A 360° Action Cam Roundup: Nikon, 360Fly, Giroptic…and GoPro

IMGL0164Just as last year was the year of the drone at CES, this year there is a lot of buzz about virtual reality. Lots of news surrounding bunches of new VR headsets.

And to do VR, you need 360. As in a 360° camera (or set of cameras) to capture the whole picture. So here’s a quick look on a few notable 360° cameras; a couple of which have been covered here in previous DCR CES reviews, and one totally new player.  Plus, news from the biggest player: GoPro.

Now do keep in mind that you don’t need a VR headset to watch 360° action cam footage.  YouTube started supporting it last winter, making it easy for companies to get video out to the masses.

(Minor note from Ray: Both Randy and I blended on this one together for a combo-dish post of sorts.)


Ray wrote about this one last year at CES when they claimed to be just a few weeks away from shipping. Well, here we are a year later and nothing has shipped yet. Speaking with the Giroptic engineers here at CES their new promise is to have the units shipped to their Kickstarter early adopters no later than the beginning of Q2. We’ll have to wait and see if that happens, just as we did last year.

Now, to their credit they have started shipping development kits out to development backers, but that’s been a relatively long and drawn out process.  It’s unclear if the production units will be as slow going.  Of course, the ultimate problem is that given this product was announced nearly 2 years ago, the world has moved on to 4K.  Hopefully, some of its other connected features can make up for that shortfall (such as their ability to plug into a light-bulb socket if you want a static location camera).

One common theme with all of these 360° cameras is the weak battery life, generally 2 hours max. The saving grace for the Giroptic 360cam is that it uses replaceable batteries that look and feel to be GoPro Hero 3 series batteries, though no one could really confirm if they were interchangeable.

IMGL0148IMGL0142Interestingly enough the predecessor to the Giroptic first hit CES two years ago before this most recent incarnation.


Ray first noticed this one also two years ago at CES. Planned for a Q2 2014 release, they missed that date by well over a year and only had units show up on shelves back in October. That release is an exclusive in-store offering at Best Buy stores only (but at least available).


Now the company currently has two different cams on its plate: The original 360Fly, and the 360Fly 4K.  The original 360Fly is the one at Best Buy currently, shoots in 1080p.  Whereas the 360Fly 4K is coming out sometime between spring and fall (everyone has been given different dates).  Do keep in mind that when it comes to 4K 360° action cameras, the 4K is often a bit of a misnomer.  See, they get away with calling it 4K because that’s the total of the 360° image captured, not just the piece that you can show in your window at any one point in time.  So basically, you’re lucky to get 720p or similar for a given portion of the view.

And, just to assist further in confusion-minimization, they’re also working on another variant that will release in late 2016 that will feature a streamlined integrated unit embedded in motorcycle, snow, and MTB helmets in a partnership with Bell and Giro.


From a spec standpoint, the 360Fly 4K looks pretty solid.  It’s got waterproofing down to 3-meters, as well as GPS and the ability to overlay metrics like speed and distance.  But alas, I (Ray) still put this company in the not to be trusted with timelines realm, given their history.

Oh, and finally – the company is also apparently working on a drone too with the 360cam, as given a sneak peak here.

Nikon KeyMission 360


Not to be left out of the 360° cam gold rush, Nikon announced their new entry into the market this week. Unfortunately, all they have at this point are untouchable units behind glass; thus no hands on opportunities.  However, they did release a 4K video you can watch here.

The details are a bit slim on the camera right now, but we do know that it’ll shoot 4K (duh), but also has its own mount system that seems to be a hybrid blend of a tripod connector with that of a pseudo-GoPro sticky mount lock system.


We also know that the unit has a remote control for it (common for 360° action cams), but we don’t know if that’s included with it.  Or for that matter, any pricing or availability information at all.

Finally, as for specs, aside from knowing it features both Bluetooth & WiFi, we don’t know the specifics on frame rates or even the details of the 4K implementation.  We do know that it’s waterproofed quite well though (100ft), and can sustain some sort of shock/impact from ~6ft.  Unclear if that includes flying off my bike at 35MPH as well.  Just asking for a friend.


Still, the 4K entrance is big for Nikon, both in terms of quality levels, but also just introducing an action camera (they’ve never had one).  In addition to the action camera, they also introduced some sweet new DSLR’s that shoot 4K, I (Ray) am severely tempted by the D500 DX now, given the 4K shooting capabilities as well as WiFi/BT features.  My finger has been hovering over the pre-order button for the last few days.  My Canon 7D is getting long in the tooth, and I’m about to give up on Canon offering a more connected unit with 4K capabilities.



Not to be left out, GoPro’s CEO has become the king of walking onto a stage for a panel discussion and just dropping unheard of mention of a new product.  Sort of a ‘Let me just leave this one sentence here’ type of thing.  That’s been the case numerous times over the last few CES’s, and this week was no different.

