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Best 360 camera 2021: the finest choices for capturing every angle

Included in this guide:

Insta360 One X
(Image credit: Insta360)

Trying to find the best 360 camera for you? Well, you've come to the right place. If, like Aerosmith, you don’t want to miss a thing, these cameras are exactly what you need: each of the models in this list is capable of capturing footage in full 360-degrees. 

Most work by using multiple camera modules – usually two wide-angle lenses back-to-back – to capture footage which can then be digitally combined into a fully spherical video or, more usefully, into a standard two-dimensional video weaved together from frames that you've chosen after the fact.

That said, there are plenty of differences between them. The best 360 cameras include features like automatic stitching (which saves you the hassle of manually aligning multiple captures), image stabilization, live-streaming and resolution, which in some cases goes up to 8K. It’s worth remembering, though, that even a relatively high resolution won’t necessarily result in detailed images: because pixels are stretched over a 360-degree frame, the small part you’re viewing might well be less than Full HD.

Also look at cropping functionality, which allows you to extract a standard ‘flat’ video from the 360-degree footage you’ve captured. This means you can shoot everything that’s going on and select your area of focus when you're back home – particularly useful for fast-moving and unpredictable subjects, such as safari animals of extreme sports enthusiasts.

The relevance of other features, such as GPS, Wi-Fi and slow-mo modes, will depend on what and how you like to record. Helpfully, we’ve accounted for all of this in our list of the best 360 cameras. Some are the latest and greatest models, while others are a little older but priced very competitively. And don’t forget that our widgets always display the latest and best deals too.

Best 360 camera in 2021:

Insta360 One X2

(Image credit: Future)

An impressive upgrade to our favorite 360 camera

Specifications
Weight: 149g
Max. video resolution: 5.7K
Stills resolution: 18MP
Battery life: 80 minutes
Reasons to buy
+Incredibly versatile+Lots of creative effects
Reasons to avoid
-App drains battery-Requires recent phone

The Insta360 One X2 takes everything we loved about the Insta360 One X and addresses most of the things we didn’t. So it still shoots 360-degree video in 5.7K with the same sensor and it features a very similar, if slightly larger pill-like design. But it also benefits from a number of improvements: IPX8 water-resistance means it can function up to 10 meters below the waves, while a new circular touchscreen display provides a useful live preview of your shots. 

A larger battery boosts longevity to 80 minutes, while an expanded range of shooting tricks make it a fun, versatile tool for creating immersive content. Insta360 Studio for desktop has been updated, while the smartphone app remains a great option for editing – although it does require the latest smartphone performance (and tends to drain your device’s battery). So the Insta360 One X2 refines rather than revolutionizes the formula, but it’s still the best 360 camera you can buy right now.

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Still a fine 360 camera choice, despite its age

Specifications
Weight: 163g
Waterproof: 5m
5.6K spherical video: Up to 30fps
1440p 2D video : up to 60fps
Stills resolution: 16.6MP
Battery life: 108 minutes (1440p), 78 minutes (5.6K)
Reasons to buy
+Slick editing process+Waterproof without needing a case
Reasons to avoid
-Poor in low light-Low-res 2D footage

If you're looking to shoot immersive videos of sporting escapades or outdoor adventures, then the GoPro Max is a good alternative to the Insta360 One X2 close. It's waterproof down to five meters without needing a case, and the editing workflow is slick and simple. If you want to turn your 360-degree video into a traditional 2D film – which is one of the main benefits of 360 cams – the app's OverCapture software lets you do this easily, as long as your happy with the final footage being in Full HD. 

The Max also amps up many of the features seen on the GoPro's Hero action cams, including superior HyperSmooth stabilization and 360-degree TimeWarp sequences. The slightly sub-par 2D video footage (which is the result of it being converted from a fish-eye images) means the Max falls short of being the ultimate GoPro for both 360 and standard footage. But it's a fantastic option for anyone who wants to shoot action sequences in every direction without the hassle of deciding where to point their action camera, then edit it together quickly later.

