Why is the camera always pointed the wrong way when the action happens? That’s the dilemma solved by 360-degree video coverage in affordable new cameras priced like GoPro. Once only available to professional shooters using multiple linked camera mounts, these new pocket-size systems are easy to use and require no outside software beyond a couple of handy iOS or Android apps. The best news is all the cameras listed sell for $300 to $400.
VSN Mobil’s V.360 shoots a cylinder-style image, capturing everything around you on a relatively horizontal plane. When playing it, you can swipe or mouse to the left or right to see all the action — front, back and side to side. We mounted ours to the cockpit hardtop and captured not only the mahimahi fight but also the skipper maneuvering the boat and a buddy angler trying to catch the schoolies that followed. Playback proved easy on a smartphone or computer.
Dome video shoots the hemisphere around you from sky to water and horizon to horizon. You can swipe up, down, side to side and around to see the action, the people watching the action, or the sky or ground below. Kodak’s SP360 4K uses one 180-degree upward-facing lens on its splashproof cubic camera. You can display the image through a cylinder or window on an app. A threaded tripod mount gives lots of positioning options, and a dive housing makes the camera waterproof. Kodak also now packages two systems together to create full spherical video.
The newest dome is the 360fly 4K. It is waterproof; however, while most of these devices shoot in high definition, the stretch format does degrade the image some.
Spherical video joins an upper and lower dome or hemisphere to put the viewer in a complete video sphere, and the video screen is a window into it. You can swipe up, down and around. The Ricoh Theta S is an excellent example. The device is about the size of a mobile phone and has back-to-back, 180-degree lenses. Its coolest online video was shot from the cockpit of the center airplane of an aerobatic flight team. We’d like to see it mounted on the helmet of a wakeboard rider doing inverts.