We liked the Insta360 Pro released last year because it upped the ante in resolution and immersion compared to other off the shelf camera solutions. This new Pro 2 camera essentially increases the performance by stitching six 4k images to truly bring VR recording to a point where resolution blends with realism at 8k 3D. VR has always suffered from the resolution Achilles heel which can kill the experience as you notice image errors like aliasing, softness or stitching artifacts.
The new Insta630 Pro 2 camera has 6 lenses and 6 full camera systems to capture the scene. If using H.265 for Post stitching it can reach 4k UHD at up to 120fps binned. All six cameras used at maximum resolution can build a 12k still image but for VR video you will be outputting an 8k stream in 2D or 3D with outstanding visual crispness. The demos shown do make it seem like headsets are now the technology that needs improvement to increase resolution and catch up.
Z Cam the relatively new Camera company from Shenzhen, China has announced the Z Cam E2 at NAB 2018 MSRP $1,999.00 USD. It is not a direct replacement for their ambitious but half-baked Z E1 m4/3 camera which costs $399. The new camera is a beast specs wise with up to 120fps 4k and full HD 1080p at 240fps. The codecs will be H.264 and H.265 at 10 bit but no RAW support so far which might be acceptable if the codec is clean enough and their promised Log Flat curve preserves the estimated 13.5 stops of dynamic range.
The camera is still being developed for a June 2018 estimated ship date. It lacks a back screen and relies on a Wifi or Gigabit Ethernet link to their dedicated control application. They intend to support iOS devices and or a PC client. No mention of Android support or Mac which should be included in order to maintain the widest compatibility. We feel lacking Android control is a big deal and should be promised in a future update. It is also unclear if the camera will be possible to use by using a touch screen field monitor which probably will not be the case. Using an iPhone or an iPad as the control interface is probably the best use case.
The Z Cam E1 which delivered excellent quality 4k footage from a tiny package and was able to do 720p 240fps frame rates “at less than ideal quality”, however, a new Rumor from 4/3 Rumors here shows a Twitter message that hints at a new Z E2 m4/3 camera that is able to do 120fps at full 4k resolution. If this turns out to be true it could yield further performance improvements in 1080p and 720p along with higher quality that could be usable.
As far as linear specs go a 120p 4k pipeline could in theory yield 480fps 1080p and 960/1000fps 720p without going out of spec. As we have come to know over the years, however, it is usually wrong to extrapolate these specs to the maximum possible metric as the sensor or memory could be bottlenecks that limit the performance. So this rumor could have some legs to it and NAB 2018 could be the show that makes 4k 120p a regular feature for cameras.
The new Samsung Exynos 9 Series 8895 Chipset for smartphones has impressive new specs. It claims the most advanced 3D and general processing performance for use in flagship smartphones. What interests us a lot is the direct claim that the chip can handle both recording and playback of 4k video at 120fps.
The UHD 4k resolution is 3,840 by 2,160 pixels or 8,294,400 pixels rounded up to 8.3MP per frame. At 120fps this equates to 995 Megapixels /sec or near one Gigapixel. This translates exactly to 480fps at 1080p full HD resolution or 1080fps at 720p. This is quite astounding for bandwidth specs for a phone and opens the door wide open for real super slow motion on Samsung Tablets and Smartphones.
Ambarella has introduced two new SoC chipsets for portable electronics that shoot video. The H3 capable of up to 8k video or dual 4k 60fps streams for 360º VR video and also the H22 which is a souped up version of the H2 found on cameras like the Yi 4k+ that will be shooting 4k 60p and up to 120fps 1080p video.
No real leads were given into what specific cameras will be incorporating the new chipset but from indications of past releases it is safe to say that the best action cameras, some high end phones and drone centric cameras will be sporting this new SoC in their specs by the end of this year. If we had to bet we will probably see a Hero 5+ using the H22 before the H3 as 8k video seems a huge jump for a refresh model.
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