On Thursday night they gave notice that they plan a consumer focused 360° action cam ‘soon’.  You’ll remember that last year they announced a few 360° systems using existing GoPro Hero4’s (as seen above).    But those systems were targeted at commercial users, and ranged in price upwards of $15,000.  On top of all that, they also acquired a company specializing in 360° video, and as of late GoPro has been sharing more and more 360° videos on their social media channels.

Of course, there’s zero details beyond the CEO’s super-brief mention.  Somewhat like the upcoming GoPro drone, now named Karma, it’s all about building up interest and keeping people from buying competitive products.  Given GoPro rarely releases a dud (and when they do, they seem to address faults quickly), it’s probably wise to wait a few more months to see if that 360° action cam makes it out to see the light of day.

Thanks for reading!

Don’t forget to check out all of the DCR CES 2016 coverage, as well as a slew of updates that were only seen on Twitter.  It was a crazy busy week!

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  1. Gabe

    So what was the general takeaway from this year’s CES?

    Same old interative gizmos ? Seems that much of the tech press panned CES this year.

    Much appreciated on the hard work done though

    • It was definitely more of an incremental year this year, compared with last year was more major announcements.

      Yet, many of those incremental things this year were really companies finally shipping what they announced last year.

    • Gabe

      What do you see in the future in sports tech based on things you’ve seen this year? Are wearables reaching that saturation point ? I’m surprised there were no 3G/LTE watch announcements; could be battery tech needs catching up 1st…

    • I think this will largely be a hear of minor updates. Basically seeing existing product lines getting optical HR, and seeing that optical HR quality improve.

      The challenge with 3G/LTE watches is simply certification. It’s costly, and a total nightmare for companies. It’s easy to do for US, and mostly easy for Europe, but then you get everywhere else. However, the challenge doesn’t end with certification. Then you have to deal with the carriers, especially problematic in Europe where you fight country to country. All of which takes forever.

      If you go with an approach that basically someone sticks just a SIM card though, it’s better. But then pricing can be tricky depending on the carrier (some have ‘watch’ pricing models, others make it crazy expensive).

      We’ll get there, but not until Apple paves that road in a way that only Apple has been able to do (such as with the idea years ago that they ignore carrier wishes around updates and such, something that other platforms still struggle).

  2. Its really thankful to read the new tech’s updates.

  3. Geoff

    Title talks about Fly6. Did you mean 360Fly?

  4. David

    Ray: watch the karma teaser trailer again, GoPro is telegraphing their 360 action camera will be IN their new drone.

    • David

      “Take a moment to LOOK AROUND YOU”
      “Magic that SURROUNDS US”
      “Go anywhere you want, experience it FROM ANY PERSPECTIVE”

    • I suspect there will be a few options, all based on a gimbal system that’s interchangeable:

      – Gimbal 360 Cam built in package
      – Gimbal for existing Hero4 people
      – Option to add 360 cam later.

      They’d want as much flexibility as possible for people going to/from other GoPro products.

  5. Donnie Barnes

    I fear the cost a little, but that Nikon teaser video makes me want to scream SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY.



    • Michael H.

      Color me stupid, I watched the Nikon video and thought the framing was lousy, then I touched the screen, omg, now your comment makes sense ?

  6. Greg

    If you like the d500 you should look at the Sony a7rii….takes amazing 4k footage and has neat wifi bt as well with your smartphone as an external monitor and remote. I was a nikon diehard but sold it all for Sony.

    • Yeah, the Sony is super-tempting as well. But for some reason I just like the feel/heft of a bigger camera.

    • Michael H.

      But you’re giving up on canon? pffft

    • Yeah, we’ll see. The Nikon D500 DX doesn’t come out till March, so I’m probably going to place a pre-order for it, and then if Canon doesn’t announce something by time my pre-oder ships, then boom.

      I’m just frustrated by how slow Canon has been in this market when it comes to connected features. If I’m on a show-floor, or at an event (i.e. TdF), I want to be able to quickly share shots via my phone. Among other features.

      I would have to swap lenses, but ultimately I really don’t use that many lenses, about 2-3 in total (wide, mid, long). And the 300mm (longer) lenses I do have, I really only use about once per year.

    • Greg

      The a7rrii weighs a ton in its full frame in body stabilized form. The lenses are a bit lighter…. But it’s not light

    • Michael H.

      Yeah I have the 6D, it’s got gps and wifi, and I’ve been able to use that function exactly 0 times, what a mess imo

    • Yeah, I think the challenge with most current camera BT/WiFi implementations is that they’ve been inefficient.

      In theory, the 500 DX is using BT Smart to establish an always-on connection, much like a smartwatch. Then, based on what I’m gathering, it’s doing a WiFI-Direct connection to move the photos (as opposed to a regular WiFi connection), which makes the whole system quite a bit more seamless than other camera sync solutions (I’ve got a Nikon AW1 with the WiFi Adapter, and that solution kinda sucks).