Kandao QooCam 8K

(Image credit: Future)

An 8K heavyweight with game-changing video quality

Specifications
Weight: 228g
Max. video resolution: 8K at 30fps
Stills resolution: 29.4MP
Battery life: 70 minutes
Reasons to buy
+8K video at 30fps+SuperSteady image stabilisation
Reasons to avoid
-Relatively large and heavy-Not waterproof

Numbers never tell the whole story, but 8K is a seriously impressive figure in a consumer 360 camera's spec sheet. Qoocam’s 360 heavyweight outguns all of the competition on resolution, with a pair of 20MP CMOS sensors that work together to capture 8K footage at 30fps and 4K video at up to 200fps. 

Not only can it create VR-grade video out of the box, but it’s also the first non-pro model from which 360 footage can be cropped down to widescreen format without a big drop in resolution. It packs impressive SuperSteady image stabilization, too, as well as a class-leading 2.4-inch OLED touchscreen for easy control and framing. For both stills and video, dynamic range is excellent, as is color and contrast. 

Downsides? There are limited video modes and the partner app is pretty basic, though there’s a handy express mode which downscales footage for mobile editing. There’s also no escaping the relative heft of the Qoocam 8K, or its lack of waterproofing. All the same, provided you can stomach its price tag, its video quality is unrivaled in the 360 market. Once you try 8K, there’s no going back.

Insta360 Evo

(Image credit: Future)

The best way to record 3D VR and 360 videos with one device

Specifications
Weight: 113g
Max. video resolution: 5760 x 2880 at 30fps
Stills resolution: 18MP
Battery life: 65 minutes
Reasons to buy
+Good daylight image quality+Records both 360 and 3D content
Reasons to avoid
-Only excels in brightly-lit scenes-Average build quality

It might not have the elegant, pocket-friendly design of Insta360’s One X, but the Evo is a more flexible form of 360-degree camera. One minute it can function as a standard 360-degree camera with back-to-back fisheye lenses capturing everything around it in decent 5.7K resolution. The next moment, thanks to its hinged design, both lenses will be sitting side by side facing the same direction, allowing them to capture 3D VR content with a 180-degree field-of-view. You’ll really need an Oculus or similar VR headset to appreciate the latter, however – and for most people the One X probably makes more sense.

Insta360 One R

(Image credit: Future)

A flawed but effective modular cam with solid 360 chops

Specifications
Weight: 130.5g
Max. video resolution: 5760 x 2880 at 30fps
Stills resolution: 18.5MP
Battery life: 70 minutes
Reasons to buy
+Largely effective modular design+Solid 360-degree image quality
Reasons to avoid
-Very small screen-Sub-GoPro Image processing

The headline feature of the Insta360 One R is its modular design. Comprised of three blocks – battery, controls and camera – the lens section can be switched to suit your situation. Besides a 1-inch sensor module, the dual-lens element is seriously exciting: capable of capturing 360-degree footage in 5.7K at 30fps, it transforms the Insta360 One R from action cam to capable 360 cam. Stabilization is excellent, as is the stitching, with only a slight flutter if your crop covers the border between sources. Like the GoPro Max, sharpness drops at the edge of each lens, but results in bright conditions are good, with decent detail and limited noise. 

The same can’t be said in low light, where software processing issues arise, with lots of juddering and blurred frames. Editing 360-degree video means selecting and dragging one of five fields of view in the app, which is slightly limiting but ultimately quick, while optional subject-tracking delivers a professional look with minimal effort. It's not quite as slick as the GoPro Max, but it's cheaper, offers a unique modular approach and delivers solid 360-degree footage. With a few software fixes, the Insta360 One R could be a real 360 success.

This waterproof GoPro Max predecessor is worth investigating at this price

Specifications
Weight: 226g
Max. video resolution: 5228 x 2624 at 30fps
Stills resolution: 18MP
Battery life: 70 minutes
Reasons to buy
+5.2K resolution+Over-capture for standard video
Reasons to avoid
-High-end and expensive-Overkill for most users

GoPro’s highly innovative camera has enjoyed a significant price drop since its launch, making it worth considering if you can't stretch to the newer GoPro Max. The Fusion can capture 360-degree video in 5.2K resolution at 30fps (or 3K at 60fps) which is great, but its real trick was the introduction of the OverCapture mode. Like the GoPro Max and Insta360 One X, this lets you film in 360 degrees then create a standard 16:9 video from the footage. 

