I’ve been on the hunt for a 360 camera since I saw a Tiny Planet Video on Youtube. I thought it was the coolest thing since sliced bread. The pictures were so interesting, but I thought the movies were even cooler! So below is my struggle to find the perfect one! I bought these (and returned the ones that weren’t good!) with my own money, so this is an accurate review of them. There are some affiliate links in here which will give me a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you. I’d appreciate if you use them if you decide to join me with these awesome products!
First Try Without 360 Camera
First I tried using an app that would create the tiny planets from a panoramic shot. Yikes.
It was too difficult to get a perfect 360 because I didn’t know when to stop spinning! Plus when it was morphed together, it just got wildly distorted. Look at the bottom right!
So then I tried 2 different cameras but returned them. They were so difficult to use. One of them had so much potential because it was waterproof, but the directions were so complicated just to get the SD card formatted, that I quickly abandoned ship on that one. The other one worked OK, but then it was very difficult to edit the pictures and video. Back to the drawing board.
Winner Winner Chicken Dinner
Try Try Again! I finally stopped trying to cut costs by buying an inferior product and bought a more expensive one but still very reasonably priced. I ended up getting the Ricoh Theta SC. When I got it, it was $330, and it’s currently $267, dang lol. I’d definitely jump on this because I don’t know how long that price will last!
Why is it better?
This camera is SO easy to use. You just download the app (Theta S), connect your phone to the camera’s wifi (You don’t actually need to be on an actual wifi), and you’re ready to go.
I was even able to use it while walking, at night, in the dark, in the cold!
Plus the SC comes in lots of cute colors!
Sneak Peek! I just got a new fun camera, and the Chinese Lantern Festival opened tonight! Stay tuned for a cool video and post about it!! #sneakpeek #atlanta #tinyplanet #centennial #centennialpark #centennialolympicpark #chineselantern #chineselanternfestival #thingstodoinatl #newblog #hotlanta #photography #360camera #hearts #roomielove #chineselanternatl
How do you edit?
I know there are ways to edit these things with fancy programs on a desktop. But this little camera is so easy and all edits can be made on your phone!
- Tiny Planet Pictures: For stills, I use an app called “Theta+” or my preference, “Little Planet.” It lifts right from the camera/phone and instantly makes the Tiny Planet. You use sliders to easily manipulate settings for rotation, zoom, bulge, and positioning.
- Pretty Tiny Planet Pictures: Not necessary at all, but to give your pictures a little more zest, I’d edit them a little bit for colors. My go to app for any picture editing is “Snapseed.” See below for the comparison between No Snapseed and Snapseed.
- Tiny Planet Video: For video, you can use the app “Theta+ Video.” You might have to transfer the files from the camera to the device first. Then, open Theta+, click the video you want, and it will start to convert from two separate fish-eye videos (from the dual cameras of the camera) to one spherical video. From there you just select Cropped Video, and you’re good to go! It will automatically compress it into a video that can be easily viewed on places like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc!
- Pretty Tiny Planet Videos: You can roll with what your camera provides you, or (like with the picture) you can edit it a bit. I have an android, and I use Adobe clip. You can speed up, slow down, add music, shorten clip, or add filters!
What’s the difference between the different Thetas?
The M15 was the first one, then the S (which was considered better for multiple reasons), and then the SC. M15 is said to be a bit more pixelated with shorter recording times. (Currently $247). The S came out and had better picture and some more features (currently $305). The SC is supposed to be just as good as the S, but with a happily cheaper price tag! If you want to get technical, which I don’t, you can read this rundown. I’ve only owned the SC, and I can tell you that it does everything that I need from it.
What else can it do?
Besides the adorable Tiny Planets, it also makes “Disco Ball” (I think of them more as Snow Globes) and interactive 360 “pictures.” You might have seen them before on Facebook. They are the ones where you can pan around, up and down, and all around! You can also manipulate into Wormholes, Flat or Straight.
Tips for good background?
I think that’s personal preference. I enjoy nice symmetry which was easy to obtain in Iceland. It’s easy to achieve when everything around you is about the same. So where I was in Iceland was all flat, so I got almost a perfect circle! For my trip in Berlin, I used it inside for the first time, and I wasn’t sure how the ceiling would turn out, but it turned out awesome! (That’s the one in the Snapseed comparison).
What else do I need?
Honestly, beyond the camera and the aforementioned apps, you’re pretty much good to go. The only other item I’d suggest would be a selfie stick or tripod. It reduces how big your hands look in the picture. It has the standard threaded connection for tripods at the bottom. I bought a Go-pole because it can be used for action cameras or this camera! And I like how far that it extends. You can get shorter ones, but this one could be long or short. Why not get one with that capability? Weird story, but it came in handy when I was riding on a tank.
Here I am trying to use my camera for the first time. It’s so easy that I was literally doing it while walking into work. Notice how huge my hand looks and how you can still see the sleeve around it? I also used Live Planet 360 for this picture, and it left a watermark. That is why it is not included in my recommendations!
If you want to set your camera down and not be in the shot, I suggest a tripod. This tripod is great because it’s long and skinny before it flares out. Just like my hand up there, the farther away from the camera, the smaller it appears. With this tripod, the legs will hardly be seen.
The following aren’t strictly necessary, but they are amazing for keeping your camera safe, accessible, and out of the shots!