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What 360 Camera Should You Buy?

Published: 27/01/2020
By: Brandon

I've been getting a lot of questions lately about 360 cameras so I decided to do some digging and see if I can figure out what the best options are (under $1000).

I'm not really a gear junkie and I don't have a 360 camera in my kit, but I know a lot of photographers in this community do and there is no shortage of reviews online. After going down a few Google and YouTube rabbit holes, there are three cameras that seem to be mentioned the most.

In no particular order:

Since we operate in a very niche genre of photography, I'm really curious to hear how photographers in the PFRE community are putting their 360 cameras to use, and which specific models you like the best.


12 comments on “What 360 Camera Should You Buy?”

  1. I’ve been using the Ricoh Theta V for a while now. The quality is ok for the price but it’s nothing compared to what can be done with a dslr or what the Matterport Cam can do. I just switched to the Theta Z1 and it seems a lot better than the Ricoh but it’s a lot more expensive. The speed on the other hand is amazing compared to the MP or dslr, so the trade off is something to consider. My team uses the Thetas, we were able to lower prices on the services since they’re so much faster.

  2. I am loving the Insta360 One "X." Lots of Youtube videos out on the strengths and weaknesses. Keep in mind that they have a brand new Insta360 One "R" that came out at CES. If serious about buying a new 360 camera, the R is probably a contender as well.

  3. The bigger question is if getting one is going to contribute to the bottom line and have a good ROI. 360° anything seems to come and go at intervals. It will be popular for a little while and then people will get bored with it. If you buy in early, you have a chance at leading the pack or could wind up being the first person to invest in a very niche tool with limited usefulness. I've seen lots of 360° footage mostly from YouTubers capturing live action where the ability to move the FOV around without needing multiple cameras can be very useful. For me, I'm bored with it already in the same way that speed-ramping videos instead of dissolves is wearing thin.

    If it's going to bring in jobs or let you increase the bottom line on an invoice, awesome. If not, maybe you will get better return by spending the money on RAM or a bigger SSD so you can get through jobs faster. Things that are mostly a one trick pony are often money sinks.

    Who wants to bet that there will be No-Name knock-offs that will be about 90% of the name brands at around $75 before long? I see ads for super cheap "action cams" with about the same frequency as ads for adult entertainment and male enhancement medications.

  4. I have the Insta360 One X and have been happy with it - but have used it primarily for personal use (biking, hiking). I've put together a home "virtual 360 tour" using Kuula and shown real estate agents in my company (I'm a real estate agent and photographer) but so far, only one has expressed interest. One made a comment that using 360 tours may impress the seller but most likely won't help sell the house -- when agents spend $150-$300 for photos and another $150 - $250 for drone shots they're not likely to spend another $150 to ??? for a 360 tour. At present, you can't post this type of file on our MLS so you need to have a link to a third party like Kuula to view the video.

  5. Hello Brandon,

    For real estate photographers just getting started with 3D/360º photography, I recommend these two under $1,000 cameras:

    Ricoh Theta V – price conscious
    Ricoh Theta Z1 – quality conscious

    When deciding which of 50 3D/360º 1-click camera to buy, first, figure-out which of 130 3D/360 virtual tour platform(s) that you may want to use. Some 360º cameras do not work with all platforms and some 360º cameras have an easier and faster workflow with specific platforms.

    For example, if you are interested in keeping your options open to using any of these platforms, only the Ricoh Theta V and Ricoh Theta Z1 work with all of these platforms.



  6. Hi Brandon,

    Here is the list of 8 of 130 3D/360 Platforms that I meant to include in my previous post:

    1. Cupix
    2. EyeSpy360
    3. Google Street View
    4. Matterport
    5. Panoskin
    6. ThreeSixty Tours
    7. RICOH Tours
    8. Zillow 3D Home



  7. Totally agree with Dan... settle in on what type of 3D services you'll offer (360 panos, walkthru's, floor plans, etc), what quality level you're looking for AND then look to see what platforms are available for those services. I did this research about a year ago and found that although many cameras are available, not all formats are supported on various hosting platforms. My suggestion is to first define the services you want to offer and then work backwards to find the best 3D platform/camera for those services.

  8. Reading through the comments here, you all covered everything except for one important fact that I think should be mentioned. And it could help you gain additional business, if you are a professional photographer, shooting for agents. And if you are an agent shooting homes for yourself, you should be shooting a 360 pano at every home.

    The fact I'm referencing above, is that Zillow will rank a listing higher (with everything else being equal), if you provide a 3D pano of the home, using their Zillow 3D Home app.

    I'm an agent and I use this as a talking point on listing presentations because not many agents realize that their listing will be shown to more potential buyers, on the Zillow platform, if they provide the 360 panos through the Zillow 3D app. More eyeballs on a listing usually translates to more showings, shorter time on the market, and a higher sales price.

  9. I chose the Theta Z because it's the ONLY 360 camera that is both supported by Zillow 3DHome and capable of taking images that I can also fine-tune and upload to a platform like CloudPano. This puts me in a position to leverage the Zillow boost for my real estate clients at a lower price point, while also having the means to create higher priced tours for commercial clients like builders, and other businesses.

  10. Bringing it back to in focus: what is the best camera? The one you are shooting with now. Here are is some low cost solutions for launching a 360° solution.

    Rokinon 8mm f/2.8 UMC Fisheye II Lens $249.00
    Nodal Ninja Google R20 3.75/7.5 Static Tilt Head with Lower Rotator RM4 90 degree stops $159.95
    PTGUI Pro $283

    I shoot 360° with multiple off camera flash using Wayne Capili and Scott Hargus lighting techniques. I confess to owning a few more advanced toys then what I have listed above but it’s a good place to start if you are on a budget. A 360° is a still picture. Once you have stitched it processes same as anything else you shot. You already have the most important piece of gear. Not for the faint hearted but the results are awesome. My agents loved them because they are a social media goldmine.

  11. I AM a bit of a gear junkie and have the Theta V (pricey and a little heavy but excellent for producing Matterport tours) the Insta360 One X (by far the best all 'round 360 Camera currently on the market IMHO and also very capable of doing Matterport tours) and the Insta EVO, which I thought I would use to do 3D photos and tours but there just isn't a demand for that.... yet. I have the Insta 360 One R Mavic Version on order which, judging from reviews, promises to be outstanding. The Mavic version allows one to strap it to a Mavic Pro or Mavic 2 (different versions for each aircraft) and do a 360 degree video flight eliminating the actual drone itself. If you're just looking to get into 360 the Insta360 One X is an excellent camera and may even be on sale soon due to the new "One R" release. (I'm certainly seeing them pop up on eBay)

  12. Anyone using a flash or light or anything on 360 cameras to help with WB? I know you can use one obviously when shooting with a DSLR and a pano head, but I'm just trying to give a little boost with my 360 camera. I'm thinking of mounting it to the top of my insta360pro 2 (it has a 1/4 standard female mount so you can hang it from a gimbal: handheld or drone). I know most people probably don't have this exact set up, but anyone use "lighting" of any kind with 360 cameras? I also realize this will show somehow in the photo but I'm not worried about that for the most part. We do real estate and other commercial media for companies but I use my 360 for both interior and exterior shots. Any info would be helpful!

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