360° photography – at least in 360fly’s case - is about using a single lens and some really smart hardware and software to capture a single, seamless, stitchless, image that is 360° "around" and 240° "over" (or under) the lens. In simple terms, what you could see if you were the Exorcist’s Linda Blair and could turn your head around 360° – minus the goo.
Its motto is "live life uncropped" and if you have ever taken a still picture you will understand that there is so much happening outside the 6x4” photo you captured.
It stores this in an editable file that, if you show it on a flat screen — a tablet — it will appear as the whole image "rounded" into one. It has an app to "flatten" that image where it looks like a fisheye lens was used.
Or you can display it via VR – simply put your smartphone into a 360fly VR headset (a kind of upmarket Google Cardboard VR costing A$69) or you can use a Samsung Gear VR headset (and S6/S7/Note 5/6 phone) at $159.
I look forward to reviewing the camera soon – following are a few details.
The 16MP, 4K, 2880 x 2880 pixel, f/2.5, camera looks like a geodesic billiard ball – see the images at the end of the article. At the top is the lens, at the bottom is a standard tripod screw mount (for mounting accessories) and some subtle LED lights to show recording mode, etc.
Inside the non-slip ball are the electronics, 64GB storage, stereo microphones, GPS, gyroscope, accelerometer (motion/audio activate), Wi-Fi N dual band, Bluetooth LE, and 2-hour, 1710mAh battery. It is hardy – water resistant sans "plug" to about 10 metres and droppable from 1.5 metres.
I am not going to kid you – there is a lot happening for $849.95, but if money is an object then its HR 1080p older brother costs about $200 less (and has fewer features). 4K, however, is worth the extra and offers the much needed extra pixels to do so much more.
As first looks I liked:
- The elegant simplicity – it is really plug and play
- The excellent, easy to use, Android and iOS app as well as Windows and Mac desktop editors
- Video is extremely crisp and clear
- It can be used as a standard 16:9 video and still camera
- It has full and seamless integration with Facebook and YouTube
- Accelerometer for motion recording
- It is hardy
And the future?
360fly has been a little pre-occupied getting the camera to market – now it is time to flesh out the offerings, and there are some amazing features coming soon via firmware and software.
Additionally, the 360fly 4K camera will offer the following upgraded and advanced features:
- Front-Facing Cam (“First-person POV Mode”): Not all situations require a 360-degree field of view. During those times, 360fly 4K users can select “POV Mode” to record video or capture a photograph in the traditional point-and-shoot style. “POV Mode” records in a 16:9 aspect ratio at 2560x1440-pixel resolution, with a field of view of 178x100 degrees (204 diagonal).
- Time-Lapse Video Mode: Tell a story in a dramatic fashion by capturing a 360-degree time-lapse video. Users can select 0.5, 1, 2, 5, 10, 30 or 60-second shutter intervals.
- Telemetry: The 360fly 4K camera features a built-in GPS sensor to tag locations, an altimeter, and an accelerometer – all powered by an advanced Qualcomm Snapdragon processor. Users can track altitude and speed, and use third-party applications to overlay the data into their existing 360-degree video content.
- Expanded Internal Memory: The 360fly 4K camera boasts 64Gb of internal memory. With increased storage, there’s no need to pause your adventures to offload video.
- OnePush Button Colour-Coding: For clearer visibility and mode recognition, the 360fly 4K camera features an enhanced design with color-coded lighting around the OnePush button and the bottom ring of the mounting dock.
- LIVIT Live Streaming: In partnership with LIVIT, camera users can live stream their 360-degree content across the LIVIT mobile app – so your friends and family can see all the action in real time; no editing or uploading required.