Being a veteran of 360 camera ownership (OK, it’s been nine days) I thought I’d share my initial thoughts starting with the purchasing decision itself. As with my main blog, this blog is something for me to look back upon when my fast-ageing body gives up the ghost so if it feels a little self indulgent then you know why.
So, my weapon of choice for this latest venture was the INSTA360 One. It wasn’t cheap (£275 at the time I purchased it) but then again it wasn’t the most expensive on the consumer market. There’s a lot of choice, ranging in cost terms from £50 to £600 at the time of writing but it has to be said the quality does vary considerably as I discovered from reading and watching the numerous online reviews.
I chose the INSTA360 because it seemed to offer a decent all round package for a beginner with some ability for manual setting if required. I watched/read a lot but my takeaway from all that research can be distilled into a few words – good but not spectacular in all areas and easy to operate for the raw beginner with a little scope for manual operation as their skills develop. There, that little gem has saved you hours of research!
To be honest, I was a little concerned at the “good” label for image quality, video quality, stabilisation and all round usability. In my regular stills work I use a high end Nikon DSLR and also the Fuji X-T3 which I think is going to become one of the all-time best crop sensor cameras. So while settle for good when other 360 cameras were offering far better performance? The answer is probably two-fold.
- Cost. I was loathe to commit £500-600 on something I had no previous knowledge or experience of. Equally I didn’t want to buy a very cheap one and be frustrated within hours of powering it up. £275 (its come down to £250 since I bought it) is still a decent sum of money but is easier to justify to the Boss than £600!
- Image Quality. I was finding through my research that some cameras excelled at one element of 360 photography whilst underwhelming in others. This was particularly true of those in my price bracket it seemed to me, even allowing for some glaring disparities in different reviewers opinions. As I was, and still am, unsure which discipline would become most important, I opted for a good all-rounder and the fact that many reviewers commented on its suitability for a beginner tipped the balance.
It’s too early for me to write with any modicum of authority on handling or image quality. I’m still learning in terms of the physical operation of the camera and these considerations will of course impact on ultimate image quality.
What I can say though is that it was a breeze to set-up and I was able to start taking photos immediately. There was even an SD card inserted and a decent battery charge when I took it out of the box. I have shot with the camera held in my hand, on a selfie stick, sat in its little stand on the car roof and also with it attached to my iPhone. All work and I particularly liked having the screen to view “live” when attaching it to my phone. I also used the phone to trigger the camera via bluetooth but this proved problematic for a fumble fingers like me with the iPhone behind my back. Plus the range seems very limited and it seems to need a clear view of sight making hiding the phone a challenge especially as you are shooting blind!
So, for what they are worth these are my initial thoughts. More to follow!