There was a time when, if you wanted to capture your adventures on film, you had to either bring along a disposable point-and-shoot or risk exposing your bulky, expensive, delicate camera equipment to the elements. Neither of which were very good options – even if you wrapped your gear in plastic. Thankfully, however, that time has come and gone.
Now there’s a new wave of technology designed specifically for adventurers. Typically, action cameras are very portable and built to survive weather of all sorts, all while capturing pretty high quality photos and video. And since virtual reality and 360-degree photography has begun to take off, it makes sense that action cameras would start featuring that same tech. After all, what’s better than high quality action cam footage? Well, probably a more sweeping and immersive version of that same footage. Luckily, there are a number of brands competing to bring you the best 360-degree action cameras in a number of different formats. So whether you’re looking for a smartphone accessory or a high-powered stand-alone device, these are the 8 best 360-degree action cameras.
Samsung Gear 360 VR Camera
If you’re looking for a decent 360-degree action camera, but you’re on an super tight budget, you’ll find it extremely difficult to do better than the Samsung Gear 360. At a shockingly low price for what it offers, this is the ultimate bang-for-your-buck option. For instance, it has two camera arrays – meaning you can take full spherical stitched-together photography. And that can all be controlled with just the press of a button. But, the versatility and ease of use is only the beginning. The camera quality is there to back it up, as well – offering photos of up to 30 megapixels and video footage caught in 4k HD. Better still, the lenses are powerful enough to capture superb footage even in low light situations. It’s also IP53-rated splash- and dust-resistant (though we would suggest against dunking it), is compatible with a wide array of Samsung smartphones, and has internal storage that can be expanded up to 256 gigabytes. That’s not half bad for a 360-degree action camera that costs about as much as a good pair of sneakers.
Photos: 30 Megapixel
Video: 4K Resolution
Resistances: IP53 Splash & Dust
Kodak PIXPRO SP360 Action Camera
While it might seem like Kodak has been less innovative than some other photography brands lately, that doesn’t mean they’re not paying attention to trends and playing their part. As such, they’ve created this, their PIXPRO SP360 action camera for the footage-capturing adventurer in all of us. While this camera can capture 360-degrees of footage, it only has one lens array – so the photos and images you capture will not be spherical, but rather the shape of a dome. That might be a drawback to some, but to others it means more control over what you photograph and less to worry about. Even still, we believe there’s a lot this camera has to offer to make up for its perceived limitations. For instance, it is shockproof and can survive drops of up to 2 meters, it can function in temperatures down to negative 10 degrees Fahrenheit, it is unaffected by dust, and it’s splash-proof. It also offers Wi-Fi and NFC connectivity, smartphone app compatibility (so you can shoot and edit on-the-go), has a number of available built-in shooting modes (like ring, dome, and panorama), and it can shoot 1080p HD video or full-res photography at up to 10 frames per second.
Photos: 16 Megapixel
Video: 1080p Full-HD or Full-Resolution @ 10fps
Resistances: 2m Shockproof, -10-Degrees Freeze-Proof, Splash & Dust
Insta360 ONE Action Camera
There are a lot of benefits to the newer cameras onboard iPhones. The ability to shoot 360-degree footage is not one of them. For that, you’ll need something like the Insta360 ONE action camera. This device can plug straight into your iPhone’s Lightning port and gives you that action-camera umph the standard camera is lacking. And it does it in style, offering up 24 megapixel photos and 4K HD video. In fact, you can even use it to live-stream 360-degree footage in 4k, as well. It also features excellent image stabilization for buttery smooth footage, as well as a 120 frames per second “bullet time” mode – yes, like sci-fi film, The Matrix. You can also use the camera apart from your phone, as it works just fine as a stand-alone and can even transfer footage to your device of choosing via Bluetooth. The big downside to this one: it’s not actually waterproof. But, the brand has tried to circumvent that by offing an optional housing to give the device a waterproof shell – so if you want to take this bad boy out on the water, you don’t have to worry about it taking a dip. Small price to pay when you consider the value proposition of everything else it offers.
Photos: 24 Megapixel
Video: 4k HD, 4K 360 Live-Streaming, 120fps “Bullet Time” Mode
Resistances: IP68 Water- & Dust-Resistant Housing Available
360Fly 4K VR Action Camera
Rugged, portable, versatile, and clever – that’s what you can expect to get out of the 360Fly, plus a whole lot more. Sure, this device doesn’t come from a big name in tech, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it isn’t a worthwhile offering. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. This 360-degree action camera is loaded to the gills with features. For starters, it can catch video footage in stunning 4k HD – whether you’re at a concert or jumping out of an airplane. Secondly, it offers a wealth of recording modes, including first-person POV, time-lapse, and more. It’s also water-resistant to a depth of 1 meter, is dust and shockproof, and has a large array of internal sensors – ranging from GPS, to a gyroscopic stabilizer, and an e-compass. You can even add the data as an overlay to your footage, for a little added information while watching. And, of course, using either your computer or your smartphone, you can easily edit and share all your footage with the included software – which is compatible both with Windows and Mac systems.
