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360 Degree 3D VR Cameras: Pro Capabilities For Everyone

There are practical limits to almost everything, even in today’s astoundingly-advanced technological era.

After all, when we personally view the world, we do it in 360 degrees and three dimensions. Without access to the very finest cameras and computers available to the military, major film studios and gaming companies, or tech giants like Google, it would seem impossible that the average consumer could accurately replicate actual experiences in virtual reality.

Actually, even that barrier is now being broken by a new generation of 360-degree, 3D VR cameras.

Man on blurred background holding 360 degree 3D render icon in his hand

The Concept

Many smartphones allow you to shoot in 360° view and share your panoramic videos with friends, family or the world.

But that’s not enough for true virtual reality, because it only captures a limited horizontal field. In order to capture accurate VR images or video, you need the ability to fully capture vertically as well as horizontally. That’s done with multiple wide-angle lenses that film spherical images which are then merged together via special software.

Just a couple of years ago you’d need a special setup costing at least $25,000 to accomplish that goal. The good news: affordable 3D VR, 360° cameras, also capable of capturing full stereo HD audio, are now on the market. They may not produce video that’s quite as impressive as the latest VR games on the market – but they’re getting awfully close, with some cameras able to create 3D panoramic video in mind-boggling 4K or 1080p HD at 15 frames per second (or even 30 fps). Top-end consumer models also come with features like electronic image stabilization, waterproofing and shockproofing.

The Uses

Many who own 360° cameras already upload their photos to services like Google Street View or Maps, and their videos to Google+ and YouTube. They’re also ideal for viewing with many of the new generation VR headsets on the market. Either way, your view of the real world is now easily shared with both friends and worldwide surfers. Live streaming with these cameras is becoming common as well.

A number of more ambitious users create their own entertainment projects or video games, and the new generation of 360-degree 3D virtual reality cameras has made high-end, immersive filmmaking accessible to amateurs and budding professionals. However, the real future of 360° VR is commercial, not simply personal.

Double exposure 2F Ski centre, Les Deux Alpes, entering VR headset

Music and sports venues are finding that these cameras easily allow them to create immersive concert and event programming for free or for pay-per-view streaming, and travel providers are beginning to market their services via enticing VR productions – as well as creating “virtual travel experiences” for armchair travelers.

As you can well imagine, that’s only scratching the surface of what will soon be possible.

The Alternatives

The best of the best, such as the Panocam3d Ultra HD system, can cost as much as $5000 because of its 12 synchronized full HD cameras that capture full horizontal and vertical images or video, individual video and audio recording capabilities, full-featured editing software and 4K at 30 fps capabilities. But there are some great, less-expensive options.

For example, the Vuze Camera and Virtual Reality Kit is shipping in the first quarter of 2017 and offers 4K UHD video at 30fps, thanks to eight FHD lenses and an FOV spherical lens, as well as AAC audio; it even comes with a VR headset, all for just about $800. There’s also the small, lightweight $400 LucidCam which captures 2K video at 60fps, and can be easily combined with additional LucidCams to create a complete 360° VR experience.

Many other companies have competitive products available now or in production, and they will unquestionably be better and cheaper in the relatively near future – if you want to wait. But at these prices for fabulous panoramic 3D video cameras, why would you want to?

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