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7 Best Cheap VR Cameras: Compare & Save (2018)

best vr cameras

Virtual reality as fiction has long fascinated people. Tron, Star Trek‘s Holodeck, and the Matrix are three big examples. The notion that this immersive kind of filmmaking is now available to consumers at entry-level DSLR prices and much lower is simply amazing.

There are three ways to consume 360 or VR footage. The least immersive way is to view the footage as if you would a normal film, seeing everything all at once, generally, this appears as a circular image on a black background. Another way is to rotate (or pan) around a normal video in a web browser (or using a remote). The best way is to watch the video with 3D or VR headsets. This lets you feel like you’re in a different place and time. In any case, all of these ways offer a true look at moments in time in a way that would be impossible for consumers to match even a decade ago.

Now, they are available at low prices that many can afford. Note that for all of these cameras besides the Ricoh cameras and the 360Fly, you will have to purchase external memory cards, but these do not increase the price significantly.

Here are the best VR cameras and 360 cameras at affordable prices that give you the most bang for your buck.

What Are the Best VR Cameras in 2018?

Ricoh Theta SC 360, vr camera, 360 camera, 360 video camera Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Reasonably Priced
  • 8GB built-in Memory
  • Ricoh Apps Make Sharing Easy
Price: $292.49 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Samsung Gear 360, vr camera, 360 camera, 360 video camera Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Lightweight
  • Splash and Water Resistant
  • Easy Sharing
Price: $184.50 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
LG G5 Friends, vr camera, 360 camera, 360 video camera Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Easy to Carry in Pocket
  • LG Apps Are Better Than Ricoh Theta's
  • Expandable Memory
Price: $49.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Outerdo Sport Camera, vr camera, 360 camera, 360 video camera Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Water-Resistant Casing
  • LCD Screen
  • Motion and Sound Detection Feature
Price: $199.00 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Ricoh Theta S, vr camera, 360 camera, 360 video camera Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Easy to Use with PC
  • 25-Minute Videos
  • Best VIdeo Quality in the Price Range
Price: $430.00 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Insta360 Nano, vr camera, 360 camera, 360 video camera Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Expanded with SD Slot
  • Real Time and Live Sharing w/ Facebook
  • Great Build Quality
Price: $59.00 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
360fly 4K Video Camera, vr camera, 360 camera, 360 video camera Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Shoots 4K Video
  • 64GB Internal Memory
  • Desktop Software Is Great
Price: $239.00 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Our Unbiased Reviews
  1. 1. Ricoh Theta SC 360

    • Reasonably-priced, easiest to use 360 camera
    • You don’t need to buy a memory card, the Theta SC comes with 8GB of built-in memory
    • Sharing photos and videos is easy with use of Ricoh apps
    • Max video length is five minutes meaning it’s only for short videos
    • Some users complain that 360 videos are hard to take because one’s arm is always in the shot
    • Image quality isn’t particularly high compared to say, D-SLRs of a similar price

    The successor to the Ricoh Theta S, the SC is a more affordable edition with virtually all of the same features. The price is lower (from $299.99 to $259.66) but there is only one real limitation which is that the max video length on the SC is five minutes. On the Ricoh Theta S, the videos can be 25 minutes long.

    The Ricoh is considered the gold standard for affordable 360 cameras. They boast robust apps for outputting your videos to social networks, have exposure controls, time-lapse functionality, and a bright F2.0 lens. The Ricoh Theta SC also has a new and improved user interface, making the whole kit and caboodle easier to operate. The one major limit for both cameras is that they have only internal memory, up to 8GB. There’s no using other cards or anything like that; eight is all one gets!

    Note that Ricoh apps are not the best; this is a better camera for people with a PC or Mac editing solution.

    VideoVideo related to ricoh theta sc 3602018-09-28T12:03:27-04:00
  2. 2. Samsung Gear 360

    • Easy, light, and has decent video and good image quality
    • Splash and water-resistant meaning you don’t have to worry putting this near a pool
    • Sharing is easy with built-in support for Galaxy smartphones and PCs
    • Some users had issues with the camera communicating with their Android device
    • A few users found battery life to be poor
    • As the camera overheats, the lens is pushed out of focus; this affected the footage quality of some users
    • No software is included for Mac or iOS users
    • Some users complain that camera is built to “trap” one into Samsung ecosystem

    Samsung’s answer to 360 video is not only cheap, it’s pretty dang good. Praised by pro photogs for its ease of use and good photo quality, if you’re looking to capture photos “in the round,” this little camera offers convenience, ease and even water-resistance. It uses Micro SD cards so you won’t be bound to internal memory limitations like with the Ricoh Theta SC.

    While it doesn’t provide the clarity that a dedicated DSLR and rotator set-up can, it sure is a lot easier and more portable. Note that the apps for this camera are best on Samsung Galaxy devices NOT Android in general, and not iOS. This camera is ideal if you have a Samsung Galaxy or a Windows PC.

