VR Action Camera Field Test: Ricoh Theta S and 360Fly 4K, by Adam Ryder



If you haven’t gotten to try out a 360° action camera yet, you may find yourself boggled by the proliferation of forms and functions that the new cameras have. While no two are exactly alike, they share the ability to produce immersive, “spherical” videos, whose point of view can be changed later, allowing viewers to navigate around the video, using either their mouse cursor, smart device, or virtual reality headset.
To get a handle on these devices for myself, I recently road-tested two popular models, the Ricoh Theta S and the 360Fly 4K, on my my morning bicycle commute. Using a third-party mount, I attached each camera to the same spot on my handlebars on two consecutive days with comparable lighting conditions. Afterwords, I unloaded the videos that each camera made using the manufacturer’s proprietary software.
The quality of the videos shown are not fully representative of the maximum resolution attainable by each device. When uploading the footage to YouTube or DailyMotion (two hosting services that support immersive video), videos are compressed for streaming and quality is reduced. As this format gains tractions, streaming services may improve their compression, but for now, resolution takes a back seat to the more experiential aspects of the medium online.

About half as old as the Ricoh, 360Fly’s 4K action action camera, takes a different approach to capturing spherical video. With a single, 240° view-angle ultra-wide lens, the 360Fly resembles a miniature geodesic dome, encased in a black faceted shell. While not hewing to the 16:9 aspect ratio that defines most 4K resolution standards, the pixel density of the square 2800 x 2800 video qualifies the 360Fly 4K for equivalent quality, though it might not numerically compute at first glance. Its 30 fps high-resolution footage and omni-directional audio are stored on 64 GB of internal memory and a single button in the center of the device controls power, mode selection and shutter control.
Videos from the 360Fly 4K can be transmitted wirelessly to your Android or iOS device via Bluetooth, or downloaded to your desktop via an included proprietary USB dock. A free, downloadable application called 360Fly Director is simple yet versatile and allows you to import, organize, merge, trim, and export video to YouTube and the company’s own immersive video streaming platform. 360fly also offers a mobile platform that allows consumers to shoot, edit and share videos made with the device.Read More:

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