360 is now accessible

And worth it! The tech is improving and I’ve kept an eye on it all for you, from the 360 stitching apps to the main cameras on the market. Here’s what I’ve observed, delivered in the form of 360 degree feedback 😉

First up, I’ve been playing around with 360 apps for a while now. There was Microsoft Photosynth which led the field for me, which took a little getting used to but once you did it was great. You stood in one spot and the sensors in your smartphone knew which way you were facing and at which angle, so the virtual globe around you was automatically populated with images as you moved around. There was no hazy line as there often is with 360 hardware because the full resolution of your cameraphone was being taken advantage of to create your photosphere.

Facebook was pretty quick to catch on, allowing users to look around uploaded 360 photos and videos, again using the sensors built into smartphones. It seems that VR and AR tech is moving pretty fast and so is the 360 world something us photographers should start maximising on? Let’s look at the changes is tech I’ve had my hands on.

First off, I was using the Ricoh Theta.

This little gadget was leading the way for consumer 360 imaging, and it’s what the legend that is Terry White uses to capture his 360 videos in his studio. It’s small, it looks good, and it boasts the ability to shoot full HD video, too. The earlier models had that vertical stitching ring around the image, but they’ve really worked hard to perfect their imaging abilities and bring things right up to date, so the Ricoh Theta remains a leader in 360 imaging. Here’s the spec: –

Two 12mp 2.3″ sensors, aperture f/2, focussing from 3.9″ to infinity, ISO 100-1600, 1/6400 to 1″, Internal 8GB memory, 1/4″ tripod mount, Built in Wi-Fi, 260 shots per charge.

The I got the Samsung Gear 360

This nifty little piece of VR tech doesn’t just pair with a Samsung phone, it pairs with anything! It works through the Samsung Gear 360 app, so it worked nicely with my iPhone. The Gear 360 is always up to date thanks to Samsung’s attention to detail and their attention to changes in the VR world. I found that using this device was an awesome and very easy experience, and at a third of the price of the Ricoh Theta it was worth every penny. The size compared to the Theta is the only little niggle I can think of, but in terms of it’s spec it’s up there. It’s easy to sync your images and to edit them, and likewise to edit your video footage, but if you’re a MacOS user you’re not supported for the 360 video editor. Here’s how it weighs up in numbers: –

Two 8.4mp CMOC sensors, aperture f/2.2, records 4k 360 video, micro SD slot supports up to 256GB, ISO up to 1600.

But right now I have the Insta360 ONE

And it’s brilliant! This thing is packed full of revolutionary features, and it works attached to your phone or independently just as well. It has a little flip out connector cable so it mounts right onto the bottom of your phone, which you just flip upside down to become the top of the phone. It’s accompanying app does all of the hard work for you so you, including the tracking and turning stills into captive videos. This was worth all of my money! Here’s what it’s got: –

24mp photo and 4k video, live streaming, aperture f/2.2, 120fps slow motion, 6 axis gyro stabilisation, 70 minute continuous battery, micro SD slot up to 256GB with 8GB included, 1/4″ tripod thread.

So there you have it, the worlds least comprehensive, yet very useful, rundown of the consumer 360 market right now.

For a working photographer, 360 photography is something worth considering. Not only can you help businesses put an internal view on sites such as Google, but you can create some really cool views that stand out from the crowd as either an eye-catching gimmick or a cutting edge digital masterpiece.

We work hard to capture the world around us, so a small and cost effective device which allows us to capture all 360 degrees of it are a fantastic addition to the toolkit.