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Panoramic cameras: application and best models

Panoramic cameras are becoming increasingly popular. What are these gadgets good for?

Surely you have repeatedly seen panoramic videos on YouTube where you can rotate around all 360 degrees. For such a survey, two methods are usually used:

  • Creating a sphere from several action-, photo- or video cameras - in the future, all received images are combined in a special computer program.
  • Using a panoramic camera - such a device has at least two lenses, and the picture is combined right during shooting.

It is about the second method that will be discussed in this article. Let's try to understand how a panoramic camera works, what to look for when choosing a device, and also note the best models.


Shooting principle

Any panoramic camera must have a viewing angle of 360 degrees. This means that absolutely all the surrounding space enters the field of view of such a gadget - both horizontally and vertically. For this, the manufacturer has to implement several lenses. Only two lenses with a wide viewing angle are built into the budget models. However, this affects the picture - the fish-eye effect leaves not the most positive impression. That's why the best panoramic cameras have more lenses. However, such devices cost a lot of money, and for their purchase, you may have to turn to foreign Internet sites.

Each panoramic camera has several matrices - the number of these components is identical to the number of lenses. During video or photography, the processor simultaneously processes the image from all sensors. Along the way, this data stream is combined, stitching already into a single picture, which has a special format. In the future, you can watch the video on a variety of devices. You can rotate the “head” in such videos as follows:

  • Moving the picture with a computer mouse or just a finger;
  • Using the gyroscope built into a smartphone or tablet.

The processor is the most expensive part of any panoramic camera. To process two video streams at once, high power is needed - that is why such devices are very expensive, especially top-end models.

Criterias of choice

Before you buy a panoramic camera, pay attention to the following characteristics:

  • Video resolution - if you plan to view the final result in virtual reality glasses, the device should write a 4K picture. If good quality is not required, then budget models that only support recording video in 2K or even Full HD resolution may well be fine. Professional models are able to write 8K video, while retaining the smallest details.
  • The number of lenses - how exactly this parameter affects the final result, is written above.
  • Shooting speed - look for a model with a frequency of at least 25 frames / s. The higher this parameter, the better moving objects look in the frame. With a low recording speed, high-quality panoramic camera shooting is possible only when the device is mounted on a tripod.
  • Sound - it is desirable that the gadget has microphones directed in different directions. You can evaluate the quality of the recorded sound by watching test videos on YouTube.

Then it remains to choose a specific model, focusing on the above parameters. Do not want to spend time browsing the assortment of different online stores? Then we present the list of the most worthy devices.

The best panoramic cameras

Gear 360 (2017) — очень неплохой девайс, умеющий передавать картинку на смартфон в потоковом режиме. Samsung Gear 360 (2017) is a very good device that can stream images to a smartphone. But note that in this case we are talking about the second generation of the camera. This model differs from its predecessor in the presence of a convenient handle and a number of some simplifications that have reduced the price tag.

The device has two lenses with an aperture of f / 2.2. The resolution of the picture when shooting movies is 4096 x 2048 pixels, and the speed is 24 frames / s. When taking pictures, the resolution increases even more, which positively affects the image quality. Other features of the gadget are the presence of Bluetooth and Wi-Fi modules. Samsung itself claims that the Gear 360 is the easiest way to broadcast a panoramic picture online.

Insta360 Air is another good budget camera for panoramic shooting, made in the form of a small ball. The weight of the crumbs is only 26 g - in the pocket such a gadget is almost not felt. The shooting is carried out using a pair of lenses and the same number of 8-megapixel CMOS sensors. The resolution of the recorded video is 2560 x 1280 pixels. This can be called an average parameter, but the device does not impose special requirements on the speed characteristics of the memory card .

The main advantage of the Insta360 Air is its convenient mount for a smartphone. That phone will act as a holder and viewfinder. If you need to install a panoramic camera somewhere on the table, then a proprietary stand is used for this, at the same time playing the role of a cover.

Ricoh Theta S is already a significantly more expensive product, which has been present on the market for several years. The product has a rectangular shape and a fairly large size. The main difference between this gadget and competitors is the availability of 8 GB of internal memory, which allows you to start shooting immediately after purchase. Unfortunately, behind the pair of lenses present here, only one CMOS matrix is ​​hidden. But on the other hand, the sensor is large in size, and it is impossible to find fault with the 12-megapixel resolution.

This camera hit the top because of its simplicity. Buyers of this model have never encountered difficulties in setting up. To a certain extent, you can also add a video resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels - you can watch the picture even on the cheapest and oldest smartphones . The shooting speed is 30 frames / s, and H.264 is used as a codec here.

One cannot fail to mention at least one professional decision. In Russia, the choice of the most expensive panoramic cameras is small. The easiest way to buy Insta360 Pro . This monster contains six lenses with a focal length of approximately 10 mm! The product has a spherical shape, in addition, the buyer receives a stand, easily attached to a tripod. The device turned out to be big - you won’t put such a thing in your pocket. Insta360 Pro camera weight reaches 1.2 kg, which is comparable to the mass of a professional SLR camera .

The built-in battery lasts for about an hour of continuous video recording. You can write a picture not only to a memory card, but also to an external hard drive, for which a separate USB slot is allocated. Moreover, there is even a connector for an external microphone! This is very important, because it’s difficult to write sound with the built-in tools, because the fans inside the camera interfere with this. However, they can be turned off, but then the continuous process of filming in order to avoid overheating will last only 15 minutes.

You can talk about the Insta360 Pro panoramic camera for a very long time. But this will not change the fact that allowing the purchase of a device for 300 thousand rubles. only professionals can. In the meantime, we suggest that you familiarize yourself with an example of video shooting on such a camera:


While the panoramic camera can not be called an accessory, a must-have. However, if you like to engage in video shooting, and want to try something completely new, then such a device may well be liked. It remains to regret that only inaccessible monsters can provide good quality shooting in video mode.


1 comment

  • What to take between Samsung Gear 360 and Wunder C1? They are the same in design and in characteristics, only the prices are different.