Photos: 16 Megapixel
Video: 4k HD Up To 30fps, Time-Lapse Mode
Resistances: 1m Water-Resistant, Shockproof, Dustproof
Luna 360 Action Camera
For some folks, the utmost importance when it comes to new tech is ease of use. And that’s understandable – wanting to be able to capture and share moments should’t require you to read through a several-hundred-page manual. It should be easy and user-friendly. And that’s one of the major benefits of the Luna 360. This little camera allows you to capture 360-degree footage at just the click of a button. No joke, all you have to do is click a button – once for photos and twice for video – and the camera will shoot footage in 360-degree HD. But, since that is one of its many features, making videos can be just as easy as that or a little more comprehensive. For instance, the Luna also has smartphone compatibility and an included app – offering the ability to edit shots and footage, as well as live stream from your mobile device. It can also directly connect to available Wi-Fi for data uploading, is water-resistance rated at IP67/68, features magnetic charging, and is compatible with a number of different VR rigs – including Oculus and Samsung GearVR.
Photos: 5 Megapixel, 2k 360
Video: 1080p HD, Live-Streaming
Resistances: IP67/68 Water-Resistant, Scratch-Proof
Rylo 360 iPhone Action Camera
Rylo’s 360 action camera has two features that give it a leg up against a lot of its competition: incredibly portability and seamless iPhone integration. Truly, this camera is the ultimate in portability, with a body that can easily fit in the palm of your hand. And, it links via Bluetooth directly to your phone for easy access to the footage you shoot and easy editing on your mobile device. Unfortunately, that portability and iPhone compatibility does come with a small price: the camera itself is not waterproof. The brand does, however, offer a waterproof housing – that will protect it at depths of up to 3 meters – which can be purchased separately. Still, that downside is hardly worth complaining about when compared to this camera’s loads of other features – like professional-level image stabilization (said to mimic that of professional stabilization rigs), the ability to crop traditionally-framed HD video within the spherical footage, handy indicators to let you know battery life and available space, and the option to take picture-in-picture selfies so you can see your own facial expressions while capturing the moment.
Photos: 18 Megapixel
Video: 4k 360 @ 30fps, Standard Non-360 HD Capability
Resistances: 3m Water-Resistant Housing Available
Garmin VIRB 360 Action Camera
Probably the only well-known brand that can compete with GoPro in the action camera space on any real level, Garmin has taken the reigns in the 360-degree action camera category with their VIRB cam. In fact, this particular camera offers the best resolution in its class, with the ability to capture footage in 5.7K HD at up to a whopping 30 frames per second – which makes for some buttery-smooth and incredibly crisp imagery. It also has an in-camera footage-stitching mode that will automatically put the footage together in-camera, but you sacrifice some quality. Still, the auto-stitching mode offers 4k HD video. This camera also features auto-stabilization, reducing the shakiness of the footage no matter how much movement occurs during filming. The VIRB also features a host of onboard sensors which can overlay data over the footage – such as speed, elevation, date, time, and more. And, as well as the ability to shoot full 360-degree footage, the VIRB also has 4 built-in microphones for full 3D sound capturing. Finally, it’s waterproof up to a whopping 10 meters, can shoot for over an hour on a single charge, and can be controlled by the sound of your voice.
Photos: 15 Megapixel
Video: 5.7K HD @ 30fps
Resistances: 10m Water-Resistant, Dust- & Shock-Resistant
GoPro Fusion 360-Degree Action Camera
It should come as no surprise to anyone that GoPro makes one of the best 360-degree action cameras available on the market. After all, they are the standard-setters for the entire category. It should also come as no surprise that their name (and, by extension, their excellence) comes with a bit of a price tag. But, don’t worry – the cost is well-founded. For starters, it can capture spherical footage (think VR) in stunning 5.2K HD across a number of different formats. And you don’t even have to choose whether you want video or photos, as you can pull photos of your choice from the footage after the fact, using the included editing software. You can also transform the spherical footage into more traditional videos and photos to be shared right on your phone. Or, if you want to keep it VR, the footage has no stitch lines and also includes excellent stabilization and full 360-degree sound capture, too. And since the device is compatible with GoPro’s app, the whole thing – shooting, editing, and sharing – is just as portable as your phone.
Photos: 18 Megapixel
Video: 5.2K HD @ 30fps
Resistances: 5m Water-Resistant, Dust- & Shock-Resistant
Best Action Cameras
If you’re not into the VR experience or full 360-degree images give you vertigo, you might want to capture your adventures with something a little more straightforward – like one of these 7 best action cameras.