Today we have full review and test Nikon KeyMission 360. It is flagship 360-degree panorama camera.
Fashionable now panoramic video is different for its originality and unusual way of viewing. But to receive such video is a task in itself not trivial, for its realization the special camera is required.
So far, panoramic cameras have been divided into two classes, the only difference between these categories is the number of ultra-wide-angle lenses employed in the survey. In amateur devices it is a question of one or two lenses. In the first case, the resulting survey covers only one of the hemispheres, the second design allows to obtain a virtually 360-degree view in almost all directions. Of course, technically, the realization of a two-camera shooting is much more complicated than a single-camera one, because you have to connect video processing on the fly, when a signal from two sensors is recorded in one video file with simultaneous software merging of the frame boundaries. And this merging should be done carefully enough so that the viewer does not see repetitive sites or, worse, the sharp edges of the combined frames.
Nikon KeyMission 360, reviewing in this article uses the second method of image acquisition, with the help of two cameras with ultra-wide viewing angle, directed in different directions.
The camera Nikon KeyMission 360 is made of plastic, not afraid of scratches and abrasions. This is not accidental, because the design of the device provides dust and moisture protection and impact resistance. These are rather unusual characteristics for a camera of a specific purpose and rare functionality.
The device has arrived for testing in a reduced form, however, it is not difficult to find the complete packageon the official product page. It includes the following accessories:
Symmetrical body contains only two buttons for controlling the camera: the recording start button and the photo creation button. To turn on the camera, just briefly press one of them – within a second the camera turns on and starts the video recording or takes a photo. Automatically turn off the camera in order to save battery power through a pre-set time interval.
The service interfaces of the camera are under the folding two-latch lid. Here is a compartment for a replaceable battery, connectors Micro-USB and Micro-HDMI, as well as a slot for a memory card format microSD / SDHC / SDXC.
In the lower part of the case there is a standard threaded hole for fixing to the tripod platform. This is a big plus, as it eliminates the need to purchase branded adapters. Next to the threaded hole is another recess designed for additional fixation of the camera on the tripod and warning rotation of the attached camera.
Protective attachments are mounted on the lenses in the same way as the lens hoods are put on the photo-optics. Unfortunately, in view of the incomplete completeness, we had to confine ourselves to working with only nozzles for normal shooting, not underwater.
Replaceable battery capacity of 1050 mAh allows you to keep a continuous video recording for 50 minutes with Wi-Fi turned off in 4K mode. During prolonged video recording, the temperature of some elements of the structure reaches 35 ° C. The “hot” part, most likely, gives out the location of the processor, which processes the flow from two cameras.
Overheating of the camera, which would lead to an emergency shutdown of the device, was not observed during the testing.
In articles with reviews of video or cameras, no attempt is made to shoot an artistic, species or action film, as some readers would like. The goal of every purely technical article is to tell about the operational properties of the device, to show as much as possible how the camera settings or shooting conditions can affect the nature and quality of the video received, as well as see the original videos shot in fixed conditions, for later comparison with shooting by others Apparatus.
The camera can record video with a different frame size and frequency. But the common property of each mode is one: the whole picture consists of two halves. Initially, at the shooting stage, these halves are spherical, but after the camera processor processes two images along the Mercator projection and connects them, the frame becomes a single panoramic whole:
In those modes in which simultaneous video recording of a sound is provided, the audio stream is encoded with a two-channel AAC with a bitrate of up to 192 Kbps.
The study of bitrate distribution in the video stream shows the presence of only two types of frames, typical for interframe compression: I (key) and P (difference). There are no B-frames (bidirectional) in the stream.
Presenting the quality of video recording in different modes is possible with the help of the following still pictures and original videoclips, the beginning and the end of which are slightly cropped in programs that do not recode the material, and subsequently a tag has been introduced into these videos indicating a panoramic format.
This quality can not be called high. Apparently, the reason for the blurriness and indistinctness of the image lies in the strongest optical distortions of the lenses. These distortions are subsequently also programmatically eliminated when the initially spherical frame is stretched to a rectangular shape. And every transformation and final coding is an inevitable loss of quality.
However, when creating panoramic photo snapshots, the camera manages to keep high-definition objects.
Most likely, during the video recording not all of the sensor area is used (recall, each matrix contains 21.14 Mp), but only a part of it. This technology of information retrieval is called address scanning, or skipping lines. In order to disguise the effects of address scanning (moir and aliasing), a filter is applied to the video that blurs the sharp boundaries. Hence the overall blurriness of the image. To prove here nothing is required – it is enough “to forehead” to compare a freeze-frame from a video with a photograph taken at one time and in one place.
By the way, the photographs differ from the video more and slightly more harmonized level of brightness of the image, which is reduced from two images from different cameras. If one camera is turned to the sun, and the second remains in the shade, then the brightness difference in the video is much more clearly seen.
Now consider the most important question: how, with what tools can I edit such a panoramic video and photo?Here, in the absence of strict rules, it is impossible to give an unambiguous answer. Each panoramic camera can have its own features – for example, some panoramic cameras save a picture in the form of two hemispheres on a black background. The final processing is performed at the stage of playback by special players.
Nikon KeyMission 360 under consideration creates a video with a rectangular, already merged picture, ready for viewing. It is possible, for example, on the YouTube service. You can edit this video in any video editor, but it is advisable to use tools that do not re-encode all the material. Moreover: before uploading a panorama video on YouTube, you will need to embed a special tag (service mark) in the download file, which indicates the panoramic format of the video stream. To do this, there is a special script and a small program, detailed instructions for implementing the tag is easy to find in Google .
Here and further for a full-scale demonstration of shooting Nikon KeyMission 360 are video clips prepared in the above ways and uploaded to the YouTube service. In order to change the viewing direction during viewing, the user can move the frame by mouse or using the navigation element, which is in the upper left corner of the frame. If you’re viewing on mobile devices (smartphones, tablets) in the YouTube app, you can change the look direction simply by tilting / tilting your smartphone (not all models support this feature).
In view of the apparently low resolving power, there is hardly a strong need for its precise definition.Nevertheless, we shot a part of the test table, printed on several sheets, sending one of the lenses to the center of the target and slowly pushing away the tripod with the camera from it. Then the resulting picture was compared in the video editor with the original table’s drawing so that the height of the key objects in the table and our survey coincided. The result was quite suitable for a visual assessment of the resolution of Nikon KeyMission 360: it was quite expected 600-700 TV lines in the center of the frame. Of course, absolutely accurate values can not be obtained in our case due to the camera’s wide viewing angle, because the resulting image is literally stretched to the hemisphere, and at the processing stage of the camera’s processor it is “pulled back” and transformed into a flat frame.
The next parameter of Nikon KeyMission 360 camera, which should be stopped – is a rolling-shutter (for more details, see Rolling-shatter in the video – description of the defect, examples, explanations ). The camera in question has a sensor with a large number of pixels, even two such sensors. Multimegapixel arrays are usually distinguished by a high level of the rolling-tutta due to the very principle of line-by-line information removal. However, the Nikon KeyMission 360 is a panoramic camera with an ultra-wide viewing angle of two lenses, which automatically makes the rolling-shutter almost invisible in a panoramic, from horizon to horizon, survey. Even in the shooting, obtained in a fairly strong shaking.
What can we say about panoramic shooting, performed with a relatively smooth motion. It turns out that even a stabilizer is not required for 360-degree cameras.
The low quality of the video is also due to the careless coding on YouTube servers, which makes it difficult to see the details of the image. However, amateur panoramic video hardly needs the highest resolution. A much greater role will be played by the unusual angles, situations of application, which will require the owner of Nikon KeyMission 360 camera imagination, appropriate conditions and free time. Well, the desire to become famous, perhaps.
To see the difference between the quality of the original video and the stream generated by YouTube after downloading the original video, we’ll conduct a simple experiment. As before, we compare two sections of the frame, but this time the first section will be taken from the original shooting, and the second – from the same result from YouTube.
With the naked eye you can see that in the second case, in the video from YouTube, some of the details were lost, smeared into porridge, and the picture became less contrast, even faded. All is explained very simply: bitrate. This is understandable even in the amount of files: more than 260 MB in the original versus 65 MB in YouTube-copies.
For underwater shooting in Nikon KeyMission 360 camera there is a setting, which is called – “Under water” . In fact, this function simply enhances the contrast and richness of the picture, because with the color depth are lost.
Perhaps, the most valuable modes of recording should be considered interval and time-lapse. The camera rests on the ground, but there is so much traffic around … True, because of the fear that the tested apparatus will be attached by curious spectators, we conducted the survey mainly in uninhabited places.
