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Hands on: 360Fly

January 11th, 2017 | by Wilson Wong
Hands on: 360Fly
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The 360Fly 360-degree camera. PHOTO: Wilson Wong

When I first set eyes on the 360Fly camera, I was intrigued by this small little ball covered with geometric shapes and a huge camera lens right on top. It had a triangular button that lights up like on Iron Man’s armour.

I put it up to my chest and it reminds me of Dr Strange’s Eye of Agamotto. Indeed, 360Fly could have just named its gadget that since it is designed to be all-seeing, like a 360-degree camera should.

The 360Fly impresses in its ability to take it all in using just one sensor and one lens, when other similar cameras usually require two cameras facing front and back to complete the 360-degree view.

360Fly test

PHOTO: Wilson Wong

I can immediately see the advantage of having a single camera set-up. The whole view from the camera is continuous, which means there aren’t any breaks in the image border caused by bad blending. That’s a problem with 360 cameras that rely on two lenses to form a 360-degree image.

The downside of such an implementation is that the viewing angle is very much curtailed especially towards the bottom part of the image, since the camera is facing upwards.

The 360Fly replaces the missing portion using a computer generated mirror reflection or a black bar at the bottom of the image. Unfortunately, this covers about a third of the viewing angle when looking towards the horizon. Not something I expect from a 360-degree camera.

That might not stop folks who want to dabble in 360 videos, of course. When you shoot something cool, you want to sharing your photos and videos, of course. This can be easily done via the 360Fly app.

In the app, just click the “forward” icon next to the photo and video you want to share, choose the social media platform and you are done. Facebook, YouTube and Instagram are all supported so that’s a good thing.

I could nitpick about the image quality of the camera, because I tested the 4K version instead of the more regular HD one. Yet, knowing that capturing 360-degree videos and photos is a fairly new fad, I’d say keep your expectations down.

It will take some time for the technology to mature and improve on the image quality. Words on signs should be at least legible especially if it is a high-resolution camera.

Plus, much better colour rendition, clarity and sharpness are definitely welcome. It doesn’t harm to record videos with a higher frame rate as well, to produce much smoother movement on screen.

To be fair, if you are just sharing 360-degree photos and videos for fun on social media, the 360Fly will be an interesting novelty. However, this isn’t a cheap hobby. 

In Singapore, the asking prices of SS$590 for the HD version and S$920 for the 4K resolution are a little too high.

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