This is part one of two parts, the second being on software.
The applications of 360 recording can be haphazard and often misplaced. It’s entirely possible to have a simple, normal phone photo to capture a memory and moment, instead of whipping out a clunky piece of kit while rummaging around a family event. In most cases, accessibility is key. Yet there are times when a 360 camera is both useful and awesome – finding Wally in a 360 setting is one of them. And it is in these rare cases where it’s important to have an accessible, consumer version of the beefy cameras rolling around today.
The Vuze 360 camera takes the step forward in this with the ‘first consumer 3D 360 camera.’ And consumer it is; the bright, yellow design and small stature makes it a consumer-friendly equivalent of the large and clunky cameras used for more high-production ventures. The term ‘prosumer’ comes to mind.
When it comes to usability, it’s simple and clear
Quality-wise, it is solid. At the time of writing I have had trouble using the footage as my computer has committed seppuku, so it is difficult to fully show its quality. This will be fully explored in Part 2, where the full extent of the software will be shown.
Hint: It has a quidditch match involved. Not kidding.
I travelled from London to Manchester carrying the little device, which is slightly wider than my hands. It managed to survive the rickety train and travel there and back, and it feels sturdy with its use – which is great for the travelling prosumer.
On the day itself it was actually very easy to use. The instruction manual made it clear how to record and take footage, which seems to have worked perfectly. The audio was clear, and the actual footage was surprisingly strong. When it comes to usability, it’s simple and clear.
There are very few buttons on top, where the user can select the options they want and roll the film from there. Inside a compartment is the usual implementation of USB dock and SD card slot; on the latter, I found it difficult to remove the SD card afterwards, which might be difficult for other users as well. The app itself is also intuitive and easy to use, though a live option would have been useful for the casual viewer.
The camera review came with a microstand which can be used to take photographs, or converted into a handle to move around with. The handle is not so useful when moving around, but for stationary shots on tables it would suit well – otherwise a longer, stable stand would be necessary for wider shots. In any case, I recommend a stand alongside your purchase.
The first of its kind
The camera also came included with a set of micro lenses for viewing content. As I have said once before, the glasses are amazing for viewing 360 content, and are easy to transport as well. Though they don’t enclose the viewer in the darkness to avoid glare, as a pocket alternative it works sufficiently well.
€995.00 is steep. Not all casual members of the public will drop the cash for one of these unless they are dedicated to the craft, and even then this may be discounted as rivals crop up from the woodwork – but compared to the thousands of pounds from more hardcore places, it’s a more feasible investment.
As it is a first generation product which has been around the US for a while, this may well be replaced by another product in the future; a cheaper, high-fidelity version which may usurp the Vuze’s status. If Britain and Nokia has shown us anything, being first doesn’t necessarily mean best. That said, the Vuze is a nifty little device which serves well for early adopters, and from a hardware standpoint it is very strong.
Part 2, where I will be looking at the software, is coming soon.