Add GPS, a compass, accelerometer, gyroscope, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, 3D audio, and compatibility with existing GoPro mounts, and the waterproof (to a depth of 5m) Fusion is a powerful camera for the price. The newer GoPro Max brings a front-facing screen, a more compact design, six microphones (rather than four) and better image stabilization. The Fusion's last software update was also over a year ago, if these issues don't bother you then it's definitely worth considering if you need a waterproof 360-degree camera.

How to pick the best 360 camera for you

The best 360 cameras come in a range of shapes, sizes and styles. That said, most models work in a similar way: they use multiple camera modules (usually two wide-angle lenses placed back-to-back) to capture footage which can then be digitally combined to create a fully spherical video.

But there are also plenty of differences between the 360 cameras in the list above. Many 360 cameras include features such as automatic stitching (which saves you the hassle of manually aligning multiple captures) and image stabilization for steady shots. The top options, including the Insta360 One X2 and GoPro Max, can also use software trickery to digitally erase compatible hand grips from the frame, so you can record yourself without a big boom arm blocking your shot.

Resolution varies from camera to camera. The highest resolution consumer 360 camera in 2021 is the Kandao QooCam 8K, which can shoot 360 video at 8K. More affordable options like the GoPro Max and Insta360 One X2 shoot at 5.6K and 5.7K resolutions respectively. But it’s important to remember that those numbers refer to the full 360 resolution; if you crop down to a flat frame, the resolution will be much lower (normally 1080p or less).

This cropping functionality allows you to extract a standard ‘flat’ video from the 360-degree footage. This means you can shoot everything that’s going on around you, then select an area of focus when you’re back home. This is particularly useful for fast-moving and unpredictable subjects, such as safari animals or extreme sports enthusiasts.

The relevance of other features, such as GPS, Wi-Fi and slow-mo modes, will depend on what and how you like to record. Many of the best 360 cameras feature creative shooting tools and handy connectivity features, plus smartphone apps which make editing and sharing easier.

What’s the best 360 camera for virtual tours?

360 cameras are a great choice for shooting immersive virtual tours. Upload 360 images or video to a compatible hosting platform (such as Facebook or CloudPano) and visitors will be able to explore a location in full 360 degrees from the comfort of their home. This is particularly useful for venues such as a hotels and museums, as well as real estate listings.

The right 360 camera for your virtual tour will depend primarily on whether you plan to shoot a video tour or a static photo tour. 

It’s possible to create a virtual tour simply by walking around a location while recording video. If this will be your approach, any of the top cameras in the list above should produce smooth, sharp 360-degree footage. The Kandao QooCam 8K in particular can capture detailed 8K video and benefits from SuperSteady stabilization smarts (although file sizes for 8K video are much larger and may be compressed by certain platforms).

Most virtual tours use 360-degree stills shot by a tripod-mounted camera. The best 360 cameras in 2021 can capture sharp, immersive images which are perfect for virtual tours. The Kandao QooCam 8K is again a great option here: it shoots dynamic still images at a resolution of 29.4MP (the highest of any camera in our list), allowing viewers to pan around sharp virtual scenes. It also features a tripod mount on its base for easy positioning.

If you’re looking for a less expensive option, our favorite 360 camera – the Insta360 One X2 – is an affordable way to shoot 360 stills for virtual tours. It also features a tripod mount and captures 360 stills at a respectable 18MP.

Jamie Carter

Jamie is a freelance tech, travel and space journalist based in the UK. He’s been writing regularly for Techradar since it was launched in 2008 and also writes regularly for Forbes, The Telegraph, the South China Morning Post, Sky & Telescope and the Sky At Night magazine as well as other Future titles T3, Digital Camera World, All About Space and Space.com. He also edits two of his own websites, TravGear.com and WhenIsTheNextEclipse.com that reflect his obsession with travel gear and solar eclipse travel. He is the author of A Stargazing Program For Beginners (Springer, 2015),