360° video is starting to become very common on social media. And I think it’s partly down to the fact that 360° cameras are becoming so reasonably priced that owning one isn’t some distant dream anymore. Introducing the new Dokicam, a ball type camera that houses two cameras on either side of a sphere with a 200-degree field of view each to create some pretty amazing 360° video files, that can be directly shared to the likes of Facebook and YouTube in a matter of clicks.
Dokicam started on Kickstarter, offering people who pledged $99 or more a chance to own one themselves, which I think is incredibly good value for the product that you are actually receiving. The packaging that turned up into the office was very smart. A cylandrical type shape that had a transparent top to be able to see the camera itself, with all the accessories hidden underneath. Once inside you will find the camera itself, a small desktop tripod which can double up and some kind of handheld tripod, a silk case to keep it protected inside a bag as well as a set of instructions, a lens cleaner and a microUSB transfer cable.
The whole unit, which is made from a thick plastic has been sealed for an IP54 rating, which means it will be protected from things like dust and splashes of water, but will not survive a dunk in the pool. The ports are well protected, with the doors snapping in place when closed. There is a full waterproof case on the way if you’re looking for this kind of feature though. Due to its size, I want to call this more of an action cam. And also looking at the way the Dokicam is marketed, they really want people involved in extreme sports to pick one of these up. Or maybe because extreme sports is more exciting than filming your lunch date in 360°.
All the buttons are focused on the top of the camera, making them easy to get to when needed. You will find your power button which will also switch the Dokicam between video and still image, a WiFi toggle on/off switch to connect to your smartphone as well as the shutter button to start your video or take a still image, depending on the setting. Be warned, that your mobile will lose Internet connection when using the WiFi signal to connect the camera to your phone. Or at least it did on my Samsung S6 Edge.
On the base is a universal tripod tread which means it will be compatible with a number of tripods, including a Joby Gorrilapod which I found much easier to hold than the included portable tripod. The front of the camera shows off a three LED lights which will flash to stay permanently on depending on what state the camera is in. If it’s recording, the record light will flash. If it’s connected to a mobile WiFi signal, the WiFi light will come on. The camera beeps as well when certain functions are started, but it’s very quiet. The mobile phone app really helps when knowing what the camera is doing at a given time.
The app to be honest with you is essential. It’s a way of accessing all the numerous features that the camera on its own simply cannot get to. The main thing is the way you change viewing and recording modes. As standard the camera is set on a 360° video. But inside the app you can change this to display the fisheye, panoramic, planet and VR mode, which allows the camera to be paired with a VR headset like the Google Cardboard or Samsung Gear VR. The live view offers minimal delay, and actually works quite well if you want to check what you’re recording. Other settings include things like ISO level, exposure compensation and white balance. It’s from the app that you are able to share your videos directly to social media, although this is a bit of a lengthy process. From the camera you will have to send your video to your phone, then from your phone to social media. It’s done in one seamless transition, but it just takes its time. We managed to get a file to social media in around 25 minutes. But this also depends on the length of video you take. Be warned, it could be a data hog if you are on a smaller tariff, so check that out first or wait for a WiFi hotspot.
So with all of this feature rich goodness, it isn’t great if the camera gives off poor visuals right? Thankfully, the camera shoots at a 2880 x 1440 resolution. It’s not as high as something like the Samsung VR camera, but having 3K image quality is still better than some. The stitching of the video is also pretty good, as the field of view on each camera is 200-degrees. If you get close though, you will notice this more.
My biggest gripe with the Dokicam is the fact the colours in video mode are so muted. The camera does really lack so much pop that would be so beneficial for 360° camera users, especially those taking it on extreme sports excursions. It’s also very noisy if used inside which is a huge shame. Even when set on the lower ISO levels, I still noticed some noise in the footage when inside, in low light. In daylight it seemed to handle itself quite well, but still, had very dull colouring. Photos work really well however, and can create some really fun results in certain modes. Again, with the noisy image, using in low light isn’t great. You will need to use the app to take a picture however so you’re not obstructing the camera lenses to get the full 360 image.
Battery life in my opinion shines through nicely. The Dokicam will last for around an hour and a half of heavy usage, taking video and images, which will easily get you through a day’s use. I took the camera to Thorpe Park, a roller coaster park here in the UK and found it could be used at regular intervals throughout the day.
The Dokicam is a great little portable 360° camera. It doesn’t shoot as in high a quality as the Samsung Gear 360, and colours are muted which is a bit of a shame. The app is amazingly smooth though, and everything is very clearly laid out on your phone screen and is very self-explanatory. The included case as well as the extremely useful mini tripod are both great accessories to have. For $99 for the entry level price which includes a 16GB SD card, you cannot go wrong if you want to venture into the world of 360-degree video.