The latest to appear on our radar in terms of 360˚ / 180 ˚ panorama / stereo cameras is the QooCam, distributed in Australia by MagnaTech360 which is more known for high end broadcast gear.
Where the VUZE XR we thought has an interesting form factor with its flip out twin lenses to give 360˚ and 180 ˚ imagery in VR and panoramic views, the QooCam takes this one step further with a unique “twist and rotate” slim cylinder-ish design triple F2.2 fisheye lens design switching the camera between 360˚ shooting and 180 ˚ panorama stereo footage and stills, all in 4K resolution.
Out of the box, the QooCam is around 20cm tall and 2cm in circumference, albeit it with flat sides. Diagonally across the centre is a hinge mechanism where the QooCam twists on itself forming a right angle.
On one side of the cylinder is the on-off button and a single lens, between which lie a multi-coloured LED for camera mode and a blue icon LED signifying the Wi-fi on / off status. The reverse side has a pair of lenses and a single button that doubles as a shutter release and video recording on / off depending on the length of its press (single press for stills and 2 second press for video recording).
On the base is a standard tripod thread. In the model we got, a separate plastic bag attached to the box had a mount to add to the base attached by two (supplied) hex thread screws. This is designed to give more stability when the QooCam is free standing in the 360˚ mode. The base also has the microphone built in.
A separate rubberised base doubles as a lens cover when the camera is not is use.
Slots on the side protected by rubber covers are for the microSD card (up to 256GB accepted) and micro USB connector. There is no internal memory and despite these rubberised covers, the QooCam is not waterproof or even water resistant; QooCam say a waterproof housing is on the way as is an option to connect an external mic.
To cater for various USB connectivity options, QooCam has seen fit to supply three different cables. Charging is through the USB port by the way and using a 2500mA powerbank, we fully charged it in just under half an hour. The battery is rated at 2600Amh and shooting video (3840*1920@30fps) is claimed to last more than 2 hours (150min).
Although we didn’t get one, optional accessories available are Bluetooth controlled and selfie stick.
Back to the hinge system.
By holding both ends of the QooCam horizontally and pushing your right hand away and down, the camera allows itself to lock into either a 45 degree or 90 degree mode. When like this, the side of the QooCam with the twin lenses – set apart at approximate the distance between human eyes – takes over changing the camera from a 360˚ VR shooting unit to a 180 ˚ stereo panorama one. Both video and stills can still be shot in this mode.
Because of the multitude of possibilities of shooting methods, it does take a little time to get your head around these and what mode to be in and at what time and how to activate the different options.
The QooCam can operate stand alone without any problems, but these different modes mean that using the QooCam app for either Android or iOS makes life a lot easier. Connectivity is via Wi-fi not Bluetooth.
We had some difficulty in getting a connection initially, not the least being that nowhere in the supplied documentation could we find the Wi-fi passcode, and it needed a Reddit search to discover it was “12345678”.
Smart Device App
The iOS / Android app is very, very comprehensive, allowing some quite sophisticated in-device editing such as trimming, setting a “start point” (which is not an in-point in QooCam speak, but a point of view position) and even focus point among others. The camera can also via the app have frame rates (up to 120fps), ISO (100-3200) and shutter speed (30, 60, 120 fps) selected.
Other options include setting timelapse rates, sport mode, video export bitrate setting, colour correction, in camera stabilisation and anti-flicker. Separate in app albums for video and photo are included and even tutorials for Quick Start, In-App Editing plus shooting different types of scenes such as rotate, tiny planet, dolly, kaleidoscope, rabbit hole, photo animation and more are right there in the App.
Other technical specifications include movie formats in MOV/MP4, photos in JPG / DNG and video encoding in H.264. For full specs, see https://www.kandaovr.com/qoocam/tech-spec/.
Without question, out of all the 360˚ / action cams we have come across, this App has to be right up there in ability and sophistication. If you want more, QooCam has also made available a bunch of getting started PDFs and video tutorials on-line.
In concert, a computer-based app is available called QooCam Studio for fine tuning editing. At time of writing, we couldn’t test this simply as it requires an NVIDIA video card to operate and our ASUS laptop which is with us on this trip only supports Intel based video.
We’ll update this review with details on QooCam Studio when back at home base later next week.
The real test of the QooCam in the field will occur on Tuesday next week (June 19th) on a fishing trip 25Km off the Gold Coast in Queensland. It will be interesting to see how it shapes up against the flexibility of the VUZE XR and the brilliant optics of the Ricoh Theta V.
At AUD$600, the QooCam is a little more expensive than the VUZE XR (AUD $439) although the Ricoh Theta V is a little higher at $650 or so.
The full website is https://www.kandaovr.com/qoocam/ if you want more information.
Stay tuned for more QooCam info.