of news you might have missed. Join us every week to get a rundown from Mic Ty from 360 Rumors on the latest 360 camera news and announcements.