What are 360 cameras?

Written by: Jon Duffy

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Time to read 6 min

Whether you’re heading out on an adventurous holiday or want to capture a walking tour around your favourite city, 360-cameras are a fantastic choice to record everything happening around you.


But what are 360 cameras? Maplin are here to help you understand this impressive piece of photography tech.

What does a 360 camera do?

The camera captures video from all sides, so when you rewatch the footage you can move your phone or VR headset to see every angle of the adventure.


The magic of 360 cameras unfolds in their ability to transport viewers into the heart of the action, allowing them to explore and interact with the captured environment as if they were physically present. Whether used for capturing breathtaking landscapes, documenting memorable events, or creating immersive virtual reality experiences, 360 cameras open doors to a new dimension of storytelling and visual expression. With their growing popularity across industries ranging from travel and real estate to entertainment and education, 360 cameras continue to redefine our perception of photography and videography in the digital age.



How do 360 cameras work?

In the realm of modern imaging technology, 360 cameras stand out as innovative marvels that revolutionize how we capture and experience the world around us. These cameras employ a sophisticated array of lenses and sensors to capture a full 360-degree view of the environment, offering immersive and panoramic imagery that traditional cameras cannot match. At the core of their functionality lies a fusion of advanced optics, image processing algorithms, and seamless integration with digital platforms.


360 cameras utilize multiple lenses or a single fisheye lens to capture a complete field of view in all directions simultaneously. These lenses capture images or videos from various angles, covering every aspect of the scene with remarkable detail and clarity. Through intricate stitching algorithms, the images or videos captured by each lens are seamlessly merged together to create a cohesive and immersive 360-degree panorama.



What can I do with the footage?

YouTube and Facebook both feature ways to upload your 360 video creations. Watching on a phone, you’ll be able to move the screen around to look in different directions. Want to take it to the next level? VR headsets can put you at the centre of the action, letting you look around naturally.



How to choose a 360 camera

Choosing the ideal 360 camera is pivotal for capturing immersive moments that resonate with your audience, whether you're a casual enthusiast or a seasoned professional. With a multitude of options on the market, understanding your specific needs and preferences is paramount to finding the perfect fit.


For casual or amateur users, selecting a 360 camera is often about preserving memories and exploring creative expression. These users may prioritize affordability, ease of use, and versatility. Opting for a user-friendly camera with straightforward controls and basic editing features can simplify the process of capturing and sharing immersive experiences with friends and family. Entry-level cameras with decent resolution and intuitive interfaces cater to these needs, providing an accessible entry point into the world of 360-degree photography and videography.


Conversely, professionals and enthusiasts seek 360 cameras that deliver exceptional image quality, advanced features, and robust performance. These users demand precision, reliability, and versatility to bring their creative vision to life. High-resolution cameras with superior image sensors and extensive customization options empower professionals to produce stunning immersive content for various applications, including virtual tours, marketing campaigns, and cinematic productions. Precise stitching algorithms can seamlessly blend images from multiple lenses, ensuring smooth transitions and minimizing distortion in the final output.


Another crucial factor to consider is compatibility and ease of use. Ensure the 360 camera is compatible with your existing devices and software platforms, facilitating seamless integration into your workflow. Opt for cameras with user-friendly interfaces and intuitive controls, allowing for effortless operation and hassle-free shooting sessions.

Durability and ruggedness are also important considerations, especially if you plan to use the camera in outdoor or adventurous settings. Look for cameras with robust construction and weather-resistant features, ensuring they can withstand the rigors of various environments and conditions.


Lastly, don't overlook additional features and accessories that can enhance your shooting experience. From built-in stabilization and adjustable exposure settings to interchangeable lenses and remote control capabilities, explore the range of options available and choose the camera that best aligns with your creative vision and technical requirements.


By carefully assessing your needs, prioritizing key features, and conducting thorough research, you can confidently select the perfect 360 camera to unleash your creativity and capture breathtaking immersive experiences that leave a lasting impression on your audience.

FAQ

How do 360 cameras work on cars?