    VideoVideo related to samsung gear 3602018-09-28T12:07:58-04:00
  3. 3. LG G5 Friends 360 CAM

    • Shoots better video than the Ricoh Theta SC
    • Easy to carry in a pocket, unlike the Ricoh Theta SC
    • LG Apps have more options than Ricoh Theta apps
    • Expandable memory using microSD cards
    • This camera works better with Androids of all kinds
    • Works with Mac OSX
    • Poor lowlight quality
    • Shoots inferior pictures to the Ricoh Theta SC
    • Some of the controls are clunky

    The LG G5 Friends Cam might be the perfect camera for you if your priority is video and you are not often near a computer. While it takes inferior pictures compared to the Ricoh Theta SC and inferior video to the Gear 360, the fact is that it doesn’t matter how good your footage quality is when it’s difficult to share. Many have praised its ease of sharing and the quality of its apps. The Ricoh Theta SC takes better stills and it is a preferable choice if you’re often near a computer. Likewise, the Gear 360 takes better footage, but is really only a viable, reliable option if you have a Samsung Galaxy.

    The LG G5 has some drawbacks including visible image stitching, poor lowlight quality, and somewhat clunky controls (it can be difficult to see when you’re recording video, for instance), but in the end, at a cheaper price point and with increased share-ability, this VR camera offers one a lot of bang for their buck.

    VideoVideo related to lg g5 friends 360 cam2018-09-28T12:16:29-04:00
  4. 4. Outerdo Sport Camera

    • Water-resistant casing
    • Loop-recording means you can use it as a dashcam or to wait to capture the perfect moment
    • LCD screen lets you see what you’re recording
    • Motion and sound detection feature means you can catch intruders and like villains
    • No support or instructions
    • Does not shoot below the lens, some feels this hampers immersion
    • Image and video quality is only passable

    For those with a low budget, the Outerdo Sport Camera offers a GoPro-like durability with 360 features, but not amazing image quality. It can react to motion or sound to record, and it is waterproof. This isn’t the best camera to show off the beauty and immersion of 360, but it’s a great camera if you don’t need high quality footage, but want some of the perks of an action camera.

    Users praise the app as being decently easy to crop, share, and manipulate videos, but some users found it hard to get video out of the device and into Facebook or YouTube. Overall, this is a budget camera that is versatile. It may be the right choice if you need waterproofing and motion detection and don’t need sharp picture, but still want that 360 look.

    VideoVideo related to outerdo sport camera2018-09-28T12:22:14-04:00
  5. 5. Ricoh Theta S

    • Easy to use with access to a PC
    • Video length is up to 25 minutes
    • Some of the best video quality for this price range
    • No memory card required. The camera includes 8GB of internal memory
    • No external memory means you’re limited to the 8GB of on-board storage
    • Apps don’t make sharing that easy, footage is most easily handled on PC or Mac
    • Difficult to carry in one’s pocket due to exposed lens

    The Ricoh Theta S is one of the first 360 VR cameras and there’s really only one reason to buy it: you need long continuous videos. With a recording limit of up to 25 minutes, this VR camera is perfect for recording long, seamless videos.

    Beyond that, there’s no reason to purchase this camera over its successor, the Ricoh Theta SC. The cameras are almost identical otherwise. The Ricohs are easy-to-use, though pair best with computers, Windows or Mac. They are not necessarily ideal for mobile sharing.

    VideoVideo related to ricoh theta s2018-09-28T12:24:53-04:00
  6. 6. Insta360 Nano

    • Uses iPhone’s memory, but can also be expanded with SD card slot
    • Real time and live sharing with Facebook and WeChat
    • Great build quality, product is made of aluminum
    • Decent resolution
    • No technical or manual controls for exposure or shutter speed
    • Images aren’t all that sharp
    • Can overheat iPhone
    • Video quality is better on other devices

    The Insta360 Nano offers its users a slew of great features with some minor trade-offs. Still, at $200 it’s a great deal. For one, it’s only for iOS devices. Sorry, Android users. It’s praised for its simple and clean integration to Facebook and Youtube. This seems like the most convenient way to take 360 pics and instantly get them up on Facebook since the camera is part of your phone.

    Users also praise the camera’s great build quality (made of aluminum). Some issues that will be minor for most users include noticeable stitching, no manual controls, optimal fit on 6S+ and 6+ models, and the fact that the app runs upside down (makes sense when the camera is in, but not otherwise). For those looking for maximally easy and convenient and have an iOS device, the Insta360 is probably the way to go.

    VideoVideo related to insta360 nano2018-09-28T12:31:51-04:00
  7. 7. 360fly 360° 4K Video Camera

    • Shoots 4K video and large seamless still images
    • 64GB of internal memory means you don’t need to purchase extra storage
    • Wide variety of setting available in app
    • Desktop software works with Windows and Mac OSX
    • Poor battery life
    • Memory storage cannot be expanded
    • Poor image and video quality in low light
    • Apps can be buggy and all files require cumbersome conversion

    The 360Fly VR video camera offers some unique advantages. One big one: clear 360 photographs with no visible stitching. If this is your MO, then this is the camera for you. While the price is high, one thing that mitigates this is that the camera has huge internal memory (64GB) meaning you won’t need to purchase any additional storage. Another big perk: this camera is waterproof and shockproof, so you won’t need to worry about durability.

    For stills, this camera seems hard to beat, but for video, it has some real limitations. Users complain that converting the footage is time-consuming, and that recording randomly stops. Processing videos using the 360Fly apps is slow and cumbersome. Many report bugs in the software, but it is compatible with Windows and Mac OSX.

    VideoVideo related to 360fly 360° 4k video camera2018-09-28T12:33:53-04:00
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