Can a smartphone ever do a destination justice? Equipped with two fisheye lenses, panoramic cameras can snap shots and record in wide angles and in 360º — and the latest models make it easy to share the creative results.
1 — For hi-res holidays: The first consumer 360º camera that can shoot in 8K resolution, the Kandao QooCam 8K pocket camera (USD649) is a unique proposition. It’s possible to capture everything in 360º and then reframe later to create regular widescreen videos and photos without losing much detail. It ships with a selfie stick (USD35) that’s automatically edited out from photos and videos, so it’s perfect for taking selfies and vlogging. It’s also got a great slo-mo mode. kandaovr.com
2 — For light travelers: Although it doesn’t reach the heights of the QooCam 8K in terms of resolution, the pricey Ricoh Theta Z1 (USD999) is nevertheless a cut above. It uses two large one-inch sensors, which capture wraparound photos and video in 4K, but with extra color and contrast, particularly in low-light conditions. However, it’s not without its drawbacks: inside is a mere 19GB of storage, and unlike the others, you can’t add your own memory card. theta360.com
3 — For vloggers: It’s more famous for its drones, but DJI’s Osmo Pocket (from USD369) already has a cult following among adrenaline junkies, filmmakers and vloggers. It captures 4K video in incredible quality, but its real trick is a built-in gimbal that makes even the wildest videos look smooth and stable. It can also shoot motion time-lapses and be used at night but lacks a little in that it isn’t waterproof. dji.com
4 — For outdoor sports: GoPro’s second effort at creating a panoramic camera, the waterproof GoPro Max (USD499.99) has some special shooting modes. It captures in 5.6K quality, and its Hyper Smooth stabilization keeps videos from looking choppy. Creative types will adore its 360º handheld Time Warp time-lapse sequences, as well as its Super View shooting formats that provide a wide-angle perspective. GoPro’s clever app makes it easy to edit and upload videos on the go. gopro.com
5 — For the flexible: The water-resistant Insta360 One R Twin Edition (US$480) makes it easy to switch between widescreen and panoramic modes. It consists of a small battery base, square processor module and either 360º or 4K widescreen modules — with the three parts snapped together — to create clips in crisp 5.7K resolution. insta360.com