Best 360-Degree Cameras

Updated January 2020
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

24 Models Considered
7 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
380 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best 360-degree cameras

Last Updated January 2020

Omnidirectional, or 360-degree, cameras have quickly become hugely popular for both business and personal use. They give real estate agents an attractive way to display properties, allowing them to easily produce 3D walk-throughs they can post online. The cameras offer similar benefits for construction companies. They bring vibrant realism to outdoor activities, whether you’re jumping out of an airplane or diving underwater and offer amateur and professional filmmakers a whole new world of creativity.

If you’re thinking about buying a 360-degree camera, you have enormous choice, but with all the different resolutions, frame rates, image production, and post-processing options, plus a bunch of associated jargon, picking the right model isn’t straightforward.

That’s where BestReviews steps in. We’ve been looking at the latest developments and comparing performance in different conditions. We’ve chosen a few favorites that offer a variety of price and performance solutions, and our comprehensive buying guide covers all the important aspects that will affect your decision.

Few 360-degree cameras have their own screen. Most link to a phone or tablet. Some features may only be available for particular operating systems, so check device compatibility carefully.

Key considerations

Resolution

In terms of resolution, 4K is pretty impressive in standard video, but when you’ve got a “whole world” view, those pixels have to go a lot farther. It’s still good, but it isn’t as crisp by comparison. Entry-level 360-degree cameras might only be 2K, which are perhaps best looked at as cheap fun. There are several more steps in quality, starting at around 5.5K. This is a noticeable improvement over 4K, but you need to spend more to get it. High resolution for these devices equates to 8K or 12K, which provides fabulous images if you can afford it.

Frame rate

The minimum for flicker-free playback is about 30 frames per second (fps). Some cameras offer lower rates to reduce file sizes, and this can be a useful option in situations where you’re simply recording factual information. For super-smooth imaging, look for frame rates of 50 fps and above.

Stitching

Most 360-degree cameras have two lenses and some have four. To provide you with a seamless video, those images have to be “stitched” together. Most devices offer the option of doing it via an app or desktop computer software. Apps are quick, but the seam can be more visible. Computer programs usually offer more extensive features and may produce higher resolution output. It’s an area that’s worth spending some time to check out thoroughly. If you’re looking at the creative angle, you’ll also want to look at third-party post-processing software.

Great 360° action

The Garmin’s tough, waterproof case and 5.7K capability are ideal for capturing your outdoor adventures and sporting activities, and the four built-in speakers add surround sound, too. It will shoot 4K “tiny planets,” there’s excellent stabilization to take out the shakes, and you can edit via app or desktop software. It’s top quality and competitively priced. The only disadvantage is that live streaming only works via Apple devices.

Features

Audio

It’s common for 360-degree cameras to have anywhere from two to four built-in microphones, thus capturing sound that goes with the video rather than from a single source. The quality is reasonable, but it’s not up to professional standards. If that’s what you need, look for a camera that offers external audio connectivity.

Sharing

There are numerous ways to share your 360-degree videos. Output can usually be uploaded to social media websites for friends and family anywhere in the world to see. How this is done varies, and some devices make it easier than others. Frequent users, particularly vloggers, will want to investigate this further.

Memory

These are memory-hungry devices, so memory cards are pretty much a must-have. Some come with one supplied, but most do not. Capacity starts at 32 GB, but the more you can afford the better, though be sure to check the maximum size that the camera can take, because not all accept the largest 256 GB cards. Card type is also important. There’s more than one kind of microSD card.

Battery

Filming duration depends on battery life as well as the amount of memory. Most 360-degree cameras run from 30 minutes to an hour or more on a charge, so it shouldn’t be a problem. That said, it’s going to be really frustrating if you’re halfway through recording and your battery goes flat, so you need to know exactly how long your battery will last. You can carry a spare, but on some devices, access can be more complicated than you might expect. Also, manufacturers tend to give run times as a best-case scenario. It’s worth checking online owner feedback for real-world expectations.

Other image types

You can also take still images with 360-degree cameras. These are usually wide-angle or panoramic views of 180 degrees or more. Resolution can be anywhere from 16 MP up, with the highest we’ve seen at 66 MP! Many are also capable of outputting “tiny planets”: the full 360-degree view wrapped around to form a globe in a flat plane. These images, particularly cityscapes, can be fascinating.

Other factors

Size: Physical size varies from those that fit easily in the palm of your hand or pocket to large professional models.

Protection: If you’re using a camera for adventure or sports, you’ll want one with a rugged case and some kind of weatherproofing. Some are simply showerproof, but 360-degree action cams can be waterproof to 15 feet or more.

Mount: You might also want to fix it to a helmet, handlebars, shoulder rig, or other device. Many have a standard 1/4-inch tripod-type mounting hole, and some come with mounting kits, but by no means all of them do.

EXPERT TIP

You’ll usually get more advanced post-processing by using a desktop computer, so it’s worth investigating what editing software is provided.


Staff  | BestReviews
EXPERT TIP

Linking your 360-degree camera to a phone is the most portable solution, but tablets offer much larger screen sizes, particularly for group viewing.


Staff  | BestReviews

Accessories

Selfie stick tripod: UBeesize Tripod Stand
Although at first glance this appears to be for phones, it has a universal 1/4-inch mount for your 360-degree camera, too. A compact 17.4 inches when folded, it extends to 51 inches, more than many rivals. Use as a selfie stick or as a tripod for absolute video stability.

VR headset: Benext Universal Virtual Reality Goggles
If you want the full immersive experience of 360 degrees, this low-cost VR headset is ideal. It’s compatible with a huge range of iPhone and Android models from 4 to 6.3 inches, is comfortable to wear, and offers multiple adjustments so you get the best possible picture. It also supports numerous drones.

Choose a 360-degree camera with live-streaming capabilities, and you can hook into social media sites to share your activities with everyone all over the world!

360-degree camera prices

Inexpensive: The cheapest 360-degree cameras can be found for under $100. As a low cost introduction to 360-degree video they are quite popular, but many customers are disappointed with the image quality. Durability can also be an issue, and these cameras seldom offer any water resistance.

Mid-range: Reasonable-quality 4K 360-degree cameras start at a little under $200, and you’ll find lots of feature-rich models between that and $400. A lot of people can find what they’re looking for in this price bracket.

Expensive: Higher resolution (around 5.5K, for example) usually means spending upwards of $500. If you want 8K or 12K video, you’ll pay over $1,000. Top professional 360-degree cameras can be as much as $5,000.

Versatile and affordable

One of the world’s best-known camera brands brings you creativity and fun on a modest budget. The 4K video capture is enhanced with Android and iOS editing software for phone and desktop. You can easily upload results to Facebook and YouTube. It fits comfortably in your hand, but it also comes with an impressive collection of mounting accessories for helmet, bike, and more. You can even get wireless remote control, though it costs extra.

Other products we considered

We found a few more options you might like. There are few cheaper 360-degree cameras than the LG G5 Friends 360 Cam. It’s very light and compact, has built-in microphones, and can upload video to Google Street View and YouTube 360, but the images are only 2K and hence quite low quality. Many users still think it’s a lot of fun.

The Insta360 One X Action Camera is highly rated by many independent testers. The 5.7K video resolution is higher than that of many competitors in the same price bracket, and there’s excellent image stabilization. With optional 50 fps, the video can be very smooth.

The Aleta S2C 360 Camera is one for pros and hard-core enthusiasts. It offers truly high-resolution 12K video imaging, 66 MP stills, and an outstanding feature set for both day and night filming. It’s expensive, but it offers serious users tremendous flexibility and creativity.

Although many of these cameras shoot at least 4K video, you won’t get the same detail as with standard video because those pixels are now spread across a much larger 360-degree image area.

FAQ

Q. Are 360-degree videos the same as virtual reality (VR)?
A.
You can view 360-degree videos on a number of VR headsets, but there are differences in the creation process. With 360-degree video, while you may be able to see all around, the device itself is always at the center of the recording. VR is more interactive, frequently offering multiple changes of viewpoint, and it is mostly created using CGI.


Q. How do I know if my 360-degree camera is fully waterproof?
A.
The independent Ingress Protection (IP) testing system is used by some manufacturers. Devices are given an IP or IPX rating, and you can check specific details online. However, many brands don’t bother, so really you’re taking their word for it. Chances are, top names are trustworthy, though phrases like “showerproof” aren’t much use. If a camera is designed for underwater use, you’re probably fine. We’d be more cautious with cheap models from no-name brands.


Q. Which SD card is best for a 360-degree camera?
A.
It’s not a question of “best.” It’s a question of suitability. You need to be careful because type, size, and speed vary from one camera to another. Most use microSD, but there are two types: SDHC and SDXC. You need the right speed class, too. Additionally, while card sizes run from 32 GB to 256 GB, some cameras only take a maximum of 128 GB. Double-check specifications before ordering.

The team that worked on this review
  • Bob
    Bob
    Writer
  • Bronwyn
    Bronwyn
    Editor
  • Ciera
    Ciera
    Digital Content Producer
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer

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