NAB show 2017 is over, and with it came a raft of new 360 cameras as expected. This year’s focus was primarily on advancing stereo 3D 360 for VR virtual reality. We’re doing a round-up of all the latest 3D 360 cameras and what our impressions are.
Until now, achieving stereo 3D 360 has been extremely challenging, costly and required a specific skillset not many are capable of. Felix & Paul are probably the only company achieving consistently good results, with extensive budgets and post schedules to match. The key technology to change this is the advancement of optical flow stitching. Combined with higher resolution cylindrical designs with closer parallax and we are going to see many more examples of high qaulity stereo in the coming months.
Professional stereo 3D 360 cameras for Virtual Reality
Professional 360 3D stereo cameras are coming soon. The Z CAM V1 Pro, Yi Halo, KanDao Obsidian all look like potentially great stereo 360 capable camera systems.
- Z CAM V1 PRO
The Z CAM V1 Pro is the premier 3D capable camera we have seen. High quality Sony Micro 4/3 sensors in the round, and capable of 60fps 4K stereo. Simply this is next standard pro 360 camera, with a high cost to match. The stitching optical flow software is a custom camera-specific development based on Facebook’s surround 360 algorithm.
- Yi Halo
The Yi Halo is a collaboration between Yi (Xiaomi) and Google. After falling out with GoPro over the Oddessey, Google partnered up with Yi to enhance the systems which take advantage of their Jump optical flow algorithm. It is more advanced than the FB surround 360 algorithm others are utilizing such as Z CAM. Unfortunately this is tied to a limited capability action camera (poorer lens, smaller sensor) with many more media cards to manage. Images suffer from the ‘action cam’ look but the stereo is unsurpassed.
- KanDao Obsidian R/S
Kandao are a Chinese startup. They have a 6-camera cylindrical design. Lenses and sensors are small, the jury is out on the image quality and where it fits with the others here. They have an in-house optical flow offering. One version R offers higher framerate stereo at 60fps, one version S offers higher resolution at lower frames. We find this a bit mixed and confusing as both could be useful. They are so similarly spec’d, we can’t say which is better.
Semi-Professional ‘Prosumer/Consumer’ 3D 360 cameras:
There are a couple of new cameras with a low cost and lower quality to match. The Insta360 Pro is a lower mid-level offering and the Vuze is marketed as a ‘consumer’ 3D 360 camera.
- Insta360 Pro
The Insta360 Pro offers quite high specs for a low cost. The specs are a little misleading however. 8K at 30fps is only for mono. For stereo, the system offers max 6.5k output. We can’t see a reason to use this system for mono particularly, but it maybe a better solution to 6-camera GoPro at getting to the desired resolution. It is a standard ball of cameras, so it will be interesting to see how the footage and post solutions come together. Reports suggest the 3D stereo effect is inconsistent and not the best at this time.
Vuze announced their 3D camera last year. Since then it has seen some development, with release slated for later this year. The image quality is not great and the stereo effect is uncomfortable. They employ a stereo pair alignment which leads to issues across stitch lines. Its a cheap product so the quality matches.
These are all the new stereo cameras from NAB 2017 which we have noticed. It really is the next level of VR 360 video filmmaking and we are extremely excited to see how they do on release and what the quality of stereo is. What we do know is that processing stereo or 8K mono from these cameras is going to require a whole new investment in 8K capable post-machines which right now is an expensive process.