  7. Torsten

    I have just searched for the Nikon Keymission 360 with Google and found it in the Weshop from Cyberport. 499€ available end of april.

  8. bikeman

    Cp+ is in Yokohama next month. All the new cameras will be announced either right before or at the show. If Canon is going to announce anything, this will be the time. Sony allows you to use your Canon glass on A7 & 6 series cameras with an adapter. The IBS (in body stabilization) works with most lenses. Have fun with your decesion.


  9. bertwert

    Ricoh Theta?

  10. HI Ray

    I am very much in the market for a 360 video camera but reading this I get the impression there is nothing out as yet that really hits the mark. If you were going to buy one now, which has the best combination of quality, features and company longevity would you suggest? Or, as I suspect, should I wait a little longer. Thanks.

    • Stephen, please read other, more concise articles, as this on is lame. There are 360 cameras out there that are currently available.

      for instance:

      link to dailytekk.com

    • Stephen: I’d suggest waiting a bit longer. You’re on the mark in that there really aren’t any great options yet. Most of the ones that are out there have limited quality, even if the features aren’t too bad.

      Michael: That’s basically just a random PR-style listing of cameras without any hands on time. If you like PR releases, I’d suggest going elsewhere.

    • Thanks Ray

      As suspected. I’ll hold off for a while.

      Michael, to be honest if it’s a choice between Ray and the link you provided, Ray wins every time. The guy has built a solid reputation off the back of genuine , honest, thorough, and darn accurate reviews. Have a go if you likhonest you’re far better off learning from Ray than lambasting him.

    • I’ve been using a Ricoh Theta since June 2015. I think the Theta has the best combination of image quality, usability, and price for a 360 camera for hobbyists. In fact, it is among the hottest selling digital cameras on Amazon (not limited to 360 cameras). It is not action-proof, but they have an inexpensive (~$30) hard case for action shots, though some parts of the image will have distortion (from refraction from the case).

      The Theta S improved the image quality significantly compared to the original version, but the video is still meh. If you’re willing to spend more to get 4k 360 capability, the cheapest option right now is probably the Kodak SP360 4k. It’s a hemisphere view, so for a true photosphere you need the dual pro pack (which puts two units back to back) and is around $900.

    • If it is basically just a random PR-style listing of cameras without any hands on time, then why in the world would you call it a ROUNDUP? Seems as if you have left a few cattle out in the field.

    • I’ve looked at a good few Theta S videos on YouTube and they all look awful. If that’s the best we’re going to get at the moment I will wait a little while.

    • Hi Stephen. First of all, video isn’t a strong suit for the Theta. Second, it’s exacerbated because youtube can make the video look worse. You need to select the highest resolution, which you cannot do if you’re on a mobile connection. Third, having said that, the other 360 cameras that use 1080 video like the Theta are no better. To have decent quality with 360 video, you really need 4k.

    • Agreed.

  11. You left out too many players in the 360 revolution for this to be a “roundup”, and most of these cameras are not even available yet. What about the Ricoh Theta? Or the BublCam? How about Nokia Ozo? Or Nikon Key Mission 360? Or V.360? I feel as if I have wasted my time reading your “roundup”.

    • Hmm, confusion abound in your comments. This was a focus on new 360* action cams at CES 2016 (or new news about a cam yet released). Not just everything out there. For example, I’ve previously discussed and used the V.360 – there’s nothing new there. And the Ricoh is hardly new. Again, this is about new stuff. BubleCam didn’t have any news at CES either (also previously in the market).

      Also, note there’s a difference between a true 360* action cam and one that’s just a ‘bubble lens’, like some of what you’re talking about.

      Further, since your reading comprehension appears limited, you’ll note that the Nikon Key Mission 360 is in the post.

    • You can mince my words if you must, but I am an old school SteadiCam operator who knows the difference in cameras, and all of these are including themselves in the 360 “Revolution” no mention of NEW in my comments, or your title. Some of us are just entering into this technology, and are not familiar with the offerings. If you can’t take criticism without responding with veiled smartass replies, i would suggest you find another “occupation”.

  12. I like 360fly 4k helmet version. It’s important for me and I think it will be popular for other bikers. Also I think Nikon Keymission 360 will be successful on this market.

  13. Go pro is a reputable brand in action cameras. I have a Go pro. but 360 Camera is something awesome. but pricing is little higher. Hope Xiomi will launch similar cameras soon.

  14. I can confirm the GoPro 3+ batteries work on the Giroptic 360Cam, has anyone had luck getting a video feed via the wifi so it can be used as a webcam?

  15. Ricoh theta S, I think this little boy will be the champion in this market. But in the future, other big companies won’t let this situation last long. They will have more powerful 360 cam at lower price