So having originally ordered this from America and having waited patiently for the order to process I ended up cancelling and ordering through Lenovo UK. A couple more weeks of waiting (supply problems apparently) and it finally turned up on my doorstep this morning.
What is it?
Essentially this is a 3d camera that has a wide field of view (180 degrees) so that an immersive experience of the images taken can be experienced in your VR headset. It is billed as a 4K camera but while that sounds impressive you need to bare in mind that the resolution is shared across a wider plane than your TV and also two images (one for each eye) are also required to create the 3d immersive experience you should expect from your VR headset. Images look good but I am still hungry for higher resolution devices (8k and then later 16k will offer a better consumer experience but we are just not there yet).
- Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 626 Platform
- 2 GB RAM, 16 GB eMMC ROM, up to 128 GB microSD Card
- Dual mics with single speaker
- **Up to 2 hours battery life
- 6 DOF IMU sensor
- Starting at 139g
- Dual 13 MP cameras, 180 x 180 FOV, up to 4K video @30 FPS
Just picking up on the resolution it is worth noting that your 4k TV uses 8.3 megapixels within it’s 16:9 aspect ratio. Here we have (for still pictures) 13 megapixels per eye to play with – but don’t forget that we are wanting to cover a much larger distance than your TV so the extra megapixels go some way to giving us a pretty decent still image. For video the story is a little different and if your primary use of the camera is for VR180 video then I would urge you to check some examples and ensure that you are happy with the quality before your purchase (I will post some examples of my own once I have had a chance to “play” with the camera a little time). Now, personally, I don’t have a problem with the 30Hz (30 frames per second equivalent) video as this is similar to the frame rate you might expect at your local cinema (in fact it is slightly better). However, gamers have a much more demanding requirement and are likely to be unnecessarily critical of the frame rate – it also has to be said that VR itself is almost always better the higher the frame rate that can be achieved. With this in mind I look forward not only to higher resolutions of future models, but also increasing frame rates!
The camera is able to support live streaming directly from it’s integrated WIFI (or, if you have it, via the LTE version, though I am not sure if this is available or supported outside the USA). Of course the connection speed (or the availability of same) is the key factor here.
I was also pleased to see the tripod support screw (any VR shot is going to be improved by using a Tripod to steady the image and avoid camera shake). This goes some way to compensating for the lack of display or viewfinder on the camera – though these omissions will likely put many off notwithstanding the argument that ‘you will always capture what you are pointing at”!!
The dual microphone support lends a vital element of audio realism to captured videos when viewed in a VR headset. The camera also has a single built in speaker though i am not sure how useful this is considering the camera has no built in display.
Unboxing and first impressions
The packaging reminded me of a typical phone style package and is definitely an improvement on the bloated boxes we got with some of the other 3d cameras below.
It comes with a USB C type charger as well as a handy pouch and two batteries – a nice touch! It is a small camera, almost exactly the same size as the Panasonic LUMIX 3d camera shown below (Fuji 2d cameras also shown for comparison)
When charging the camera’s shutter release button glows orange, switching to green when fully charged.
In my next post I will let you know how I get on with the camera for stills and videos and if/how the results can be viewed in your mixed Reality headset!
NB Just spotted that Sebastian Ang has posted a VR180 review of this camera on Mixed Reality TV – well worth a look:
(Best viewed in the Steam-sourced YouTube VR App!)
Where can I get one (in the UK)
Try these links: