Review: GoPro MAX

When 360° cameras such as those from Samsung, 360Fly and Ricoh etc first came out, the excitement was the novelty of having a video in a browser and being able to scroll it around, up and down in some cases zoom in and out.

However this soon because a bit blasé, and the novelty factor soon wore off.

Then the Vuze, designed by some clever clogs in Israel came out with its pop out lenses and ability to not only shoot 360° video but also take wide panorama photos with panning. This was followed by the Kandao QooCam which had the same principle but in a totally different form factor.

The darling of the action camera set, GoPro got in on the act with the GoPro Fusion, but in truth, this was a clumsy and somewhat cobbled together attempt, let down by an atrocious app as all the stitching was software dependent (I spent weeks with GoPro support trying unsuccessfully to get the menus to display in bloody English, that’s how bad it was, let alone the engineering clunkiness underneath the surface).

One brand we haven’t seen in Australia as yet, Insta360 from China, apparently raised the bar (from what I am able to gather as the company has decided that Australia is not worthy of its interest so they tell me), as the stitching is performed in-camera.

GoPro saw this and went hmmm… and set some engineers to work. The result has been the GoPro MAX, a camera with the same sort of design as the defunct Fusion, but light years ahead in terms of development, although there are some glitches.

Based on an almost square body with a lens each side and an LCD on the back (depending which way you look at it as either lens can be the “front” lens), the GoPro MAX has a number of different modes for shooting.

Both panoramic stills and 360° footage can be shot, and GoPro has added functionality such as HyperSmooth, TimeWarp and SuperView into the mix (those VisiCalc guys have a lot to answer for).

As its name suggests HyperSmooth is in-camera stabilisation, and in theory at least then, gets rid of the need for software to fix in post the unwanted shake and jitters  of these types of cameras. And work it does, very well indeed in fact in my testing. As a party trick, it also lets you get rid of the horrible curvy horizon nonsense wide angle lenses are born with.

SuperView is the generic term covering the GoPro MAX wide angle abilities and this includes panoramic shots up to 270° which GoPro calls PowerPano

TimeWarp is a fancy name for time lapse, and it can be shot in 360° video, and you can put the MAX into “HERO” mode where it emulates the GoPro Hero 8 camera using a linear mode so stills too.

All the modes and all their various functions can be accessed via tapping and swiping on the touch screen LCD, or alternatively, there is of course the GoPro app for smartphones.  A vocabulary of voice commands for basic common functions is also supported.

But the real party trick is in the Reframe plug in available for Adobe Premiere and After Effects. This turns the GoPro MAX from a 360° capable camera into a one-man (Person? Thing?) multi shooter as with every angle being captured at once, using Bezier based ease-in / ease-out keyframing, some amazing footage cane be created –amazing  as long as it was shot with this process in mind in the first place of course.

You will need the GoPro MAX export software though to turn the footage from the native .360 format to equirectangular.

Originally, the GoPro VR player allowed this functionality, but it took me about 2 hours and then – gulp – an online chat with GoPro support to discover this is no longer supported. Indeed the .360 format used is not even read by the VR Player. At least I couldn’t get it tow work, even after the nice person in support (via a chat system) told me that all I needed was a driver update for my GeForce GX1070 graphics card.

(If I am wrong here, please tell me as all the info I was getting was potentially contradictory. If you do have the MX working in VR player, let me know).

No, it seems you are pretty much bound to the Adobe platform to unlock all this power, although using Blackmagic Da Vinci Resolve and Fusion does also give you some pretty impressive results using their own tools (and the benefit there of course is that Resolve and Fusion are free. A good tutorial on this is at and is also suitable for the Kandao QooCam and Vuze cameras).

Vegas Pro and Corel VideoStudio also support basic VR / 360° functions, but I haven’t as yet tried these – I’ll keep you posted.

If you have a GoPro MAX already, I’d suggest having a play with these extended facilities. If you are thinking of buying a GoPro Max (or indeed any other 360° capable camera), you do really need to think of what you will use it for. If the 360° functionality is a low priority and therefore will be used more for “action-man” stuff, then really, you’d be better of with a Hero 8, DJI OSMO ActionCam or if you want some serious manual camera control, the brilliant Sony RX0 Mk II.

