In typical photography or video, creators have a lot of control over what their camera picks up. A key aspect that can help or hurt a final image is exposure.
With the field of virtual reality and 360 video expanding rapidly, it is important for budding videographers and photographers in this area to take care to properly expose the images they will capture.
For this tutorial, I will mostly talk about controlling exposure with the RICOH Theta V. This model is RICOH’s newest 360 camera and allows users to capture high-resolution photos and videos in 4K/30 fps. The Theta V retails for $399.95 and has some accessories, such as a spatial audio microphone, that can be bought separately. I believe that this camera is easy enough for beginners to use, but has enough quality for advanced videographers to use as well.
A videographer could manually control when the Theta V records, but he or she should download the mobile app the works with the camera. The app, called “Ricoh Theta S,” can be found for free on the App Store and the Google Play Store. From the app, users can not only turn the camera on and off, but they can preview what the camera sees and adjust ISO, shutter speeds and white balance as needed. Theta V users should note that in order to adjust these setting, the camera must be connected to the phone over Wi-Fi.
To adjust the exposure, a camera operator needs to open the preview viewer within the app. From there, users can press “EV” in the lower left-hand corner and use the slider to allow more or less light into the camera. The shutter speed, ISO and white balance can also be fine-tuned from this screen.
According to 360Rumors, “the correct exposure is the one that shows a real world object at the same ‘brightness” as in real life.” The previous hyperlinked article, which also gives a pretty general overview about exposure itself, said that with most 360 cameras on the market, users have limited exposure control but these types of cameras also are less susceptible to getting the wrong exposure because it can evaluate the whole scene around the camera.
As someone who has just learned how to create 360 videos, I did not personally take exposure into account as I should have until was presented a challenge in my recent video that I made with classmate Paidin Dermody.
Last month, we decided to film the University of Kentucky’s MacAdam Student Observatory as a 360 video project. The facility is only open on clear nights, which does not allow for much light for starters. Also, some white fluorescent lights were also available within the observatory, but most of the research and study done within the observatory is completed under red lights, which allow person to preserve their night vision.
We wanted to be able to authentically capture this uncommon lighting, as we are both journalists and wanted to show what a typical experience is like in the observatory. Thus, we had to learn about controlling the settings on our camera while in the field.
Check out our final project below. It can also be viewed on kykernel.com.
Some people say Nikon makes better camera bodies while Canon makes better lenses, and many others swear by one brand over the other. Who cares? As far as DSLRs are concerned, they both make high-quality, professional equipment.
But when it comes to virtual reality, Nikon is closer to the cutting edge. Could that be because Canon has yet to release a 360-degree camera? In this review, we’ll take a look at Nikon’s new 4K-shooting Keymission 360 and weigh its strengths and weaknesses; given the company’s spirited rivalry with its chief competitor, this analysis might give us a hint of what Canon would do.
The Keymission 360 has a solid, rugged design, and its external lens elements are replaceable in case one or both are damaged. It’s waterproof up to about 100 feet (30 meters), and it’s also shockproof and “freeze proof.”
It accepts microSD/HC/XC cards, yielding much higher storage capacity than most of the other consumer-grade 360-degree cameras. Even if you do manage to fill up a 64GB or higher card on a shoot, you can just take it out and put another one in.
Its 1/2.3 CMOS sensor is capable of shooting in 4K resolution, but you have to change the default 1920/24p to 2160/24p through Nikon’s Snapbridge 360/170 app. We’ll talk more about that later.
Its stitching may not be as good as it is on the Ricoh Theta S, but that is to be expected with a much thicker camera. I don’t even think the stitching is all that problematic, but I’m sure future cameras, especially those with more than two lenses, will put it to shame.
The one physical advantage the Theta S has is its elongated frame, which makes it easier to carry. I often feel nervous carrying the Keymission 360 because it’s bulky and I feel like its glass is more exposed.
Canon would likely do little to beat the Keymission 360’s hardware, but it would at least match the camera’s capabilities. It may even go as far to improve stitching and portability, refining some of the less attractive qualities of Nikon’s offering.
The worst thing about the Keymission 360 is its Snapbridge 360/170 app for iOS and Android devices. Although it does have WiFi, bluetooth and NFC, connecting the hardware to the app for initial setup is far too complicated.
When I tried to pair the camera with my phone the first time, it would only display the battery life — I couldn’t use the app to control the camera remotely, and I couldn’t modify any of its settings. I honestly can’t explain why, because I followed all of the pairing instructions. It simply wouldn’t work. I needed it for a group project, and my teammates and I decided to use the physical buttons instead. Since we couldn’t preview the shots, a couple of clips turned out a little slanted.
I tried again two weeks later for this review and finally, inexplicably, got the camera connected to the app, but I was underwhelmed.
Transferring images and video is buggy, and many of the app’s features won’t work until you activate the camera by hitting one of its buttons. This, of course, will result in plenty of unnecessary photos or videos and a waste of battery life. Nikon’s $59.95 ML-L6 remote for the Keymission 360 could be an option, but I’m not sure if it will activate the camera remotely. Either way, it would be much better if its firmware were updated to turn it on with the buttons without taking an image or starting a video.
Beyond the battery indicator on the main “connect” menu, the most useful features are setting video resolution to 4K (camera menu/camera settings/shooting options/movies/movie options/2160/24p) and being able to get a preview. To that end, the “remote photography” option under the camera menu takes you to the app’s iOS settings instead of going directly to the WiFi screen, so it adds an unnecessary step to the process when trying to preview your shot. (I’m not sure if it does something similar on Android.)
What’s more, the Keymission 360’s exposure settings are fully automatic, which is a major disadvantage for those who want to capture natural-looking motion with a shutter speed of about 1/50th of a second (at 24 frames per second). The LG 360 is one of the cheaper options on the market and offers fully manual controls, so why can’t the Nikon (or some of the other consumer-grade VR cameras for that matter)? This doesn’t make sense to me.
This is where Canon could truly excel. Its “Camera Connect” and “EOS Remote” apps use a simpler method of connecting via WiFi, but it could also offer more functionality through manual controls and remote activation in an app.
The Keymission 360 is one of the better virtual-reality cameras for consumers on the market, and it would easily be the best if it had a better app and some manual controls. That said, none of the alternatives is all that great at the moment either because the technology is still rather young.
Connecting the Keymission 360 to Snapbridge 360/170 was a headache, and the app is underwhelming right now. An update could add some better features and more functionality. The only way to activate the camera now is by pressing one of its buttons, resulting in a still or a video recording, so it also could benefit from remote activation, if possible, in a future update.
The image quality is great for what it is, but lower-priced cameras offer comparable image quality with at least some degree of manual control. Stitching is acceptable but not great; the Ricoh Theta S and the LG 360 have a slight advantage because of their thinner profiles, but the difference really isn’t all that noticeable.
Canon is a much larger company than Nikon, but in recent years it has been slow to take on new technology — it’s hard to say if or when it will respond to the 360-camera craze, but Canon would surely take note of the Keymission 360’s shortcomings and give Nikon plenty of incentive to up its game. For now, the Nikon Keymission 360 is available as the vulnerable leader of the VR field for an expensive $499.95.