Opting for a 360 degree camera is the way to go if you want to take your videography game to the next level. It allows you to capture your entire surroundings rather than just a part of it and gives viewers a more immersive experience.
The videos you create can be shared on websites such as Facebook and YouTube and viewed both on PCs and mobile devices. They are especially popular among virtual reality fans who can watch them via VR headsets such as the Samsung Gear VR and Google Daydream.
If you’re in the market for a VR camera, keep reading. We’ve compiled a list of the best consumer-grade 360 degree cameras currently available, which you can check out below. Keep in mind if you have professional VR/360 degree ambitions, none of these are going to be to that level, but considering they are all under $500, you shouldn’t be surprised.
Editor’s note: We will be updating this list regularly as new devices launch.
Samsung Gear 360 (2017 edition)
Samsung’s latest 360-degree camera made its debut back in March alongside the Galaxy S8 series. It’s quite compact and light (130 g), making it easy to use as well as carry around with. It’s equipped with two CMOS 8.4 MP sensors that can capture 15 MP images and 4K video.
The camera packs a 1,160 mAh battery allowing you to record up to 130 minutes of video, is IP53 rated, and supports expandable storage via a microSD card. It doesn’t have a display, but you can preview the videos with the help of an app that also allows you to share them on YouTube and Facebook.
The only problem is that the camera is only compatible with a few Samsung and Apple smartphones, making it useless for those using a device made by a different manufacturer. Compatible Samsung handsets include the Galaxy Note 8, S8, S8 Plus, S7, S7 Edge, Note 5, S6, S6 Edge, S6 Edge Plus, and A7/A5 (2017). In terms of pricing, the Gear 360 will set you back $170 on Amazon.
Samsung Gear 360 (2016)
Last year’s Gear 360 is a great option for those who want to save a bit of money. Sure, it might not have all of the same features as its successor, but it still gets the job done and remains one of the best 360 degree cameras you can buy. It actually offers more in some cases, as it comes with a larger 1,350 mAh battery and two 15 MP sensors.
It’s quite different in terms of design, as it looks like a golf ball with an attached tripod, which is removable. The device is also a bit heavier at 152 grams but is still light and compact enough for easy transport.
The Gear 360 (2016) is IP53 rated for protection against dust and water, supports expandable storage, and allows you to share content to YouTube and other websites with the help of a companion app. However, just like its successor, it’s only compatible with a few Samsung smartphones. It’s the most affordable camera on this list with a price tag of $94.
Ricoh Theta S
Ricoh’s 360-degree camera sports two 12 MP sensors and allows you to capture videos in Full HD resolution. It has 8 GB of storage and can record up to 25 minutes before the battery runs out of juice.
It doesn’t stand out from the crowd much in terms of looks and is easy to carry around with thanks to its compact design and low weight of 125 grams. You can transfer the videos and images captured directly to your mobile device with the help of an app that can also be used to take control over the camera’s shooting modes, edit images, and share content on social media.
Unlike Samsung’s Gear 360 degree cameras described above, the Ricoh Theta S works with all smartphones running Android 4.4 KitKat and above. It comes in black and currently retails for $326.95 on Amazon.
Ricoh Theta V
The Ricoh Theta V looks more or less identical to the S model described above and shares some of its specs. It also comes with two 12 MP sensors but can record in 4K resolution — up to 25 minutes.
The camera has four built-in microphones making it possible to record directional audio independently and comes with 64 GB of storage that isn’t expandable. It also sports a Remote Playback feature that allows you to wirelessly playback the videos and images you captured on a TV, although you’ll need a compatible wireless display adapter for this to work.
Additionally, the Theta V can be paired with a dedicated Android app that allows you to edit the images you’ve taken and share content to social media, among other things. On the downside quite expensive, as it retails for $429.95. Still, quality 360 degree cameras often aren’t particularly cheap, and so the only adage “you get what you pay for” remains the case here.
The 360fly camera can capture 4K 360-degree videos with only one 16 MP sensor. It has a bunch of nifty features on board including time-lapse and front-facing modes and comes with built-in telemetry sensors including an e-compass, gyroscope, as well as non-assisted GPS for performance tracking.
The product is quite durable as it’s dustproof, shockproof, and water resistant to 1 meter (3 feet). It sports 64 GB of storage and is a little smaller than a tennis ball. It connects to your Android device with the help of an app that allows you to watch as well as edit videos you have captured and then share them on Facebook and YouTube.
The 360fly 4K camera is black with the addition of a few green details that give it a bit more character. You can get it on Amazon for $349.
Nikon KeyMission 360
Compared to many of the 360 degree cameras on this list, this one is particularly a great option for all you adventure seekers out there. Nikon’s KeyMission 360 is an action camera that’s suitable for just about any activity you can imagine, as it can really take a beating. It’s waterproof down to 98 feet, freezeproof down to 14°F, and will survive a drop from a height of 6.6 feet.
The camera can record videos in 4K resolution and capture 23.9 MP stills. Paired with a dedicated app, you can transfer the content from the camera to a smartphone and shoot remotely, among other things.
It’s compatible with Nikon’s mounting accessories that can help you strap it to your chest or place it on top of a helmet in order to get that perfect shot. The camera comes in black and is the most expensive one on this list, as it will set you back $496.95.
Insta360 Air is a bit different than the rest of the products on this list, as it’s basically an accessory that works with Android devices. All you have to do is plug it into your smartphone’s charging port and you’re ready to capture both 360-degree videos (2560 x 1280 pixels) as well as images (3008 x 1504 pixels) that you can later upload to YouTube, Facebook, and other websites.
You can also live stream on all the popular platforms and have a 360-degree video chat on Skype and similar services. The camera is made of plastic, is easy on the eyes, and extremely compact.
It’s compatible with smartphones running Android 5.1 Lollipop and above and comes in two variants. The first one features a micro USB connector, while the other works with newer devices with a USB Type-C ports. Both models will set you back around $125 on Amazon.
There are a lot of other 360 degree cameras on the market, but these are the best ones in our opinion. Ranging from approximately $100 to $500, they should fit just about any budget.
Which camera on this list is your favorite? Let us know in the comments.