360-degree photography is related to the ‘virtual reality’ phenomenon that we’re told is going to be huge just as soon as we all get used to the idea of wearing a big plastic helmet. But you can also view 360-degree pictures and videos on an ordinary screen, using your mouse or finger to rotate the view. It ’s both fun to do and useful for purposes like showing a flat or house you want to sell.
If you like to video in the round it’s the best deal so far
To see how it works, have a look at the video we shot with the LG 360 Cam. You’ll need to use Google Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer or Opera. YouTube doesn’t yet display 360-degree video correctly in other browsers, such as Apple’s Safari. A few months ago we tested Ricoh ’s Theta S, the first affordable camera that can shoot both stills and video in the round. This rather similar-looking model from LG is cheaper and makes it easier to get your videos on to Facebook and YouTube. You can upload straight from LG’s app, which works on Apple and Android devices. At the moment, that’s the best way to do it, because when we tried the alternative (using a web browser on a PC), the two halves of the 360-degree view didn’t merge properly.
The two cameras required to create this view each have 13 megapixels, although after processing you get a 16-megapixel photo sphere. You can also take a 180-degree picture (like a ‘fisheye’ shot), which is the only time with this camera that you need to think about where to point it, rather than where to put it.
Video is much coarser, at 2560×1280 pixels, and given that this is wrapped around the whole view, the resolution isn’t very sharp. We found videos looked pretty good viewed on a smartphone in LG’s app, but less so on YouTube. You’re also limited to 20-minute clips. The battery only lasted us about an hour and 20 minutes, but recharged quickly through the USB Type-C port.
Most people will be better off spending their money on a regular action camera such as a GoPro, but if you want 360-degree shooting, the LG 360 Cam offers the best value so far.
2560×1280-pixel video • 5660×2830-pixel photos • MicroSD card slot • Wi-Fi • Bluetooth • 99x44x30mm (HxWxD) • 97g • One-year warranty
Picture quality still isn’t great, but this is basically as good as the Ricoh
Theta S, and in many ways easier to use, at a lower price
Ricoh Theta S £299
This works well, but resolution is lower and it has no real advantage unless the £25 waterproof case is of interest