Friday, May 6, 2016

A low-cost compact hemispherical 360-degree camera

This is another low-cost hemispherical camera from China.  This one is supposedly manufactured by Shenzhen E-Song Digital Limited.

The claimed specs are:
  • Video resolution: 1920 x 1080 in 180 mode, 1648 x 1648 in "360-all mode"
  • Photo resolution: not stated.
  • Uses Micro SD cards up to 64GB
  • Loop recording
  • G-sensor
The sensor is supposed to be the OV5658, a 1/3.2-inch CMOS sensor with 5 megapixel resolution, intended for "security and surveillance systems."

Notably, the welcome screen looks exactly identical to the welcome screen of the X360 (reviewed here).  Indeed, the controls are also almost identical to those of the X360 as well in terms of placement and function, except that the buttons look a little more refined, and there is an extra button on the right side marked W (or an upside down M) which may mean a dedicated wireless button (whereas the X360 used the down button to toggle the wireless mode).  Finally, like the X360, it features "loop recording" and "G-sensor".

There are no samples from this camera per se, but there are several video samples supposedly from the OV5658 on YouTube.  Here are some:

If this unnamed 360 camera does indeed use the OV5658 sensor, the videos here may be a good indication of the likely image quality from this camera.

Samsung Gear 360 Low Light Sample Video

If you're wondering how the Samsung Gear 360 performs in low light, check out this video from Steve Shew:

Steve also has the Ricoh Theta S and Insta360 4k, which he said he would be comparing.

Meanwhile, here are other sample videos from the Samsung Gear 360 here.

Thanks to reader David Grass for bringing this to my attention!

Google StreetView Adds Links to Your 360 Photos

One of the platforms for sharing 360-degree photos is Google Streetview.  Google now added a new feature to Streetview that allows you to insert links in your 360 photos to other 360 photos taken nearby, similar to how Google's Streetviews allow viewers to navigate.

To use the feature, just pull up your photosphere, then tap and hold any spot where you want to add a link.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Review: Tiltpod - the Smallest Tripod for a 360 Camera

The Tiltpod is quite possibly the smallest "tripod" for a camera, and it works very well with 360-degree cameras.

When shooting with a 360 camera, it is helpful to have a tripod so that your hands or thumbs aren't too prominent in the picture.  On the other hand, if a tripod is too large, it can be inconvenient to carry, and can be very visible in the shot, somewhat defeating the purpose of using a tripod to begin with.

In that regard, a Tiltpod works pretty well: it is very small and easy to carry, and takes up very little space in the shot (it may even be invisible in some 360-degree cameras).

The Tiltpod doesn't have legs like an actual tripod.  Instead it is just a stand that attaches magnetically to your camera.

It comes with two attachments: either a button-like attachment for a camera's standard 1/4-20 tripod mount (like the one shown above), or a stick-on attachment for cameras without a tripod mount.  I use the stick-on attachment on a BlackRapid FastenR (which I use for my wrist strap).

The magnetic pivoting attachment allows you to tilt the camera for the best position.​

On the bottom of the Tiltpod is a rubberized base with a lot of grip, to allow your camera to be placed on modestly sloping surfaces.

The Tiltpod keeps the camera stable indoors on flat or mildly sloping surfaces.  It is especially stable on flat metal surfaces such as on some furniture.  When attached upside down to a metal surface (e.g. on some playground structures), it can actually support the weight of my Ricoh Theta S (approx. 125 grams), although I don't recommend usage upside down -- do so at your own risk!

Here is a sample image taken with the Tiltpod with the camera upside down.  (To clarify: again, I'm not recommending that you do that.  I'm just posting it here to demonstrate the magnetic connection).

Playground - Spherical Image - RICOH THETA

I always bring my Tiltpod with my Theta because it takes up so little space, and even fits inside my eyeglass case (which I use as a hardcase for the Theta).  For outdoors, I still usually use a tripod, which gives me more control over height and I'm not dependent on finding a suitable surface.  However, for indoor use, the Tiltpod works very well and it's quite inexpensive.  If you'd like to get one, consider getting one from Amazon which would be a welcome way of supporting this site. Thanks!

PSA: What you missed on Twitter

Not everyone uses Twitter, but if you're interested in VR/360, Twitter is one of the best sources of information.  There is a lot of information on VR/360, some of which I share on Twitter but don't have the time to write a blogpost about.

Here is a sampling of news and info that you might have missed from my Twitter feed:

And that's just over the last 24 hours.  So there's a lot of info for you on my Twitter feed.

If you aren't on Twitter, that's ok.  On the right side of the blog --> there's a Twitter feed that you can scroll through.

Yes, browsing through Twitter sometimes feels like drinking from a firehose.  And that's where I come in.  I look through all the info for you and only post relevant information.  I don't tweet what I had for breakfast, or philosophical musings, or political rants.  I only post information relevant to my audience, i.e. 360 cameras.  By adding me on Twitter, you can very quickly see a lot of relevant information filtered for you.