360 cameras, when integrated into cars, offer a comprehensive view of the vehicle's surroundings, enhancing safety and maneuverability. Here's how they typically work:

  1. Multiple Camera Setup : 360 cameras on cars usually consist of multiple cameras strategically positioned around the vehicle. These cameras capture a wide field of view, including the area surrounding the car.

  2. Real-Time Stitching : The images captured by each camera are processed and stitched together in real-time to create a seamless, panoramic view of the car's surroundings. This stitching process combines the individual camera feeds to generate a single, cohesive image.

  3. Bird's-Eye View : The stitched image provides a bird's-eye view or an overhead perspective of the car and its immediate surroundings. This view allows drivers to see obstacles, pedestrians, or other vehicles that may be in close proximity to the car.

  4. Integration with Display Systems : The stitched image is then displayed on the car's dashboard or infotainment system, providing the driver with a comprehensive view of the environment around the vehicle. Some systems allow drivers to toggle between different camera angles to get a better understanding of their surroundings.

  5. Parking Assistance and Maneuvering : 360 cameras are particularly useful for parking assistance and low-speed maneuvering. They help drivers navigate tight spaces, avoid obstacles, and park with confidence by providing a clear view of the car's surroundings from multiple angles.

  6. Safety Features : In addition to aiding with parking and maneuvering, 360 cameras contribute to overall safety on the road. They help drivers detect blind spots, monitor traffic, and identify potential hazards, reducing the risk of accidents or collisions.

  7. Integration with Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) : Many modern cars integrate 360 cameras with advanced driver assistance systems, such as collision avoidance, lane departure warning, and automatic parking. These systems leverage the camera's panoramic view to enhance their functionality and improve overall vehicle safety.

In summary, 360 cameras on cars work by capturing images from multiple vantage points, stitching them together in real-time, and providing drivers with a comprehensive view of their surroundings. This technology enhances safety, improves maneuverability, and provides drivers with greater confidence behind the wheel.

How do 360 cameras hide the stick?

360 cameras often employ advanced software algorithms and image processing techniques to hide the stick or selfie stick used to hold the camera. This process is known as "invisible selfie stick" technology. Essentially, the camera captures a full 360-degree view of the surrounding environment, including the stick itself.


Once the footage is captured, specialized software analyzes the images and identifies the stick's position in each frame. Using sophisticated algorithms, the software then digitally removes the stick from the final output, seamlessly blending the surrounding background to fill in the gaps where the stick was present.


The result is a visually immersive and seamless 360-degree experience where the stick appears to be invisible, allowing viewers to focus solely on the captured scenery or experience without any distracting elements. This technology enhances the overall viewing experience and contributes to the illusion of being fully immersed in the captured environment.

How much do 360 cameras cost?

The cost of 360 cameras can vary depending on factors such as brand, features, and camera quality. In the UK market, entry-level 360 cameras typically start at around £150 to £200. These cameras often offer basic functionalities and may have limitations in terms of image quality and advanced features.


Mid-range 360 cameras, offering improved image quality, better stitching algorithms, and additional features, can range from £200 to £500. These cameras may include features like higher resolution, better low-light performance, and built-in stabilization, making them suitable for a wider range of applications.


For high-end 360 cameras with professional-grade features and superior image quality, prices can exceed £500 and may go up to £1000 or more. These cameras often offer advanced image sensors, robust construction, and additional accessories or attachments to enhance versatility and performance.


It's essential to consider your specific requirements and budget when choosing a 360 camera. While entry-level cameras may suffice for casual users or beginners, professionals or enthusiasts may prefer investing in higher-end models for superior performance and flexibility. Additionally, factor in any additional costs such as accessories, memory cards, or software subscriptions when budgeting for your 360 camera purchase.

How do I connect a 360 camera to my phone?

When you’re ready to review your footage, you can usually connect the camera to your phone via an app, though some use Bluetooth or WiFi instead.

About the author

Jon Duffy is a Digital Merchandiser at Maplin.

An avid gamer from a young age, Jon has dabbled in gaming journalism and dedicates much of his spare time to this hobby. He also has an interest in music, playing bass guitar in a rock covers band.

Having previously worked as a copywriter with another electronics retailer, he was eager to join Maplin with their new online venture. In addition to writing blogs, Jon also works on many of the website's landing pages and adding new tech to the range.