360-degree cameras have become a pretty popular product in the past year. Of course, we owe this explosion of cameras to the fact that virtual reality has really picked up steam in the past two years. Virtual Reality isn't just about playing games, but it's also about watching video in 360-degrees. Being able to see the entire world, like you are actually there, and not sitting at home on the couch watching a video. 360-degree cameras are like your typical Mirrorless and DSLR's, where they can be pretty cheap, but also be fairly expensive. Elephone is here with a pretty cheap 360-degree camera in the EleCam 360. We've spend a few weeks with the camera, using it with different smartphones and taking all sorts of different pictures and video from the camera. So let's talk about the good, the bad and the ugly of Elephone's EleCam 360!
The EleCam 360 is moderately specced here with a 1500mAh battery, WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, and it shoots video in H.264. The resolution for video here is 1080p at 30 frames-per-second. Photo resolution is set to 3008x1504. The EleCam 360 weighs in at 104 grams and measures 60 x 49.4 x 32.7mm. There is no internal storage available here, but it does support up to 32GB micro SD card. Finally, the lens is a 220° x 360° x 2 with an f/2.0 aperture.
In the box, the EleCam 360 comes with quite a few accessories. Given the price of the EleCam 360, it's definitely nice to see all of these accessories bundled in. There is a bike mount, a helmet mount, a 3M sticker, 1/4-inch adapter and a USB Cable. This shows that Elephone really wants you to use this camera for doing action video and photos. It's definitely a pretty sturdy camera, which has taken a few bumps during our time with it, and hasn't shown a mark.
Setup & Use
Setting up the EleCam 360 was a bit difficult, to be honest. It wasn't as simple as downloading it's companion app and pairing the camera with the phone. It took a bit more work than that. The app (which is likely loosely translated from Mandarin to English) wasn't too helpful in terms of walking us through the set up process. But after a few tries, we were able to get it linked up with our LG G5 (we also used it with the Moto G4 Plus, unfortunately the app is not compatible with Android 7.0 Nougat, so we weren't able to use it on the Nexus 6P). Every time you turn on the EleCam 360, you do need to open the app and then manually reconnect to its WiFi network in order to use your phone as the viewfinder. A bit of a nuisance, to be honest. Especially since the WiFi network doesn't always appear right away, in the list of WiFi networks nearby.
Once you have the camera all set up, using the app to take pictures and video is pretty simple. Although there is a bit of lag here and there. It's to be expected, since you are pressing the shutter key on your smartphone, rather than the actual camera. So it takes a bit of time for that to go through, since the command is going over WiFi. With the camera being connected, you are able to see what photos you've taken with the camera, and transfer them over to your phone of course. There are a few different modes available here, which are easily accessible through the camera app. There is even a mode to use the EleCam360 app through something like Gear VR or Cardboard. So you are actually looking at the video or picture in 3D as you are taking it. It's a nice touch, but it's tough to say how often it will actually be used, to be honest.
In the viewfinder, by default it shows a "tiny planet". But you can zoom in and scroll around and see what's in the picture. As far as settings go, there's not much here, at all. There is the option to change the white balance and that's really about it. You can choose to format your micro SD card as well as change the camera's WiFi password, but that's about it. So there's really only one setting for the actual camera.
The app is pretty easy to use, the only real issue we have with it is the fact that you have to manually reconnect to WiFi each time you use the camera. And it's not always a quick task to get done. The other is the lag between pressing the shutter key and it actually taking the picture. But as we explained already, there's not much that can be done to fix that lag. The camera is pretty easy to use though, which makes it a great camera for anyone looking to pick up a 360-degree camera for the first time.
The built-in battery is said to last around an hour, of continuous use of course. We didn't time it to see exactly how long the battery did last, but it seemed to be about that long. The EleCam 360 does also have an LCD display on the top of the camera. This shows you all sorts of information, including whether the camera is on, toggling the WiFi and also showing you how much space is left on the micro SD card - in terms of photos or videos, depending on the mode you are in. It's not that useful, but it can come in handy, especially when you're troubleshooting the WiFi connection, which will happen quite often.
Both the cameras on the EleCam 360 are 4-megapixel shooters. Which means you aren't going to get the best quality images or video from this camera. And that's okay. Because the EleCam 360 is priced at under $120. If Elephone was asking a bit more for this, then it would be an issue, of course. The pictures from the EleCam 360 aren't actually too bad. Although there are some areas in some of the pictures where the stitching appears to be a bit off. But other than that it's quite good. It's nothing that would rival those expensive VR cameras that movie studios are using these days. But for someone looking to get some 360-degree video of their kids, or attach this to a drone for some nice aerial shots, it'll definitely do the trick.
In the gallery below, you'll see a good number of pictures taken with the EleCam 360, as well as video. None of these have been edited whatsoever. These are all straight from the camera, allowing you to see just how good or bad, the quality really is.
Could the EleCam 360 be better? It can always be better. But what makes the EleCam 360 stand out is the price point. At the time of writing this, the EleCam 360 is the cheapest option available, in terms of 360-degree cameras. The next cheapest are the LG 360 Cam at around $199 and the Ricoh Theta S at around $350 (the Samsung Gear 360 hasn't yet been officially released). Another thing that Elephone has over its competitors with the EleCam 360 is the accessories that are bundled with the camera. While most cameras come with just the camera, and a charging cable. The EleCam 360 comes with a slew of accessories, which we outlined earlier on in this review. That definitely makes the EleCam 360 a lot more attractive over other options that are currently available.
Right now, the EleCam 360 offers the best value, in terms of virtual reality cameras. And it might be this way for a little while. The EleCam 360 is a camera we'd definitely recommend, especially for those that are just looking to jump into 360-degree video, and not do anything professionally, yet.