Today were going to take a look at the Mi Sphere 360 Camera Kit by Xiaomi.
You get an idea of the compact size of this camera right off the bat from the size of the box that it’s packaged in. The box itself is made of white thick card board lined with protective foam on the inside. The camera is fit snuggly in the box with the carrying pouch, instruction book, mini tripod, and charging cable tucked neatly underneath. Also included (packaged separately), is a mono pod and a 32gb micro sd card. There is no question, this product is packaged to protect it from shipping damage.
Here are the basic specs for this camera.
- Dual 190 degree fish-eye lenses with a wide f/2.0 aperture
- Dual Sony sensors at 16 mega pixels each provide a combined resolution of
6912 x 3456 full-view image, equivalent to 7k
- Dual microphone’s that capture audio in stereo
- Video recording resolution at 3456 x 1728 @ 30fps & 2304 x 1152 @ 60fps
- 6-axis electronic image stabilization
- IP67 Water & Dust Resistant
- Battery: 1600mAh
- 3″ x 2.65″ x .94″
The camera could be operated using three buttons that are on board, power, wifi, and shutter. The power button has a dual purpose. It powers the camera on and off as well as toggles the camera mode between video mode a photo mode. The wifi button turns the wifi signal on as the camera’s default is set to off. The shutter button is used to trigger a photo and also to start and stop video recording.
There are four led indicator lights. There is a led to indicate that you are in photo mode, another to indicate that you are in video mode, the third is dual purpose as it indicates the battery level as well as pulsates to show when the camera is in sleep mode. You simply press the power button to wake the camera from sleep mode. Lastly, the wifi button has a led that illuminates when the wifi signal is transmitting.
Here are the pro’s and con’s for this camera.
Overall this camera produces excellent video and photo quality. In low light, it’s able to produce images that are clear enough to be considered usable. You can’t expect much from a camera that is equipped with small sensors however, this camera does a descent job in low light settings.
The audio is clear and it records in stereo. The audio playback gives you sense of depth and sound source location. The microphones are sensitive enough to pickup on audio sources that are faint and at a distance.
As a stand alone unit, this camera is very easy to operate. With two buttons you will be able to power the unit on and off, change between photo and video mode and trigger the camera to take a photo or start/stop video recording.
The on camera LED lights make it easy to identify the battery level, the wifi status, the device sleep status, and if the camera is recording video as well as which shooting mode is active.
The companion app super charges your options. It is available as a free download for both iOs and Android. The app connects to the camera via wifi. Once connected, there are a number of features that are available. You can use the app to remote trigger the camera to take a photo or initiate video recording. You also get a live preview of what the camera is capturing which helps you position the camera for optimal capture.
The app gives you the ability to copy the media that is on the camera’s SD card to your mobile device. Once the media files are copied to the app, you can then export them to your camera roll/gallery where the app stitches the media. Files exported with the Android app (version 1.7.1) will have the 360 metadata injected and ready to share on social media platforms. Files exported with the iOs app (version 1.7.0) will inject 360 metadata to photo’s but it won’t inject the metadata to video. You will need to use a third party app to inject the 360 metadata to video on iOs such as VRfix for iOs and YouTube 360 metadata injector for desktop (mac/pc).
The app allows you to share directly from the app to social media. I would not recommend using this method because it creates a link to the media that is hosted on a Xiaomi server instead of sharing it natively.
The app gives you control over the camera’s video and photo resolution, white balance, exposure, and ISO. You also get access to the wifi settings, ability to format the SD card, choose which preview mode the app uses, the auto shutoff time, the loudness of the camera’s buzzer, turn the camera’s led indicator lights on or off, and shutting off the camera. The app also gives you the ability to record video in time-lapse as well as gives you a timer for taking photo’s. The app features a battery meter that shows you the current charge level of the camera’s battery.
The square design of the camera makes it vulnerable to lens damage as it has a narrow base to balance the unit. The camera can easily fall on it’s side with little force. I would recommend to keep the included tripod attached if you are going to set it down on a table. Otherwise I would keep it in the included pouch to minimize the possibility of damage.
There is no desktop app to process the stitching and injecting of the 360 metadata. You will need to use the mobile app for this process which means you will need to transfer the media via wifi which could take several minutes to complete depending on the length of the video. You could alternatively use a SD card reader for your mobile device or tablet to transfer the media much quicker. You could then use the app’s import function to copy the media into the app for processing. You could also transfer the media to a computer, then sync it to your phone, then import to the app for processing. The advantage you would have with a desktop app is the ability to quickly copy the files off the SD card to your desktop then use your desktop power to process the media quickly. It also saves valuable space on your mobile device storage capacity.
Overall I think this camera produces good quality photo’s and video. It handles low lighting well enough to produce usable images. The lacking 360 metadata to video in the iOS app is something that the manufacture could address and most likely will address in a future app update. The lack of a desktop app could also be something that could be made available by the manufacture in the future.
This camera is something that can produce very creative and overall fun photo’s and video. It’s something that can be easily carried and the app makes it convenient to use. At the time of this review, the Xiaomi Mi Sphere Camera Kit sells for $289.99. I give this camera a definite buy.
The Xiaomi Mi Sphere Camera Kit is fun to use, it produces good quality media and it just works.