I like the 360 degree photo format and have enjoyed using my Ricoh Theta SC for a few years but the low resolution and modest dynamic range limits how often I include images from it on the blog.
I switched to using Dermandar panorama app on my phone to take 360 cylindrical images. In a landscape situation it can sometimes work well but often it fails to stich things together right and it does not suit many types of other locations.
Like other moto travel bloggers sitting around not able to travel as planned this year I have turned my eye to fixing up or updating my riding gear, my blog and my gadgets. The Theta being a few years old seemed ripe to be replaced and sold off.
The best model 360 cam from Ricoh is the Z1 which I have used in the Yodobashi shop and it is excellent. But alas much too expensive so I tried a product that costs half as much but which I had no chance to use first hand and was relying on reviews.
The Qoocam 8K can take 8K 360 degree jpeg and raw images as well it can stack images much like a modern phone does to boost the dynamic range. It all sounded very good however my user experience was different.
Physically the Qoocam 8K is much larger and heavier than the Theta, the photo doesn’t really show but it’s quite thick and borderline too big for a pocket but ok for my bike jacket. It has a built in touch screen to allow easy setup and operating it is very easy with the control buttons to turn on, switch modes and take images.
When it came to the photos however the image quality from the Qoocam 8K was very poor. Images all appeared soft and things not close to the camera were all slightly out of focus or mushy. Compared to the Theta I could not make out any improvement in quality despite much higher resolution.
The camera struggled indoors or with the dull light of an overcast wet day. Even in HDR mode it was not able to deliver acceptable image quality. It also struggled with any movement so hand held shots, which is all I take with the Theta, seem to be a challenge for the Qoocam. My old Theta SC suddenly looks mighty impressive to turn out images like below taken in a tunnel at 90kph.
The Qoocam also can do a Super HDR image by stacking multiple bracketed raw images (well apparently – a word I think applies to all the claims about this camera). I envisioned using this for scenery or location shots instead of Dermandar or at places like the Suzuki Museum I just visited and at temples. However it just didn’t deliver the images it was supposed to be able to do.
The phone and desktop apps worked fine and on paper it seems to have the potential to be the best 360 camera possible – except it didn’t work as advertised. Other issues include the battery from full charge was low in 30 minutes and it has a fan that runs all the time and is very loud. I don’t care about video but you certainly cannot record sound if shooting video with it. It all seems rather crude. A beta product that could not be made to do as promised but sold anyway.
I know honest reviews of cameras (or anything) online are getting increasingly rare and I usually am skeptical of any YouTube reviews not from the big professional sites like DPReview but I guess in this case I wanted to believe and got taken in by marketing.
Fortunately I could simply return it and get a refund. Thank you Amazon.