The GoPro MAX costs AUD$799.95 and is avalable here.

As you may be aware, at Chez Australian Videocamera we are rather fond of 360 footage (and 3D) so over the next months, are going to be doing a lot more in this area in terms of testing, tutorials and so on so keep watching! And if you have any ideas, suggestions or tips please do let me know.

Our Pick: What’s in the perfect shooter’s kit?

Over the Christmas and New Year break we are normally still flat out catching up on website updates, getting paperwork in order and planning the stories and campaigns for the coming year. But we do usually get a bit of time to ruminate the year past and have a think about the multitude of products – and sometimes services – we have been lucky enough to play with.

(And make no bones about it. We consider it a privilege that vendors allow us to play with their stuff, sometimes before release and even in pre-production or beta mode).

Out of that rumination, it is fun to but together a sort of “Best Of” list and share it.

The problem with that is in this biz, there is no real “Best Of”, as everyone’s needs, and workflow are different.

One man’s ceiling is another man’s floor as Paul Simon said.

Having said that, what I do like to do is be a bit selfish and suggest out of all the products we have played with for the year, which ones especially struck me, and would go into making the perfect shooting kit given funds were no barrier.

This means that some stuff was not actually released last year of course as we don’t always get product within a reasonable time frame sadly. But all products ARE current on vendor’s price lists at time of writing.

So here goes:

Best Medium Camcorder

The number of models we have seen this year has been abysmally small sadly, so the field to choose from is not that extensive. Out of the ones we have played with though, the Panasonic HC-PV100 stands out. Both myself and Steve Turner have used the PV-100 this year and what we think is best summed up by Steve’s comment:

Panasonic HC-PV100

Value for money does not come much better than this! At around $1800 the PV100 is stupidly cheap and I’d suggest you get one before Panasonic realise they’ve made a big mistake!

Excellent in low light, has dual XLR ports, light enough as a run and gun and as long as you don’t need 4K – and many still don’t – the Panasonic HC-PV100 is very, very hard to beat in value for money.

Second choice goes to the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K for its technical brilliance and world-leading qualities. And it’s Aussie so there’s a REALLY good excuse to boot!

Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K

Best Action Camera

Tough one this. Whilst the field is dominated by GoPro and DJI there are some sleepers as well including Sony. The new Insta360 we talked of yesterday we have discounted at this stage due to a) we haven’t yet seen it in the flesh and b) it doesn’t qualify as a 2019 (or before) release.

I like the DJI OSMO Action Cam very much and said so in the review. But the GoPro Hero 8 was such a step forward over previous models, incorporating features that in a way should have been there from the start (especially the built-in mounting points) it gets the nod – but only just.

A special commendation does go to the DJI Pocket Gimbal camera which is an ingenious little device that should have more fans (and sales) than retailers tell me it does.

GoPro Hero 8 (with Accessories)

dSLR / Mirrorless

I confess we haven’t seen too many of these this year for review. The major players are Panasonic, Sony, Olympus, FUJI, Canon and Nikon and out of these, we have only REALLY seen Panasonic and Canon models.

We are trying to get models for review from FUJI (and are very hopeful here) and have doubled efforts with Nikon and Sony. Olympus don’t even bother to get back to us by the way …

So, the decision is probably not quite a fair one, but as these are all we have to go on, I am picking the Panasonic G9. Well priced and versatile, it is equally at home in the hands of the enthusiast and makes an excellent secondary camera (perhaps for the Panasonic SH1) for the professional. Me, I’d use it as an adjunct to the PV100 without hesitation.

Panasonic G9

360° Camera

Still an evolving market we feel, with the later emphasis being less on the obvious VR usage of the footage to more “extraction of selected shots from the whole” as these cameras grab everything in the vicinity due to the technology. Additionally, software has now caught up letting 360° footage be converted back to standard aspect ratios without loss.

The number of models available has grown remarkably as has the number of vendors involved. GoPro, Kandao, Ricoh, HumanEyes, 360Fly, Garmin, Kodak, Yi, Samsung and Insta360 all make 360° / 180° (panoramic) camera / camcorders.

