With the advancement of technology, cameras are being pushed to their limits. Look how far smartphones have come in picture quality, some even rival dedicated DSLR cameras. With increased dynamic range and resolution, the emergence of 360 degree cameras have come front and center.
These 360 degree cameras have been around for a long time in traditional security cameras as it makes sense to have the ability to view the entire surroundings. But as cameras became more portable, we see the device having a smaller footprint in both size and cost allowing consumers to use these devices in everyday life.
Dash cams have exploded in terms of design creativity as more people focus on road transparency and safety. There are a few 360° cameras out there on the market that are true 360 degree car cameras and then there are some that aren’t truly 360 degrees but will still get the job done.
Let’s dive into it.
What is a 360 degree camera?
True 360 degrees
True 360° cameras are devices that are typically housed in one casing and normally have two fish-eye sensors, both capturing 180°. Through the magic of software, these two recordings are stitched together to form an entire sphere where you can view any and all angles.
If you have ever been in virtual reality, this experience is similar. What’s unique to 360 degree cameras is that the footage has been recorded and is being played back. So if someone is walking around your car, a 360° camera will be able to track that person whereas other cameras are limited to ~140° or less.
Fake 360 degree
I call it fake 360° because you can still achieve a near 360° experience without stitching together the footage. In these setups, 2 cameras are placed back-to-back and if both have wide angle lenses, this can add up to 360°.
Just because I call this “fake”, doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a purpose in the dash cam world. The footage isn’t stitched together, but you can still get great coverage of your vehicle. Often, this option is a lot cheaper and true 360° cameras have an extra scrutiny to preciseness.
We will chat about the best dash cams that feature both “true” and “fake” 360 degree experiences.
Benefits of using a 360 degree camera
The great perk of having a 360 degree camera is that you get full vehicle viewing angle coverage without having additional cameras around your car. Whether it be the additional installation time or the cable management, installing a rear dash cam can be a pain.
With a 360° camera, once you install it and mount it the first time, you won’t have to worry about not being able to record an accident.
I would say 90% of dash cams out on the road right now aren’t setup to capture accidents that occur on the side of your car like side swipes or even getting “t-boned”. There are also tons of cameras that don’t record the inside of their cabin or the rear.
All of these faults are solved by 360° dash cameras. Now you’ll be able to playback footage from any direction to capture any event that you have an interest in.
And finally, a 360 degree camera is a fun piece of technology you can use. Be able to view the world from a spherical perspective is interesting. You can use the footage if you are vlogging your lifestyle or want to record a long road trip.
There are tons of creative ways you can utilize these cameras while also keeping you and your loved ones protected.
The RAZO DC3000A or better known as D’Action 360, is a 360° dash camera that was originally built for folks in Japan but has since been ported over to the United States. This records in 4K resolution and has a ton of built-in luxury features. It includes built-in WiFi and GPS so you can access all the footage via smartphone as this device lacks a screen. GPS is great to record your location as well as speed which could prove to be useful if you ever need to recall your route or location.
In terms of the image sensor, it does sport a Sony Video Sensor which highlights quality. In our testing, everything performed true to test, but the images we received weren’t as clear as we would have wanted. You could still make out the vehicles, people and cars, but the finer details like street signs or license plates were hard to read. As long as you don’t need that fine detail or night vision, which most don’t, then the RAZO DC3000A is the top choice for a 360° car camera system.
Waylens – Secure360 4G Dash Camera
The Waylens Secure 360 4G Dash Cam is a unique device that has LTE capabilities, a rare feature at this price point. Don’t forget, this also has the desired 360 degree camera.
What’s interesting about the Secure360’s form factor is that it is supposed to be mounted lower on your windshield, as opposed to traditional placements behind the rear view mirror. We found that the best spot for placement was in the center as far down as you can. This way, there is minimal road obstruction yet it’s still high enough to capture footage. It didn’t bother us, but you may want to consider another option if you feel like it would take too much space on your windshield.
One cool feature is that you can access the camera even if you are away from the car as the dash cam has 4G capability. This device comes with a SIM card, but will require a data subscription to be purchased through them. It does include a bunch of great features like live video streaming and real time alerts. This product is made for those in US, Mexico or Canada and nowhere else. Be cautious when buying outside of these regions.
Rexing V360 360 Degree
The Rexing V360 comes a great company that specializes in dash cams. This is the first 360 camera they’ve released to the market and there were high expectations. First off, this is actually a dual channel setup, not only does it have a 360 camera, it includes an additional rear camera for backup assistance. This films 1440 x 1440 at 30 frames per second and can support microSD cards up to 256GB for those long road trips.
It does includes a 3″ IPS screen which is very pleasant to navigate and includes a lot of the standard features like loop recording and G-sensor which will detect when you have been in an accident and automatically save the footage.
In terms of downsides, it doesn’t have WiFi and lacks a parking mode, but does film acceptable night vision, so besides these factors, the Rexing produces a great product. Image quality is top notch and license plates are easy to read.
Garmin Dash Cam Tandem
The Garmin Tandem is one of the most newest dash cameras Garmin has recently put out. That being said, the main draw to this camera is its form factor. It’s so tiny and discrete! That being said, this is one of the cameras I mentioned earlier about not being a true 360 degree camera, but don’t discount its field of view.
On the same device body there are two cameras, one facing forward and one facing backwards or towards the cabin. Each camera features a 180 degree field of view, and since there are two, adds up to 360 degrees.
The front camera films in 1440p while the rear in 720p which is a bit disappointing, but the rear does have night vision capabilities. It also has a varying amount of options to choose from when it comes to frames per second. Since this camera lacks a screen, it uses built-in WiFi to connect to your smart phone. One unique feature about this phone is that it responds to voice commands if you ever need to hands-free mess with the controls.
Even though this camera doesn’t stitch together the two viewing angles, it does provide great coverage both in the day and night vision in a very small package which makes this a top choice if you are looking for simplicity and discreteness.
VAVA Dual Dash Cam 1080P
Last but certainly not least is the VAVA Dual Dash Cam. This is one of my favorite dash cams in general because of its versality and its no wonder why it makes it on this list as well.
Like the Garmin, the VAVA dash cam features a front forward and rear facing camera, on the same device. It has a larger body than the Garmin which makes it more noticeable, but it packs more power and can film in dual 1080p. The rear facing camera does come with infrared lights which will help illuminate the interior of the cabin in low light situations giving the camera night vision.
It also comes with WiFi and you can download the VAVA app to review or download footage and change camera settings. You don’t have to use the WiFi as there is a screen on the device if you choose to use it. One neat feature is that it comes with a built-in battery, so you can activate parking mode overnight which will capture any suspicious activity and save the footage. Normally, you would have to hardwire the dash cam to your car’s battery, but with the internal battery, you don’t have to worry about it. VAVA makes a great product and it shows in its popularity.