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Nikon 360 - A not so ready camera that can open your creative mindset

A story about trying our 360 camera, on the verge of a new era.

Photography is our playground, we play with it everyday, with our phones, DSLR, mirrorless, etc. We love to know more about it, we love to hate it. For many readers, we start by taking our first pictures, we create grotesque edits - unsure about our composition - and play too often with depth of field. Then we get more serious, we get equipped with fancy cameras and expensive lens, in the search of the optimal picture, the optimal content. For many this becomes a competition to create the best content in an environment where there is no winner. We are part of a constant flow, throwing our creativity in a ocean of visual content. With time and experience. Our creativity fails, and we end up posting one of those many crispy, dreamy shot. It’s all about rules of third, it’s all about fibonacci, it’s all about the crispy pixels in your shot. Have we lost our creativity, by trading authenticity with plagiarism ? Do we need a new toy to reset our expectation?

1. Denial and Isolation

A new player in town arrive, a kind of UFO, a weather proof shock proof 360 camera. I am sorry - I have recently let my wallet stimulate my gear acquisition syndrome by getting a Nikon Key Mission 360. I wanted a Gopro, but oh well, this could do as well.

I spend the first few days trying to compose with the camera : Try rule of third with him : it does not work. Our friend fibonacci ? same result. Bokeh ? Forget about it! What about putting some sexy angle, playing with foreground and background ? Good luck with that !

I have to say, using a 360 camera for the first few days was incredibly frustrating : How do compose ? How do you get a decent shot ? How to get full frame dynamic range ?

Check out the first result :

Pretty ugly, right ?

2. Anger & Bargaining

My interested moved to the Nikon app. Let’s try to transfer those pictures to make them better. Despite the fact that I am tech savvy, it was the first time in years that I add to read a guide to understand how to pair and operate a camera! The camera was buggy, and the buttons were not reactive. The app was only available on android and was crashing every minute or so. And when it worked, the transfer was only available in bluetooth… which is **really** slow, especially when you want to transfer 30mp photos.

And the remote control was on the same pedigree : The application had no manual control, , menu organised in layers, no auto hdr, etc.

know Nikon is a manufacturing company, but at least they could have released a fine tuned software.

3. Acceptance

That was it, I was fed up and tried to contact Nikon, furious that they released software that didn’t work (apparently I actually bought the camera before the official availability in store). Quickly, Nikon Australia contacted me for follow up, to make sure they assist me and receive my feedbacks. I was actually really happy with their responsiveness!

I left the camera alone for few days, to concentrate on some other deadlines.

Then, on my next try. the marvel uncovered. Nikon had updated their software. It was now fast and reliable, you could even transfer your picture in WiFi. The camera would go into sleeping mode but would still sync and take pictures in a matter of one click. Using the device became quick and effective.

I started to take the camera with me everywhere, to experiment :

I was a novice again. You know this feeling when you get your first DSLR/mirrorless ? I could explore, try- and create creative content. No need to think so much about composition, this tool is re-compositing tool on its own ! The more I used it, the more I loved it ! Here is few of the shot made with it :

The man in front of the cave. The camera was actually outside a tiny 2m wide (40cm high) meter cave, capturing a man enjoying the sunrise.

A man in front of the cave. 360 camera was actually outside a tiny 1.4mx40cm meter cave, capturing a man enjoying the sunrise.

While it is hard to get decent editing software to render 360 content in 2D space, this kind of photography/cinematography may become a genre on it’s own! You could just shoot a timelapse, then recompose at your will, change perspective, make the scene a new one. Or even create camera movements that are basically impossible.

4k in video and 30MP photos gives enough flexibility. See below an example of a single shot being recomposed - creating three different scenes :

Another good surprise : The video is actually much sharper than the different shot uploaded by Nikon( please be careful with compression before uploading online).

I have been a big fan of Sony for their innovation over the past few year, but I have to say - Nikon has created a unique toy that you can bring everywhere.

My conclusion :

  1. Should you get a 360 camera ? Yes, especially if you are in your comfort zone and/or getting bored by photography. You can simply get some unique shot really quickly. I could easily see it being used for wedding, landscape, travel blog, etc.

  2. What about the Nikon 360 ? The camera is unique on its own : It is smaller than most 360 devices, and it is the only model shock proof/water proof. It is also incredibly really easy to use, fast and responsive.

In my opinion, this camera as the potential to become a bestseller, but Nikon really needs to improve their software. In my humble opinion, the following features need to be added : 1. Manual settings for still and timelapse. 2. Auto HDR (especially useful for sunrise/sunset), 3. RAW photos and less importantly 4. The option to record one or two .mp4 file - for each sensor on UHS3 sd cards.

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