Best 360-degree camera 2018

T3’s roundup of the best 360 cameras available to buy this year

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360-degree cameras are a whole new way to create digital content. Using a camera that shoots a full 360-degree video it allows viewers to see the entire area you’ve been filming – ‘in the round’ if you like. 

It’s a surprisingly easy thing to do too, with several 360-degree cameras on the market that are ideal for the job even if you’re only just starting out, like the Insta360 One for example. 

Meanwhile, the GoPro Fusion is the perfect high-end example as it comes armed with a potent specification. 

To enjoy your output the resulting content can be viewed on everything from Virtual Reality headsets through to mobile phones. Facebook and Youtube also have 360-degree video players, making the whole thing an inclusive experience. 

However, it’s vital to get the right kit so that your end result is memorable. We’ve rounded up the best 360-degree cameras for 2018 to let you do just that.

How to buy a 360-degree camera

As is the case with any newish technology you’ll find that the 360-degree camera range is a developing one. A cheap and cheerful solutions might seem like a good idea based on their low price tag, but video quality lacks punch as a result. 

However, there are 360-degree cameras to suit all budgets, from the keenly priced Insta360 One at the lower end up to premium models like the Garmin VIRB 360. 

Lookout for a decent shooting resolution, although bear in mind it’s more about the quality of the execution than the quality itself – something that only practice will really let you achieve over time. 

Done badly 360-degree video can look amateurish, so it’s important to use a camera that can handle less than ideal shooting scenarios too. Waterproof 360-degree cameras are a real boon, but you’ll want to look out for those that are dustproof as most of your work will probably take place in the great outdoors. 

Controlling your video capture and accessing the resulting footage is best done using a Wi-Fi hotspot from the camera that will connect with your phone. A companion app then allows you to view, edit and share anything you’ve shot. 

Depending on your skill level and shooting requirements then any one of the following five best 360-degree cameras will fit the bill.

The 5 best 360-degree cameras

1. GoPro 360 Fusion

A versatile and potent camera that produces top-notch results

Reasons to buy
+5.2K resolution+Over-capture feature
Reasons to avoid
-More expensive than others on this list-Handful for beginners

GoPro knows a thing or two about the action camera market and has extended its range to include the beefy 360 Fusion. This robust unit records pristine 5.2K video at 30 frames per second or 3K quality as 60fps. Adding extra appeal is the capacity for using GoPro developed OverCapture software that delivers 16:9 video too. 

Inside the rugged casing there is also GPS, an accelerometer, gyroscope and a compass too. You get full connectivity including Wi-Fi and Bluetooth plus groovy 3D audio.

This dazzling array of features is supplemented with the mounting flexibility of being a GoPro, which means it can be attached to just about anything, plus there’s waterproof capability down to 5metres. That full feature set might be more than a beginner will ever need however.

2. Insta360 One

The Insta360 One combines solid video with a quirky set of features

Reasons to buy
+Solid 4K footage+Cute clip on design
Reasons to avoid
-Audio quality could be improved-Slightly offbeat feature set

The Insta360 One is a camera for the more adventurous 360-degree shooter. It’s a bit like a cheaper version of the GoPro Fusion, mostly because it packs the FreeCapture mode for turning your 360-degree footage into 16:9 aspect ratio standard video. 

There’s also the curio that is Bullet Time, which delivers fast frame-rate slow-motion footage for those with a desire to be a tad artistic. However, it also boasts more conventional charms including being able to produce chunky 24-megapixel stills and the Raw file format is offered too. 

We also like the practical tripod thread in the body and that 3840 x 1920 at 30fps capture quality looks pretty good to us too.

3. Samsung Gear 360 (2017)

This cute and compact 360-degree camera is uber entry-level

Reasons to buy
+A pocket friendly pick+Brilliantly easy to use
Reasons to avoid
-Not the highest quality-Awkward design

Think of the Samsung Gear 360 (2017) as a modded version of an earlier incarnation and it’s a perfect entry-level 360-degree camera that’ll let you dabble in immersive video without too much financial outlay. 

Sure, the 4096 x 2048 at 24fps maximum video resolution isn’t always the best, but the device is light (130grams), likeable and incredibly portable too. Of course, there are other benefits, with the main plus being that it’s a cinch to use thanks to the supporting app. 

Battery life is pretty good with a running time of around 2 hours and you can edit and share content with ease thanks to the way it works in harmony with a raft of devices. 

Being a Samsung means it can also be teamed up with the Gear VR headset, for a truly ‘in the round’ experience.

4. Garmin VIRB 360

Expect awesome 360-degree footage from this tough cookie

Reasons to buy
+Excellent quality video+Really rugged design
Reasons to avoid
-High-end price tag-Quite heavy 

Garmin might be really good at producing sat-navs and high-tech timepieces but it’s also done a very good job with the VIRB 360. It feels bulkier than rival models, due to its 160gram weight and meaty design lines. 

However, the bonus with that is you get 360-degree video capture with resolution up to 5.7K. So with 2880 x 2880 (x2) at 30fps at your disposal, plus 15-megapixel stills you’ve got a formidable shooter. Add immersive audio from the four microphone arrangement along with GPS, a gyroscope and accelerometer and you have a bit of a monster. 

Capture quality is excellent, there’s a neat stitching feature within Garmin’s own VIRB Edit software and the unit is waterproof into the bargain.

5. Ricoh Theta V

The evergreen Theta from Ricoh is maturing nicely with age

Reasons to buy
+Decent 4K video+Live streaming capability
Reasons to avoid
-Pricier than it looks-Casing not so rugged

Ricoh was one of the first to join the 360-degree camera collective and has been developing the Theta nicely with each successive release. Central to its appeal is the compact and bijou design, which weighs just 121grams. 

Considering its fairly small dimensions the technology packed inside allows you to squeeze 4K video – 3840 x 1920 at 30fps - plus live streaming from its Android-based innards. On top of that there are quad microphones too, which delivers an immersive audio experience. 

You’ll get around 80 minutes of use from the battery, while Wi-Fi and Bluetooth mean you can edit and share with no cable hassles and the supporting app is easy enough to get your head around.

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