Some come with dedicated software, with some of that really good and some not so good. ALL of the ones we tested come with a major fault in it being very hard to detect what mode they are in – still image or video – due to impossibly small or hard to see in sunlight indicators. Even if using a smartphone app, this too can be hard to detect in sunlight, so we strongly suggest ALL manufacturers take that on board.

My pick is the QooCam from Kandao due to its versatility and software. It’s not conventional with its “twist” design to turn it into a panoramic shooter, but it works, is pocketable and the imagery is very good.

QooCam from Kandao

Best Audio Product

We have only reviewed mics this year (if you discount software that is) so a bit tricky this one. I decided on going for value for money and technical all-round cleverness, and therefore chose the Sennheiser XS Wireless Digital Lav. I am using one to make a vide- based tutorial series and found the sound quality to be brilliant (using it connected to a Pany HC-PV100), easy to use and with excellent battery life.

Sennheiser XS Wireless

A special commendation goes to the RØDE Wireless Go that a number of acquaintances swear by.

What Else Would We Add To Our Kit?

We haven’t tested any tripods at all this year.

Miller? Velbon? Manfrotto?  Hellooooo…!!

I can only base what tripod I would pick then on what I know, and my trusty Manfrotto MV351B2 and 503HDV head continues to soldier on without missing a beat.

For a field monitor, there is a lot of noise about ATOMOS models about the place, but despite regular requests to the company over literally YEARS, again, we have NEVER had the courtesy of even a reply, let alone a “sod off”. Perhaps they are one and the same in their eyes …

Blacmagic Design VideoAssist

Of course, Blackmagic has to be there with its Video Assist 12G HDR and at the price that is where we’d go. An honourable mention to OSEE with the G7 7” Field Monitor which is only let down by the lack of supplied battery and Australian power supply. The unit itself is excellent.

Camera cases / bags are another we haven’t looked at this year, and again, not for lack of trying. I am still using a combo of aluminium cases from JayCar and an old Turtle 039 MID, so barring a ripper of a waterproof decent size backpack, I’ll stay there for the moment.

For on-camera lighting we like the Apuiture range and I use an inexpensive $80 AL-M9 for the majority of the stuff I do.

Aputure AL-M9

Finally for external mounts, dollies, small cranes etc, we still have not been able to go past CameraGrip for all our needs. They are relatively inexpensive, have a HUGE range and built to last with quality components. The fact they are UK based is a bit o an issue, but they do deliver without the exorbitant costs that are associated with sourcing from the US thankfully.

Cameragrip K2WS Junior JIb With Stand

Next, I’ll look at what goes into our editing suite, including computer hardware, software and ancillary stuff.

While we have you, on our “Donate” page we have four options: $5, $10, $20 and $50 donation buttons via PayPal (which also allows payment via VISA and Mastercard etc. These are in US$ by the way).

If you decide we are worth a small ONE-OFF donation via this method, we would greatly appreciate it and will allow us to continue at the same professional level we have strived for for almost 14 years now!

More information as to WHY we have added this option is on the Donate page.

Tips: Shooting 360 / VR Footage


Shooting 360° video requires approaching a project from a totally different mindset than “traditional” video. The main difference is obvious – there is no specific focal point as the lenses are capturing everything, and this is where the majority of problems stem from of course.

Not in any necessary order, here are some of the things you need to be aware of and some possible “fixes” and suggestions.

