Should You Get The 360Fly Action Camera?
I’ve been able to spend several weeks with the 360fly video camera. As the company says, it DOES give you the power to capture content in fully immersive, interactive 360° HD video - kinda of - it’s actually 240 degrees - we’ll blame the marketing department for that embellishment. Along with the camera, the manufacturer also supplies you with the tools necessary to edit, enhance and share your videos across social media. So the question is - is this camera ready for prime time and should you go out and buy one today?
I have to admit, I was smitten with the appearance of the 360fly the first time I saw it. Sure, it looks like a golf ball. However with the design decisions made by some if its competitors, the 360fly stands out as a camera meant to NOT get in the way or make a spectacle of itself. This may seem like a small thing - but when you want to shoot things like music festivals or capture footage without your subjects being distracted by the gear you’re using - have a big yellow square, or several of them all over the set or stage is a deal-killer right out of the box. Sure, you can whip out the gaff tape and cover the camera up - but why make a videographer do that in the first place?
Moving on - the 360fly has got an arsenal of connectivity that would delight any mobile content creator and housing that is extremely resistant. able to protect it from liquids and minor blows - to prove it - I took it on two three-day outdoor music festivals, a college basketball game and a shoot in a factory in the midwest.
The 360fly is a panoramic video camera which comes equipped with everything you need to capture the most exciting moments of your sports, hobbies, travels or whatever you a pointing the camera at.
Apart from its hard shockproof shell, it is also resistant to extreme temperature changes - which is critical for making it a great accessory for active users and adventurers. You can also safely take it underwater, an option that offers the possibility of capturing impressive underwater footage when surfing, snorkeling or doing other water activities.
The 360fly camera is waterproof to 5 meters with nothing other than a small cap on top of the microphone which is included. The mounts on the 360fly compatible with accessories from GoPro - something the likes of Kodak and other manufactures either didn’t have the foresight to do - or - and I hope this isn’t the case - chose not to do in order to specifically force consumers to have to reinvest in accessories for their specific camera. It’s these kinds of decisions which make me personally root for one company over another.
When you are ready to take the 360fly out and shoot, you have several mounting options. It is compatible with any tripod and incorporates various brackets and adhesives, which is great for attaching to helmets or in my case, to stage rigging. It’s small and light, weighing only 120 grams, allowing you to place it almost anywhere without it drawing attention to itself. In my mind, the design characteristic of the 360fly make it stand out well above its competitors. There are a couple other 360 cameras I am waiting to review which either haven’t made it to production just yet or in one case - I haven’t tested the Ricoh Theta S yet because it’s just impossible to get hold of - but compared to what is available on the market just now - the 360fly wins on design in my mind. And that’s not just because of aesthetics - the design of this camera makes integrate into production situations more effectively than other 360 camera’s I’ve seen so far.
So how does it work? The 360fly has an ultra wide angle of view - 240 degrees vertically, a spherical lens, and records in Full HD. The optic specs include a ultra-fisheye lens composed of 8 elements which has an f2.5 aperture, an .88mm focal length and a minimum focusing distance of 30 centimeters.
It can connect to any phone or tablet with Android or iOS with its own app. The app gives you a live view of what you are about to record. At the time of shooting this video however, you cannot live view what the camera is actually seeing when it is “recording” in real time. You can edit videos from your phone or tablet and even share it on our social networks. That’s a lot of functionality without having to use your computer!
There is also a desktop app named the 360 Director - but we’ll have to talk about that in a later video.
What else do we have? The 360fly uses bluetooth and WiFi to connect to your phone or tablet and has a very easy to use interface. The camera’s hardware includes 32GB of internal memory, USB output for charging and transferring videos to your desktop, a capable built-in microphone, a1,600 mAh lithium battery that the manufacturer says supports two consecutive hours recording but that I was constantly able to get 2 hours and 30 minutes or more out of, an image stabilizer which you will see is very useful in reducing vibration and unwanted movements when you see the video I shot of the camera mounted to the top of a rental car, an accelerometer, LED lights to indicate what the camera is doing and more.
There are a lot of reviews on this camera which are lukewarm in tone. While the camera isn’t currently shooting GoPro 4 Black quality video - neither did the first GoPro. But when that came out, I quickly grabbed 4 of them and started putting them to work - limitations and all. I’d suggest doing the same with the 360fly. You are buying a first generation consumer-level 360 degree action camera here. I suggest you get it and start learning how to shoot compelling video with it. Don’t let the tech spec whiners keep you from being a trailblazer. This camera does very well when you shoot in full sunlight and is still very capable in some lowlight situations. Outside of that - it opens the door to a very exciting new method of video that any storyteller worth their salt will need to master if they plan on being leader in their local market in 2-3 years. This is no different that the previously mentioned GoPro’s or drones. The first DJI Phantom was pretty terrible. Now - and this is amazing to think about - less than TWO YEARS after the release of the first phantom we already have multiple versions the third generation phantoms, the DJI inspire and a host of other very capable competitors in the space.
The 360fly video action camera is available today at your local Best Buy for about $400.
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