If there’s one thing we like, it’s new video equipment toys to experiment with at the Absolute Mobile Solutions HQ. Last week we were excited to acquire the 360fly video camera, one of the first 360 video cameras available to the consumer market that comes with an entry to producing virtual reality content.
The 360fly is a pocket-sized, waterproof action cam with the ability to record near 360 aspects. From a mobile device, the camera is controlled through an app which allows you to trim, edit and share your videos on select social media networks. Not only that, but you can also view your footage through virtual reality headsets that use a mobile device, such as Google Cardboard, or their own proprietary viewer.
Testing point #1: Camera Build and Overall Quality
The camera is housed in a super-slick polygone-esque sphere that looks futuristic and is appropriately compact. Smaller than a baseball, it’s easy to see why it’s a natural competitor to GoPro. Similarly, the fact that it’s compatible with its adapters and attachments makes it a smart addition for someone who’s already invested in the GoPro ecosystem. Its sturdy, waterproof, and attractive construction are three things working in favor for this camera system.
Testing point #2: Video Resolution
The 360fly video resolution was a bit of a letdown, although with a $399 price tag, it shouldn’t have been too much of a surprise. After testing it out in various settings, including the view from our balcony, a view of the Tampa Bay WaVE office, and a ride along the Hillsborough River with Tampa Bay Waterbikes, we saw the true quality of the video.
The 360fly purports to be HD at 1500×1500 pixels, shooting at 30fps, it certainly does not look that way. Even in optimal light conditions, the 360fly video quality leaves much to be desired. For the same price, a GoPro Hero4 Black will get you 4K quality, and while still in its early days, it feels like it will be a while before the 360fly cam can compete here, video quality-wise.
We also noticed that the lens tends to get dirty very easily, resulting in a hazy-like effect over certain light sources. Be sure to keep a microfiber cloth handy when shooting with this in the field as it tends to be a grease-magnet.
Testing point #3: Software
Multiple bugs and countless failed uploads made me want to throw the 360fly cam into the river, which is probably why they made it waterproof. The 360fly comes with a mobile app, and a desktop app called the 360fly Director, both of which had many issues, and the lack of tutorial or explanatory literature on the web made for a non-friendly user experience.
Without a compatible smartphone, there’s no way of recording, previewing or direct sharing of your videos, because the app controls the camera. In the same vein of GoPro, you can connect the camera via Wifi, only the 360fly ALSO requires a bluetooth connection, resulting in quick battery depletion. On the desktop application, it was quick to blame my Internet connection for the inability to upload my videos to YouTube, though that is highly suspect.
The 360fly Camera Review: 6/10 Overall Rating
For only a few hundred dollars, any early adopter can make their first steps experimenting with 360 video creation, and virtual reality production. That’s pretty incredible. This camera affords a lot of marketing and experiential opportunities to advertisers, promoters, influencers and other people who have experiences to share, and stories to tell.
Video quality and software issues define this product as an entry-level camera that has a long way to go. We’d recommend this camera as a piece of testing equipment for people who want to get their feet wet in virtual reality and 360 video, though this certainly won’t be the industry standard.