  1. One of the biggest issues of 360° / VR is the inescapable fact that it makes some people feel physically ill. Now I am no scientist or student of the mechanics of the brain, but I am willing to bet the crux of this is to do with motion. Anyone who has ever suffered from seasickness will know instantly what I mean. For this reason, make sure you don’t – EVER – walk around with a 360° camera doing handheld shots. You might get by with a gimbal, but the surest way to get steady footage is to use a tripod at all times. Which leads us neatly into …
  2. As a 360° camera picks up almost everything, if you are tripod mounted then it’s pretty certain that imagery of the tripod will end up in the footage you shoot. This is Not Good. The way around this is to use a light stand as against a full on tripod which obviously has the assorted levers and things hanging of it. But why not use a monopod you ask? Because …
  3. If you are holding a monopod, then YOU will end up in the shot and this is usually not the way you want the footage to look is it? Generally, when shooting 360° video, you need to be out of sight of the camera to get clean footage. But, you say, how can I then know what I am shooting? Well …
  4. Make sure the camera you purchase has an app for your smartphone or tablet. We use QooCam, VUZE and Ricoh cameras which all offer this functionality letting you control the camera and see what is in “frame” so to speak (although of course the “frame” is a sphere not a rectangle as there are multiple lenses getting specific areas of the whole scene and these are then “stitched” together which …
  5. … can also cause issues as sometimes, depending on the scene, the “stitch” can be seen and if there is an object in that stitch line, it can appear distorted or fuzzy. The antidote (as much as possible) is to shoot some footage while you walk around the camera and then render that footage out so you can see if and where there are any stitch line issues. As these cameras mature, along with the relevant software, thankfully this is becoming less and less of a problem, but it is wise to be aware of it along with another issue with 360° camera lenses and that is to …
  6. … make sure your lenses are spotless with no smudge marks. Yes, I know we habitually do that with normal cameras and camcorders, but as 360° camera lenses tend to protrude and bulge outwards, they are even more susceptible to a random finger mark or worse.
  7. Speaking of which, 360° footage means big file sizes so make sure you have adequate capacity SD cards installed and on hand. You’ll also want the fastest cards you can buy by the way. Less than stellar transfer rate cards may cause the camera to stop recording without warning.
  8. Despite the fact that most 360° cameras shoot in 4K (or higher), due to the nature of the beast, it is highly unlikely that you’ll have the same quality of footage as you’d expect from a 4K camcorder or dSLR / mirrorless by the way. That’s just the way it is at present, but again, the quality is getting better and better as the technology improves.
  9. Actual camera placement is also important with 360° shooting. Generally, you’ll want to have the camera shooting at eye-level so the viewer feels comfortable. Having it low down can make the viewer feel small. Unless of course you are filming the lifestyle of a frog from its viewpoint or something in which case all rules are thrown out. But you get my drift.
  10. It also makes no sense to have any object / subject closer than a metre from the camera. It will just look distorted.
  11.  Sennheiser MKE400

    And finally, there is of course audio. As the scene is coming from “all around”, special attention has to be made with audio to get a decent ambience to it. For speech, a clip on mic is suggested, We like the Sennheiser Memory Mic for this sort of stuff or at the higher end, the Sennheiser XWS-D digital wireless mic system. For ambient sound, the Sennheiser MKE400 will admirably do the job although if you have the bucks to spare, the MKH series can’t be beat. And for the REALLY serious VR proponent, the AMBEO VR Mic is the pinnacle of course.

Footnote: A great place to put your 360 footage for others to see or for you to share is Momento360. Its free for most options too. We edit ours in Vegas Pro before sending it here.

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Posted from Momento360 Using the MomentoPress WordPress Plugin

First Look: QooCam 360 / 180 degree video / still 4K camera

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

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 if you want more information.

Stay tuned for more QooCam info.




Tutorial Review: Memento360.

A website to display 360 degree image, or create embed code for inclusion in your and plus social media sharing.

[momentopress url=]

One of the issues for people who have taken up 360˚ photos and video is just how to display them for the world to see. Making it harder, is how to embed these videos into other locations apart from Facebook or YouTube – for example your own website.

In our travels, we have also had these problems, but recently came across a dedicated website for 360˚ imagery called Memento360.


vuze camera 2Using Memento360 is easy; simply create a login with a username and password – the basic version is as usual free – and then upload your video or photo taken on a 360˚ camera. We use the Ricoh Theta V and the VUZE XR and have found both to be excellent. The Ricoh has the better optics we think, which is not surprising considering the pedigree, and the VUZE is more adaptable, also allowing 180˚ panorama shots due to its architecture It also has a very good companion app and program.

2019-06-11_14-50-43Once you have taken a shot or video you can upload files and then view them in a chronological order or inside folders you can create.

Initially, an image /video will appear in its raw format, that is, no stitching has been done, but once double clicked, the website will render the image and show it in a separate window. It can then be panned around as it was intended to be seen and giving credit, even on a satellite internet connection, is quite fast.

From there, you have a number of options. The first is to simply load the previous image or the next for rendering. You can also create a standard photo from a 360˚ one, view the (rendered) image full screen, close it, add it to a collection you create or to an existing collection, delete it, rename it or the most important, share it. And of course, you can add the ubiquitous “like”.


