REVIEWED: Kandao QooCam
This triple-lens novelty camera does 360°, 3D and ‘shoot first, refocus later’ bokeh background blur photos, but it’s a handful
3D is back, and it’s coming to an oddly shaped camera near you. The QooCam has three lenses, two for creating virtual reality-esque 360° content that’s virtually impossible to view without a VR headset, and one for creating 3D content that, again, is tricky to actually view. Is this truncheon-shaped device worth a place in your backpack?
Kandao QooCam: design & features
Weighing 180g and measuring nearly 20cm long when in its regular 360° position, the QooCam has fish-eye lenses on either side that together create 360° photos (in a maximum of 4320×2160 resolution) with after-shooting refocus (so you can create the bokeh effect) and video (in 3840×1920@30fps/@60fps, 1920×960@120fps resolution). On one side there’s another fisheye lens that enables the capture of 3D, though only to produce a 180° image. Intrigued? Or confused? Yup, TravGear also.
Kandao QooCam: in use
The camera is slow to take a photo, to start playing video, and to stop playing video. There’s a small virtual click when you take a picture, but otherwise it’s pretty difficult to tell what’s going on. So we resorted to using the free QooCam app, with which it’s possible to control exactly what’s going on. However, that means you’re continually staring at your phone, which is visibly quickly running its battery down. That is not the best way to enjoy using a camera, let alone a destination.
However, the biggest problem is the 3D mode. Putting it into 3D mode means bending the product in half, which instantly introduces instability. Although you can use the lens cover as a basic tripod, and there’s also a selfie stick with a spider-style tripod on one end, it’s an inelegant solution.
Kandao QooCam: performance
The battery life is about three hours, and that’s actually pretty impressive for a camera like this. However, there are a few problems with the content. For video, the biggest letdown on the QooCam is its lack of resolution. While all other market leaders have moved on to 5.7K, the QooCam has only 4K. When stretched across 360°, that’s not much, and it looks a bit soft. However, stabilization is good. For photos, the results are OK (especially in DNG ‘raw’ mode), but the ability to capture a depth map in 180° then refocus later was a letdown in our test by the app, which stalled. Yes, there are a ton of things you can do with the content, from creating widescreen video from 360° video to refocusing and uploading 3D photos to Facebook (and even some desktop software if you really have a lot of time on your hands, but it all feels like a rather manual and exhausting prospect. Besides, Facebook already has a 3D photo mode built-in …
Kandao QooCam: summary
Impressive in some ways, but not in others, the biggest problem with 360° cameras like this is nevertheless what to do with the content. You can share 360° photos and video on Facebook and on YouTube, but is anyone interested? Since the popularity of VR headsets is limited, so is 360°. Sadly, that goes double for 3D 180°. It may be technically impressive and potentially it offers some creative opportunities, but unless you’re very keen videography fixated with creativity and novelty, the QooCam is not a way to enhance a trip.