Shooting with even longer intervals is called a time-lapse. There is a mode of “Night Sky”, in which the images created every 30 seconds are made with a five-second exposure. The result, to admit, fascinates.
If in the mode of the time-lapse photography the sensitivity of Nikon KeyMission 360 camera (more precisely, the exposure time) is enough to see even individual stars, then in the normal video shooting mode, in case of a lack of illumination, the camera is almost blind.
Nikon KeyMission 360 in question produces photographs with two frame sizes: 7744 × 3872 and 3872 × 1936 pixels.They are also panoramic.
The HDMI port in the camera only serves to play previously recorded media files on the TV or other display and capture device. The maximum resolution that is available when the camera is connected to the TV is 1920 × 1080 at a frequency of 60 frames per second.
But how to control playback or select video files, how to move the viewpoint while viewing panoramic photos and videos? After all, the two buttons do not react to pressing while the camera is connected to the TV via HDMI. This is a rare case when a trivial reading of the user’s manual helps. It turns out that when the camera is connected to a TV via HDMI, the control is performed using the TV remote controls via the serial HDMI-CEC bus. If the TV supports this communication technology, then using the buttons on the TV remote, you can select images, view and stop the viewing of video clips and even move the viewpoint. Of course, you should direct the console to the TV. Next, the TV itself interprets and transfers the desired command to the camera via an HDMI connection.
When connecting Nikon KeyMission 360 camera to a PC via USB, it becomes an external storage device, at the same time, the battery is recharged.
Other functions of using the USB bus are not provided, except for one important: via USB connection, Nikon KeyMission 360 camera can be controlled using the KeyMission Utility application. This simple program allows you to change the recording settings, which we used regularly during testing due to the difficulties that arose when trying to connect a mobile device.
In addition to changing the settings, the program allows you to view and perform a simple trimming and even the installation of video clips on Nikon KeyMission 360 camera’s memory card. Saving the final file – the result of editing – is for some reason produced through a complete transcoding of the entire material. It’s unclear what prevented the mechanism of direct-stream copying with cut-off on key frames, in the case when the installation was a simple pruning.
From the same program you can export – with the recoding, of course – the videos for their subsequent upload to the YouTube video service with the tag embedded in the body of the file, responsible for recognizing the video as a panorama.
Fortunately, Nikon KeyMission 360 camera can record when an external USB power source is connected. Positive news. Because, for example, time-lapse photography in “Night Sky” mode requires at least six hours of continuous operation, but the camera battery is not able to provide such a recording time.
During a lengthy video recording, the camera splits the created video into 4 GB fragment files. A pause, missing or missing video and sound on the junctions between the files is not observed. This means that the camera has a buffer, the capacity of which is sufficient to allow the device to finalize the next file and start recording the next one.
Wireless connection of mobile devices with the camera is carried out using SnapBridge 360/170 application. This program differs from the standard software for Nikon cameras, since it is written specifically for action cameras of Nikon KeyMission 360 and 170 models, respectively.
The process of connecting Nikon KeyMission 360 camera to the smartphone consists in the preliminary connection of two devices via Bluetooth via NFC or manually, and in order to remotely control video / photo, during operation both devices will automatically switch to communication via high-speed Wi-Fi adapters. We did not immediately succeed in achieving a sustainable connection. Apparently, some role played in this feature used smartphones of different models.
Video transmission to the smartphone is interrupted during video recording, regardless of the selected mode.
After such a detailed review with Nikon KeyMission 360 camera, its positive and negative qualities become obvious. Obvious advantages of Nikon KeyMission 360 camera, in contrast to the minuses, do not need to be corrected. And to find them, as well as to enumerate, is usually much easier. Among the positive qualities of the considered apparatus, it will be appropriate to note the following aspects:
Can not do in the camera industry and without negative aspects. In our case, they include insufficiently high resolving power and short battery life. The first factor, unfortunately, is difficult to overcome or even impossible to overcome. At least, if you do not get out of this price – amateur – category. For a uniform fixation of all the details on the area of the entire spherical panorama, a much higher resolution is required than the existing 4K – a minimum of 8K, or even higher. But in this case it will be a completely different apparatus of a completely different price range and with a different target audience.
In conclusion, we suggest to watch our video review of the panoramic action camera Nikon KeyMission 360.