The sharing options let you publish it to the Memento360 boards for public / private viewing or send to social media (Facebook and Twitter) accounts. You can also share the rendered image via a link or embedded code in much the same way you can say with YouTube footage.

For WordPress users, there is a free plugin called MomentoPress for Momento360 that creates a “shortcode” you can add to a page letting you embed a 360˚ photo or video into a WordPress website.

momento360 embed code
MomentoPress for Momento360 plugin code example

The inline documentation is a bit vague for the plugin, so we went to the developer’s website to get an example of the syntax to use and replaced the embed string in that with the generated one. We now keep a copy of that syntax in a Microsoft OneNote page for future reference maing future embeds quick and easy.


The plugin besides, there are many tutorials on site taking you through using Memento 360 making its implementation very easy.

It will even show you how you can even create 360˚ panoramas for use in VR headsets such as Google Cardboard or the Samsung Gear using the tools Memento360 gives you.

Paid Plan

If you shell out some money – between USD$5.99 or USD$18 per month, you can add customisation to your 360˚ imagery, removing references to Momento360 entirely. For example, you can replace the Momento360 watermark with your own, or change the hyperlink coding.


In short, we have yet to find something better that covers all the common and well used bases of both social media and your own website for displaying 360˚ footage. The free version will suffice for many, and if corporate branding is required, it won’t break the bank.

Momento360 is easy to use, does what it says on the wrapper and is foolproof.

Cover June 2019

Don’t forget, to download the latest edition of Australian Videocamera e-magazine in interactive PDF format, click here.


Video Tutorial: Vegas VR Studio

Over the last few months I have been putting together a tutorial on the latest VR software from Vegas Creative Software called VR Studio. (Vegas Creative Software also make Vegas Pro 16 and Vegas Movie Studio. The sister company is MAGIX who have Sound Forge, Photostory VR, ACID Pro, Xara Designer Pro, Samplitude and others).

I based the tutorial as I have with other tutorials I have written / produced over the years around a project. In this case, it is the wine bar “Tall Timbers” set in the local town, Manjimup, in the south west of Western Australia, and uses the software to create a marketing tool for the wine bar, its restaurant, areas of interest in the locality and of course local wines it sells with a focus on one supplier, Hidden River Estate.

The software itself is quite easy to use once you grasp the concepts and is adaptable for a variety of uses including this one. It’s up to your own imagination.

The cameras I used were a Ricoh Theta V and a VUZE XR. Audio was captured on a Sennheiser Memory Mic and the visuals put together in Vegas Pro 16 (with some help from Xara Designer Pro)., The interview camera is a Panasonic WFX1 by the way.

You can get a trial copy of VR Studio (Windows only sorry!) from here.

To get all the tutorial files I used (and the completed project and supporting) files, click here. The actual images, videos etc are in the “src” folder.

Monaro Interior with camcorders

Just Like Top Gear or The Grand Tour

As many know, I have an affinity for the popular TV show “Top Gear” – well to be honest, what I call the “original” with presenters Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May, not the current version.

Fans of the show will know the history; in the 17th season (I think it was) Clarkson apparently gave one of the crew a smack around the chops, admitted to it, was laid off and Hammond and May followed suit, stating they were a “team” and therefore couldn’t be broken up.

The trio then went on to create “The Grand Tour” after being lured (allegedly) by Amazon Prime, and this is now in Series 3, with a 4th in the pipeline.

For those that have no idea about the shows and these three, I suggest you check it out as despite its car-based themes, it is a very funny and politically incorrect show that happens to be superbly scripted and brilliantly shot.

And this is where this article really starts.

Quite a few years back, I watched an episode of the original Top Gear, and in this, Clarkson, Hammond and May found what they called the “Best Driving Road in the World” – a section of tarmac from Davos in Switzerland to Stelio in Italy. Right there and then and being a car nut myself – I vowed to one day drive that road.

2 years or so later I did. Now, I wanted to film this from the car, just as they did, and so performed some investigation of what Top Gear used to achieve the results they did, and was lead to a UK based company, that oddly and coincidentally was called Hague Camera Supports.

I stressed then, and I reiterate now, they are absolutely no relation to me despite my heritage also being of the UK.

