Best 360 camera: 10 cameras to capture everything

In today’s social media-obsessed world, the ability to capture everything going on around you is more valuable than ever. That’s where 360 degree cameras shine: by using multiple camera modules (usually two wide-angle lenses arranged back-to-back), they don’t miss a thing.

Features to look out for include automatic stitching (to save you the trouble of perfectly aligning multiple camera captures), image stabilization, live-streaming and 4K (and greater) resolution. But do be aware that Ultra HD resolution claims don’t always equal actual pin-sharp detail – by the time all those pixels are stretched out over a 360-degree frame, of which you’re generally only viewing a small part at any one time, you’ll probably be looking at something less than real-world Full HD quality.

The ability to crop is also a big feature to look out for, as it allows you to punch a single “normal” video frame out of the 360-degree video you’ve captured. This ability to shoot everything, then essentially choose what to point the camera on later comes in especially handy when filming fast-moving, unpredictable subjects or extreme sports. Here are the best 360-degree cameras we've tested so far.

In the emerging genre of 360-degree cameras, anything goes

Best 360 camera 2019

Producing great video is about two things; capturing the action, and slick editing. So what if you could do both with an action camera and an app? With dual fisheye lenses and some unique time and perspective-manipulation special effects, the One X is making a play for the title of most full-featured action camera around. What we love about the One X isn't its 360° tricks at all, but how easy it is to produce a great-looking regular widescreen video. Kudos in particular to the silky smooth image stabilisation, which all goes to make it a tempting proposition for semi-pro videographers looking for some unique special effects on-the-fly. 

Insta360 Evo

It might not have the elegant, pocket-friendly design of Insta360’s One X, but the Evo is a more flexible form of 360-degree camera. One minute it can function as a standard 360-degree camera with back-to-back fisheye lenses capturing everything around it in decent 5.7K resolution. The next moment, thanks to its hinged design, both lenses will be sitting side by side facing the same direction, allowing them to capture 3D VR content with a 180-degree field-of-view. You’ll really need an Oculus or similar VR headset to appreciate the latter, however – and for most people the One X probably makes more sense.

HumanEyes Vuze XR

Thanks to its pop-out lenses, the Vuze XR is able to record both 360-degree and 3D VR videos. It’s a clever design and physically well implemented here thanks to the solidity of the hinge mechanism and springs. With the option to shoot video at 5.7K resolution, the camera’s image quality isn’t bad either. Unfortunately, the limited mobile app’s lack of editing features and the slightly janky nature of the desktop app make doing anything with your footage and photos more of a chore than it should be – and while the Vuze XR may have been the first camera to offer this two-pronged approach, it’s outperformed by the slightly slicker Insta360 Evo that followed closely in its wake.

GoPro’s highly innovative camera has enjoyed a significant price drop since its launch, making it much easier to recommend. The Fusion can capture 360 video in 5.2K resolution  at 30fps (or 3K at 60fps) which is great, but its real trick is its 'over-capture' mode. This films in 360 degrees but only to allow the creation of standard 16:9 video from the footage – so, much like post-focus on modern cameras, the Fusion allows post-framing. Add GPS, a compass, accelerometer, gyroscope, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, 3D audio, and compatibility with existing GoPro mounts, and the waterproof (to a depth of 5m) Fusion could be a semi-pro videographer's dream. GoPro also offers the newer, pricier Max 360 degree camera, which adds a front-facing screen, more compact design, six microphones (rather than four) and slightly better image stabilization. We'll be reviewing that model very soon.

Did GoPro just change the 360° game? Possibly, though this highly innovative spherical camera will be too rich for most people's blood. The Fusion can capture 360° video in 5.2K resolution video at 30fps (or 3K at 60fps). Nice, but its real trick isn't 360 at all; an 'over-capture' mode films in 360°, but only to allow the creation of standard 16:9 video from the footage – so, much like post-focus on modern cameras, the Fusion allows post-framing. Why did no-one think of this before? Now add GPS, a compass, accelerometer, gyroscope, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, 3D audio, and compatibility with existing GoPro mounts, and the waterproof (to a depth of 5m) Fusion could be a semi-pro videographer's dream.

