This article is part of an extensive series of articles to walk creators through the process of making a 360-degree video, from start to finish.
The first choice you’ll need to make when starting to shoot 360 video is to decide what 360 camera you plan to use. There are plenty of options to consider, and each has its benefits.
You’ll have to consider your budget, whether or not you need a camera that shoots 3D (AKA: Video shot with two parallel cameras (or in the case of 360° video, multiple pairs of parallel cameras) Commonly referr... More) or 2D (AKA: flat or monoscopic) video, the The number of pixels in an image, typically presented as a ratio of the total pixels on x axis to the total pixels on th... More/quality required, and the workflow the camera requires.
Here are my top three choices, as of October 2018.
Best budget option: Insta360 One X
- It shoots 5.7K flat 360-degree video.
- It offers RAW and LOG mode for color grading flexibility
- It offers a number of bells and whistles, like overcapture (cropping out traditional fixed frame video) and bullet time, hyperlapse, cinematic slow motion and timeshift (which you just need to see to understand–look at the samples below)
- It is easy to use, the app is simple, and it comes with its own desktop stitching software.
Bottom line: This camera is ideal for beginners who are on a budget and plan to use the camera for traditional, monoscopic, fixed frame video to share on social media, in addition to shooting 360 video.
If you’re on an even tighter budget, check out the Insta360 One. Its resolution is limited to 4K, but it comes with many of the other bells and whistles available on the Insta360 One X. Plus, it’s only $235 on Amazon and $249 on B&H Photo.
Here is a sample from the video (make sure you’re watching at the highest available The number of pixels in an image, typically presented as a ratio of the total pixels on x axis to the total pixels on th... More; click the settings icon in the YouTube player to change this):
Best Under $1000: GoPro Fusion
My personal favorite 360 camera is the GoPro Fusion, which costs $600.
- It shoots 5.2K flat 360-degree video. The image quality is the best you’ll find for under $1000.
- It offers GoPro LOG mode for additional color grading flexibility.
- It’s also the favorite among many industry pros as a camera for shots requiring close proximity to the subject or that may be a bit risky to use a more expensive camera.
- The app’s features aren’t as robust as the Insta360 One X, and there aren’t as many party tricks, but the camera’s companion desktop stitching software is quite good.
Bottom line: This camera is ideal for a beginner who knows they want the best quality they can get at a good price, in a simple, straightforward workflow.
When deciding between these two cameras, check out this comparison blog from 360 Rumors going over every detail, or check out this article and video our own Editor-At-Large Robert Hernandez shot comparing the two cameras.
One (or Two) Steps Up: The Insta360 Pro or Pro 2
If you’re craving a higher-quality image, especially one with 3D capabilities, you may consider the Insta360 Pro. It costs quite a lot more than the other cameras listed on here ($3200), but it does offer a number of benefits, particularly when it comes to stitching and workflow.
- It offers more stitching control.
- It integrates with Premiere Pro to simplify the stitching and editing workflow.
- Stitching can also be done on the camera’s processor to reduce your computer’s workflow.
Bottom line: If you have a higher budget and are looking for more robust post processing capabilities, the Insta360 Pro is a great option
Insta360 has also launched the Pro 2. However, at $5300, it may be out of reach for most beginner budgets).
Which to Pick?
All three of the options above are also capable of live streaming 360 video and can also, of course, capture 360-degree images.
There are also plenty of options beyond these three, from the 4K-capable $80 original Samsung Gear 360 camera, to the 3D 360-shooting Vuze lineup of cameras, and even VR180 cameras that offer some immersion without the pain of stitching.
An important note: 4K 360-degree cameras will not leave you with footage that looks nearly as good as the 4K fixed frame video you’re used to. That’s because those 4,000 pixels are spread around the entire sphere in a 360 shot, versus only a small frame with a traditional video. Learn all about this in our 360 Video Resolution Explained article.
The right choice will depend on your budget and use cases, but this list is a good start for most beginners.
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