360º capture have been gaining ground on the consumer market recently, partly due to the surge of action cam, we all know the next step to even more creative capture is going 360º. Technology have come a long way for this to happen, price of hi-tech devices have been driven down and better sensor technology have make this possible. I'm sure in few years time people capturing unique moments with their drones is going to be a norm.
For me 360º is at at a position where the technology is just about right for it to happen, it's not mature enough but good enough for most consumers. It's probably going to get even bigger as sensor technology gets better and as it gain tractions with more consumers as price go down.
I have the opportunity to test out the 360Fly 4K action cam for these past few days, and it is really interesting as capturing in 360º isn't something I've done in the past.
360Fly have a rather different approach to 360º capture, rather, it have a simpler approach. Instead of a dual lens setup the rest of the 360º cameras are doing, 360Fly uses only one lens element and capture a 360º horizontal X 240º vertical field of view.
<Just look at that lens!>
I also like how the surface are geometrically shaped so you could actually place it on a flat surface at different angle, very nice if you need it.
There is only one button that serves many purposes from powering up and down and initiating a video capture, which is useful if you are doing a underwater capture. Yes it's shock proof and also water resistant to 1ATM which works out about 10 meters deep.
You can control the camera with your smartphone using the 360Fly mobile apps available on both Android and IOS. That's where you get a wide range of functions and controls from taking a 360º photo, 360º video and also my personal favourite, time-lapse! There you can choose between a 2 secs interval to a ridiculously long 60 secs interval. Check out the time-lapse I've capture with the camera below. ;)
<Video link here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y90wWRsVkB8>
<Video link here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YrwYnN9zW_Y>
You can treat it as a super wide angle camera too by abstracting a video scene right out of your 360º video, pretty neat.
Although my 360Fly 4K is stated as a 4K camera, it doesn't actually capture 4K raw. Instead video are captured in 2880 X 2880 and later converted into a 3840 X 2160 with 360Fly Director in post production. If you do the math, it actually works out to the same amount of pixels.
The same apply for photo capture, they are captured in square and later converted into 360º photos in post production.
You can head to my Facebook to check out the photos I've taken with this camera @ www.facebook.com/calvinseahphoto.
As with all gadgets, there are some room for improvement, or trade-off I would say.
First is the field of view. You don't get the full 360º X 360º that some other manufacturers are offering as it is limited by the single lens design. For some it could be an issue while for others it's actually better as there are no weird stitching happening in the video.
The other issue I have with is the lack of control over video and image capture. What you have is a slider control over saturation, brightness, exposure and contrast, it is all very user friendly to put it this way. But I would prefer to have an option to have full control of the ISO, shutter speed white balance and aperture. So under challenging conditions when the device struggle to make sense of the correct exposures, the user can take over the control and still create great content.
The image quality isn't that great although it's a 4K. It's a trade-off as it is really really hard to mass produce a lens design with this absurd amount of viewing angle, that's why a good ultra wide angle or fish eye lens cost so much money! The technology just isn't available to create a low cost lens design with great image quality and sharpness, bending light is not easy. It's a balance between an affordable device VS picture quality and sharpness, I'm sure most people would not want to pay few thousands dollars for a 360º video action camera now.
What I like
I like the size and ergonomic of the device, it's small and solid, operation by just a single button with color indications lights. It's very simple and a no nonsense approach.
The pairing up between my smartphone and the camera is fuss free and very straightforward too, control in the apps are also very easy to understand, no manual needed here.
Mounting to a tripod couldn't be easier as a 1/4 X 20 connection is built into the base of the camera, very useful for those time-lapse.
It's shock, dust and waterproof! That means I can take it almost anywhere I want to get that 360º capture!
To find out more about this wonderful device, head to www.360fly.com.