Is your Twitter already cluttered by following too many people?  That's ok.  FYI, you can make lists (which can be public or private). Let's say you make a list called VR/360.  You can add me and other accounts to that list that only pertain to that topic.  Then when you want to know the latest buzz about VR/360, you just click on that list instead of scouring through your entire Twitter feed.

Yes I'm also on Google+.  That's how I share my blogposts.  If you don't want to miss a post, follow me on Google+.  Alternatively, you can subscribe via email (it's anonymous - I have no idea what your email address is) --> see the right side of the screen below the "About Me".  And if you use an aggregator, here's my Atom feed.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

REVOLUTION Cinco de Mayo Concert will be Livestreamed in 360 via Spinnable

The REVOLUTION concert celebrating Cinco de Mayo will be livestreamed in 360 tomorrow May 5 at 8pm Pacific Time. You can view the livestream for free on the Spinnable app (iOS; Android TBA). 

The concert will be held at Belasco Theater in Los Angeles. "REVOLUTION is a politically charged music and art experience to feature 3 stages, 24 music artists, visual art exhibits, poets, burlesque dancers, and interactive media."

Spinnable has livestreamed several events this year such as the Los Angeles Fashion Week, ASCAP Awards, and Get Lit poetry competition.

Hands-on Review of X360, a $100 360-degree camera

There are some products from Shenzhen that are pretty good -- even world class -- such as the DJI Phantom drones.  Is the X360 camera one of them?   Hit the jump to find out.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

LG 360 Cam reviews

Here are some reviews of the recently-released LG 360 Cam (albeit some from writers who are not very experienced with 360-degree cameras).

  • Android Central: "Some software quirks aside, LG's entry into the 360-degree video and photography world is a fun little way to show off everything that's going on around you."
  • Expert Reviews: "The LG 360 Cam is a great introduction to spherical 360-degree video at a good price, and it works with any Android or iOS device."
  • Mashable: "The LG 360 Cam is currently a solid choice if you want a hassle-free way to create 360-degree content."
  • Mobile Syrup: "Regardless, I've had a significant amount of fun expirementing with the G5's 360 Cam. The device has opened my mind up to a new realm of photography possibilities, though I'm wondering how practical 360 photos will continue to be once the initial wow factor has worn off."
  • Straits Times: "While the LG 360 Cam is not perfect, it is a big step towards making 360 photo/video creation a lot more consumer-friendly."

Older articles with first impressions:

  • Tech Radar: "The LG 360 Cam fits so much technology into a tiny form factor, with dual 13MP lenses and a surprising 4GB of internal storage. Samsung has the better virtual reality suite, but this camera and its protective app could better a better fit for 360-degree travel videos and photos."
  • Trusted Reviews: "The LG 360 Cam is well-made, small, cute, and makes sense for LG, particularly with the advent of virtual reality."

Sample videos from the Amkov AMK100S

Here are some unboxing videos and sample videos from the Amkov AMK100S low-cost 360 degree camera (previewed here).

Unboxing video:

Sample videos:

This one is an edited video where the AMK100S videos were cut with/interspersed with other videos.

Thanks to reader David Grass for spotting the unboxing video!

For related posts on the Amkov click here or on one of the labels/tags below the sharing buttons.

Orah 4i Sample Videos Get Mixed Reviews

screenshot from Orah's FB post

Orah released video samples from the Orah 4i camera, and while some YouTube comments were favorable, the results were panned on Facebook, causing some people to cancel their preorders.  Hit the jump to see the comments and the video.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Schedule an Oculus Rift Demo!

You can now schedule an Oculus Rift demo at 48 Best Buy locations throughout the US.  Hopefully there is one near you!  Here is the link.

HDKing V1 Pro with waterproof case and 8mp Sony sensor

HDKing V1 Pro is a low-cost hemispherical 360 camera with a waterproof case and an 8-megapixel Sony sensor.

Claimed specs
  • Field of view: 360 x 220 degrees
  • Video resolution: 1920 x 1440 @ 30 fps
  • Photo resolution: 3264 * 2448
  • Uses Micro SD cards up to 64GB
  • Enclosure is waterproof to 30m
  • Can connect to iOS or Android phone via XDV360 app

The sensor is supposedly the Sony IMX179 (1/3.2 inch, 8mp).  The manufacturer is Shenzhen HDKing Electronics Co. Ltd.

Interestingly, the HDKing connects using the XDV360 app, which is an app for a Sunchip camera.

So far, I have only seen CG renderings of the HDKing V1 Pro.  I haven't seen actual photos of it, so I don't know when it will be available.

Thanks to Edgar Pariente for bringing this to my attention!

Samsung Gear 360 on Amazon and eBay

Just as predicted, gray market Samsung Gear 360 cameras are showing up on Amazon (from resellers) and eBay.

Here is the Amazon listing.  There are several listings on eBay.  Just search "Samsung Gear 360"

The price currently hovers around $500 with free shipping, which is a substantial markup from the ~$350 MSRP.  Nonetheless, on eBay, so far there are a few that have been sold:
- 1 at $450
- 2 at $475
- 1 at $499
- 1 at $550

For related posts on the Samsung Gear 360, click here or one one of the labels/tags below the sharing buttons.