No one in their right mind thinks 360° video is going to take over from regular video. Why else would the Insta360 One include FreeCapture, a mode that allows users to film in 360° before transforming the results into a traditional 16:9 aspect ratio? It's a little like the feature on the similarly 4K-capable GoPro Fusion, although that's where the comparison pretty much ends. A reliable 4K 360° camera for video and stills, the Insta360 One proffers another advanced tool in the shape of Bullet Time, a fast frame-rate slow-mo mode that, rather bizarrely, requires users to wave the camera rapidly around them on… a piece of string. It's odd, but effective – the slow-mo effect you can add this footage looks like something out of The Matrix. It comes with a tripod thread for remote shooting, too. 

It was Ricoh that put 360° video creation into the mainstream with its Theta S a few years ago, but for all the brilliance of its form factor, it produced barely 25 minutes of rather soft video on one charge. The souped-up follow-up looks the same, but is capable of 4K video recording, 4K live streaming, and even records 360° spatial audio thanks to its four microphones – and for 80 minutes. Android-based and Qualcomm Snapdragon 625-powered, the Theta V vastly increases the ISO and has both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, so can be operated remotely via an app. Thankfully, it retains the standard tripod thread its forbear had. 

With a similar form factor to Ricoh's Theta 360 cameras, this pocket-sized dual-lens shooter has been brought down a peg or two in terms of specs since Samsung decided it needed to help justify the existence of its own Gear VR. For example, while the original Gear 2016 captured 15MP still images, this new version achieves barely half that. It's also got a smaller battery, which means you're going to have to carry around a USB-C-compatible portable charger. Has Samsung gone off the whole idea of 360-degree cameras? Almost certainly, but the cute, splash-proof Gear 360 remains very easy to use, with plenty of free editing software, so if nothing else it helps make the new medium accessible.

If you're a semi-pro videographer wanting to experiment with 360-degree video, the Yi 360 VR gives you most of the tools you need. A serious-looking product that's more about core quality than novelty features, its standard tripod thread lends versatility, while its 5.7K resolution, consistent color and endless manual tweaks are all plus points. Those looking for waterproofing, over-capture and a 24fps mode – albeit at a slightly lower maximum resolution – should consider the GoPro Fusion, but there's no doubt that the Yi 360 VR is a highly ambitious, great value 360 camera that semi-pro videographers will love. 

Do you actually need to shoot in 360 degrees? Sometimes, 235 degrees is more than enough (such as for this all-sky video of a solar eclipse ), which is why Kodak created the PixPro SP360 4K, which has only one spherical lens. Shockproof, freeze-proof, dust-proof and splash-resistant, this Wi-Fi and NFC-connected camera comes with dozens of mounting accessories, which may help to explain the high price. And while it may be solid and pocket-sized, as if one of these wasn't pricey enough, if you want to shoot in 360 degrees you'll have to buy this product twice (Kodak thoughtfully sells a Dual Pro two-pack). You can operate it remotely from a phone, upload to YouTube and Facebook, and make use of a lot of bundled editing software, but we're still not convinced about the absence of true 360-degree capture. 

It might be known mostly for its sat navs and sports watches, but Garmin has produced a whopping-good 360 camera. The feature that catches the eye on the VIRB 360 is its ability to capture in maximum 5.7K resolution, and there's a very simple reason for that awkward figure: 4K doesn't cover a 360 landscape well. Better yet, you can now stitch 5.7K footage using Garmin's free VIRB Edit software. Its four microphones produce wraparound sound, too, while waterproofing, GPS, a gyroscope and an accelerometer give it a notable Garmin feel (it collects data about your adventures as you go, which you can overlay onto your 360 videos).

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