By Peter Tranter
The development of POV action cams has come a long way in the last few years and there’s now more choice than ever. Forget the brand and think about what you want from an action camera, how you plan to use it and what you have to spend. However, now there is another equation to add to the mix: 360 degree capability. The rules have changed and now anyone can film a VR-ready video inexpensively.
Now you can look up the river, not just down it, capturing not only what’s in front of you but also those paddling behind you. The world of extreme sports, especially paddling, is one of the most appealing arenas for 360-degree VR video.
Paddler HQ have frequently tested Kitvision cameras and we’ve always without exception found them to be excellent value for money, producing very good results whilst being reliable. The icing on the cake is always the huge amount of accessories you receive with each purchase and this is no different with the Immerse 360s – with one exception, which we’ll come to later.
From the photos, you can see the obvious main difference between the two cameras – one has a single lens and the Duo has the two back to back lenses.
The original single lens 360 has been around for all of 2017 and sits on its back with the lens pointing to the sky. It has a super-wide lens housed inside a small dome that gives the camera a field of view of 220 degrees. Because the 360 Immerse action camera lens is located on top of the camera, the lens captures the 360-degree peripheral panoramic viewpoint of a dome.
The lens has the ability to see down 20 degrees on all sides but that does leave 140 degrees of the environment out of view, which sometimes leaves the constant feeling of having to look up when viewing the finished results.
The other drawback when looking at the end result is the quality of video. This isn’t a 4k camera, it records in 1080p. This isn’t a problem in the usual fixed screen world as nearly all the TVs that we own are now 1080p hi-definition and the results are more than acceptable. However, in the world of virtual reality where you’re looking at a 360 degree world, the results are closer to the old standard of pre HD viewing – there are at times, just too few pixels to spread around.
Having said that let’s come back to reality. As mentioned, this camera has been around for a year now and back then you would have shelled out near £200, which even then was a bargain. However, look around now and you can purchase this camera for less than £100, which considering all the accessories you get with it – makes it an absolute steal and a fun device on which to cut your VR teeth on.
As with all VR cameras, there is something to bear in mind before you’re ready to view VR material: it can be a long winded process to get there. Firstly, you have to convert the 360 degree footage for that 360 experience using software like SYMAX360 that can be downloaded from http://symax360.com. Open your video, select ‘high’ quality and wait for the bar to hit 100% as it transforms your video.
You can then edit your video using standard video edit software, however before you upload to YouTube you have to run your video through another process with a piece of software that injects metadata to make sure you get the full on 360 degree VR experience. It is free and can be downloaded here: https://github.com/google/spatial-media/releases. After that you’re ready to upload and view your results.
Immersion 360 features: Video resolutions (.MOV): 1920 x 1080 @ 30 fps / 1440 x 1080 @ 30fps Photo image: 16 MP JPEG Lens: F2.0, 360 degrees hori x 220 degrees vert Video format: H.264 MOV
Included with the camera:
- Bike mount
- Adhesive mount
- Waterproof case
- Camera cradle
- Camera silicone suction case
- Action camera screw
- Micro USB cable
- User manual
The Immerse 360 Duo
So the original 360 was released a year ago and as mentioned, came with lots of goodies in the box, one of which is a waterproof case, good for a depth of 30 metres. Then Kitvision released the Duo version of the Immerse earlier this year but curiously without a waterproof case, which limits its use. However, if you intend to stay clear of white water, eskimo rolls, etc, I don’t see it as presenting too much of a problem.
Indeed I would encourage the use of the 360 Duo on calm water as the VR experience is a leap above the standard 360.
The Duo has two lenses front and back, which gives you a full-on 360 degree video with no blank areas.
Although still not 4k, the quality of the recorded image on the Duo is undeniably a level above that of the original single lens 360, with the extra lens capturing a more immersive range of footage – the advantage of the twin lens.
The Immerse 360 Duo comes with some great accessories, three of which instantly catch the eye: the flexible tripod, the wrist mounted remote control and the cardboard VR headset on which to view your footage.
The flexible tripod is really neat in the way you can wrap its bendy legs around anything. Combined with the wrist remote, it really comes into its own. Wrap it around a branch overlooking your favourite run, hit the remote and off you go. There are no limits and stability can only be a good thing where sometimes only the slightest of camera wobble can induce a feeling of sickness, especially in 360 degrees! Another really good area for the tripod is to try it with time lapse in mind – you’ll look very professional.
Both the Immerse 360 and the Duo use the same combination of keys, either on the side or in the case of the Duo, on the top. Press and hold the Wi-Fi button to enter the menus and use the red button to make a selection. Scrolling through the menu is also done with the Wi-Fi button by single presses.
You can control, capture, replay, and share your all your footage with the compatible interactive apps for both cameras. In the case of the single lens 360 download the ‘SYMAX360’ app and the Duo uses the ‘SYVR360’ variant. The app gives you total control of the camera in all modes. Be warned though, when both these cameras have their Wi-Fi enabled, it does reduce the battery life.
What more can we say. For me I would pay the bit extra and go for the Duo – just incredible value for money.
Immersion 360 Duo features: Video Resolutions: 1920 x 960 @ 30fps Photo image: 5MP 3008 x 1504 Lens: 360 x 220 degrees x2 Video format: .MOV
Included with the camera:
- VR cardboard headset
- Flexible tripod
- USB charging cable
- Screw (x2)
- Camera clip mount
- Adhesive mount 90°
- Adaptor 1/4 inch tripod screw adaptor
- User manual