If you look at their website, and its companion site Cameragrip, you can see the company makes a shedload of different types of mounts, dollies, cranes and so forth. Upon enquiry, I was advised that Top Gear used specific suction and headrest mounts, both of which I purchased, and used on the European trip.

From that point onwards, my interest in getting new and interesting shots from a car has been piqued. Since then I have taken footage from drives across the country from Queensland to Western Australia, Perth to Sydney and back again, through Victoria, up to Exmouth WA and many more. At times, I have also bolted a 360° camera to the roof of Jacqui’s Suzuki Grand Vitara 4WD. Doing this, we  shot what we believe is the first ever 360° degree footage of the Nullarbor.

Today, I have a selection of mounts permanently in the Monaro, along with audio recording and remote controls. The original Hague suction mount is nailed on when necessary, as is a set of Kayell suction points used to mount a Joby Gorilla Pod. Audio is captured by a Sennheiser Memory Mic.

The whole lot is controlled remotely from a Samsung Galaxy 4 Note phone, and recently, I have been playing with a Chinese knock off Android tablet (with less than stellar results it has to be said)

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360 view of inside the caruse your mouse to scroll around

Cameras I use and shown in the attached photo include a baby Panasonic camcorder. (on the headrest mount) a GoPro Hero 4 on the passenger windscreen facing inwards, a GoPro Hero 6 on the centre windscreen point forwards (there is also a standard no-name dash cam which is always running), and a Sony DSC RX0 on the driver’s side windscreen facing inwards.

When I use the Hague suction mount, there is a Panasonic HC-PV100 attached. For 360° degree shots, we have used a 360Fly (so-so shots) and a Ricoh Theta V (which is superb).

I also have a G clamp mount that can be attached to the rear spoiler and this has had a bunch of different cameras over time include GoPros Sony Action Cams and the Ricoh Theta V.

As well as the fun factor of creating and editing the subseqquent footage, there has been a practical aspect to this exercise, albeit by accident..

A few years back on the Gold Coast, the side of the Monaro was driven into while on a roundabout near Robina, and the woman driving claimed it was all my fault. I subsequently received a very large repair bill for what was in effect a minor scratch to her 4WD.

However, at the time of the prang, I had three cameras running as a test, and they caught the whole thing! This of course proved it was not my fault at all, and the whole thing was dropped. (I also used ProDAD’s Heroglyph and Mercalli software to make a reconstruction of the crash to add to my case by the way).

One thing I have learned from this exercise; if you intend to take shots from a moving vehicle, don’t skimp on the mount quality. It just isn’t worth it when you have a precious camera as its cargo. The cheapies just don’t cut it, and will cause vibration at best and break apart at speed at worst!

As such, I can vouch for those from Hague Camera Supports / Cameragrip with confidence.

And if you are interested, the image of the inside of the Monaro was taken with a VUZE 360°/180 camera / camcorder, rendered using their software and then placed into Vegas VR Studio 365 to get the full 360° degree effect you see here!

As an aside, I now have all footage taken over the years neatly catalogued in Kyno’s media management software, so at any time I can simply search for “Car footage, Alps, Panasonic, Nullarbor  360° or Exmouth” for example.

In-car footage from the Sony RX0 mounted on the driver side windscreen (click to play). Other images show various Panasonic cameras  –  on Hague / Cameragrip mounts.

EXCLUSIVE: Review VUZE XR VR 180/360 4K / 5.7K Camera

On occasion, we are lucky enough to get a scoop on a new product – in Australia at least. And we have one right now as we believe we have the first of the new Vuze XR 360° cameras anywhere in the world.

Over the past few months, we have tested a few different 360° cameras – the GoPro Fusion, Samsung Gear, Ricoh Theta V and 360Fly – and they all have their pros and cons we found.

The Vuze XR is different though, in that instead of a single top mounted lens (360Fly) or opposing fixed lenses (Ricoh Theta V, Samsung Gear and GoPro Fusion), it instead has a pair of flip-out F/2.4 210⁰ fisheye lenses that perform differently dependent on the way the camera is used.

When the lenses are clipped back (the default position), the camera is a true 360° unit; when the lens release button is pressed, the lenses pop out to the horizontal and the Vuze XR turns into a 180° VR camera. In both modes, it can shoot in various resolutions up to 5.7K (although your favourite video editor may not be able to handle this!) This resolution gives stills at 6000 x 3000 pixels!

