What is a 360 Camera?
A 360-degree camera is a multi-lens camera that captures a fully panoramic image or video. The resulting image or video gives the viewer a sense of immersion, as they can navigate multi-directionally within the media.
How do they work?
A dual-lens camera will simultaneously take a front and rear photo or video which, when combined, will give the audience a full 360 degree viewing field. This spherical capture simulates the feeling of total immersion.
What are some recommended 360 cameras?
There are many 360 cameras on the marketplace. The three entry-level cameras we find ourselves recommending the most are:
Ricoh Theta S – The most popular 360 camera on the market. Uses a front and back dual lens approach, capturing high resolution, full HD images and video. Well-regarded for its portability and reliability, the Ricoh is a good bargain at roughly $299 USD.
Insta360 Nano – Unlike the Ricoh Theta S, the Insta360 Nano can attach directly on top of iPhone 6 and later models. It too uses a dual lens approach, and can capture high resolution images or videos. The lightweight solution costs a bit less than the Ricoh Theta, starting at $195 USD.
Gear 360 – The Gear 360 is a popular spherical camera made by Samsung. Despite its slightly different shape than the Ricoh or Insta360, it too uses two fisheye lenses. The Gear 360 shoots nearly 4K video, and is relatively simple to operate. It’s a good choice if you have a newer model Samsung phone, such as the Galaxy S7 or S7 Edge, which it is compatible with. The Gear 360 starts at roughly $250 USD.
Any tips & tricks to maximize a 360 camera?
- You’ll likely need some additional equipment, such as a monopod, tripod, or selfie stick, to truly maximize the value of a 360 camera. Otherwise, the camera will capture you along with the rest of the panorama.
- It’s important to decide if you’re going to capture something in video or still images. Though people are generally inclined more towards video, there are very good reasons to consider still images. They’ll take up less space on apps, they’re often crisper, and they give the viewer a greater sense of control. Some 360 tours are absolutely better as static panoramas than video.
- Because you’ll likely be using InstaVR for a multi-scene virtual experience, consider the narrative you want to create before you do your media capture. How can a viewer easily and logically go from place to place in your VR app? Where do you want to place the camera for optimal capture? As with regular cameras, it’s likely better to capture too much rather than too little.
Why do I need an InstaVR Pro account with a 360 camera?
InstaVR allows you to take your raw 360 images and video and create a whole 360 VR experience. This is done by augmenting your media with Navigation, allowing your audience to go from image-to-image or video-to-video. Hotspots can also be overlaid directly on top of the panoramas, containing additional things like 2d images, video, audio narration, or text. Both Navigation and Hotspots can be gaze activated when the phone is placed within a head-mounted device, or can be clicked on when part of WebVR.
Cameras tend to silo your data on the camera or a laptop, with only limited sharing options such as on Facebook or YouTube. InstaVR gives users the flexibility to create engaging VR experiences that can be shared across a multitude of platforms, such as: iOS, Android, Google Cardboard, Gear VR, HTC Vive, and web embed directly on your computer.
We also facilitate the submission of your app to the iTunes or Google Play Store, making your potential audience global. And for high quality VR experiences, we publish to the Gear VR and HTC VIVE platforms.
How do I get my 360 images from my camera to InstaVR?
It’s actually very simple. Most 360 cameras will allow you capture images in JPG or PNG, and videos in MP4. These are our preferred upload formats. Once you’ve collected the images or video you want for your VR app in a folder on your laptop, you can simply drag-and-drop upload the folder to InstaVR’s cloud-based platform.
For more information on post-upload app creation, visit this blog post: https://www.instavr.co/articles/general/how-to-make-a-vr-app-using-the-ricoh-theta-instavr