VUZE XR VR 180/360 Dual Camera

The controls on the Vuze XR are deceptively simple. A mode button switches between the two modes of still or video, a Wi-fi button connects to a paired smartphone and there is a record button.

And that is it, meaning the Vuze XR is very quick to whip out and start shooting.

Storage is via a microSD card (not supplied take note!) and there is a USB-C port for connectivity and charging purposes. The cable is supplied as is a protective pouch.

(Take note Vuze; an external loop facility on the pouch letting you to attach it to a belt would be very handy!)

The camera “handle” has a soft, almost rubbery feel to it letting you grip it without any slippage. S standard tripod thread is in the base of the handle, and this doubles as a point to screw in a wrist strap. The Vuze XR is only available in black by the way. This is handy if you want to remain inobtrusive when shooting but a varied colour range might be attractive to some.

If you want more control over your shooting, the almost mandatory APP (iOS and Android) gives extensive control over video, photo, camera, wi-fi, application and camera settings. The only slight annoyance we have found so far is that the camera has to be “connected” via Wi-fi each time as against an automatic connection, We suspect that this is an Android issue rather than the app or the camera as we also have problems in this area with the Ricoh Theta V and some other devices such as our brilliant little Sony DSC RX0.

Using the app, you also have control over previewing video and stills, basic editing and even uploading directly to social media. On top of this, there are photo and video filters available, virtual stickers (if you REALLY must), ability to add text, colour correction and a track and follow mode letting you set the viewpoint adjustment (Vuze call this the “Director’s Cut mode), Little Planet, fly in / fly out effects and more.

In short, the Vuze XR app is one that every other manufacturer has a lot of catch up to do to emulate its functionality.

For the more technically minded, ISO ranges from 100 to 1600, bit rates up to 120Mb/sec are available with frame rates of both 30 fps and 60fps. The codecs used are MP4 and H.265. For audio, there are no less than 4 MEMS 48KHz microphones built in each recording an AAC track.

The footage shot on the Vuze XR is very stable; a 6 axis gyro system keeps track of all camera movement while shooting and compensates accordingly. Vuze claim the stability is so good, that the footage is more than suitable for playback in VR headsets, something we plan to try in the near future with our Samsung Gear headset.

There is also a desktop app supporting both basic and advanced editing and stitching for both 180° and 360° content. You can also live stream in both 180° and 360° and share directly to social media.

VUZE XR Desktop App

The Vuze XR is an amazing camera. In the short time we have had a play – and we are still coming to grips with some of the nuances when getting light perfectly balanced when shooting 360°  – it is by far and the best over any other on the market at the moment in our opinion.

If it has a drawback, it is that there is no water resistance at all, but a quick chat with Vuze tech support assured us that a waterproof housing is imminent. Hopefully it will not cost an arm and a leg as the one for the Theta does. The GoPro is of course already waterproof as is the 360Fly 4K.

If you want a cheapie 360° / 180° camera, at AUD$439 the Vuze XR is not in the bargain bin category to be sure. But it is $250 cheaper than the GoPro Fusion and a full $400 cheaper than the Ricoh Theta V. The Samsung is cheaper by around $200, but has nowhere near the functionality, capability and ergonomics of the Vuze XR.

This makes it a no-brainer in our opinion. Of course the pricing is a bonus over the quality of the content you can shoot and the versatility and functionality of the camera, app and desktop software.

At this stage at least, you’ll have to buy directly from the company – is the website for the online shop – but trust us, you won’t regret it.

VUZE Cameras: An Aussie Update

We have been chasing VUZE for some time now in order to look at one – any – of their cameras. VUZE has been all over social media for months and months, and our requests, nay pleadings, had gone unheard until recently when we had an answer back from its Veep of Marketing.

Well now there has been some further action on that front, and we have been told their brand new whizzbang, the VUZE XR launch is imminent, and from what we know and have seen, its look to be a ripper. It has also been hinted we will get one to play with sooner rather than later.

As a teaser, we have been given access to a video showing off its capabilities …

When we know more, we will let you know. In the meantime, apart from the video, this is what we DO know